Welcome to BBC’s new blog, Brandywine’s Ballet Bag! Check back about once a month for new postings on everything dance and ballet – from tips and tricks, behind the scenes sneak peaks, interviews, and company exclusives!
For our first post, we want to highlight one of our premier groups, Brandywine Contemporary. Many of our audience members come each year to see The Nutcracker, and may miss this specular group of dancers. Established in 2013 by Tim Early, Resident Choreographer, and Donna Muzio, Artistic Director and Founder, this extraordinary group performs several times a year. Most recently they performed at our Fall Series in October of 2016, as well as WCU Dance Presents: Dance-Versity in January of 2017. These dancers showcase a unique set of talents and are trained in modern and contemporary dance with a diverse repertoire of choreography. In an exclusive interview, Co-Founder and Resident Chorographer Tim Early tells us a little bit more about the company –
-What was your mission and purpose for establishing Brandywine Contemporary?
It was Donna Muzio, Founder and Artistic Director, who approached me with the idea after seeing a group of dancers that had a consistent interest in contemporary dance. After several years of teaching modern at The Dance Center we thought it would be an additional outlet for the dancers and give them exposure to other dance styles.
-What are the dancers learning that is different than the Ballet Company?
Speaking from experience, I feel there are more similarities than differences and they compliment each other. Having the solid technical foundation from the ballet company, it allows me to challenge them in ways that use their technique but also gives them the freedom to explore alternative ways of moving. Using the familiar to create the unfamiliar is what brings energy to the choreographic process. Versatility is the key for any choreographer as far as I'm concerned, so having this experience makes them more valuable to anyone they work with.
-What do you hope the dancers learn from being a part of this company?
Being part of something they are proud of would be first and foremost. Being proud of their accomplishments, the work and what they contribute to the final product. Staying curious in dance and try different things. Explore and create!
-Where do you draw inspiration for your choreography?
Dancers. Music. Being in the studio with energetic talented dancers forces my creativity. I don't usually prepare and that's where the surprises come from. Seeing them explore and navigate their way through learning choreography is most rewarding. I don't want them to move like me, I want them to move from themselves. Their bodies are the tools they work with but their personalities are what they perform with. The music is what inspires me to challenge my way of moving. I can't say the dancers are always drawn in by my musical choices but once they connect with the movement inside the music hopefully they can begin to see my vision on how I see them.
-How often do you perform professionally?
I perform as much as I can and I still love doing it. Most of the year is spent with Brandywine Ballet. I'm co-director of a small contemporary dance group called Opus 1 and several times a year I do smaller performances and festivals. The company performs several times a year, both at BBC performances and local festivals or shows.
Graduating senior and Contemporary dancer, Kathryn Berman, tells us a little bit about her experience with the company –
Being a member of Brandywine Contemporary has been a wonderful experience for me as a growing dancer, and has given me the opportunity to explore different types of dance. While we never venture too far from a modern or jazzy style at Brandywine Contemporary, it takes me out of the more classical sphere that I pursue as a member of Brandywine Ballet Company. With the help of Tim Early, our choreographer, Brandywine Contemporary has shaped my dance by giving me a sense of the feeling of dancing with the full range and freedom of movement that contemporary dance encompasses. I have been able to apply this feeling to all of my dancing and I believe it has helped to mature my dancing and give it a more graceful quality in every style.
Tim Early has been an amazing resource. He has put so much work and time into giving Brandywine Contemporary opportunities to perform for a variety of audiences and making us the best dancers we can be in every style. In my final year with Brandywine Contemporary, I find myself sentimental about our Sunday morning rehearsals, the memories I have, and the people I met with Brandywine Contemporary. It is a wonderful program that gives its members opportunities to dance and perform more and to develop other talents and styles. I feel lucky to have been a part of Brandywine Contemporary and grateful for the impact it has had on my dancing and me.
You don't want to miss the next chance to see Brandywine Contemporary perform, at the Philadelphia Youth Dance Festival, on March 26 - 1pm, at Drexel University. Tickets are on sale now here!