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San Francisco Ballet Legend Val Caniparoli Displays on 50 Years in Dance


Uncommon are the dancers who carry out with one firm for a number of many years and, rarer nonetheless, whose inventive careers proceed to flourish and evolve. Val Caniparoli belongs to that unique group. After learning music and theater at Washington State College, he left school early to coach briefly with San Francisco Ballet Faculty earlier than becoming a member of San Francisco Ballet in 1973, the place he gained popularity of his performances in works by Jerome Robbins, George Balanchine and Maurice Béjart. Caniparoli has held a lot of inventive positions within the firm, from ballet grasp to principal character artist—and he nonetheless takes the stage in character roles starting from Drosselmeyer in Nutcracker to Herod in Arthur Pita’s Salome. He’s additionally constructed a prolific profession as a choreographer, with notable works like Lambarena, Ibsen’s Home and Jekyll & Hyde carried out by firms worldwide and a world premiere within the works for SFB’s January [email protected] competition. On the cusp of his fiftieth season with SFB, Caniparoli, 70, shares a number of the knowledge of his half-century in ballet.

Caniparoli in SFB’s Nutcracker. Picture by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

After I began at SFB, Jerome Robbins forged me in his ballet Strikes. Shortly after, I grew to become ballet grasp and he chosen me to teach his works. SFB inventive director Helgi Tomasson referred to as me into his workplace a while later to say Jerry didn’t need me engaged on his ballets anymore. He had discovered I used to be additionally a choreographer. In that second, I spotted I didn’t wish to be a ballet grasp as a result of I wished to give attention to choreography. In a wierd method, Jerome Robbins freed me of that duty, which gave me extra time to create works for different firms.

As we speak, dancers’ technical talents are off the charts. They will do something! They’re extra versatile than after I started dancing. Present calls for positioned on dancers could be overwhelming. However there may be additionally extra starvation to get roles and do them with which means. I’ve observed that choreographers have taken notice of this via the creation of extra narrative works. These additionally appear to be what audiences come to see.

After I created Lambarena in 1995, I collaborated with African dance consultants, which was unprecedented on the time. It was a daring musical fusion that was a real celebration of two cultures. I proceed to like collaborating with folks from the start of the choreographic course of, whether or not a dramaturg, ballroom dancers or composers. I’ve by no means had any qualms bringing folks in to complement my work.

One of many optimistic issues about nonetheless being a principal character artist at SFB is that I’m typically among the many dancers in rehearsals. I’m on their facet, even when I’m choreographing or rehearsing them from the entrance of the room.

I’m impressed by people who find themselves actually assured. As a dancer, I used to be shy. I’m at all times in awe of dancers who ask for a task, then again it up by placing within the work.

As a dancemaker, I’m extra assured now. The extra you do, the extra your tolerance in direction of criticism builds up. Beforehand,
if I bought a nasty evaluation, I feared I might by no means work once more. However I did! Moreover, with my expertise, I’m not afraid to dive into controversial material. That freedom is nice as a result of I’m much less prone to second-guess myself, and my work is stronger.

Make the work. It’s not going to return to you. Discover colleagues and get within the studio on lunch breaks or after rehearsals. Go to native colleges and ask to create for his or her recitals. You need to get the expertise and make your personal alternatives. It doesn’t occur by osmosis. And as soon as folks see your work, issues will start to occur.

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