BWW Blog: Christine Chen of ARB - Alexander Dutko on Becoming The Firebird for the World Premiere of Douglas Martin's FIREBIRD
Alexander Dutko on Becoming The Firebird for the World Premiere of Douglas Martin's Firebird
"It's been a bathtub week."
I met ARB Dancer Alexander Dutko (Alex) last Friday morning before class to talk about how he's been taking on the challenge of being cast as The Firebird for Douglas Martin's newest premiere. The company had only been rehearsing the new ballet for four days, but even though the choreography is still brand new in his body, it was clear Alex had been thinking deeply about how he was embodying the physicality and character of this quintessential role.
Alex may be best known to ARB fans for his unmatched pirouetting pyrotechnics, but it is his artistry - the intensity of his gaze and intention, his ability to expand every line through space, and the way he oozes organically from one movement to another while never straying from his impeccable technique - that keeps your eye on him, even when he is standing still. No doubt, this is why Artistic Director Douglas Martin thought of Alex when he decided to tackle The this spring - despite the fact that a female ballerina traditionally performs the role.
Still, Douglas and Alex are both taking this gender reversal in stride, seeking to capture the essence and power of the mythical creature, rather than focus on its gender. Alex points out that, as an animal, birds are typically as androgynous as they come (with apologies to male peacocks and their beautiful plumes).
Alex never grew up dreaming of being chosen to play the role, as some young girls do, and though he saw many New York City Ballet performances while a student at the School of American Ballet, he never actually saw The Firebird when he had the opportunity. He does, however, remember his first encounter with the ballet: While reading Gelsey Kirkland's memoir Dancing on my Grave, he saw a picture of the young ballerina getting a fitting for The Firebird - a role George Balanchine created for her. The image he says, engrossed him. "It made an impact on me - I saw the Firebird as one of the most glamorous roles."