Not too long ago, Lori Grooters, a choreographer and dancer for Ballet Des Moines, heard some music and thought, “That sounds like birds.” Her chance encounter with that piece of music eventually led to her creating a ballet—called “Nesting”—that will be a part of “Prelude: A Triple Bill,” the company’s fall show that will be performed Oct. 19-21 at Hoyt Sherman Place. “I started thinking about the idea after I heard the music, then found more music…and it evolved from there,” she says. That’s how creating choreography always starts—with the music, whether the ballet is a classic story or more contemporary one, says Grooters, the company’s ballet mistress. “Music is the most important part,” she says. “I have to inspired by the music, or I feel the choreography isn’t what I want it to be.”
After settling on the music, Grooters starts to envision steps, but the choreography remains inchoate until she’s with the dancers. “I can’t choreograph by myself,” she says. “I have to have the dancers in front of me to see what (the choreography) looks like. I’ve tried being more prepared before (getting together with) the dancers, but it’s a waste of time because it just doesn’t end up looking the way I was envisioning.”
Nevertheless, “I do go in knowing who will be (performing) each part,” she says. A key part of creating choreography is understanding the talents of individual dancers; Grooters says she considers if the dancer, for example, excels at turning or jumping, and also how quickly they learn new steps.
For “Nesting,” Grooters is working with the company’s six new professional resident dancers, who will make their debut with “Prelude.” Serkan Usta, the company’s artistic director, and guest choreographer Ma Cong, a principal dancer at the Tulsa Ballet, are choreographing the other two parts of the show. Tickets are $42.50 per person and $27.50 for children younger than 18.
For more about Ballet Des Moines, read the story in the current issue of dsm magazine by clicking here.