It’s that time of year again when music and dance come together to create unforgettable performances right here in Chicago. In Merit School of Music’s 3rd annual collaboration with Ballet Chicago, Conservatory musicians and ballet dancers transported us across the globe in “New Horizons” for DanceVision 2021, showcasing pieces from composers around the world—from Venezuela to Japan and Finland!
This year, audiences experienced these talented, young musicians and dancers in-person at Ballet Chicago’s studios and virtually via Zoom. Merit’s repertoire included live performances by our Conservatory String Quartet (Daniel Cogolludo, Kahauri Givens, Nazeeh Shahid, and Jordan Tiller), pianist Emmy Hong, Honors Brass Quintet (Darlyne Hidalgo, Aidan Keefe, Jonathan Martinez, Genesis Morales, and Natalia Noriega), and Guitar Ensemble (Nicholas Cipi, Octavio Escamilla, Nerelly Mendoza, Raffi Lawson, Eddy Liberzon, Evan Lok, and Gabriel Stonor Saunders).
“It’s been a very valuable experience for me to collaborate with the dancers because of the way it has expanded my approach to the music we performed,” reflects Conservatory trumpet student and member of Merit’s Honors Brass Quintet, Aidan Keefe. “Usually, when practicing or rehearsing, I focus on my role in relation to my fellow musicians, but with this project, I had to also respond to the way the dancers had interpreted the music. This will definitely be an important experience to learn from because it taught me the importance of being flexible and taking into account all of the various parts that go into producing a final product that everybody can be proud of.”
Alongside the musical highlights, Ballet Chicago debuted stunning, new choreography by Durante Verzola, Miriam Mahdaviani, emerging artist Emma Kapteyn, and Ballet Chicago’s Resident Choreographer, Ted Seymour.
After spending much of the past two years performing virtually, DanceVision 2021 was not only an opportunity for our students to experience in-person music-making again, the event also allowed our musicians to closely collaborate with other young artists. This type of collaboration develops higher-level thinking skills in students, boosts their confidence, and exposes them to new ways of thinking and creating.
“It’s always a pleasure to work with the Ballet Chicago team. This is the third consecutive year we’ve collaborated, and each year just gets better,” shares Merit’s Dean & Vice President for Educational Affairs, Kurt Gildow. “Working with the Ballet Chicago team is so energizing. I love sharing artistic ideas, and it is really amazing watching it all come to life through our students. I particularly enjoy how aligned our organizations are in terms of our priorities to focus on showcasing young people of all backgrounds. This partnership allows Merit students to work together with artists of differing perspectives and forms of expression. Our students’ boundaries are pushed and their collaboration skills flourish.”
Events like DanceVision illustrate some of the best aspects of being a young artist within a diverse and collaborative community. We can’t wait for next year’s event!
About Ballet Chicago
Co-founded in 1988 by acclaimed dancer/choreographer Daniel Duell and former ballet dancer Patricia Blair, Ballet Chicago provides an accelerated performance program where members receive years of on-stage experience, building confidence, camaraderie, community and an array of skill sets that translate to any arena. Based on the technique established by George Balanchine, Ballet Chicago provides one of the highest quality dance curriculums in the nation. Ballet Chicago believes every aspiring artist deserves the opportunity to explore his or her full potential, and is committed to making classical ballet training accessible to all talented students who have the desire to dance.