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'Before and Beyond' brings new ballet to Proctors

'Before and Beyond' brings new ballet to Proctors

"Basically, it's about relationships between people and the emotions that are evoked'

Emotions are moving Alexandra Lindsay these days.

The dancer has recorded her thoughts and feelings into a short ballet piece titled "Layers of Down."

"Basically, it's about relationships between people and the emotions that are evoked when people connect and disconnect as groups or pairs or by yourself," said Lindsay, who lives in Brunswick.

Relationships, abstract forces, emotions: All three will have places on the Mainstage at Proctors on Saturday. Northeast Ballet's "Before and Beyond" will present 12 new, short dance pieces - all composed by past and present choreographers.

Curtain is 7:30 p.m.

Darlene Myers, artistic director for Northeast Ballet, said choreographers and writers both have the same goals. While writers may use keyboards and computer screens to tell their stories, dancers use their bodies and movement to convey their messages.

"Our tools are just different," she said. "The concepts may be the same, we're telling a story. Everybody's telling their own story."

"Before and Beyond" stories will be told in a comfortable theater setting. Myers will be joined on stage by longtime Northeast member and dancer Richard Gatta, who recently performed with Steve Martin and Edie Brickell in a reunion concert of the musical "Bright Star" in New York City.

"It's sort of almost like a master class," Myers said of the 90-minute show. "It's in three sections. We're doing a chat on stage with the first gathering of choreographers and then we're showing their pieces. Then we're doing the next section and the next section.

"We're talking to them, so we're interviewing," Myers added. "Very short questions with the choreographer before they show their pieces, so it's a more intimate setting for the audience. They get to know the choreographers as people a little bit more."

They'll get to know Lindsay, Melissa Barr, Craig Messina and Kathleen Autilio, among other dance creators. For Lindsay, 29, a Northeast Ballet dancer since 2009, motivation for composition was easy.

"As a dancer, I find that the best way to heal myself is to dance," she said. "Last year, I was going through a low period and I found dancing helped evoke joy, it helped make me better. I thought it would be really wonderful if I could share these interesting movements that I was creating as a reflection of being down."

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Lindsay believes people have many layers; the belief is reflected in the title of her seven-minute piece.

She has written "Layers" for six people. She will perform in the dance, along with Mimi Leon, Samantha Percy, Lucas Rodriguez, Michela Semenza and Luca Spadinger. She is confident in her team's technical expertise; the harder part is installing the emotional reactions.

"They can do any movement I ask them to," Lindsay said. "It's just a matter of intent. That's been more challenging - try to express what I want the intent to be, so they can show that."

Messina and Autilio are a team on the stage, and in life: The two longtime company members will marry next April, but their six-minute exercise "Ginomai" is not a love story.

"It's about two different forces and a progression that's very abstract," said Messina, 34, who, like Autilio, lives in Albany.

The dancers become entities on stage. As the piece progresses, the entities become a duet. But one entity is more resistant to advances from the other.

"I always like it when you see choreographers use similar steps in different ways, so the steps that are small and more nuanced in the beginning get bigger, they become larger lifts," Messina said. "I think it's satisfying as an audience member, they're like, 'Oh, I remember that.'"

Autilio, 26, likes the tension that shows up in "Ginomai," which can mean "to be born, to be produced" and which the choreographers have borrowed from the word "genesis." It is a relationship piece, and one that does have a resolution: "With a lot of independence still, in the end, I'd say, for the woman," Autilio said.

Barr, 44, who lives in Niskayuna and is a Northeast assistant artistic director, uses nine dancers for her "When We Were Young."

The eight-minute ballet tells a story ... what Barr believes people are going through as a society.

"It's why human beings behave toward other human beings the way they do," she said. "Sometimes we are cruel to one another, sometimes we are very kind and apathetic toward one another, and that concept can be applied to whole groups in society, like ethnicity, religion, races, gender."

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Kathleen Autilio and Craig Messina go through the motions for their short dance piece in Northeast Ballet’s “Before and Beyond” show. (Jeff Wilkin)

For the young dancers, the piece can also mean feeling like an outsider - in a world where everyone wants to be liked and accepted. Dancers will be Autumn Davidson, Madison Kieft, Emily Lynch, Alexandra Merrill, Kelseigh O'Brien, Samantha Percy, Annie Pinkerton, Samantha Whitman and Talia Viscusi.

Barr, who will not dance in "Young" but will dance in Lucas Rodriguez's "Harmony a' la Violettte," did not find her choreography difficult.

"This just came to me," she said. "I found a piece of music even before I was given this opportunity to do this, that I really liked. For me, when I hear something that's inspiring, I just sort of see choreography in my head.

"In the future," Barr added,"I probably should not expect it to be this easy ever again."

A common thread in the pieces is passion. All participants are passionate about ballet.

"They have carried it through their lives," Myers said, adding the show will reflect joy, sadness and disappointment.

"Some of these people, when they first started dance, they thought they were going to be professionals," Myers added. "They were not capable of achieving that, so there will be that disappointment. Yet there will be dancers on the stage who are professionals. It's like finding a passion in your life and being able to continue it in some way, shape or form."

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at [email protected] or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter.

Northeast Ballet: 'Before and Beyond'

WHEN: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Mainstage at Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
HOW MUCH: $30 performance only; $50 performance and 6:30 p.m. reception.
MORE INFO: www.northeastballet.org; www.proctors.org; 346-6204 

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