Joffrey Texas premieres UCSB graduate composer Nick Norton's chamber ballet "Blue Hour"

Nick Norton with Joffrey Texas dancers (photo courtesy of Joffrey Texas)
UCSB graduate composer Nick Norton's chamber ballet, Blue Hour, was premiered this past weekend in San Antonio, Texas by students from the Joffrey Texas dance academy. Joffrey Texas—founded by Robert Joffrey in 1978—commissioned the piece from choreographer Katie Cooper and Nick to commemorate the academy’s 40th anniversary season.
“This was my first time writing music for dance, and I went in with, to some extent, no idea what I was doing or what to expect,” Nick said of the experience. “Talking through ideas with Katie was enlightening, though. I asked ‘should I be conservative with rhythm so it's not so hard to dance to?’ and she responded with ‘Ligeti doesn't scare me, write the music you want to write.’ The first rehearsal blew me away—it was like she heard what I was thinking, rather than the music I wrote, and expressed those thoughts in a different, complimentary way. It made for a far more complete experience of the piece. Then when they added the lighting...I'm still glowing about how much I enjoyed all of it, and can't stop thinking about what else I want to do with choreographers and dancers and staging. I think that working on this project has opened a whole new avenue of work for me, and I'm so grateful that I got the chance for that to happen.”
Nick found inspiration for the work in his surroundings. “The blue hour is the short period of time after sunset when the last glow of the sun is still visible as stars begin to appear,” Norton explained. “Strangely, the title helped drive the direction of the piece. As soon as I came across the phrase ‘blue hour’ in an astronomy calendar in my kitchen I knew it was a perfect match, as the workshop features a pre-professional training program for young dancers who are beginning to shine.”
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Photo courtesy of Joffrey Texas
Nick Norton with Joffrey Texas dancers (photo courtesy of Joffrey Texas)