BWW Interviews: Jessica Collado Talks MORRIS, WELCH & KYLIÁN

Jessica Collado and Simon Ball rehearse ZODIAC
Photo: Amitava Sarkar

An Aries is willful and stubborn, Librae live in pursuit of justice, and great thinkers and philosophers are Sagittarii. In ZODIAC, Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch explores the color and emotion of each zodiac sign. Welch's choreography is set to a score by one of Australia's best-known composers, Ross Edwards. The world premiere of ZODIAC is part of Houston Ballet's mixed repertory program MORRIS, WELCH & KYLIÁN.

MORRIS, WELCH & KYLIÁN also includes SVADEBKA by Jirí Kylián and Mark Morris's THE LETTER V. Stripped and honest, THE LETTER V comes by way of modern dance veteran and expert choreographer Mark Morris. Kylián's SVADEBKA is inspired by Igor Stravinsky's LES NOCES, a dance concerned with the pain and pleasure of being the bride and bridegroom of traditional rural Russia. SVADEBKA retains Stravinsky's score and is accompanied by a live chorus - the Houston Chamber Choir.

I talk to Jessica Collado, the first soloist tackling all three pieces.

Jessica, you're performing in SVADEBKA, ZODIAC, and THE LETTER V. Can you describe your role in each piece?

In Jirí Kylián's SVADEBKA, I'm playing the Bride, which is one of the central characters. And in Stanton Welch's ZODIAC, Capricorn is my sign. Mark Morris's piece, THE LETTER V, is kind of an ensemble piece. It really has no roles.

Jessica Collado

What do you consider the center of each piece?

For me, SVADEBKA is the most involved. The Bride is pretty much on stage the whole time and goes through the journey of being matched with her groom, [she and the groom] getting to know each other, and going through the wedding ceremony. It's very fast paced and very athletic. The anticipation and excitement continues to build as the piece goes on.

ZODIAC is based on the zodiac signs and each one has a very different personality. The mood changes throughout depending on the different signs. The role I play, Capricorn, it's very dramatic and luscious.

In Mark Morris' piece, THE LETTER V, the music is by Joseph Haydn [Symphony No. 88 in G major]. It's very whimsical. There are four different sections in the ballet. Each has a different medium, in a way, that it's based on. It's very easy on the eyes. It's very natural. It's very inviting to watch and joyful to dance.

What was your goal as a performer in each piece?

Mark Morris (THE LETTER V) really wants you to dance without any sort of affectation or mannerism. He stripped us all down to our bare, natural, and raw selves and just let us be people. [He would say] "I want to see you. You the person. That's who I want to see dancing." That is something we're all trying to focus on in his piece.

Jirí Kylián's piece (SVADEBKA) is a little more high energy, and his choreography shows the tone and the emotion very well. His shapes are so bold and the music is quite quick. Trying to tackle that and make everything as big, bold, and luscious as possible in the very quick music is what I'm ultimately trying to achieve.

In Stanton's piece, ZODIAC, the Capricorn, he explains, are deep thinkers. They're loyal and resourceful people. I have a pas de deux with Simon Ball and it's very fluid and the music is really grand. In that part, I'm trying to achieve fluidity and seamlessness with the moves.

In SVADEBKA, is it difficult to dance with a live chorus in addition to a live orchestra?

Jessica Collado and Simon Ball in rehearsal
with Stanton Welch for ZODIAC
Photo: Amitava Sarkar

[Emphatically] It is. It's very exciting! It's very much a live experience, but I think it adds excitement. [Originally], we rehearsed with a recording, and I think we tend to get very familiar with the sounds. So, all of a sudden the music is played live and there are live singers that may or may not sound like we're used to.

I know the Bride (SVADEBKA) is a really hefty role. What are some of the challenges of performing the role?

The music is very complicated. It's by [Igor] Stravinsky, his very famous piece called LES NOCES, and it is like a mathematical equation. We're so used to counting in straight eights, but there'll be an eight and a sixteen and a six and a nine. You kind of have to count your way through the entire piece of music.

Does it help that you've danced in Kylián and Morris pieces before? [Collado has performed in Jirí Kylian's FORGOTTEN LAND, SVADEBKA, PETIT MORT, FALLING ANGELS, and SINFONIETTA. She has also danced in Mark Morris' SANDPAPER BALLET, DRINK TO ME ONLY WITH THINE EYES, and PACIFIC.]

It does actually. I actually learned SVADEBKA in my first years with the company, but I was an ensemble girl. I dreamed of doing the Bride! [Giggles] It helps, because I kind of know the music a little bit better the second time around. It's so complicated. It helps with Morris' piece as well.

How did you feel when you learned you were going to be the the Bride?

[Laughs] I was very excited! It's one of those roles that has always been on my bucket list. [Pauses] You go through the whole thing, and by the end you're exhausted and you're tired and sweating from head to toe. [Laughs] But you're completely fulfilled. It's a really rewarding piece in the end.

To get a taste/sneak peak of MORRIS, WELCH & KYLIÁN, visit the Houston Ballet Youtube channel.

For more information about Jessica Collado, you can visit www.houstonballet.org/Inside-Houston-Ballet/Dancers/Jessica-Collado/.

From May 28 - June 7, 2015, Houston Ballet will give six performances of MORRIS, WELCH & KYLIÁN at Wortham Theater Center. Performances are at 7:30 pm on May 28 and 30, June 5 and 6, and at 2:00 pm on May 31 and June 7. For tickets or more information, visit www.houstonballet.org or call 713-227-2787.



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