Choreographer and performer Andrea “Andi” Schermoly returned to Festival Ballet Theatre to create a new ballet piece. Over the past few months, we’ve watched her creation take place. The work, “Plume,” a contemporary ballet is set to premiere on Saturday, October 13, 2018 at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, as part of FBT’s production, “Ovation.” We interviewed Andi about her latest work – a sublime piece with a strong ecological statement.

Choreographer Andi Schermoly with Festival Ballet Theatre corps de ballet

Andi Schermoly during rehearsals with Festival Ballet Theatre at Southland Ballet Academy studios. Photo by Skye Schmidt

Festival Ballet Theatre (FBT): Tell us about “Plume.”

ANDI: Plume is inspired by the documentation of thousands of dying birds that have been filmed and photographed flying in and out of “trash island” and other plastic filled seas off the coasts of our continent.
FBT: What is your process like when choreographing a new piece?

ANDI: I usually have a theme if not a story. But not always. Sometimes dance is enough of a journey itself and dictates its own path through abstraction. I work hand in hand with the dancers to create original steps and movement quality that illuminates the theme. I do not pre-plan steps. I had music chosen prior to coming in and I try to paint the story with texture and pace using that.
FBT: What inspired you to create “Plume?”

ANDI: I was inspired specifically by the documentary film “Midway” tracking the albatross birds that are dying in droves due to plastic consumption, entrapment, and toxicity. Trash Island and other trash vortexes are continent-sized floating “masses” of debris and plastic created by human waste. We are quite literally killing our ecology, our world and ourselves at a very rapid pace.

Zak and Tara dancingin Plume

Zak Ryan Schlegel and Tara Ghassemieh. Festival Ballet Theatre. Photo by Skye Schmidt.

FBT: Tell us about the differences or similarities for you personally between being a dancer vs choreographer.

ANDI: There are vast differences. A choreographer is a freelance position that I enjoy and dedicate my life to. It involves a lot more independence and travel than most company positions dancing. After being a professional dancer, I enjoy the freedom of working with different companies worldwide and the ability to create my own work and talk about the issues I love and/or want to explore. The rigors are surprisingly similar but the physicality is not as extreme daily for me any longer. I’m moving intensely through part of the creation phase and observing the other part. It’s a different sort of mental stamina that is required and at times more exhausting than dancing as the responsibilities are different. In addition, the quality of the art rests almost entirely on how I drive the creation phase and human interaction. That part I love, though.

FBT: What’s next for Andi Schermoly? By the way, do you prefer Andrea?

ANDI: I’m fine with both Andi or Andrea. I will be choreographing almost entirely next year away from LA. Upcoming work and creations include LOUISVILLE Ballet Company, Royal New Zealand Ballet and Cincinnati Ballet amongst others. It’s very exciting and am very grateful to love and continue to do this work. In addition to that, I always enjoy working with Festival Ballet Theater immensely.

Watch this promo video for Plume. Tickets available at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.