Sunday, 27 January 2019

New competition ballet

When we started flying competitively, in 2014, our competition ballet was with music: flying various moves and patterns with music in the background, but not with every move specifically linked to something in the music. The feedback we got then, quite rightly, was that we should try flying more to music, reflecting the music with the movement of the kites.

We decided to implement this in two stages. First stage would be to take an existing ballet to music. This would help us flying to music, adapting the speed of the kite to make sure the kites were where they needed to be all the time, and doing what they needed to do when they needed to do it. Ron Reich's 'Chariots of Fire' was the ballet we used, and this became our competition ballet in 2016. Second stage would then be, having experience in flying to music, to write a ballet to music from scratch. The plan was to have this new competition ballet (to 'War of the Worlds') ready for the 2018 competition, but we had severely underestimated the time it took to write a kite choreography completely from scratch. The process of writing a wee bit, trying it out in the field, tweaking it until it's ok, then writing the next little bit, etc, took so much more time that in the spring of 2018, we came to a decision point: continue with the new ballet and still try to get it ready for the 2018 season, or abandon it for now, and tweak the 'Chariots' ballet for one more year. Given how much work was still needed on the 'War of the Worlds' ballet, given we'd never written a complete kite ballet from scratch, and given the limited time we had to complete it, we decided to keep 'Chariots' for 2018. As some of you know, that wasn't too bad a decision in the end, as we became Narional Champions with it!

As soon as the 2018 Nationals were behind us, we picked up the 'War of the Worlds' ballet again, and I'm pleased to say we have now completed the basic choreography!

As I'm writing this, we've flown the first two thirds in the field, and sticked the entire routine about a dozen times now. We still haven't flown the final ~45 seconds in the field yet, so it may still need a bit of tweaking here and there. But we have plenty of time to do this, so unless something disastrous happens, this will be our new competition ballet.

The main feedback we got on our 'Chariots' ballet was four-fold:

* not enough sharp corners - the new ballet has more of that

* music is too samey - the new ballet has more variation musically, so more opportunity for change of tempo

* kites are behaving too much the same, either parallel or mirrored - new ballet has more 'asynchronous' flying, with one kite doing something different from the other

* not enough excitement/risk - I would say the new ballet has more of that

Of course, it's up to the judges in the end to say whether we have upped our game with this new ballet, but we're quite pleased with it. Whether it will be enough to retain our title, only time will tell!

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