In pre-professional ballet productions, it is common for schools to bring in one or more guest artists to fill particular roles that the student body can't fill for one reason or another. At Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts, student performances occasionally feature Ballet 5:8 Company Artists. This past May, for example, Company Artist Marinna Kus stepped into the soloist role of the Evil Duchess Yanah of Avon in the School's production of Racham, a True Fairytale.
This December, we have the privilege of welcoming a guest artist from outside the Ballet 5:8 organization. Dustin Schonhard, a Senior at Grand Vallet State University, is spending the weekend with us and will be dancing the role of Joseph in Beyond the Nutcracker with Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts student Alyssa Bernal.
How It Works
Working with a guest artist is usually an exciting time for both the artist and the hosting school. However, it is also an intense experience for everyone involved. Due to many constraints like cost, time, and travel, guest artists are not typically able to be present for the entire, months-long rehearsal process with the rest of the cast. Instead, guest artists usually fly in a day or two ahead of the performances! The days before the performance are a whirlwind of long rehearsals. The guest artist and each dancer who comes into contact with him or her must be especially focused on concentrated on the rehearsal process. While the the other dancers have had months to get the steps and timing into their minds and muscle memory, the guest artist will only have a few run throughs to memorize everything.
Worth the Challenge
Though working with a guest artist is an intensive, challenging process, the results are usually quite rewarding. Adding the "last piece of the puzzle" to the stage for the last few rehearsals can give the rest of the cast and crew a special burst of energy and excitement that helps to add a little sparkle to the show. Working with someone out of the ordinary can also be a healthy challenge for students who are used to working with their normal group. And in our case with Beyond the Nutcracker, our guest artist is making it possible for us to showcase the beauty of the Tchaikovsky's Grand Pas de Deux just as the original choreographer and choreographer intended, as a pas de deux (this is French for "dance for two".