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The Trocks artful spoofs work on several levels, Ouellette says, as the comedy resonates with ballet fans “while also introducing ballet to people who may not have seen it much before.”. In celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Zellerbach debut, the Trocks are performing updated productions of “Swan Lake (Act II)” and “Don Quixote,” works that it first presented back in 1976 (plus a scene from “La Esmeralda”). The company’s Cal Performances residency also includes a Dying Swan Community Dance Class at 10 a.m. Saturday led by Trocks dancers in the Hearst Gymnasium (participation is $5) and a free demonstration on the “process and rituals of transformation into their ballerina personae” at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Durham Studio Theater. Details are available at calperformances.org.
Letting people peak behind the scenes is another sign of the company’s confidence, Seeking the ideal balance between transgression and homage pushed the Trocks toward excellence as “the company kept trying to be more refined,” Dobrin says, “The ballets were getting harder and at some point the dancers became so much better, As we became a little bit freer with the comedy, we could be a little campier because the company was technically stronger, We pushed both how to sew elastic on demi pointe shoes extremes at the same time, and figured out how to put on a really good show.”..
In the ancient Ethiopian language, Meklit means “one who knows the balance of things.” Achieving that balance is something singer, composer and cultural activist Meklit says she considers a life goal. That quest can be heard in her stirring, thrillingly sung songs. “I’m seeking music that moves people, that has story and substance, but also is joyful to experience,” says Meklit, who was born in Ethopia and who now lives in Oakland. “My hope is that people can come to a concert and have a great time, but also experience meaningful stories. That’s important to me, something I learned from lots of my mentors.”.
Her influences include artists whose work inspired her, how to sew elastic on demi pointe shoes such as Leonard Cohen and Nina Simone, Meklit also draws from jazz, singer-songwriter and African musical roots, Her most recent album, “We Are Alive,” brims with vibrant, diverse songs, In concert, the dazzling vocalist plays guitar and krar, a traditional Ethiopian harp, She’s accompanied by drums, percussion, bass and two horns, At Stanford’s Bing Concert Hall Studio on March 11, Meklit will treat the audience to some songs from an album due in May, It will reflect Meklit’s more fully realized merging of her eclectic influences, It’s being produced by Dan Wilson, who has worked with Adele, John Legend and The Dixie Chicks..
Meklit infuses elements of Ethiopia’s musical heritage into her songs. “I’m inspired by Ethio-jazz. (A combination of Ethiopian music and jazz.) It’s a hyphenated music. It has so many American elements — funk and soul — mixed with the sense of pentatonic melodies. Something that I’m really bringing in now are the traditional rhythms, which are propulsive and joyful and hit you in your hips, your feet and your shoulders. It’s fun to bring those elements together with the storytelling.“.
Meklit says she believes music and cultural activism come together in many different ways, “I’ve always had a philosophy that the more space you make for other artists, the more space you make for yourself, No one succeeds alone, If you succeed, you succeed as a community, “For me, it’s important to be involved in projects that bring lots of musicians together, to learn from each other, as well as to find unexpected collaborations and inspirations, but also to get audiences to think about genres and types of sounds that maybe they hadn’t been exposed to before and to embrace the local live music scene, which is pretty amazing how to sew elastic on demi pointe shoes right now in the Bay Area, despite the challenges of housing and cost of living that people are facing here.”..
Meklit is giving audiences a fresh musical experience. “When I play in Ethiopia, they’re like, ‘Oh, this is American music.’ And then I play it here and they’re like, ‘Oh, it’s Ethiopian music.’ It’s really both. It’s a hyphenated music that’s about questions of immigration and culture. And when we think about where our hybridized culture is moving, what is the sound of our demographic shift? These are all questions that come up in this music. “This music comes out of where we are right now. I’m making American music, but it has elements of the world outside of America inside of it, because America is a nation of immigrants. I’m trying to reflect a reality that deserves a musical voice, a cultural voice and a cultural space.”.
Meklit began writing “You Are My Luck,” a track on the new album, as a love song, When Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were shot and killed by police that week (July 2016, in Minnesota and Louisiana), the song took a new direction, “It became about the love that lets you do the work you need to do in the world, and about the fact that we can’t hide inside of love, but that it can be our engine, our forward motion into how to sew elastic on demi pointe shoes doing whatever we have to do to impact the world in a positive way.”..