Los Gatos Ballet choreographer, Christine Herrera, was awarded the Leigh Weimers Emerging Artists Award this past Wednesday by the Rotary Club of San Jose. This award is presented to outstanding artists living and working in Santa Clara county who have yet to be widely recognized for their talent, vision and artistic accomplishments. Ms. Herrera received a $5,000 cash prize. The Leigh Weimers Emerging Artists Awards is a program of the Rotary Club of San Jose. Additionally, the program receives funding from Rotary Club members, friends of Leigh Weimers and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Endowment of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
Ms. Herrera was invited to speak about her choreography work at the San Jose Rotary Club luncheon. “I’ve have worked for this forward-thinking non-profit (Los Gatos Ballet) for 8 years now. We are committed to fostering the love of dance and making it accessible to all age groups and backgrounds. Also, we encourage our students to push themselves outside of their box and take artistic risks. This develops them as artists. I am personally committed to keeping the dance arts alive and thriving for our youth in the Bay Area.”, said Herrera.
This past summer Ms. Herrera choreographed the City Lights Theater Company’s production of American Idiot. This was their biggest selling show in 33 years! The Mercury News stated, “Christine Herrera’s choreography was thoroughly effective. She puts more than a dozen ensemble actors through high-kicking, head-banging, herky-jerky moves that are deceptively simple-looking but right in step with the music and story. During the terrifically defiant song “Holiday,” a riser back stage is flipped over to become a crowded dancing prop, and it’s exhilarating to watch. And in the ode to disillusionment “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” dancers prowl the stage like the zombies in “Walking Dead.”. Regarding Arts website stated, “Christine Herrera’s choreography is a master class in synchronization, and she made full use of her company of 21 and the whole stage, ensuring that the urban grayness of the set was constantly filled with excitement.”.
During the San Jose Rotary luncheon, Ms. Herrera showcased a few of her pieces with Los Gatos Ballet’s Company dancers in their Repertoire Series. “This production is unique because the Los Gatos Ballet staff set pieces on the students that are non-classical and simplistic. We also invite a few of our advanced students to conceptualize their own works for the stage. This is a great opportunity for the young dancers to explore and develop their own creativity. I like to produce works for my students that break down their classical alignment and mentality, but will still showcase their ballet technique. I have them focus on their musicality, rather than story when working on choreography. Connection through the music is important to me. I find the music to be powerful. If the music doesn’t connect with me organically, I believe that it will certainly not connect with my students or the audience. I am about connection when generating new works and I only choreograph pieces I would also want to perform.”, said Herrera.
In the future Ms. Herrera would like to set an original piece to George Gershwin’s works from either An American in Paris or Rhapsody in Blue. She is also looking forward to Los Gatos Ballet’s 2017 Repertoire Series. “I've started putting together my ideas for my own piece. I can't wait to see the company dancers’ original works too. It's awe-inspiring to see the students transform from dancers to creators.”, said Herrera. Ultimately, Ms. Herrera hopes that her work will continue to inspire people to attend performances and support the local arts.
Top photo: Herrera and Geri Weimers
Bottom photos: Herrera speaking, Herrera with Steve Borkenhagen and SJ Rotary President Cindy Faulkner, Herrera talking with guest, Herrera’s piece Retrógrada del Sol (photos by Monroe and Kerris)