Kristaps Kikulis, of the Atlantic City Ballet, will know he did a good job if people walk out uplifted after seeing the new ballet he choreographs.
Kikulis, 28, of Egg Harbor City, will be the director of “In the Eye of the Storm,” a ballet funded by a New Jersey Recovery grant. It will be choreographed by Kikulis with assistance from local Hurricane Sandy survivors.
“A lot of choreographers take inspiration from movies, people, stories and books,” said Kikulis, who added that not many have taken movements exhibited by the general public and incorporated them into a ballet. “We make our own stories, or we are inspired from somebody else or some other art. In this case, it is people who have been affected by the storm.”
Kikulis’ ballet will be in three parts and use at least 14 dancers.
The ballet will feature a group of characters, some who live at the shore and some who are visitors.
It will start with dancers conveying the good parts about life at the shore. Then, in the middle section, he plans to show how the storm affects the characters through the emotions the dancers display. The final portion will reflect people helping each other, rebuilding and bringing the shore back.
The choreographer already started working on the beginning and the end in his imagination. He needs help from the public with the middle section.
“It’s really challenging because they (the public) are not professional dancers, but that’s my challenge,” Kikulis said. “I’m doing it kind of classical-contemporary, but at the same time, I feel that on the storm part I will bring more modern into it.”
Kikulis has some steps already worked out. He has the ballet planned out in his head. The company returns for the upcoming ballet season Sept. 8.
“When I work with kids, kids are more open, so it’s easy with kids. With adults, it really depends. Some adults are more open, especially women, so we will see how it works,” Kikulis said.
Workshops will be held after the Ballet on the Boardwalk performances by the Atlantic City Ballet at 6 p.m. Sept. 20, 21 and 28 at Kennedy Plaza on the Boardwalk in front of Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Excerpts from the ballet will be shown publicly for the first time at the “Sandy: One Year Later” event at 7 p.m. Oct. 29 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, Essex County.
The world premiere of “In the Eye of the Storm” takes place Nov. 2 at Dante Hall Theater in Atlantic City.
Caitlin Bond, 14, of Ocean City, is a student with the Atlantic Contemporary Ballet Theatre, which is the official school of the Atlantic City Ballet. Bond was displaced from her home for months because of Hurricane Sandy. The teen plans to attend at least one of the workshops.
Bond and her family moved from Mays Landing to Ocean City only three months before Hurricane Sandy hit.
“We actually stayed in Ocean City until the Monday of the storm. Then, it was getting really bad, and our downstairs had already started flooding, so at the low tide, my mom, my dad, I, my grandmom and my dog got out. We went to stay at my aunt’s house in Cherry Hill,” said Bond, who added that they returned to Ocean City after three or four days, but were not back into their own home until late March and couldn’t use the first floor.
When Bond attends the workshop, the only thing she wants to convey is how scary it was.
“If you looked out front or back, because we live on the bay, it overflowed into the yard, and you could just see the water coming up closer and closer to the house. In the front yard too, it was like that. ... It never really flooded before,” said Bond, who added she believes the ballet is a good idea. “I think it will help a lot.”
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