lifeblood: listlogs: 2001v04n162-news

ig-news-digest       saturday, october 13 2001       volume 04 : number 162

today's subjects:
  [ig-news] 'no boundaries': indigos, ballet connect onstage  [memememi@aol.]


date: fri, 12 oct 2001 07:30:11 edt
subject: [ig-news] 'no boundaries': indigos, ballet connect onstage

[sherlyn's note: this message was originally sent to the indigo
girls mailing list at]

>from the the atlanta journal-constitution: 10.11.2001
'no boundaries': indigos, ballet connect onstage

atlanta ballet
in a work choreographed by margo sappington, atlanta ballet dancers will
interpret seven indigo girls songs.

by susan elliott
atlanta journal-constitution staff writer

"t his is the way art is supposed to be: no boundaries, no barriers. i would
hope that someone who likes punk rock will appreciate this as much as someone
who likes ballet and classical music."

amy ray, half of atlanta's famed indigo girls, confesses to knowing "nothing
about dance." yet she and longtime musical partner emily saliers are about to
get a crash course. starting thursday they will join the dancers of the
atlanta ballet on the stage of the fox theatre for six performances of "the
indigo girls project." by all accounts, this is the first time a pop-rock
band has appeared live with a classical ballet company.

the project, which atlanta ballet artistic director john mcfall takes full
credit for dreaming up, was planned last season but derailed by the ballet's
yearlong orchestra strike. now, however, it's a go (and the hope is that an
infusion of indigo fans will help reduce the ballet's deficit of $850,000).

when the invitation first reached the indigo girls, each had a very different
response. saliers remembers thinking it was "cool. as soon as i heard about
it, i wanted to do it, because it's really unusual. plus, we're always
interested in getting people together and mixing it up."

ray recalls wondering, "now, how's that going to work? ballerinas dancing to
our music? hmm." she was still intrigued, she says, partly because one of her
early mentors, the late john blizzard, also managed dance companies. "he was
really important to me," ray says, "so when this came up, i thought of him."

blizzard ran the little five points community club in decatur, where ray and
saliers first started performing as the indigo girls 15 years ago. the two
had been singing together since the '70s, when they were students at laurel
ridge elementary school in decatur. over the years, the folk-rock duo has
evolved into a major musical force, performing up to 200 concerts annually,
recording 10 cds (most gold or platinum sellers) and espousing causes from
the environment to animal rights. they were among the participants in the
sept. 29 centennial olympic park benefit for the victims of the sept. 11
terrorist attacks.

"what they have to say is very compelling, very thought-provoking," says
mcfall, who has long been a fan. "there's a kind of energy, a chemistry, a
feeling, that's just such a good connection for us."

to realize that connection onstage, mcfall turned to margo sappington, a
high-energy, high-profile choreographer with a broad range of experience on
broadway and in opera, classical ballet, jazz and all points in between. a
one-time principal with the joffrey ballet and assistant to michael bennett
on broadway's "promises, promises," her earliest claim to choreographic fame
was "oh! calcutta!," the mostly nude broadway musical of 1969. "that one
really stirred things up," mcfall says, laughing.

there's no nudity in "the indigo girls project," but there is some
significant shedding of clothes. "the ballet starts like a concert, with the
dancers as fans," says sappington. "as it progresses, it becomes more of an
equal situation. they get rid of their normal pedestrian clothes and become
the beautiful dancers that they are.

"the [indigo] girls will have their own world. they'll have separate lighting
from the dancers and be on a platform with their amps and equipment. the
entire stage will be open -- all 80 feet."

the band, aside from ray and saliers on vocals and guitar, includes bass,
keyboards and percussion. in the pit, the atlanta ballet orchestra's string
players will join in on several of the seven songs that comprise the
40-minute piece. after intermission, the ballet -- minus the indigos -- will
dance george balanchine's 1937 classic, "serenade," done to tchaikovsky's
serenade in c.

sappington is fanatical about this project being a collaboration.

"when i introduced the girls to the dancers, i said, 'these are your
co-stars.' "

her choreographic language is very much in the classical tradition, but with
a twist in the torso here, a quick slide across the floor there and some
occasional out-and-out giddiness. in most cases, she does not illustrate
lyrics, but does attempt to capture a song's mood.

"we're definitely trusting margo's sensibilities," says saliers. "if you try
to act out what the songs are saying, it can get borderline hokey."

sappington chose the songs from a list of 30 the girls provided.

among them are "shed your skin," which forms the backdrop for the dancers'
metamorphosis from fans to dancers, and two relative rarities, "caramia" and
"touch me fall."

"when i saw the songs she chose -- some of which we never get to play live --
i thought, if i can get past my own insecurities about the drama in the
music, about whether the music is danceable, it's going to be amazing," says
ray. "and it is. we went to a rehearsal. and i was even having a bad day. but
it was so moving, i just wanted to cry. when 'caramia' started, i thought,
'oh, my god. she's really got a touch.' "

because of their busy schedules, the indigo girls will be able to rehearse
with the dancers only a few days. "the ballet is working their butts off,"
says ray. "all we have to do is show up for about a week and have a lot of

sappington, who is based in new york, has nothing but praise for atlanta
ballet's young dancers. "they are just such individuals, and i love that. i
don't want the cookie-cutter types. they're also very perceptive. they not
only understand the gesture that i [create], they understand the emotion
behind it."

watching julianne kepley and john welker rehearse their pas de deux in the
song "ghost," for example, one senses the longing, aching sadness of two
people deeply in love yet unable to come together. that emotion is not only
in their bodies, but also on their faces.

"i'm just blown away by these dancers," says ray. "by their physical
strength, their stamina, enthusiasm and the fact that they are so emotional
with our songs. we've got to play really well for them."

ballet preview

"the indigo girls project"

with the indigo girls and the atlanta ballet. 7:30 p.m. thursday; 8 p.m.
friday; 2 and 8 p.m. saturday; and 2 and 7 p.m. oct. 21. $20-$60. fox
theatre, 404-817-8700,

also read:
seven indigo songs inspire show

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