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Nevada ballet dancer debuting piece inspired by wind at ‘Bolero’

Updated February 17, 2020 - 3:25 pm

As Krista Baker sat outside one summer day, she looked out at the trees and watched as the leaves moved with the music she was listening to.

As she listened, the classical music that streamed through her headphones evoked the feeling of wind in all its forms: soft and warm, sudden and frenetic, forceful and charging, and fickle in its direction.

“I was watching the trees and it was a little breezy outside. All of a sudden, the leaves started moving rapidly and it lined up with the music. Like they were dancing to it,” she says.

She took inspiration from the wind to choreograph her original piece, “The Current,” which her peers at Nevada Ballet Theatre will perform this weekend.

Baker will be the first NBT dancer to debut an original piece on The Smith Center stage at the upcoming midwinter program.

As a musician who played piano since she was a child, Baker started with finding music she could listen to on loop for a year. She settled on Italian composer Ezio Bosso.

“After listening to the album for two months basically every day, I was like ‘this is it,’ ” she says. “I keep finding moments I really like and starting to think of ideas and visualize things.”

She then took the music to the NBT studio where, since mid-January, she and 12 dancers have rehearsed every day.

“I don’t like to, you know, come up with steps in my kitchen,” Baker says. “I wanted it to feel comfortable on them. It’s created on them. It should be inspired by what they do best so, as an entire room of dancers, we’ve created something really beautiful.”

The first movement opens with a line of dancers stretched diagonally across the stage. As the music swells, each dancer, in turn, falls away from the line in a sudden twirl as though scattered by a gust of wind.

In each of the five movements, the 12 dancers push, pull and leap in gestures as frenzied and fluid as alternating currents.

“She has an interesting vocabulary. Her vocabulary is her set of movements — movement is how dancers speak,” Nevada Ballet’s artistic director Roy Kaiser explains. “Hers is based heavily in classical tradition but goes beyond that with a very contemporary look.”

In her 15th season with the ballet, Baker has choreographed 11 works for the company’s subscriber-only The Studio Series and its collaboration with Cirque du Soleil, “A Choreographers’ Showcase.”

“The company looks terrific in it. It worked out. Not every one does. There’s a risk in creating new work,” Kaiser says. “The fact that Krista has been with NBT for so long and knows the dancers so well results in just a really compelling piece.”

This weekend’s program also includes George Balanchine’s classic ballet, “The Four Temperaments,” stripped away from scenic elements and heavy costuming to allow a true reflection of the music.

“It was created in 1946, so anybody who hears that may think it’s an old relic,” Kaiser says. “Quite the opposite. It feels like it could’ve been choreographed last week.”

The program’s namesake ballet, “Bolero,” is a contemporary piece for five couples that begins understated and simple and builds to a climactic end.

“This is a program that, if you feel at all intimidated by ballet or don’t have experience or you’re afraid you won’t understand, this is one to come to,” Kaiser says. “It will resonate with everybody.”

■ What: “Bolero”

■ Where: The Smith Center for the Performing Arts

■ When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday

■ Tickets: $32.95-$140.95, nevadaballet.org

Contact Janna Karel at jkarel@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jannainprogress on Twitter.

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