Prima ballerina begins a new adventure – Teatro Zinzanni
Until June, Ariana Lallone had spent the last 25 years with Pacific Northwest Ballet, 17 of them as an acclaimed principal dancer. Retirement, however, didn’t come with golfing and a porch! September 1st introduces her next phase – as a dancer in Teatro Zinzanni’s newest creation, Bonsoir Liliane.
Directed by legendary song and dance man Tommy Tune (recipient of the National Medal of Arts and 9-time Tony Award-winner), this production is jam-packed with local and national talent. Teatro ZinZanni veteran, French ballet star Liliane Montevecchi worked with Tommy Tune on Broadway in Nine and won a Tony Award. So Ariana has some heady company to share this experience with.
In fact, Ariana’s in such awe of Tommy Tune that “we’ve had long days in the tent, but I find myself not wanting to leave because I want to watch him work and how he coaches other people in movement or voice and want to have this experience last as long as possible,” she says.
“I had not met him before. I grew up knowing about him and watching Will Rogers Follies and watching him tap dancing. My mom would always say, ‘You can always have Tommy Tune as a partner,’ because I’m tall. So, I’m just star struck.
“When this came about, I just couldn’t believe it. He’s talented, smart, handsome, and speaks so clearly. It’s a dream to work with him and Liliane.”
Veteran Zinzanni choreography Tobias Larsson worked with Ariana for a couple of weeks before rehearsals started. Ariana explains, “We worked on my ballet so I didn’t have to spend time in a full company rehearsal in what I was going to do.”
One of the aspects that was different for her was the amount of rehearsal time. “I innocently asked what the rehearsal process was (thinking it was weeks). And I was told ten days. I was shocked by that. That is definitely not something I was used to. PNB has at least 3 weeks before we get into the theater and then another couple of days before we open.”
Her life during the years at PNB was fairly regimented. “We had a 40 week contract and took class in the morning, rehearsed during the day, and every three to four weeks we’d have a series of performances, and of course a month long Nutcracker. So my artistic focus was being a ballerina,” Ariana says.
“The thing I’ve said to people is that my life has been very linear and proudly so. Directed towards maintaining my body with Yoga and Pilates, outside my regular schedule, to stay in shape as a ballerina, and I believe that is why I had been able to dance as long as I did.”
But now, so many things are new. “One of the differences between Teatro Zinzanni and a dance company is that at TZ they needed to have a full effect of a performance in a short time (a ballet can be 20 minutes long) in a very small space. As a ballet dancer, that’s very challenging.
“I use a ballet bar, but I use an arch rather than a square bar, and I wrap around it as a partner, and an apparatus. It’s a twist on the ballerina. It’s the most classical thing I do in the night.
“I also take part in the group singing. Tommy will say, ‘I need you guys to come in on the background singing.’ I’m not a singer and I’ve never attempted to sing. It’s so exciting to have the opportunity in one’s life. Everyone is very nice and makes it very comfortable to help you try new things.”
She’ll also be dancing mere feet away from patrons, instead of on a proscenium stage. “The intimacy is so wonderful,” Ariana says.
“It will be odd for me at first and I’ll be nervous. In the ballet, you don’t see the audience. When I have been an audience member at TZ, I catch the energy of the performer since (the performance) is right in front of me, and I imagine it reciprocates from a performer to the audience member.”
Tommy Tune is working in a unique environment in his own experience, as well. He says, “This is really going to be a departure from other shows created by Teatro Zinzanni. “It’s all completely new. It’s not a play, it’s not a musical, it’s not a circus, it’s not a rock n’ roll show or a ballet, but it has all of those elements in it. The challenge is to sew all of those diverse elements into one fulfilling evening that has variety. I’m not looking for the usual ZinZanni tone, I’m aspiring to give Norm (Langill, artistic director) something new.”
Full article here…