Melody Herrera's Marie Diary

April 8, 2009

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Today we started rehearsals for Marie. We’re starting with a scene called “The Music Room” that is right at the beginning of the ballet. The scene is not that long. It starts off with Marie playing the harpsichord in a lesson with Austrian composer Gluck and playing around with her sisters and brothers. Merci, the Austrian Ambassador to France, comes and meets her and escorts her to the French border. The first thing that strikes me is how beautiful this music is. I can’t wait to hear the rest of it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It’s quickly becoming clear that we all know very well who we are in this ballet and the ins and outs of our characters. Stanton has stressed that we know how we all fit in to the protocol of the French Court – like who bows to who, who doesn’t like who and why. Today we were all delivered binders or folders with historic accounts of our characters. Stanton put together this research and did our homework for us so to speak, an amazing gesture that didn’t go unappreciated. I got two really big binders with sections on France and Austria, people and circumstances surrounding the French Revolution and Versailles and Marie Antoinette and her friends and family too. I feel like I’m going to know this character in a deeper way than I’ve ever been able to do before.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Some of my favorite moments in the process of this all coming together came this week when Stanton was choreographing the scenes of Louis and those in prison with Marie being taken away to be executed. The rehearsals have been so heavy and “raw”, as Stanton put it, that pretty much all of us were really crying every time we’ve had them. Yesterday we started out with all the women in that scene and we were all very emotional. The next hour the men joined. Stanton warned them that “It’s pretty raw in here, so be prepared.” I don’t think people really realized what he meant until we got going. One of our younger men broke down on the side in tears. He had just exited from holding Marie back and fighting her to the ground as the Duke of Orleans rips her son away from her and takes him unexpectedly. This is a really hard moment for everyone involved in it I think.

It’s really special for all of us to experience and develop a story like this in the environment we have right now. We are all so comfortable and trusting of each other personally and artistically that we have the freedom to completely commit and let go in the studio and that’s an amazing feeling. It’s so nice to have everyone so involved and giving so much, we’re all in it together.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

So there are really light and fun moments too. Not all tears. I’m so excited about having a food fight on stage! Who gets to do that? And it’s all come together so quickly, I think there’s not a lot left to do which is great because we’ll have lots of time to get really familiar with everything.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

We’ve pretty much not touched Marie since October, but just in this last week we’ve started doing the last pas de deux we do with Fersen. All the pas work with both Louis and Fersen is difficult, but the ones with Fersen are trickier. This last pas de deux is hard technically and is hard emotionally. Fersen plans an escape and begs Marie to come away with him. She refuses and decides to stay and stand by her King and meet her fate. I think it is during this dance that you see Marie at her most exhausted and broken, it is a moment of realization for her. The timing of Stanton choreographing this pas de deux right now comes at an ironic point in my personal state, actually this whole ballet is kinda that way for me. But today he actually stopped the music at one point and asked Connor and I if we were okay, I guess it’s apparent that some of this material hits home with us and it gets intense sometimes.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Today we had a commercial shoot for Marie. I had to get to the salon pretty early to let them get started on my hair. It’s quite a do, white spray paint and all. It’s so funny that everyone always asks if it’s a wig. So the shoot ended up being pretty neat. It was taken in a circular shot and we did a lot of stuff repetitively as the camera went around us on its track. I think the best moment of the day came after I left the set though and went to pick Isaac up from school in full Marie hair and make-up and street clothes. Quite a look . . . .

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Princess Lamballe is one of Marie’s best friends who was brutally raped and murdered in a rioting mob of revolutionists. This scene in the ballet is so intense and hard for me to watch, I think it makes it even harder because Kelly who is a close friend of mine, plays the princess. There are some really spectacular moments in this part though as four men literally throw Kelly around. I had a very difficult time watching this scene for the first time last week and have had to sort of put up a guard about it for now. The emotions that it brings up in me and the things it makes me think of and remind me of are too hard. It’s going to be a tough moment on stage because I will allow myself to be fully in it there. I generically don’t think you should save anything for the stage because the deeper you get into it in the process the more will be there to draw from on stage. But this time I think this is the way it has to be.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Woohoo! We finished the Fersen pas today.  That was the very last thing left so now we’re all done! It’s funny, the last little bit that was left was a few phrases of music smack in the middle of our second pas de deux that came between two big lifts. We had a gust too, witnessing the final choreographic moments. Sean Kelly, who was a principal dancer with Houston Ballet, came and watched a rehearsal of The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude in studio and then came and watched our Marie call in Studio A which we had right after. Vertiginous being the ballet it is left my face bright red for Marie, I don’t think I got my normal coloring back until after lunch.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Today is our first day of studio runs in costume. We did Act 1 and 2. It’s good to do a run with props and costumes to work out any glitches and realize what challenges there are to overcome. There was nothing too major today though, different types of earrings and rings were discussed and a necklace was added because there’s a part where a dress is now one piece but we were practicing with it in two. Just things like that. The costumes are so beautiful. It’s fun to see all the characters in their attire.

Friday, February 13, 2009

This morning I did an interview with the Associated Press. The man who interviewed me is an execution writer (Ironic to interview this role with him I think.) After the interview I got to turn the tables a little bit and asked him some questions about his job. I asked about people’s reactions to facing their deaths. His answers gave me mixed feelings but mainly it was a bit chilling. As far as rehearsal goes we did the second studio run in costume and that was Acts 2 & 3. I ripped my prison dress trying to fight off James when they took Marie’s son away (played by sweet little Nathan).

Friday, February 20, 2009

1st technical rehearsal, Act I mostly in the big bed like a big shopping cart, couldn’t get it to go straight first few times. New challenges on stage, always, lighting dark, dress heavy. Music sounds amazing with orchestra.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Went on a little still, but didn’t go to the end. Act II is really fun – stuck my hand in a pie and had cream all over it. We get serious cases of giggles in this scene. I’m so impressed at how into this everyone is, it’s not like acting – it’s being in the moment.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Got to watch 1st dress from house today with Amy.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dress Rehearsal, first time going through whole ballet by now I have big bruises from the storming of Versailles section, which we’ve gotten to each time we’ve been on stage and gets more intense each go. Stanton’s been comparing this ballet to the birth of something. In the case, I feel like we’re in the most intense part of the labor and she’s ready to be born. I’m so filled with anticipation but no nerves. Everyone keeps asking me if I’m getting nervous, I’m not yet but curious if I will be, maybe I should be?

Thursday, February 26, 2009 Opening Night

Opening night! Parents got in last night. Went to have a delicious breakfast at Baby Barnaby’s (Green eggs). Stanton says to enjoy myself. Dawn compared this night to getting married “Your wedding. Enjoy every moment,” she says, this makes me realize that this night is a monumental one in my life. Still no nerves though, I think I’ve learned what it is this year to have nerves for things that are very scary and hard so to feel the anticipation of something so beautiful and exciting, I am feeling elated and peaceful. I feel blessed. The music is richer, the colors brighter, and the characters more present than ever! It’s on. Only leaves that stage once briefly in the beginning. Guillotine broke! (In front of me during quick change right after beheading scene. Lost an earring in 1st pas de deux. *Longest light cue ever . . .