PIECE BY PIECE
Premier date: 1997
Some people make their martinis with vodka; some make them with gin. Our Martini? She's 100% pure class! Ballets with a Twist Artistic Director Marilyn Klaus reveals how this cool 1997 creation came to be:
"To start before the beginning... In the mid-1990s, my friend Lynn Parkerson, director of Brooklyn Ballet, asked me to contribute to a performance series she was curating at the Church of the Holy Trinity. My company wasn't up and running at the time, but I had a dance school, and I incorporated a few of my students into a piece called An Awfully Big Adventure.
Many of the other children were jealous of their peers, so when it came time to create Martini, which features a brilliant blonde bombshell secret agent, I made sure to include supporting roles for a few of them — as assassins. Because the students weren't yet technically proficient enough to execute the movements, we rehearsed for hours every weekend with Kim Sikorski, an artistic muse of mine on whom I choreographed the lead.
Over a decade later, Kim returned to coach soloist Dorrie Garland and two professional 'assassins' for the 2009 premiere of Cocktail Hour: The Show at Manhattan Movement Arts Center. Today, our superspy has three male acolytes sporting sleek shades and serious 'tudes!"
"I want to dance to THAT!" Such praise is music to any songwriter's ears — and it's just what one Ballets with a Twist soloist said when she first heard the backing track for our Martini. What groovy ingredients went into composer Steve Gaboury's ultra-mod mix for this cocktail? Well...
"After this Catholic schooler saw 007 while in fifth grade, it was clear that pursuing the priesthood was simply not an option. A different career was calling my name!
Though I never became a covert operative, I did have the chance to pen the soundtrack for one when I began collaborating with Marilyn. Her Martini has a license to thrill, and as I watched the dance being made, I knew its heroine would need an equally intrepid score.
Off the bat, the wild soprano sax riff suggests danger ahead, and Ben Wittman's drums set the hard swinging pace for a bold Big Band sound. Nothing is safe here...
Throughout the piece, electric guitar embodies spycraft at its best, while dramatic strings and daring horns shadow the platinum blonde during her slick closing sequence.
And like Bond, this tune is armed with the latest techno — shaken, not stirred!"
Diamond in the rough? Not our Martini. She could outsparkle the Koh-i-Noor! Ballets with a Twist designer Catherine Zehr sheds light on how she polished this rockstar look to perfection:
"I didn't come up with the original Martini concept, but as with other costumes from before my time with the company, I thought it worked beautifully for the dance. It just needed refinement.
The first step was to upgrade the shiny lycra bodice. In the new version, I placed a beautiful metallic diamond print sheer over silver lame fabric, then added boning to provide structure.
Originally made of fluffy silver lace, the tutu also needed a redesign to better suit the character. I matched the top plate to the bodice, but because the dancer does a backward shoulder roll in the middle of the piece, I knew I had to make the underside look fabulous, too! Many layers of white net and silver lace trim create a sense of dimension, and even the panty has an iridescent finish. I then embellished the outer edge (and the top of the bodice) with countless rhinestones so that it would shimmer like the rim on a Martini glass.
A platinum blonde wig and long white gloves complete the striking look for the lead, while her backup crew of three male dancers stand in contrast, sporting black pants, black long-sleeved turtleneck tees, sunglasses, and sleek silver watches. It's the ultimate spy team!"