Dancing Christopher Wheeldon's Carousel #OnceUponaPointe | Kathryn Morgan
Today. We are going to be talking about my experience. Dancing Christopher. Wheeldon carousel, I'm gonna tell you the story of how I got cast the rehearsal, process the, performance, and more, so welcome to another episode of, Once Upon a point. Hi. Everybody today's, once upon a point takes, place right after the how, I was cast as Juliet, 1 so if you haven't seen that story I will link it in a card for you guys but before we get to the story I want, to just say to you guys next, week I'm gonna be starting back with the ballet and the technique, videos, so, if there's a bar you want if there's a class you want if there's a step you're having trouble with leave. Me a comment in the box below so I can start filming those and we will get back to the ballet videos, next, week so that's really exciting so like I said this, particular story, takes, place right after dancing. My very first Juliet, with, New York City Ballet in Saratoga, if you go back and remember, that story we were rehearsing in, Saratoga. And I was gonna perform this role because Yvonne beret got injured, during. One of their rehearsals, I happen to look out into the audience and, see Christopher. Wheeldon just, sitting there watching, he. Was kind of just sitting there looking. He stayed for maybe a half hour and then left I didn't, really think anything of it at the time but. As you'll see it had genuine, significance. So, I danced, the role of Juliet all was great everybody, said it was beautiful I was very proud of myself it was a really big deal for an apprentice, to dance that, role so we went on break for. The summer as you do, I think we had five weeks, off at that point scheduling, is a little bit different now but I think we had five weeks off I went, home to Mobile, Alabama where, I'm from so we came back for. The. Fall season, and at. That point we weren't doing a fall season we were going to be touring to, Chicago, and, it was my first tour with a company I didn't know what to expect we, rehearse I think maybe two weeks because it typically, when you go on tour at least with New York City Ballet you. Do ballets that you do a lot symphony, and see symphony, and three movements Seren odd all these bellies that you do a lot so they don't have to be rehearsed for that long, which everybody knows them it's not some brand new thing that you have to spend five weeks doing, you pretty much get them all on and ready in two weeks so we I. Can't, even remember what we did I know I did the four temperaments there I know I did Sara nod there and we. Were Hurst for a couple weeks we went to Chicago it, was my first tour which was nice because it was not out of the country we'll get to those in future episodes but. It was in the country everybody, spoke English you know I mean we were only there a week it, was a perfect, first, tour, and, I, didn't have any principal roles so it was really easy for me and the. Last day of our Chicago tour. The. Rehearsal, schedule went, up for. The following, week back in New York because we were going to be rehearsing for. The, gala and for the winter season and. The. Gala program, I don't know if it had been announced yet, typically. Again this it's a little bit different now but New York City Ballet opens. Their season, at that, point with, a gala I think, it was like November. Gala and then we started Nutcracker I think, okay, this has been well but I know we were doing some sort of opening. Week gala in, November. That had nothing whatsoever to do in the cracker and the. Program came out and it was going to be carousel. Well. / - not. Symphony.
And Three movements symphony. And see all these kind of big ballets, we're gonna be on this program it was a truly massive, gala, evening that opens the whole year so. I'm thinking great I'll get to do Symphony and see you know it'll be a good experience - the last day we're in Chicago. The. Rehearsal sheet comes. Out and it the way it works at New York City Ballet I don't know if it's how it still works to be honest but, typically, you'll figure out casting. On the rehearsal, sheet before, you'll, see it actually posted, because casting, only comes out two weeks before, the actual performance and this, was a good month, month and a half before, so. You kind, of can get a sense of casting, on the rehearsal, sheet it's, not posted, until two weeks before which makes it very difficult for ticket, buyers by the way if you want to see a certain caste of Nutcracker you got to wait till two weeks before the show to figure out who's. Doing what when so. On the rehearsal, sheet, it said. Carousel. Hilton. Peck, Morgan sterling, Hilton Tyler Peck and myself and then. Andrew. Viet Seth, orsa and. Somebody. Else I can't for the life of me remember who it was so. It was a three of us and like. Andy Steph and it might have been amar but somebody like Lamar who was you know a big-time dancer and I, looked at that and I was like oh my. Goodness. But. Reading the rehearsal, sheet it doesn't say potted, a couple it just says carousel, a hill. Team Peck Morgan, Fayette. Or as a ramus or it doesn't say oh what, exactly you're gonna be doing so they leave you guessing for, the week so, I had this mulling, over in my head and in, Christopher. Wheeldon his carousel, there's a principal couple and two Demi couples, and a core and from. Reading it not. Knowing how the system, worked I thought oh starlings, gonna do the lead and Tyler. And I are gonna be the Demi couples because that would make sense I think Stirling was a soloist at the time, Tyler. Was in the Corps I don't even think she was a soloist yet no. She wasn't a solo, so it made sense that, Stirling, was gonna be the principal couple we were gonna be the dummies and. I was like great this would be wonderful and with, the boys, I remember, Andy. Viet. Was a soloist, at the time he's now principal and Seth who is now principal with P and B was, only in the Corps and whatever, the third boy was I can't, for the life of me remember who was was also in the Corps so I just made sense in my head so. A week goes by I'm like mulling this over I try and you know get online to find any glimpse. Of this ballet and I can keeping in mind this was in 2006, so there was not a lot of stuff online about, ballet at. That point I tried to find like every little picture that I could we get to rehearsal, and Chris. Is there Chris, Wilden with his, rehearsal, assistant, and I think one other ballet master. I can't. Remember who it was and, he. Says all right so we're. Going to learn the. Potted oh you guys are all learning the potted up and. I was like oh my goodness and then they paired us up and they. Put, Seth. Twists. Sterling, Tyler. With the aboya can't remember who it was and me. With Andy so they put the, apprentice, with. Andy, I was still an apprentice at, this point so.
The Apprentice girl goes with the soloist, boy and I was late and even Andy at that point Andy he's such a great really, nice guy but he even was like I'm. Dancing with an apprentice do you remember back in the Juliet video Tyler, angle who was a core dancing with an apprentice I could see him looking at them like you, gotta be kidding me so, here's, this little, tiny apprentice, who. You're. Putting me with her I'm a solo so, we. Start, the rehearsal process and soon I began to realize that the, three of us learning. This pata de there's. Only one show at that point it, was gonna eventually come back in the winter, season in January in February but at this point all. Three, of us were learning this for, one show so there, was only gonna be one, cast and that is the worst feeling in the world when you know there are three of you in the room all vying, for one, spot, because, there's, only be one cast so automatically, it pits everybody against each other you know what I mean so. I, was, like well it's not gonna be me so, that kind of relaxed, me if all of us thought it was going to be sterling because she was the, highest ranked out of us there we are learning. This thing and I remember Chris the whole time, really. Paying attention to me and Andy, and I thought well that's due to Andy that's not due to me because I'm the apprentice, so. I, think a week maybe two weeks go by we've learned the whole thing we started to rehearse it we finished rehearsal, one day and, Chris. Has thank you very much Katie stay, for a minute and, I was like here. We go he's, gonna kick me out of her her soul he's gonna tell me I'm, not good enough and that I'm not doing this and he. Says um I just want you to know casting. Is gonna come out next week but you're you're gonna be doing this with Andy you and Andy are gonna be doing this and. I literally looked at him like you have got to be crazy you, are an insane, person, putting. Me against. A soloist. And a core member I'm only an apprentice, you pair me with a soul. This, is the first the first ballet, in the gala it opens, the, gala in Lincoln. Center started. The New York City Ballet season, you're gonna put a little dinky apprentice. On, with, Andrew Viet to, open, the entire gala, in a principal role and. I was just like. Okay. And he said I really want you to keep working on your feet and your turnout you have a beautiful, upper body you have the lovely stage presence, but keep focusing, you know he was giving me things to work on and, I. Just remember going home and my very first thought was, this. Is gonna go over really well with everybody else because I had already experienced. This once with, Juliet, and I got lots of snubs lots of bet you know we went through that in that video so, here we are again going to go through this again and. I'm. Like okay. I mean I was really excited obviously I was beyond. It was beyond anything I could have imagined, and I was, thrilled. Beyond relief because while Juliet, was in Saratoga, this. Was gonna be on the, New York state theatre stage, David. Age coke theatre now but to me it will always be the New York state theatre stage so I went. Home mom, was still around and, I. Was. Like mom I'm doing carousel in the gala I'm opening the gala and.
Her. Thought to she was like I'm so proud of you but, you need to be ready for the back she's, like we were ready this time we were you so. Rehearsals. Continued, on Andy I think knew, at that point we were gonna do it and. It. Was a couple. Days later, Peter. Called me into, his. Office and. I. Had. No clue why I thought maybe it was gonna be about carousel, but he said. Katie. There's this award that, they, are giving this year to five. Special. Talents. In the. World of arts called. The Movado future, legends award and he, said I'm going, to be giving, you this, award and it's a very big deal you're, gonna get one I think a Juilliard person's. Getting one somebody. Who's in, the Philharmonic. Is getting one you know it was five people who, are. Deemed, very talented. Their fields. So. It, was like double whammy and I. Mean, well it was my personality. My, very first thought is everyone, is gonna hate me not I'm, queen, of the world like I'm like great this is I'm, so incredibly grateful but everyone's gonna hate me so. And. I was just very very just. Like oh my goodness thank you so much, and, he said there's going to be a luncheon, next. Week, for. Your, award and I, was like oh my goodness okay great he, said unfortunately you're. Going to have to miss some, of your rehearsals. For. This luncheon. So I will tell the ballet masters, why. You won't be there so, in my head I'm thinking great, the casting, is gonna come out next week and I'm. Getting, the Movado future legends work I was like oh my goodness thank you so much I'm so honored, that. It was absolutely. Huge deal so next week comes around and casting, comes out and there, it is, gala, New, York City Ballet carousel. Morgan, and Fayette and. Again. All of the boys were absolutely, thrilled for me and the. Girls some. Of them by this point the principal's especially, were very kind I. Think, this one I had almost proven, myself doing Juliet and Saratoga, so this one wasn't so much of a shock but. You, know people were still not thrilled as I wouldn't have been you know I mean that's a natural human reaction, so. I just, kind of decided, to keep to myself and. Rehearsed. And not worry, too much about it so. Two. Days two or three days later it was this luncheon, and we. Get to this incredibly. Swanky. Restaurant. In the Time Warner Center called, per se if you've ever heard of it which.
Is On 59th, Street in New York and I get to this luncheon, what. I didn't realize is. That the entire, luncheon, was for me it wasn't, for the five of, us who were winning this award each of the five were getting their own luncheon, so. I walked into this thing and there are these high rollers Chelsea, Clinton is there, this. Incredibly. Famous architect. Is there Peter is they like I'm looking around going my. And my parents are with me and we felt like we were from redneckville, and, should not be mingling, with these people and, I. Said, where are the other winners and Peter was like no no this is for you this is your luncheon. And. I'll insert some photos here for you but. I won this this award. Which was so incredible. And I was. Sitting at the table with Peter, and with these, architect, people and just these famous, famous, arts. Names. And, Peter while he's presenting me the word he says and just so you know next, week you can see Katie, open our gala as an, apprentice can, carousel, and I was like oh my gosh please, stop, please, this, is I can't handle this so, he. Announced, it at the luncheon that I was going to be doing this so, I'm just thinking I have. Got to, I've. Got to kill this so, the luncheon was incredible, I remember. So, vividly the. Portions, came out because it's such like a swanky, place the, portions, were like this big you know when you get like a big, white plate and then thank you little portions so I remember so vividly vividly. From this luncheon, we, walked out and my dad is like all right I gotta get a burger let's. Go get a burger so I. Mean you know tiny, Lilly so. We go get the burger and I had missed class that day and I'd missed another rehearsal because I was also doing the core of two other ballets in the gala and. I but I was not gonna miss my carousel rehearsal, so. I had a carousel, rehearse at like 5 p.m. or something and the luncheon lasted, until 3:00, or something so. I knew, I had carousels so I went early and warmed myself up because I had missed class for. This luncheon and I walk in and there a lot of people in the hallway and everything, and they're like oh where were you because I was that kid that never missed class and apprentices. Are not allowed to miss class anyway you have, to take company classes and apprentice so. Where, were you where were you and I knew that I had just done Juliet the casting had just come out that I was gonna open this gala I was, an apprentice I already had so many haters, that. I was like you know what I'm. Completely. I can't handle this so you know what I said I had, a migraine I lied. And I told people that I had a migraine instead. Of going. To this luncheon, and getting the Movado future legends award because. I just it, was the pressure and the the. Backlash. From people, was so great that I one, more thing on top of that was, just gonna be the you know the last straw, so. I said, instead of saying actually, I was winning the Movado future legends award at my own lunch in downtown I. Said. I had a migraine, and. Meanwhile, Andy, is standing. Amidst. This, crowd and we're about to go into carousel, rehearsal so he walked into rehearsal he goes all right where. Were you really like. He knew like he knew that. I was just trying to defend myself and, I said, well actually Andy I was winning the bottle one I told him about this and he said uh-huh yeah I thought so so. He. He, got it we rehearsed the next couple days the gala I believe at this point is four, or five days away this was like, Thursday. I want to say and the gala was gonna be next the, following Tuesday, so. The. Next day after, the whole luncheon, thing went down we are in a massive, rehearsal, of the, full-length. Romeo. And Juliet Peter had already started, at that point his full-length Romeo. And Juliet he hadn't done any of the Romeo and Juliet bits yet I believe he had just done the, Romeo's the Romeo's, Montague's Capulets, sword fighting because. Those guys were in sword fighting forever all the Romeo's, all the Benvolio, z' all the Mercutio's, the Juliet's had not been cast yet that, was the weird part Juliet hadn't been cast yet he was working on this full length which I'll get to in a different story obviously and Andy. Was, as, you've. Seen in my Romeo and Juliet commentary. Videos he was second, cast, Mercutio. So. Annie already been cast as four Cuchillo along. With 18 other million people doing all, the roles so. They were in a rehearsal of, the. Mask dance, which was Romeo, Benvolio, and Mercutio, and, and. II went. To do a big jump, came down and, tore, his. Ligaments. In his ankle sprained, it couldn't walk and I'm. Looking at him going we. Have four days five, days until, the gala and he, cannot walk, here. We go and, I'm sitting in the back like oh my, goodness, so.
Andy Was out gone done I mean it was it was a bad injury so, we, had of course carousel. Rehearsal, that afternoon. And I. Go in there and Chris is like what. Do you mean he's not doing, it I said Andy's the day and he's out he's not doing it I'm standing there as the only one with no partner, I'm the one that's cast to do this but, sterling has a healthy. Partner and Tyler has a healthy partner who was Seth. Orsa, so I'm. Sitting there going he's, gonna take me out of this because my. Partner is done. The thing about carousel, it's a seven and a half minute potted oh and, it's so intricate, and it's so I mean Christopher's, potted, eyes are just incredible. And it, is so complex. That. If one. Partner goes out to. Try and do it with a new partner as a nightmare, it's an absolute, positive, nightmare, and I just didn't, know if with four days to go for. A gala if they were gonna want to take the risk to put me with a new partner, so. Chris, was like well just market and rehearsal, today. And I'll work with the other two couples and I'm thinking yeah I'm I'm out because there's no way. So. I went, home devastated. Because, Andy. Went out and that I was probably not gonna get to do the gala totally. Devastated, so. I come in the next day and, Chris pulls me aside he says all right I don't, typically do this but. You're going to do the gala still and I'm gonna put you with Seth and. He. Said you're gonna have a, three hour rehearsal, today a three. Hour rehearsal, tomorrow and then, we're in the theater and we do the, completes and the dress rehearsal. And so all, you have is today and tomorrow to get, it together and he, himself, had. Other ballets he was working out so I don't think he could come to all those rehearsals so. Seth and I get in the room we hadn't even touched each other all, this time we've probably been rehearsing, for five or six weeks at this point he's. Been rehearsing with somebody else I've been rehearsing with Andy and we were like. Okay. Let's try so. The ballet master was like all right here's we're gonna do start, from the beginning and see how far you can get just. See what, happens, we. Started, we got through almost. 3/4. Of the, pata de with no problems, and it, was like it. Was it, was meant to be it was going to be excellent. I could see it in Seth's eyes like I've seen the ballet max was sitting in the front going this is gonna be good and then as we'll go along. Seth. Ended up being one, of my most frequent partners at New York City Ballet he, ended up leaving for PMB which is why that didn't keep going but he, was probably at that point going. To be my main partner had, he not left because. It worked out so well so we, really didn't need the whole six hours for the two days to, rehearse this thing and as well we'll talk about in future stories, I ended up doing the full-length Romeo, and Juliet with him because. Of carousel, because, that worked so well so. But. That's for another video so, the. Valley master was happy Chris came in and was like yep this is good to go so. We get to the, I don't even know if we had time to run it in the studio I think we the first time we did it with everybody, Seth and I Annie and I had been doing it with everybody in the studio but, I think the first time Seth and I had run the ballet was, on stage in the tech rehearsal and.
It. Was going pretty well a couple couple rough places whenever. You go from studio to, stage, the. First rehearsal, is always kind of and you guys probably know this it's kind of a mess because, there's wings and tape and you, know you just you are oriented, differently you're used to seeing the mirror or you're used to seeing the pianist right over there but. Once you're on the stage it's a complete, your just will so. The. First tech rehearsal, was kind of a mess and in, the last probably. Minute, of this, pot it uh there's this big lift where you run towards him you. Run facing, him, and then all of a sudden before you get to him you back, you go backwards and he catches you it's almost like you do run run run run run and then flip up, into a press lift and he to catch you well. Katie. Morgan belly-flopped, right. On the stage just like Wham and like. We had to stop the orchestra had to stop I don't even know maybe we weren't with the orchestra maybe it was just a pianist but. You, know one of those belly flops where the wind gets totally, knocked out of you just like. Like. I'm. Sorry. So I'm belly flopped in. Rehearsal, I will never forget that it. Was so I think I had bruises from, how hard i belly-flopped and, I, remember Chris. Was there and Peter was there and I, remember personally, at me like you. Know now, I could see like the second guest coming, in his head of like here's. This little apprentice and I gave her this principal role to open the gala and she's belly flopping in her soul not good so. You. Know that but but the good thing about belly flopping is that, it. Kind of everything, was gonna go up from there it could not get any worse than a belly flop so. We. Got to the performance, and, it. Went beautifully. We, got a standing ovation and, it was the first time I got to go out and bow in front of the golden curtain which is it's, such an incredible experience I, remember, just, people saying how lovely it was but I didn't really have time to. Revel. In it we. Went out we did the ballet we bowed we ran offstage and, I had to book it to the dressing room because I was in not. The next piece but the following in the court so, I had to I had to literally like strip and run because I think the piece in between was maybe three minutes or four minutes so. I remember, and it was the piece I was going to be in was Walpurgis, nacht which is Faust, so, Ballentine's Faust so, I. Had. To like run and strip I was like thanks that and I had to like they were like undoing. My costume, so, I didn't get to stand there and revel, in the glory of carousel, it was like all right yet next good, job go go to your core spot which, is one of the things I like about New York City Ballet is that, you. You City. Ballet is not about being a diva, like you do everything, you. Do your course you do your principal role great, wonderful now go fill, in for the core as we'll, talk about when I get into, or future stories I have major, stories, about that particularly, for Nutcracker, so. You don't have time to be a diva you just you have to keep going and I, had two other ballets that night Faust and I think actually now that I'm remembering correctly the. Core of Stars, and Stripes I remember, people giving me lots of compliments principals, in particular, but. That, the. Fact that I did that role for the opening night gala in. New York, and. It went really well I think set me up well, for. Future, roles and I will forever be grateful to Christopher Wheeldon for, taking that risk on me because you. Know I'm an apprentice and, he he's, Christopher, Wilden he doesn't have to do that and, he did that and so Chris thank you so much for that opportunity, I will never forget that night, and.
That The ballet came back several. Times while, I was there. And ended, up doing it with I, think, I finally did end up doing it with Andy I did, it with Seth and. I might have done it with Robbie Fairchild, maybe. But. Anyway it did come back a lot and so I did get to do it a lot and it's it's such an incredible beautiful. Ballet it's 18 minute version of the. Famous writers, and Hammerstein, film. With their music the carousel waltz the, PATA de is the, if. I loved you. Orchestrated. So it's just gorgeous if you haven't ever seen it it's an 18 minute version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein story so. Thank. You again Chris, such an amazing experience and I'm gonna end it there because I've. Talked for quite a long time now I'm goodness knows how long this video is gonna be again, reminder. I'm going to start filming some ballet technique videos, and bars and stuff again so leave me a comment in the box below of what you would like to see or what you need to work on if you, missed the video of the Romeo, and Juliet commentary, bedroom, potted oh it's right down there you can click it to watch love, you guys so so much and I'll see you next time.