Ballet Zaida: The Tide

Nicole Voris

On Monday we released our latest film, The Tide. We are so proud of all of our work, and this piece is no exception.  It gives me chills every time I watch it.

The music is by Ken Mankin & Ariel llies.  We had never worked with spoken word before, but this amazing piece, with poetry by Ken Mankin and music by Ariel Ilies, was perfect to start with. 

Oliver, Stephen, and I have known and worked together for almost a full 10 years now.  Stephen is Oliver's and my best friend.  We all know each other so well that we completely trust one another.  When we work together it's pretty spectacular because we really know what the others are thinking.

As a partner I completely trust Stephen.  I can through my body at him and I know he will never drop me, plus we also make something really cool.  The day we made this we filmed a lot of different lifts just in case we would need them.  Not all of them made the final cut, but we did some work that I have never seen done before.  Stephen and I just allowed our bodies and gravity to work together to make new exciting partnering.

We hope you enjoy the film!  If you do please like, comment and share! 

Behind the scenes July Video Project

Oliver Endahl

Hey everyone,

Today I wanted to share some of the process of the July Video Project. 

As you recall, I posted 1 video every day during the month of July to the Ballet Zaida Instagram, Facebook & YouTube accounts.

As I revealed after all the videos went online, all the videos were shot using an iPhone 6S Plus. 

The reason I used a smart phone to film the videos was to show you that anyone can make beautiful art, & that doing artistic endeavors is not out of your reach. 

To film the videos, I used the basic "Camera" App that comes pre-installed on the iPhone. (There are various video recording apps for the iPhone available, but I chose to use the basic camera app because I wanted to use the app everyone had access to.) 

There are some videos where the camera is totally still and only the dancer is moving, but for the videos where the camera is moving around the dancer, in order to stabilize the camera and achieve a smooth gliding effect, I used a Glide Cam HD 2000 

During the indoor video shoots, I would put on some music, give the dancers a general direction, and have them move to the music playing. (The music I played during the filming was not the music that was eventually featured in the videos)  

I played a lot of Ólafur Arnalds. This was fun, because on top of my verbal cues giving the dancer some guidance, the sound of the music also gave the dancer a general mood. If the song was slower & more solemn, the dancer would move more in that way. 

What's also nice about shooting in-doors is that during the video you can continuously give verbal cues to the dancers as they move. So for one shot you can be like, "Get back to back & utilize your port de bras" (port de bras is a ballet term that means "an act or manner of moving and posing the arms") Then after a bit you can say "Now separate & try some leg extensions" as featured in this video below. 

If it was an outdoor shoot though, like this one on the beach, I would tell the dancer some verbal cues before we started filming and a general vibe, but then during the filming the dancer couldn't hear me due to the waves and the distance. So we would shoot a take for 60 seconds or so, and then I would jog over and give her a new cue before starting another take. 

Also, moving for both the dancer and the camera man outdoors is no easy task. I found just walking while filming is incredibly difficult, much less dancing gracefully. 

For each video, I would film around 5 - 15 minutes of footage.

After arriving home from the shoot, I would offload the video onto my computer and use Final Cut Pro X to edit it.

The editing mainly consisted of me chopping up clips and putting them in various orders. So if I filmed a clip that was 60 seconds long, I would watch the clip and cut it down to 5-30 seconds and then place it in my main timeline of the video, along with a few other clips.

Once I had a few clips I liked lined up, I would experiment with overlaying music. This was my favorite part, because you can have the same clip of dancing and put it to one piece of music, but then you can try a different piece of music and it will completely change the tone and vibe of the video. 

Other than putting the clips in a specific order that had a good flow, the rest of the editing to the videos is very minimal. Once again, I wanted to showcase that you don't have to have professional camera knowledge, or intense video editing skills to make beautiful art. Everyone can do it. The editing to the videos I did was just a small contrast boost. 

(I'm familiar with Final Cut Pro because I've used it in the past, but you can definitely use other movie editing apps such as iMovie to create great videos) 

The music for the videos was a mixture of myself, Joshua Piper, and Benjamin Stewart. Each of us has a unique style that you can really hear through the music. 

All the music from myself, Joshua and Benjamin is available to download for free. Just visit our SoundCloud pages and you can download all the music from there. The reason we gave away all the music is because we want people to download it and experiment with making their own dance videos.

I actually started out by making music through Garage Band on the iPhone. (There's some songs in those videos I made entirely through the app) 

The July Video Project was a really fun event for me. I had a blast working and creating with all the different dancers. One video in particular was created a little later on during the project, but I'm a huge fan of it. Here's a bonus video featuring dancers Sarah Hay ( @SarahHayOfficial ) and Christian Novopavlovski ( @NovoPavlovski ) The music is Waltz in C Minor by Joshua Piper. Available as a free download at his SoundCloud.

All of you can make amazing art, and technology has made it easier than ever to create. Try and experiment with things. Take photos, make videos, make music, just experiment & have fun! You've got nothing to lose. 

-Oliver Endahl



Nicole Voris

Two years ago I had the privilege of performing in the inaugural performance of the small Austin based company Performa/dance.  The two wonderful people who launched the company are Jennifer Hart and Ed Carr.  Jennifer Hart is an amazing choreographer and for this show I was lucky to perform two of her pieces On Truth and Love and Lightspace.  Ed Carr was one of my partners in On Truth and Love which won an Austin Critics Table Award.  You can see some photos taken by Ballet Zaida below.

They will be doing their second show 4X3 June 10th and 11th at Austin Ventures Studio Theater. If you live in the area I highly recommend checking this show out.  Keep an eye out for this company and the artists involved.

Nicole Voris and Ed Carr in  On Truth and Love  by Jennifer Hart.  Photo by Ballet Zaida

Nicole Voris and Ed Carr in On Truth and Love by Jennifer Hart.  Photo by Ballet Zaida

Nicole Voris and Oliver Greene-Cramer in  On Truth and Love  by Jennifer Hart.  Photo by Ballet Zaida

Nicole Voris and Oliver Greene-Cramer in On Truth and Love by Jennifer Hart.  Photo by Ballet Zaida

One of my favorite dancers ever!  Alexa Capareda after a dramatic vignette in  Variations on Surrender  by Jennifer Hart.  Photo by Ballet Zaida

One of my favorite dancers ever!  Alexa Capareda after a dramatic vignette in Variations on Surrender by Jennifer Hart.  Photo by Ballet Zaida

Nicole Voris, Oren Porterfield, Ian J. Bethany, Grace Morton, and Preston Patterson in  Lightspace  by Jennifer Hart.  Photo by Ballet Zaida

Nicole Voris, Oren Porterfield, Ian J. Bethany, Grace Morton, and Preston Patterson in Lightspace by Jennifer Hart.  Photo by Ballet Zaida

Ballet Zaida Film - Replay

On Monday we released our latest Ballet Zaida film - Replay.

You can learn more about it from our previous blog posts written by dancer Nicole Voris, song writer Joey Contreras, and choreographer Michelle Thompson.

You can also get the song on iTunes, Apple Music, and Spotify.  Search "Joey Contreras Replay."

If you enjoy it please like, comment, and share!

Michelle Thompson - Replay

This week we have guest contributor Michelle Thompson! She is the amazing choreographer behind Ballet Zaida films Nesoi and Rem.  She is also behind our newest film Replay.  You can learn more about her on our Choreographers Page.  To follow her career check out her website and Instagram.  To see her previous Ballet Zaida Films check out our Films Page.

Michelle Thompson

Replay has been a really wonderful project to work on. One of the reasons it has been so great is because Nicole is such an easy artist to work with. She always works with a willingness to grow and expand, and I find her beauty inspiring. Adding Erin Crall, Alice Cao, and Imana Gunawan to our cast was also a treat.  These talented dancers watched videos I created in my New York apartment and then absorbed the final touches of the choreography the day before we filmed in Seattle. Finally working with Oliver is so enjoyable, efficient, and fun. He understands and appreciates my choreography and the dancers, and uses his own artistic lens to add even more meaning to each piece we work on together.


            Initially Replay was a challenging piece for me, because the music displays more of a modern and pop style than the music I usually work with. At the same time, it was a wonderful challenge that pushed me to make different movement choices. After much personal reflection and speaking with Oliver, we decided to lean into the music rather than resist it. I allowed myself to make new choices especially once we arrived in the film space. It’s definitely not a music video, but if I were to make a music video it would have some similar elements.

           The other interesting part of Replay is that there are elements in the lyrics that already gave me a direction to go in. Many times when I am creating, I choose music that relates to a theme or tone I am interested in exploring, but it is not always explicit. With Replay, the words encouraged me to look at the dancers, the space, and the environment of the piece as a journey through repetitious behaviors. In history and in personal lives, we see patterns that can sometimes cause pain or a lack of freedom. This is a universal idea. I can remember studying history in school and seeing entire nations repeating behaviors that cause great disagreement and pain. I myself have repeated poor behaviors. These behaviors can replay over and over until there is a shift.

           The music helped me decide what I wanted the tone and theme to be, and it told me where to go with the movements and the spatial architecture of the piece. Initially when we started the piece two years ago, Nicole’s journey was not as clear to me, and we all decided that we needed to add more dancers to amplify the piece. With the reincarnation of the piece in Seattle, we see Nicole being pulled back to the three women and we can start to see a relationship form between her movements and their movements. The three women help construct a world and feeling that swarms around Nicole. At the end of the piece the three dancers are clasping her and symbolically cementing her to this environment, and she makes a decision to break free. She runs out of the frame and out of this world, which she created. This is this most important moment in the piece for me, because she decides to change the pattern of her life for better. We cannot forget the patterns of history, but we can choose to learn and then let go. 

Photo Michelle took of Nicole during rehearsal in 2013.

Photo Michelle took of Nicole during rehearsal in 2013.

Read previous posts from Affinity Nicole Voris and composer Joey Contreras to learn more about the piece.  Check back in to learn more and find out the release date!