For Bruiser, Stanton Welch draws upon three compositions from Graeme Koehne's CD Powerhouse: Capriccio for Piano and Strings (1987); Powerhouse (1993) Subtitled Perpetuum Mobile for Orchestra or Rumba for Orchestra; and Unchained Melody (1990).
"The energy of Graeme Koehne's music appealed to me, " commented Mr. Welch. "It's very dynamic and thematic. I felt like there was a humor and aggression in the music, which is an unusual combination.
"Bruiser is rougher, more explosive, and into the ground, with lots of natural movement and styles. It's about the impetus for the movement, as opposed to the pretty pictures found in classical ballet. The women in Bruiser are in pointe shoes, and the piece uses a classical technique. But the dancers punch each other, kick each other, headlock each other; and then they do an arabesque.
"Australia is very sports-oriented. We all have to learn how to play football and cricket. At all our Christmas gatherings, everyone in the family gets together to play one of these games on the beach. Your schools audition you to see if you have the talent to play professionally. My brother Damien and I used to wrestle and fight like cat and dog growing up. It's a rite of passage for boys in Australia. But I'm not a sports-aholic; I just played them growing up. You can't be Australian and not know sports.
"In Bruiser, there's a parallel between boxing, wrestling, and other sports with relationships and life. People always parallel boxing with dancing. In both arenas, you're meant to be light on your feet, on the balls of your feet, and ready to go in any direction.
"Being in a relationship is rough. It's like a boxing match. People's words can be like punches. You have rounds, and there's no umpire. Any move that you make -- to flirt, to tease, or to fight -- is a series of punches or blocks. Climbing the corporate ladder, finding your mate, interacting in your family -- all these are the different moves, kicks and holds used in sports. The ballet examines the parallel between life and sports.
"Bruiser is definitely an ensemble piece, showcasing the entire cast, with various solos, pas de deux, and pas de trois. Nine men and nine women are featured in the ballet. There are three movements. The first and last movement are two rounds in a battle, and the middle movement, a pas de deux, is the 'time out,' the rest period in between.
"I picked the costumes from Bloch. They resemble aerobic sportswear. We've designed our own 'team logo' which will go on the costumes."
Music by Graeme Koehne (b. 1956)
By arrangement with Boosey Hawkes, Inc., publisher and copyright owner
Choreography and scenery by Stanton Welch
Costumes by Bloch Inc.
Lighting by Christina Giannelli
Houston Ballet Premiere on June 9, 1005, by Houston Ballet in the Brown Theater at the Wortham Theater Center in Houston, Texas.
Dancers: Sara Webb and Ian Casady
Dancers: Damian Schwiethale, Naomi Glass, and Lucas Priolo
Dancers: Lauren Anderson and Ian Casady
All photos: Geoff Winningham