Courtesy of LARRY GRAY
Assaf Benchetrit doesn’t understand why boys will so voluntarily throw on a pair of tight spandex pants to pass a football back and forth, but won’t jump up on a stage and dance with a lady. At age 35, Benchetrit is an accomplished dancer and an assistant professor of theater and dance at UNH, and he still doesn’t understand the intimidation behind ballet for men.
The UNH Ballet Company, along with the more contemporary dancers of the Jazz, Tap, Aerial Company (JTA), holds their annual Dance Company Concert in April. The production is a yearlong process that the ballet company puts its heart and soul into. They practice twice a week for four hours until March when things start to ramp up and rehearsal becomes daily.
Benchetrit loves seeing the development of the production. “As a director, the beautiful part is that you have some image in your head and it’s amazing to see how the huge process becomes a reality,” he said.
This year’s production is going to be “Cinderella,” which Benchetrit started planning last year. He noted how many hands, like the tech and set departments and the costume designers, have molded the idea. “Putting all the things together, working with all those elements…It’s not only your voice. You come in with an idea and then it becomes a conversation,” he said.
In a recent Facebook post in the UNH student group, the Ballet Company was seeking two male individuals to join the company with no previous dance experience necessary –although they did mention it would be helpful.
Benchetrit explained that there is one ballroom scene in the Cinderella production and while they already have the leading male roles filled, a ballroom scene without boys would feel somewhat empty. He referred to the image he has in mind, that same image that makes him so excited about being a director. “We just have this picture to create,” he said.
In past years, the company has had alumni come back to help out with situations like this, but they won’t be doing that this year.
Benchetrit is confident that when and if the company finds two volunteers, they won’t face any challenges if the men don’t have experience.
“If they have the desire, we can easily practice. We’re always kind of modifying,” he said. “The ladies will help; the ladies will dance with them.”
“I don’t know why guys don’t want to come and dance with ladies,” he said as he laughed. Even after a long career in dance, he still can’t comprehend why men shy away from it. He momentarily questioned if it’s the emotive aspect of the subject, but he said all they really need to do is get in the zone.
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