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national choreographers initiative

Molly Lynch, artistic director

Adrienne Benz, Andrew Brader & the NCI ensemble in “Piece for Eight” by Helen Heineman photo by Dave Friedman 2010

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Table of Contents From the Artistic Director ................................................... 3 About NCI ............................................................................. 4 The 2011 Choreographers Brian Enos ............................................................................ 6 Heather Maloy.................................................................... 10 Peter Pucci ......................................................................... 14 Paula Weber ....................................................................... 18

NCI’s Choreographic Chronology .................................... 22 The NCI dance ensemble.................................................. 24 NCI Discovery: The Showing ............................................ 26 NCI’s Press Articles ......................................................27-33

National Choreographers Initiative • • July 12 - 30 , 2011

The National Choreographers Initiative was developed to promote the creation and production of professional dance. It is also an opportunity to engage outstanding choreographers from around the United States in the creative process. There is a need nationwide to have a workshop setting where choreographers can initiate new work as well as experiment and develop their craft. The National Choreographers Initiative is an opportunity to develop and produce dance in support of the national dance community by inviting choreographers of note to participate in this project. NCI provides an opportunity for the southern California community to be a part of the process of creating new contemporary ballets and dancers: Corinna Gill and Adam Hundt / choreography by Edwaard Liang / photo by Dave Friedman 2007

seeing these works performed for the very first time.

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National Choreographers Initiative Advisory Committee

Bobbi Cox Sophie Cripe Diane Diefenderfer Joanne Keith Molly Lynch Lois Osborne Barbara Roberts Sally Anne Sheridan Barbara Tingley

National Choreographers Initiative • • July 12 - 30 , 2011

dancers: Dubrashka Arrivillaga and Joe Bunn; choreography by Emery LeCrone; photo by Dave Friedman 2008

Anne B. Nutt - Chair

Molly Lynch is an award-winning choreographer and artistic director, with over 30 years of experience creating, producing, and presenting dance. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Dance in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at the University of California, Irvine. She teaches ballet, pointe, partnering, ballet repertory, and dance management. Ms. Lynch is the Founder and Artistic Director of the National Choreographers Initiative, an internationally known project designed to nurture the development of new choreography. She was the Artistic Director for Ballet Pacifica from 19882003. During her tenure, Ms. Lynch established Ballet Pacifica as Orange County’s leading professional dance company and one of the area’s top performing arts organizations. Among her innovative trademark programs was the Pacifica Choreographic Project. Under Ms. Lynch’s direction, the company worked with forty choreographers, premiered more than forty new ballets and restaged some of America’s most beloved classics by George Balanchine, Antony Tudor and Choo San Goh. Ms. Lynch has also choreographed over 30 concert and story ballets, 6 children’s ballets and a fulllength production of “The Nutcracker.” Ms. Lynch recently created new ballets for Sacramento Ballet, Festival Ballet, Nashville Ballet, BalletMet (Columbus, Ohio), Dance Collage

(Hermosillo, Mexico), Academies of Ballet In Philippines (Manila) and Singapore Dance Theatre. She began her dance training with Lila Zali, received a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet and performed as a soloist and principal dancer with the Louisville Ballet and Ballet Pacifica for over 10 years. As a Fine Arts major at the University of California, Irvine, she studied with distinguished figures in dance such as Eugene Loring, Antony Tudor and Olga Maynard. Upon receiving her MFA in dance from UCI, she was named Outstanding Graduate Student, the first student from Fine Arts so honored. In 1992, Ms.Lynch was given the esteemed Outstanding Alumnus award from UCI and was named one of Orange County Metro Magazine’s “Ten Women Who Make A Difference.” She is also the recipient of the Red Cross Clara Barton Cultural Arts Award and the Boy Scouts of America Women of Excellence award in 1996. She is the recipient of the 2001 Choo San Goh Award for Choreography and the 2007 Outstanding Arts Organization Award for her National Choreographers Initiative from Arts Orange County. In April 2008 she was honored with the Irvine Barclay Theatre’s prestigious Jade Award for her extraordinary leadership and creativity.

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Brian Enos Chicago, Illinois

National Choreographers Initiative • • July 12 - 30 , 2011

“Enos pushed the boundaries of ballet making it relevant and exhilarating. He reminded us what dance can do, and why we love it.” - The Houston Press

Originally from San Francisco, CA, Brian Enos has been making dances since age 14. When he was just 18, and still a student in the Houston Ballet Academy, Enos was invited by Artistic Director Ben Stevenson to create his first work for The Houston Ballet. He has since gone on to create works that have been performed both domestically and internationally for companies such as Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Ballet Met, DanceWorks Chicago, Ballet Austin II, Chicago Ballet, Hubbard Street 2, Momenta, and the University of Chicago. Enos was named “Best up and coming choreographer” by The Houston Press and was also a winner of the annual Hubbard Street 2 International Choreographic Competition. As a dancer, he spent several years performing with The Houston Ballet before embarking on an eight-year career as a dancer and choreographer with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Through his choreography, Enos hopes to inspire, and entertain both audiences as well as the beautiful and dedicated dancers he is so fortunate to work with every day in the

studio. He also enjoys writing about himself in the third person.

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Time-Out Chicago

Issue 136: Oct 4-10, 2007

Making Tracks by Lisa Arnett

B-Sides choreography by

Brian Enos

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago company member Brian Enos brings a club vibe into the concert hall with his new work B-Sides (12” Mix). The 20-something dancer and budding choreographer has indulged in a little DJ wizardry, creating a soundtrack composed of tracks by the Welsh elctronica duo Hybrid – spanning from early, unreleased music to more recent work incorporating orchestral strings. B-Sides debuts in the second weekend of Hubbard’s 30th-anniversary program, which runs through Sunday at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park. Enos edited the music himself, a process that started by poring over Hybrid’s entire career. “The hard part was selecting what I wanted to use, paring it down and also making it friendly [for dancing], where there weren’t too many long sections of just intense music – because there are only five dancers in the piece, and that would have just killed them.” Enos’s enthusiasm for Hybrid’s progressive breakbeats began serendipitously several years ago while he was hanging out in a supersize bookstore near Lincoln Center in new York City, waiting for a friend at Juilliard to finish class. He happened across one of their CDs and became totally captivated. He ended up listening to Hybrid tracks nonstop for the next month, making a point of digging up every available recording of the band that he could find. “I never really had a passion for dance and club-oriented music, but at the time, I was listening to a lot of Depeche Mode and ‘80s synth pop. I think it’s interesting because this style of music was a natural progression from that.” Rather than creating movement on his own and then teaching it to the dancers, Enos favors a more spontaneous approach: He works out his choreography in real time with the dancers during his three-week studio allotment. Before getting in the studio, however, Enos spends a lot of time listening to the music he’ll be using. This helps him work out an overall structure of how he wants the dance to go. In the past, he’s experimented with choreographing specific material before meeting with the dancers, but he found that it doesn’t look as he imagined it. “I fell like it saves time in the long run to create it with the dancers there, and you can look at something and see how it actually works on real people.” Working with familiar faces (his fellow HSDC company members) made for a “low-stress creation process,” Enos says. The B-Sides dancers are veteran Shannon Alvis, in the company since 2000; Penny Saunders; Kellie Epperheimer; Philip Colucci, a newcomer from Pennsylvania Ballet; and Prince Credell, a former LINES Contemporary Ballet dancer whom critics have likened to exceptional modern dancer Desmond Richardson on more than one occasion. They’ll dance in form-fitting bright red and purple costumes designed by Alec Donovan, a friend of Enos’s from Houston Ballet who now studies at Parsons the New School for Design. Enos is know for lush, flowing movement that calls on dancers’ strong technical foundations, and he describes this piece – his second for the main company and fourth for the HSDC organization – as a stream of consciousness, with activity that ebbs and flows. “What I tried to do is create a very amorphous environment for all of the dancers to be in, where it kind of goes between group sections and solos in what I hope to be a very smooth way,” he says. “It’s not a posing piece – it’s constantly moving. The energy of the movement grows as the music builds, but then it really keeps a constant motion, even within quiet moments. It maintains a certain underlying current that propels the piece throughout.” HSDC appears at the Harris Theater in works by Enos, Naharin, Kylian, and Duato.

Three choreography by

Brian Enos

Click to play

Dark & Lovely choreography by

Brian Enos

National Choreographers Initiative • • July 12 - 30 , 2011

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Heather Maloy Asheville, North Carolina

National Choreographers Initiative • • July 12 - 30 , 2011

Heather Maloy received her training at the North Carolina School of the Arts (NCSA). She began her professional career when she joined the North Carolina Dance Theatre (NCDT) at the age of 17. Maloy stayed for thirteen years, dancing principal and soloist roles and made guest appearances with BalletMet and Tampa Ballet. She excelled in works by George Balanchine, Salvatore Aiello, Paul Taylor, Alvin Ailey, William Forsythe, David Parsons and Alonzo King. Mentored by Aiello, Maloy choreographed her first professional work when she was only nineteen. After Aiello’s death, Jean Pierre Bonnefoux commissioned her to create five more pieces for NCDT and brought her work, “Couch Potatoes,” to the Joyce Theatre in New York City, where it was received with great success. Maloy has created premieres for the Chautauqua Ballet, Nashville Ballet, and the Wake Forest and Jacksonville College Dance Departments. She was chosen in a nationwide competition to participate in Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet’s Choreoplan 2002. Recently she placed 1st in round one and 3rd overall in the national 21st Century Choreography Competition sponsored by Ballet Nouveau Colorado. She was also honored to return to NCSA to create a new work for the spring Dance program in 2008 and to stage her work “le Suil Go...” for their 2007 alumni performance in Manteo, NC. She has been Video excerpts of Ms Maloy’s work. Click on the image to play.

living in Asheville, NC since 2003, where she founded the summertime dance company Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance as a vehicle for her work and the work of Salvatore Aiello. As

a staff of one, she has done the job of both artistic and managing director as well as choreographing the majority of the company’s repertoire for its two yearly productions.

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Heather Maloy By LINDA C. RAY

Spring 2009


eather Maloy is all about the narrative. As the founder, artistic director and resident choreographer of Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance, a contemporary ballet dance company based in Asheville, Heather has channeled her long dance career into a calling that utilizes all her talents. “This just tapped into all my creative juices,” she says. “I love being in charge; I love to micromanage. I design the whole thing.” Heather grew up with a mother who taught dance in Winston-Salem. Mom always gave her the option to quit dancing, but she says she’s never considered anything else. By fifth grade she was putting on neighborhood ballet productions. After graduating from the North Carolina School of the Arts, Heather joined the North Carolina Dance Theatre in 1989, where she was a dancer for 13 years. While she uses dance as the medium to tell the big stories, every corner of her studio apartment in the River Arts District of Asheville is crammed with memorabilia and objects d’art that are rich with personal history. A small loft in her apartment holds costumes she’s worn and designed throughout her career. A bust of her muse Terpsichore sits atop an old tube radio, and dancing legs protrude from a potted palm. photo By Rebecca D’Angelo

The 1920s barber chair in one corner belonged to her mother and weighs “a ton,” an intrepid array of spices is displayed in the kitchen, the old touring suitcases she got from revered ballerina Patricia McBride are a reminder of nomadic days. These treasured objects are threads that Heather spins into the yarn of a creative life. Describe your home: Attic chic. It’s a mixture of antiques, art deco and 1960s stuff. Collections: Costumes. I have a hard time getting rid of them. And I collect spices that I get at a farmers market in Atlanta. Favorite costume: I loved doing character roles and over-the-top comedy. One of my favorites was an ugly stepsister in Cinderella. I wore a giant headpiece and big dresses. Most memorable performance: My first year with the NC Dance Theatre, I was understudy in Night in the Tropics and had to step in for the lead. I hadn’t done any large roles up to that time. It was simultaneously terrifying and wonderful. Personal hero: Salvatore Aiello, NCDT artistic director who brought me on at 17, the youngest dancer in the company’s history at that time. He let me begin choreographing two years after that. He is part of the reason I started Terpsicorps—to keep his work alive. Best thing about being a dancer/choreographer: Dancing is freedom to me. I’m in another world on the stage. The best thing about choreography is that I get to let out whatever’s inside of me. Worst thing about being a dancer/choreographer: With dancing, the worst thing is that it ends. You work so hard and then your body gives out and you can’t do it anymore. With choreography, the worst thing is exposing myself to judgment. I’m very emotional. It’s me you see up there. Secret fantasy: To never have known dancing—to have a totally different life—to see what else I would have done.

Morning routine: Usually I teach a ballet class every morning from 9:30 to 11. Even if no one else shows up, it’s my workout. Evening routine: Four nights a week I teach. Other nights I go to movies...and all the local theatre. A perfect Sunday would be: Sleep late, cook a great brunch for friends, go hiking and then go see a great movie. I’d love to meet a guy to go hiking with. I would say right now that I am one of Asheville’s most eligible bachelorettes. Vehicle: A 1996 Honda civic filled with costumes and playbills. Pet: Monster, my cat. He’s a story. I’d lost my cat before I moved here and one of my dancers brought me this filthy little kitten with worms. He stole my heart. We were doing Waltz of the Monsters at the time and he sat in the studio during all the rehearsals. Can’t live without: Movies and the theatre. I’m obsessed. Guilty pleasure: Ginger ice cream with chocolate sauce and a shot of espresso poured over it. Drink of choice: Pomegranate sparkling water. As far as alcoholic drinks go, I like a dirty martini. Most treasured piece of clothing: Boots— any boots. Cowboy boots, leather boots, go-go boots. I love them all. Favorite musician: It changes all the time. I’m drawn to strong female personalities like Aretha Franklin and Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls. I like Louis Prima when I’m cooking, Aretha in the morning, Nora Jones when I’m tired.

Superstitions: At every premiere I wear a ring that belonged to Salvatore Aiello. When I was dancing, I used to hammer my point shoes. If I made a sound with them, I thought I would fall. Personal philosophy: No matter what seemingly horrific thing happens, it’s worth it if you have a good story to tell afterwards. Memorable cathartic moment: One of my friends died when I was working on a show. The piece ended up being about funerals. It was very healing. Most treasured memento: Right now I’d say it’s this letter A [a metal letter painted red]. My friend who died did things with found objects. He found this in a dump and I used the font for the Scarlet Letter show two years ago. Person from history you’d like to meet: I’d like to talk to the wife of any great American hero or to the wives of the founding fathers. You know they’d have good untold stories. If reincarnated, would like to come back as: My mother’s cat. I’d like a life where I did nothing because this one is so chaotic. Latest project: The Recession Blues with the Firecracker Jazz Band. It will pay homage to the depression as well as current hard times. They have a new CD coming out that we’ll use that’s kind of swing. Back-shelf project: I’m thinking of writing a one-woman show for myself called My Life in the Skinny Mirror. Best thing about living in Western North Carolina: It feels like a big city and has all the good things of a small town at the same time. For more information on Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance, visit

National Choreographers Initiative • • July 12 - 30 , 2011

Though the group usually performs two shows each summer, this year, Terpsicorps will perform only The Recession Blues. And for this show, Maloy has rolled out a special deal with four Asheville-area nonprofits—Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry (ABCCM), Manna FoodBank, Mountain Housing Opportunities and Green Opportunities. Anyone who donates $45 or more to their causes before May 29 will receive a buy-one, getone-free ticket voucher to see The Recession Blues.

by Jennifer McNally

photo by Rimas Zailskas

Head to the Diana Wortham Theatre box office at Asheville’s Pack Place, take the elevator to the third floor, step out, stop and look to your left. “Welcome to my broom closet,” says Heather Maloy, founder and one-woman managerial team of Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance. She’s not kidding. The tiny space once served as a janitorial room for Pack Place. Now painted slate gray and lit by the pulsing glow of an Apple computer, the old cleaning room looks positively chic. Maloy loves it. “It’s taken a lot of time and work and energy to get here,” she says. She’s not kidding about that part, either. For years, she worked out of her apartment on Terpsicorps, the professional ballet company she started in Asheville in 2003. She and her dancers had no regular rehearsal space until they moved into a large, un-air-conditioned second-floor room in the River Arts District’s Wedge building in 2007. For a dance company that rehearses and performs mostly in summer, the workout can be brutal. But Maloy, a 37-year-old who grew up in Winston-Salem, has been de-

termined to bring her own brand of contemporary dance to Asheville, hiring professional dancers from around the country to perform in Asheville during summer breaks from their regular companies. It’s a model that’s worked well and kept costs low for the nonprofit Terpsicorps for six seasons. Maloy and her crew were planning to expand their schedule to include traveling summer gigs. But then came last fall’s stock market crash, followed by what some now call the Great Recession. Maloy, who choreographs shows quickly and often chooses timely topics, started pondering the Great Depression. For months, she sequestered herself in her stylishly modern broom closet to plan for this summer’s performance, The Recession Blues & Other Works. During a time of financial struggle for everyone, but especially artists, Maloy felt it simply wasn’t the right time to fund-raise as aggressively as she might have in the past. Instead, she wanted to scale back, get creative and reach out to others who might need money more than she did.

Dance performances don’t usually have characters and plots like plays, but Maloy says there is a main “character” in The Recession Blues—a sad lonely figure who represents America’s uninsured. “It’s one of the worst things that’s happening in our society,” Maloy says of the swelling ranks of uninsured people in the current downturn. In the show, the other dancers ignore this character as events happen all around her. Poignant and solemn as that may sound, Maloy promises it’s not a whole show of doom and gloom. Set to upbeat music by Asheville’s Firecracker Jazz Band, who will play several songs from their new album Red Hot Band, the show might call to mind speakeasies or lively back allies during the Great Depression. With The Unemployment Kick Line and satirical numbers like The Dance of the Fat Cat CEOs, the idea is to deal with serious issues in a fun, over–the–top style. A dancer since age six, Maloy understood her life’s calling early on. For high school, she was accepted into the North Carolina School of the Arts, a prestigious arts conservatory in Winston-Salem. After graduating at 17, she was hired to dance with the North Carolina Dance Theatre—and was the youngest performer ever employed by the company at that time. For 13 years, she toured with NCDT, performing in pieces by famous choreographers like George Balanchine and Paul Taylor. The group also occasionally got a chance to work directly with superstar choreographers like San

Francisco’s Alonzo King. But by 2003, Maloy felt it was time to hang up her dancing shoes—at least long enough to pour her energy into launching Terpsicorps and to focus on her true passion: choreography. “As a dancer, your artistic responsibility is to interpret. You’re given the work, and it’s your job to fulfill the choreographer’s vision. You are creative but not with the same kind of freedom you have as a choreographer,” she says. But with the good comes the bad. Maloy operates Terpsicorps on her own, which means more creative freedom comes with an equal helping of responsibility. Still, she believes her original business model— as a summer company—will keep her dancers on their toes during a period of economic instability. Because larger dance companies make longer-term financial commitments to their dancers, hiring them for between six and nine months, they also have a more rigid set of obligations. With Terpsicorps, Maloy has more freedom because she hires dancers per show and only for a few months at a time. Christopher Bandy, a full-time dancer with Dance Alloy Theatre in Pittsburgh, has joined Terpsicorps every year since its inception (minus the year his daughter was born) and he plans to return this summer for The Recession Blues. “Heather always does unique kinds of things—things I’ve never done before,” he says. “She always creates at least one new work. As a dancer, it’s so nice to have a work made for you.” Maloy says starting Terpsicorps is the hardest thing she’s ever done. But raising money for it during a nasty recession may prove even harder, and this year is likely to be one of Terpsicorps’ most challenging to date. “I knew raising money would be difficult, but I didn’t really have a concept of how difficult it really is,” she says. “I have come to learn that the key to success is being flexible. And that’s just what we’re going to keep doing.”

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Peter Pucci New York, New York

National Choreographers Initiative • • July 12 - 30 , 2011

“Mr. Pucci draws his audience into the world of a performer of unmistakable intelligence, integrity and sensitivity. He is a choreographer with a sense of humor and of deft observation” - The New York Times

Peter Pucci was born and raised in Baltimore. He graduated from the North Carolina School of the Arts with a BFA. For nine years he was a member of Pilobolus Dance Theatre, where he served as principal dancer, co-choreographer, and rehearsal director. Since 1986, Peter has directed and choreographed for his company Peter Pucci Plus Dancers. Since its founding, the company has performed annually in New York City, including five appearances at the Joyce Theater, and has toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe. Peter has created movement for many theatrical productions including Sam Shepard’s “The Late Henry Moss” produced by The Signature Theater in New York and The Magic Theater in San Francisco. Peter has also created movement for industrials, fashion shows, commercials, videos, film, television, skaters, opera and several dance segments for the children’s television program “Bear in the Big Blue House.” In addition to creating over 50 repertory works for PP+, Peter has choreographed ballets for numerous ballet and modern dance companies both in the US and abroad including: Alberta Ballet, Ballet Arizona, Ballet Met, Ballet Pacifica, Colorado Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet. In 1990, Peter became the first recipient of the Samuel H. Scripps Humphrey/Weidman/Limon Click here for videos

Fellowship, a choreographic commission awarded by the American Dance Festival. Peter is also the winner of an Absolut Joffrey Award for Choreography and two Choo-San Goh Awards for Choreography.

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Arts and Entertainment

At Home in the Studio, and Always on the Move

Janet Durrans for The New York Times

A TEACHER Peter Pucci with Jeanette Perk and other dance students at Manhattanville College, where he is the artist-in-residence. By SYLVIANE GOLD PETER PUCCI moves around a lot. And not just because he’s a choreographer. In any given week, he might spend a couple of days in a local studio working out a new ballet, then devise a few Broadway-style numbers for an out-of-town theater and afterward race back to Purchase to teach his modern dance class at Manhattanville College. The scenery varies, the dance vocabulary changes and so do the techniques of the dancers. During a recent break — a short one — from all the hopscotching, Mr. Pucci admitted that it can be trying. “But it’s also fun,” he said. “I’ve learned how to do it.” One of the things that helps him focus as he bounces from, say, the elite professionals of the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago to nondancers at Hartford Stage is his home base, the three-bedroom colonial on a hill in Mount Kisco that he shares with his wife, Ellen Sirot, a top hand model and a former dancer, and their 9-year-old daughter, Lana. And sometimes his travels take him around the county rather than the country. This past week, for example, his latest dance, “The Inevitability of Desire,” received its world premiere at Manhattanville’s spring dance concert (April 2

to 5). And on April 3, Mr. Pucci, named the Westchester Artist of the Year by ArtsWestchester, was to receive the award — the organization’s most prestigious — at a celebratory luncheon. Awards are not exactly a novelty for him. He started out as an athlete, aiming to teach physical education. But dance class in college changed his direction, and he became a dancer, most notably with the popular Pilobolus. In 1986, he founded his own company, Peter Pucci Plus Dancers, probably best known for flinging themselves across the stage along with Frisbees, basketballs, badminton rackets and other sporting goods in “Pucci: Sport,” which they have performed in theaters across the country and at Madison Square Garden. Mr. Pucci has garnered numerous awards for his choreography, which, whether all-out slapstick or gorgeously lyrical, is always readily accessible. And last year, he won a Lucille Lortel Award for the off-Broadway musical “Queens Boulevard.” The show’s characters reflected the borough’s diversity, and Mr. Pucci’s vivid choreography drew on dance vocabularies from India and Japan, disco and hip hop. He is equally eclectic when it comes to his musical inspirations, using Prince, k.d. lang and Vivaldi to score some of his work. For the Manhattanville concert, he

settled on a muscular percussion piece by Blue Man Group. Now in his second year as Manhattanville’s artist-in-residence, he noted that he especially relishes the “residence” part. “It’s the first time in 20 years that I’ve had an anchor for my schedule,” he said. And the best part is that the anchor is so close to home. A native of Baltimore, he came to New York in 1980 “with a duffel bag and $50,” and quickly got the Pilobolus gig. Moving to Westchester was never part of the plan. But then he saw Ms. Sirot performing and fell for her instantly. He had been living in the West Village; she had an apartment on the Upper West Side. When they began hankering for a weekend place, they decided to consolidate, selling her apartment and buying the house in Westchester from the woman who had lived in it since it was built in 1925. “She gave us a really good price,” he said, “because she liked us. She didn’t want to sell it to anybody else.” They slowly began to “morph,” he said, from being people who were in Westchester for the weekend to people who were “two minutes from the Kisco train station and 50 minutes from Grand Central.” After five years, they gave up the apartment in the Village and made the house their home, helped along by the example of their neighbors.

“Cynthia Anderson, who used to be with American Ballet Theater, lives right behind us,” he recalled. “Another dancer lived down the road. Four or five dancers from New York were all in this little community.” He met Iris Salomon, the former dancer who founded Barnspace, the nonprofit performance studio in Katonah; he met local musicians and began commissioning pieces for his company. “I started doing stuff locally,” he said, “and once people knew I was in the area, they started reeling me in to do other things.” More than anything, choreographers need warm bodies and a space to move them around in. Mr. Pucci found them readily available in Westchester. Instead of traveling into the city, hiring dancers and renting studio space, he could workshop a ballet with dance students at Purchase College, where he was a frequent guest teacher. “I started finding ways to make living in the area work,” he said. “For me, it’s been the best of both worlds. I’m close to the city. But then I can do a lot up here — I get free studio space at Barnspace whenever I need a place to go. If I get a ballet commission, I can go to Purchase and say, ‘I need six dancers for two or three days.’ “ Most Manhattanville students are not quite on the same pre-professional track as the ones at Purchase. But “The Inevitability of Desire,” a high-energy romp for nine women, is nonetheless a kind of homage to them. “It came out of the rehearsal process,” he said. “There are a couple of these young dancers who are just shining in it — desirous of dancing, and dancing well, and dancing full out. And there’s this underlying feeling of community among these girls, who’ve worked with each other and have become a very good ensemble.” Mr. Pucci, who doesn’t reveal his age in deference to his wife’s modeling career, said it reminded him of his own early days in dance, and of the connection he felt to the others coming up along with him. “Being in the business and dancing all the time,” he said, “you forget about those things. It’s nice to see these young dancers dancing with such confidence and strength.” Michael Posnick, director of the dance and theater department at Manhattanville, said that Mr. Pucci’s presence has something to do with that. “He’s raised the bar quite a bit,” he said. “I’m really happy that he wants to stay.”

National Choreographers Initiative • • July 12 - 30 , 2011

Running off to join the circus from

The Journal News,

December 2010

In the middle of an award-winning choreography career, Peter Pucci joined the circus. For the past 18 months — when he hasn’t been teaching Juilliard first-years how to approach a script or choreographing and teaching at Manhattanville College or helping to stage musicals — Pucci has been thinking about jugglers and acrobats. Starting Thursday, the fruit of the Mount Kisco choreographer’s labors fills the Big Apple Circus’ big top in Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park, as the circus’ 33rd season begins its New York run. This season’s circus, aptly titled “Dance On!,” marks a change on several fronts at the onering wonder, where no seat is more than 50 feet from the action. For one, it’s the first season under artistic director Guillaume Dufresnoy, who succeeds founding artistic director Michael Christensen. For another, there’s Pucci, a former Pilobolus dance troupe member, whose contribution has broken the mold of the little circus. He uses the artists’ downtime to make “Dance On!” even more playful, inventive and family friendly than past seasons at the playful, inventive, family-friendly circus. Instead of having the separate acts appear, perform and then sit backstage awaiting the curtain call, Pucci has created a community of players through dance. For example, when the members of the Chinese Hebei Wuqiao Acrobatic Troupe aren’t performing, or getting ready to go on, they take to the ring and balance basketballs on their heads or join in the dance moments that fill the spaces between the acts. The central character of “Dance On!” is Mark Gindick as Man Who Dances, a character who mixes clowning with an irresistible love of dance that proves infectious. When Man Who Dances starts moving to the music, the acrobats, contortionists and jugglers can’t seem to keep from joining in, wordlessly answering his call to let loose.

The effect is a more playful circus. And play is exactly how Pucci managed to get Kenyan pole climbers, Chinese acrobats, Mongolian contortionists and an Ethiopian juggler to accept his plan for “Dance On!” For four weeks in upstate Walden — where the circus takes shape each summer — Pucci gathered the international cast to build those dance moments that carry one act to the other. He had to overcome circus conventions and language and movement barriers to get the artists to buy into his concept. He did it over a three-day “creative period.” “I had hula hoops and basketballs and umbrellas and Frisbees, all kinds of props that I thought would be appropriate,” he says. “I started playing and I got them to start playing. I didn’t know that the Chinese (acrobats) could balance balls on their heads. Or that the Mongolians (contortionists) are really good with hula hoops. I tried to find out what their other talents were outside their acts.” “They loved it, because I don’t think they ever get to do that, to just play,” he says. Pucci says that once he won over the artists, they sought his feedback on their acts. “They’re very eager to have input from the choreographer because they don’t usually have that. I’ve had my hand, movementwise, in everyone’s pies.” Pucci also had to make sure to give the artists ample time to warm up for their real jobs, ones not associated with Man Who Dances. Running off to choreograph the circus isn’t too far a stretch for Pucci, a fixture in the world of dance and a former member of the dance-theater troupe Pilobolus, masters of form and balance. “In a weird way, the circus fits all of the things I’ve done — dance, theater, Pilobolus — and I’m working with all different kinds of artists so all the skills I have are being used to the fullest.” His playful approach in “Dance On!” has its roots in “Pucci Sport,” a dance piece he conceived in 1999 that integrated baseball, basketball, Frisbee and other sports into dance. The takeaway from his circus work is simple: “How to get people who are nondancers to invest in making movement. I’ve done that a lot, but I’ve learned that circus people — who are very much specialists — are very eager to do other things. Because it gets boring doing the same thing.”

Pucci has made a career out of rarely doing the same thing. He has choreographed for groups ranging from the Joffrey to Chautauqua to American Dance Festival and Dance Theater of Harlem. In 2008, he was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for outstanding choreographer and won the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Choreographer for his work on “Queens Boulevard (The Musical).” He won a special Drama Desk award for his work on “Orphans’ Home Cycle,” nine newly adapted plays by Horton Foote. In 2009, ArtsWestchester named him Westchester Artist of the Year. He works with Juilliard’s new drama students on their approach to scripts and is in his fourth year as artist-in-residence at Manhattanville College in Purchase, where he choreographs, teaches and produces dance concerts. He’s also helping singer-songwriter Sloan Wainwright find the right movements to accompany her new songs. And in June, he worked on the musical “Johnny Baseball,” directed by Diane Paulus, who also directed the recent Broadway revival of “Hair.” Still, the circus timetable was different from his dance work. “You spend two weeks choreographing a 15minute dance six hours a day,” he says. “This has been more like working on a musical.” Before he choreographed for Big Apple, Pucci was a fan. He and his wife, the hand model Ellen Sirot, have taken their daughter, Lara, to see the one-ring circus for 9 of her 10 years. “It has been great to be on the other side, behind the scenes,” he says. “Besides learning a few words of Swahili and Mongolian and Chinese, it has been a great ride.” Photos by Vincent DiSalvio/The Journal News: (Top) Mount Kisco’s Peter Pucci inside the big top of the Big Apple Circus in Manville, N.J., the first stop for “Dance On!” which Pucci choreographed. The circus opens Thursday at Lincoln Center. (Bottom) Mark Gindick, left, as Man Who Dances, has a little fun with Grandma the Clown (Barry Lubin), in “Dance On!” the 33rd season of the Big Apple Circus.

NCI Discovery July 30th at 8pm • Irvine Barclay Theatre • • Click here for tickets>>

Paula Weber

Kansas City, Kansas & Albany, New York

National Choreographers Initiative • • July 12 - 30 , 2011

Paula Weber received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance from Butler University and her Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance from Smith College. She has studied ballet with such masters as Maria Tallchief, Jean Paul Comelin, Dermot Burke, Basil Thompson, Larry Long, Marjorie Mussman and Maggie Black. During her professional career, Ms. Weber performed solo and principal roles in more than 45 major works including “Swan Lake,” “Giselle,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Coppelia,” and contemporary works by George Balanchine’s, Agnes DeMille, John Butler and Alvin Ailey. She has worked with many choreographers such as Bill T. Jones, Laura Dean, Charles Moulton and Kevin Jeff. She has been a member of the Milwaukee Ballet, Lyric Opera Ballet of Chicago, Chicago Ballet and the Indianapolis Ballet Theatre, and guest artist with the Hartford Ballet. She is currently a member of the Wylliams/Henry Danse Theatre and is a principal dancer/ballet mistress with the Albany Berkshire Ballet. In 1996, Ms. Weber was invited to be a guest instructor of ballet for the Shenyang Conservatory of Music, Shenyang, China, making her the second American ballet master to visit that conservatory. Ms. Weber was the recipient of the 2001 Muriel McBrien Kauffman Excellence in Teaching Award presented to her by the Conservatory of Music and Dance, University of Missouri-Kansas City. Of most recent acclaim, Ms. Weber choreographed “Toccata e due Canzone” for the Kansas City Ballet, and a successful “Carmina

Burana” for the Kansas City Ballet and the Albany Berkshire Ballet, Albany, NY.

NCI Discovery July 30th at 8pm • Irvine Barclay Theatre • • Click here for tickets>>

Video Excerpts of Ms. Weber’s work To view the video click on the image.

National Choreographers Initiative • • July 12 - 30 , 2011


Carmina Burana -----------------------------------------------------------------Choreography by Paula Weber Music by Carl Orff Costumes by Victile Donahue Featuring a dramatic score by Carl Orff and spellbinding choreography expressing the universal themes of love and springtime, revelry and darkness by Paula Weber. When premiered by the State Ballet of Missouri in April 1996, the St. Louis Dispatch described the ballet as a “compelling masterwork of dance, music and song”. In order to set her choreography to Orff’s unorthodox work, Ms. Weber studied the history from which Carmina Burana is said to derive. The poems were selected by Orff from writings by medieval poets known as goliards who wrote satirical verse in the so-called “gutter Latin” and were performed by minstrels and jesters, much of it blatantly profane, seasoned with pagan ritual, despite the widespread Christianity of the time. The poems were preserved over the centuries by Benedictine monks, for whatever reason and the choreographer employs the metaphoric presence of the monks as she develops the delicate tread of a storyline. ‘The monks read the poems,” she explains, “And they think the poems.” This image of the monks’ thinking the poems is the spiritual force driving the work forward. They appear on the stage in the ominous opening passage as dark-cloaked figures. Springtime is approaching and the monks must release the poems from their minds for the earth to reawaken to seasonal growth. Four monks remain on-stage, sitting and thinking while the remainder disrobe, revealing nude-appearing bodies in flesh-colored leotards. The cycle of life begins to play itself out as Adam and Eve, the wheel of fortune, good luck and bad luck – until the conclusion of the work with the onset of winter, when the poems must be reabsorbed into the minds of the monks to be preserved for the next seasonal cycle.

“...a strong statement to an equally strong piece of music.” ...Berkshire Eagle

Original choreography by John Butler, original costumes by Ruth Morley. First performed at the New York City Opera, November 19, 1959, by Carmen DeLavallade, Glen Tetley, Veronica Mlaker and Scott Douglas. Ruth Morley. First performed at the New York City Opera, November 19, 1959, by Carmen DeLavallade, Glen Tetley, Veronica Mlaker and Scott Douglas.

NCI Discovery July 30th at 8pm • Irvine Barclay Theatre • • Click here for tickets>>



Original NCI Working Title

Premiere date



Ann Marie DeAngelo

“The Guy in the White Shirt”


“The Guy in the White Shirt” Marymount Manhattan Dance Ensemble; NY

Peter Pucci

“Whisper on the Wind”


“Whisper on the Wind”

Snowy Mountain Range Dance Festival; WY


“Whisper on the Wind”

Symphony Space; New York NY

James Sewell




James Sewell Ballet; Minneapolis MN



James Sewell Ballet; Joyce Theatre, NY



Carolina Ballet; Raleigh, NC



Carolina Ballet; aired on Public Television




Richmond Ballet; Richmond VA

Christopher d’Amboise “Untitled”


“The Studio”

South Coast Rep; Costa Mesa, CA

William Soleau

“In Passing”


“In Passing”

Ballet Gamonet; Miami FL

Luca Veggetti

“Subject Forgotten”


“Subject Forgotten”

Paris Opera Ballet; Paris France


“Subject Forgotten”

Cincinnati Ballet; Guggenheim Museum, NY


“Cloudscape - Moon”

Saarbruecken Festival; Germany



American Repertory Ballet; Ballet Builders, NY


“Cryin’ Out”

Nashville Ballet; Nashville TN

2004 Choreographers

Lynne Taylor-Corbett

“Appalachia Stories”

2005 Choreographers Val Caniparoli

2006 Choreographers Ron De Jesus

“No Fixed Points”

Graham Lustig


Charles Moulton

“A Rope into the Water”

Gina Patterson


Adam Hundt, Corina Gill, and the NCI ensemble choreography by Melissa Barak photos by Dave Friedman 2007

National Choreographers Initiative • • July 12 - 30 , 2011

Chronology of NCI works and their premieres The choreographers chosen for NCI are not required to produce finished works during their time here. Their mission is only to create, to stretch themselves artistically, and share what they’ve learned with the NCI audiences. Many of the participating choreographers have chosen to expand upon their work at NCI and have taken these works to various companies across and U.S., Europe and Asia. Click on each choreographer’s name to learn more about his or her work. Year


Original NCI Working Title

Premiere date



2007 Choreographers Melissa Barak

“Yueh Fei”

Frank Chaves

“Untitled 1” & Untitled 2”


“Tuscan Rift” & “Sentir em nos” River North Dance Chicago; IL

Edwaard Liang




Morphoses Ballet; Vail Intl Dance Festival



Morphoses Ballet; City Center, NY

Jerry Opdenaker




Ballet Gamonet; Miami FL


“French Twist”

Smuin Ballet; San Francisco, CA

2008 Choreographers Amy Seiwert

“SoCal Sketch #1” & “SoCal Sketch #2”

Edmund Stripe

“Shortened Suite”

Emery LeCrone

“Expressions of Leaning into Light”

Ma Cong

“French Twist”

2009 Choreographers Sidra Bell


Deanna Carter

“Ash to Glass”


“Ash to Glass”

Ballet Quad Cities; Ballet Builders, NY

Rick McCullough




Florida State University

Olivier Wevers



“I’m Really Dancing”

American Ballet Theatre II Career Transitions for Dancers Gala

2010 Choreographers Ann Marie DeAngelo

“Process: Discovery and Integration”

Helen Heineman

“Pieces for Eight”

Viktor Kabaniaev

“Series of Unrelated Events”


“Series of Unrelated Events”

Sacramento Ballet; CA

Peter Quanz




Hong Kong Ballet; China

NCI Discovery July 30th at 8pm • Irvine Barclay Theatre • • Click here for tickets>>

2011 NCI Ensemble Women: Alissa Dale Nevada Ballet Theater

Corina Gill

The ensemble of professional dancers that is assembled each summer is an integral part of the success of the National Choreographers Initiative. The dancers come from various companies around the U.S. to spend part of their summer for the sole intent of taking an active part in the creative process.

Boston Ballet

Nadia Iozzo Kansas City Ballet

Kalin Morrow Nevada Ballet Theater

Emily Ramirez Ballet Met

Kateryna Sellers Louisville Ballet

Maggie Small

They all arrive with a strong background in ballet technique, but they must have much more to give. They must be versatile and adaptable to many different styles of dance, open to suggestion, and willing to try something they’ve never done before – and be able to learn a lot of choreography in a very short time. Each dancer works with two choreographers while they are here. For the three weeks of the Initiative, the dancers work 6-8 hours a day, six days a week. They start their days by taking class for an hour in the morning. Then they rehearse with one choreographer for 3 hours in the morning. After a lunch break, they rehease for another 3 hours with the second choreographer. The schedule requires incredible stamina, both physical and mental.

Richmond Ballet

Andrea Vierra Nashville Ballet

NCI also provides an opportunity for southern California audiences to see some of the fine dancers from some important regional companies that rarely, if ever, tour to the West Coast.

Men: Grogori Arakelyan Nevada Ballet Theater

Andrew Brader Ballet Met

Christian Broomhall James Fuller Ballet Austin

Dustin James Ballet Met

David Neal Richmond Ballet

Thomas Ragland Richmond Ballet

Christopher Stuart Nashville Ballet Apprentice:

Karen Wing

National Choreographers Initiative • • July 12 - 30 , 2011

NCI ensemble: photo by Robert Salas 2006

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

From 2004-2011 dancers from the following companies have been represented in the NCI ensemble.

American Repertory Ballet

Eugene Ballet

Nevada Ballet Theatre

Atlanta Ballet

Festival Ballet Theatre

Ballet Austin

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

North Carolina Dance Theatre Richmond Ballet

James Sewell Ballet

Sacramento Ballet

Kansas City Ballet

Slovene National Theatre Opera and Ballet

Ballet Pacifica Ballet West Boston Ballet Carolina Ballet Company C Contemporary Ballet

Los Angeles Ballet Louisville Ballet Nashville Ballet National Ballet of Canada

Smuin Ballet State Street Ballet Tulsa Ballet Zurich Ballet

NCI ensemble: choreography by Ann Marie DeAngelo; photo by Dave Friedman 2010


NCI Discovery July 30th at 8pm • Irvine Barclay Theatre • • Click here for tickets>>

NCI Discovery The three weeks of the National Choreographers Initiative culminate in a public showing of the work that has been created during the project. Each choreographer gives a short introduction to his or her work, which is presented in coordinated rehearsal clothing. A lighting designer works with the choreographers to give each piece an appropriate atmosphere. The last step of the NCI process is about providing insight. After all the pieces have been presented, Molly Lynch brings the choreographers back to the stage to take questions from the audience, and each other, and get audience feedback on the work.

NCI ensemble: photos by Dave Friedman 2010

Every NCI project is unique and different than the summer before. It’s an eye-opening journey into creation and the world of dance. NCI Discovery has become the must-see dance event of the summer in southern California.

National Choreographers Initiative • • July 12 - 30 , 2011

Photo: Robert Salas, Courtesy NCI

➧ Click to play

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ If you’re not at the Irvine Barclay Theatre on July 22 to see the newest choreography of Ron De Jesus, Graham Lustig, Charles Moulton, and Gina Patterson, it’s a safe bet you’ll get another chance. The choreographers are in Southern California at the invitation of Molly Lynch, director of the National Choreographers Initative. Each year since 2004, NCI provides tudio space at the University of California Irvine, for three wekks, and shows the results in a public performance attended by the artistic directors of dance companies who are shopping for new works to add to their repertoires. In just two years, NCI has established itself as an incubator that gives new choreography a large footprint. In March, for instance, Richarmond Ballet premiered Val Caniparoli’s piece created at NCI in 2005. Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s Carolina Jamboree became a full-evening work for Carolina Ballet and aired on public television in January 2006. Ann Marie De Angelo’s Guy in the White Shirt from 2004 (pictured with Eddie Mikrut of Nashville Ballet and Hitomi Yamada of BalletMet) was performed in New York by students of Marymount Manhattan College this May, and Peter Pucci’s Whisper on the Wind is on the fall bill at Symphony Space in New York. – Karen Hildrebrand DANCE MAGAZINE

JULY 2006


NCI Discovery July 30th at 8pm • Irvine Barclay Theatre • • Click here for tickets>>


The Orange County Register

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Play time

The National Choreographers Initiative allows four artists the freedom to create and challenge themselves. By LAURA BLEIBERG


The Orange County Register

here are few places in this country where choreographers are told, “Go ahead – make whatever kind of dance you want.” The third annual National Choreographers Initiative (NCI), a private, nonprofit program done in partnership with the Irvine Barclay Theatre, is one. Directed by Molly Lynch, NCI brings together four choreographers and 15 dancers at UCI’s dance studios and lets them “play,” without any strings attached. The choreographers get rehearsal time, a stipend and the freedom to experiment. They might complete a dance, but they do not have to. Ron De Jesus, Graham Lustig, Charles Moulton and Gina Patterson are this year’s

participating choreographers. An informal, works-in-progress showing is scheduled for Saturday at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. Here is a snapshot of the choreographers and what they have been working on: RON DE JESUS Age: 43 Based in: New York City, Résumé: Independent choreographer, former member of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and original cast of “Movin’ Out.” Working title:”No Fixed Points” Music: Selections by composers Owen Belton and David Lang • What have you been working on? “Since this (NCI) was sort of a lab to kind of mess around and explore, I thought it would be

interesting to do a pointe piece. ... And I found it extremely difficult in the beginning. I think I was favoring the females, what their capacities were, their capabilities, and I stopped choreographing from within. Then I just realized, ‘Take the pointe shoes off.’ It wasn’t coming out naturally. So we took the pointe shoes off, continued to work, and then about four days into it, I decided to go back to the pointe shoes. I said (to myself), ‘Don’t give up. Push, push.’ Because I wanted to go back to my comfort zone. So it is exactly what the program is designed to do, to allow you to have that exploratory process to see what will you discover about yourself and the dancers.”

a therapy and we have exercises and we keep a journal and we get very ‘Kumbaya.’ We just have a wonderful spiritual journey. ... This process was different. I came in aggressively. There was a resistance; it was a different way for me to work, a different way for them to work, and then all of a sudden, a light bulb came on.”

• Are you using a different working process?

Working title: “Yield”

“Yes. Usually when I start a piece, I have soft music and we do

GRAHAM LUSTIG Age: 51 Based in: New Brunswick, N.J. Résumé: Artistic director of American Repertory Ballet; choreographed ballets for Scottish Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and many others. Music: piano pieces by Philip Glass and selections from different techno bands.

OUT OF THE MOLD: NCI’s opportunity for experimentation drives choreographers in various ways. Graham Lustig, above, looks to surrender to the creative flow, while Charles Moulton, at left, seeks new inspiration in the beauty and innocence of centureis-old music.

National Choreographers Initiative • • July 12 - 30 , 2011

• What is the piece you are working on? “My idea was the word ‘yield.’ And because this is a very unique project, without begin indulgent, I wanted to yield to my fancy, to my wish, as a choreographer and to move away from the critical voice that sits on my shoulder at all times when I’m in the studio and try to shut that up and try to go with the flow. So ‘yield,’’ on the one hand, it speaks of giving up, surrendering to a pressure of some sort. But yield also has another meaning, which I also found very fine and that was the meaning of return on investment, of harvest. So the idea of working with a group of dancers over this period of time and taking that as the harvest and investing that into the work ... that’s what I’ve been exploring. “I’d love to feel that I’ve come away from here and my horizons have been broadened further, that I haven’t narrowed myself ... My goal, I suppose, is to explore the music of Philip Glass. Contained within his repetitiveness is such an exhilarating amount of movement and change and yet it seems like something that is static....” CHARLES MOULTON Age: 51 Based in: Oakland Résumé: Independent directorchoreographer; dances made for White Oak Project, Joffrey Ballet,

Lar Lubovitch and many more; “Another aspect of this which is choreography for “The Matrix very interesting for me that I have Reloaded.” not explored ... is that this (music) Working Title: ”A Rope Into the is very beautiful and I think that beauty in the world of modern art Water” has gone out of fashion. There’s Music: Various violin sonatas and an uplifting quality to it and an partitas by J.S. Bach. innocence to it, which I find very childlike and quite attractive. I • Tell us about your piece. have a niece and a nephew who “I am making a completely are 16 and 12 and some of this different kind of work than I’ve work, I’m thinking, well, maybe made in the past. My work has I’m making this for them. Maybe been post-modern, which means it this is something that is about deals with very formal structural aspects of our emotions that are investigations often using unusual not sophisticated, that are not vocabulary in combination with ironic. ... How does one make new structure of some kind. a work of art that is emotional (J.S.) Bach’s structure is as old without it being idiocy, without as structure can be. It’s really A, it being mindless sentimentality? B, A, B. That’s it, and that was And Bach is doing this.” interesting to me – to go ‘What if I am actually working with a very old structure. How would I animate GINA PATTERSON that?’ And the result is very, very emotional. The vocabulary is very Age: 36 expressive, very emotional, quite Based in: Austin, Texas spare in some ways. ... I’m trying Résumé: Principal dancer Ballet to say, ‘What about this speaks to Austin; choreography for Hubbard me and to people in an audience? Street 2, Ballet Florida and Why does this music still work? others. It’s 400 years old. It’s still very moving, very passionate, very Working title: ”Broken” important, and it says a lot about Music: Selections by Nashville the dignity of the human spirit. musician Gary Nicholson and I think it says a lot about the Alberto Iglesias’ soundtrack for revivification of life and death, the movie “Talk to Her.” how this cycle works for us.” • What have you been working • In what ways are you using this on? experience to make something “It’s the first time I basically different from what you’ve came (at a dance) with nothing done before? (prepared), and so for me that’s

A MATTER OF MOTIVES: Choreographer Gina Patterson says she relishes the chance to be creative outside of her commission work.

very different. I had one (dance) phrase as an idea that I started with. I have a commission from Nashville Ballet for next year and so my idea for coming out here was I would workshop what I’m doing there, so I would have more time with it. I’m going to be working with a musician, Gary Nicholson, and it’s going to be live. The recordings I have are fully produced and what we will have in Nashville is Gary is going to play the guitar and sing and maybe have a pianist. So the sound of the recordings will be quite different. So that got me thinking, how does that change if you choreograph to one piece of music, and then you change it (the music)? What does that look like?” • In what ways are you using this experience to make something different from what you’ve done before? “I just wanted to get back in touch with ‘What do I have to say right now?’ and really let it be about the process. When you have commissions, you’re working for an end. I think it’s really important to have some time to feel creative and let it go in another direction if you want it to. I feel I’ve made a lot of discoveries – even though it’s only been a week and a half – that I think will be instrumental in my future as a choreographer.” CONTACT US: 714-796-4976 or

REACHING: De Jesus works with Gina McFadden.

NCI Discovery July 30th at 8pm • Irvine Barclay Theatre • • Click here for tickets>>


Coreógrafos y bailarines juntos en la NCI

BAILARÍN: Nativo de Venezuela, Gilmer Durán interpretará el sábado lo que será la culminación de su entrenamiento en un programa de tres semanas.

COREÓGRAFO: Frank Cháves está participando en el Programa “Descubrimiento / NCI” por segunda vez. (Fotos cortesía de Irvine Barclay Theatre)

Un programa intensivo de 3 semanas es un foro a la creatividad Por Gloria Díaz Excélsior

Durante cuatro años, 15 bailarines y cuatro coreógrafos se han reunido en la Universidad of California, Irvine, como parte de la “Iniciativa Nacional de Coreógrafos” (NCI, por sus siglas en inglés). Los bailarines aprenden cuatro piezas originales creadas por cada uno de los cuatro coreógrafos que asisten al programa intensivo que está bajo la dirección de Molly Lynch. El final del proyecto es la presentación pública de los cuatro ballets creados durante las últimas tres semanas. Excélsior Recientemente, la oportunidad de tuvo conversar con el coreógrafo Frank Cháves y con el bailarín Gilmer Durán sobre experiencias en el sus

programa. Ofrecieron su propia perspectiva sobre el particular.

LA PERSPECTIVA COREOGRÁFICA Residente de Chicago, Frank Cháves ha sido desde 2001 el único director artístico para la Conpañía de Baile de River North Chicago, a la que se unió en 1992. Esta es la segunda vez que el bailarín de 47 años de edad ha participado en el programa NCI. Aunque nacido en Cuba, Cháves fue criado en los Estados Unidos. Ha sido miembro del Ballet Hispánico de New York, algo que dijo “tuvo sentido para mí física y emocionalmente”. ¿Cuán importante es ser un latino en esta industria? Mientras más viejo me pongo más importante es ser latino. Cuando trabajaba con coreógrafos, ellos comentaban acerca de la pasión en mi trabajo y empecé a reconocer las diferencias y era que yo soy latino y cubano. ¿Qué significa involucrado en NCI?


NCI Discovery 28 de julio, 8 p.m.

Irvine Barclay Theatre 4242 Campus Drive, Boletos: $22 - $28 Esto es un lugar donde uno puede llegar para hacer cualquiera cosa que nos haga feliz. Para un coreógrafo tener un lugar como éste es un sueño que se ha vuelto realidad. ¿Qué has aprendido de esta segunda participación en NCI? Disfruto cuando he obtenido la oportunidad de hacerlo de nuevo. La gran lección es saber que puedo venir aquí y hacer un trabajo coreográfico completamente diferente.

LA PERSPECTIVA DEL BAILARÍN Nacido en Barquisimeto, Venezuela, Gilmer Durán ha trabajado con el Ballet Nacional de Caracas y estudió en la Fundación Arte Nuevo por dos años. Al llegar a los Estados

Unidos, Durán se convirtió en miembro del Tulsa Ballet, pero dejó la compañía después de media temporada. A los 34 años ya ha cumplido su cuarta temporada con el Eugene Ballet/Ballet Idazo. ¿Cuán importante es ser latino en esta industria? Al pensar que estoy aquí e intentando hacer algo diferente, descubro un cierto sentido de propiedad de lo que hago. Y eso es lo que ser latino representa para mí. ¿Qué significa para ti participar en NCI? Te concentras en trabajar en lo que necesitas trabajar, lo que es el proceso. Hay algo que es muy regocijante para el bailarín o el coreógrafo, ésto es el proceso creativo. El ambiente es perfecto. ¿Cuál es la parte más difícil de estar aqui? Desde todos los aspectos esta es una gran experiencia, pero la parte más difícil es la estámina y el entrenamiento. Tener que entrenar todos los días y esforzarse hasta el límite todo el tiempo porque al final del día es lo que te hace mejorar como bailarín.

National Choreographers Initiative • • July 12 - 30 , 2011



‘Dance lab’ results go into action onstage The annual National Choreographers Initiative gives artists freedom and support to create new ballets, which will be performed tonight. By DEBRA LEVINE SPECIAL TO THE REGISTER

A choreographer’s life can be lonely, Molly Lynch observes. She should know. The Orange County native has worked closely with choreographers her entire career – first as a professional dancer, then as director of Ballet Pacifica, and lately as artistic director of the annual National Choreographers Initiative (NCI). “When choreographers arrive in a new town on assignment,” Lynch explains, “they live in the local hotel, and work long hours alone in a dance studio. They make the dance, transfer it to the cast, and then leave.” Choreography is a particularly hard gig in the ballet world, she notes, because “commissions come as part of a larger package. A ballet’s theme, music, length, set and costume design, and lead dancers are all often predetermined.” NCI provides a break from this system. Four selected choreographers create new compositions over a three-week period, using 16 professional dancers hired especially for the summer program. This annual Orange County “dance laboratory” closes its fifth summer session with a showcase tonight at Irvine Barclay Theatre. “NCI grants these

burgeoning artists the luxury of making a work of their desire. They choose their own music, theme and cast. That’s a significant gift to creative people,” Lynch says. “They’re granted the freedom to experiment, noodle and tweak for three weeks – with or without a finished product.” In principle, an entire NCI creation can land in the waste bin. Or only three good minutes of a 10-minute dance may be usable, finding its way into a larger work at another time. Many ballets do reach fruition. According to NCI officials, a dozen of the pieces begun here have been premiered or further developed and performed elsewhere in the U.S. and abroad. “Some choreographers arrive at NCI armed with a specific commission,” Lynch says. “Gina Patterson came with one from Nashville Ballet. Val Caniparoli had one from Richmond Ballet. Lynn Taylor-Corbett began her Appalachian music piece here, and then expanded it to a fullevening work for

EYE ON THE PROCESS: Artistic director Molly Lynch watches the dancers and choreographers during the National Choreographers Initiative in June 2007. Carolina Ballet.” NCI fellow Edmund Stripe finds the “no results necessary” policy astonishing, but in a good way. Says Stripe, “I’m used to working on deadline, so the open-ended concept is a bit alien. But it’s great.” Stripe’s abstract ballet, set to music by minimalist composer Marc Mellitz, will be on view tonight.

and choreographers. The dancers we hire all speak the language of contemporary ballet. I want to support this vocabulary because I feel ballet choreographers don’t have as much opportunity as those working in modern dance.” “Many major ballet companies run in-house creative workshops,” Lynch says, “including

Lynch is devoted to the evolution of the art form: “I lean toward ballet dancers

Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and New York City Ballet. But

there’s no independent program comparable to NCI.” Experts at a national level praise the program. “It’s fantastic,” says Sasha Anawalt, director of USC Annenberg Cultural Journalism Programs. “It’s so important to give choreographers the chance to work in a relaxed atmosphere on something that is not ‘Swan Lake.’ “Also, Molly has very good taste in recruiting talent.” Some are puzzled by why the performance is one night only. This is a strategic decision by Lynch: “The performance is not the point; it’s about the threeweek process. We videotape the show and the audience Q&A, all for the

choreographers’ benefit.” One innovation this year is, where videos of daily studio sessions are posted. “The video diaries give our audience insight into a ballet’s origins. You can see that dance phrases are not set in stone; they’re molded, like clay sculpture,” Lynch says. “You see that dancers have input into choreographic decision making. This takes place in rehearsal. NCI is dedicated to the value of that process.” “We want to demystify our art form so audiences understand there is no right or wrong in interpreting a dance. It’s not fixed. Choreography evolves,” she says.

NCI Discovery July 30th at 8pm • Irvine Barclay Theatre • • Click here for tickets>>

Choreographers Show Works in Progress The program’s four dances were over, and the applause faded away. But most of the Saturday-night audience at the Irvine Barclay Theatre remained rooted to their seats. Chairs materialized onstage, and it was time for “Ask the Choreographer,” a favorite part of the annual National Choreographers Initiative (NCI) worksin-progress showing. One man wanted an explanation for dance-maker Rick McCullough’s choice of music: a full 15 minutes of airraid-siren noise (by composer Michael Gordon). “I knew it was going to become a challenge for the audience,” McCullough admitted. “There’s no escaping the emotional intensity of it. It’s about being afraid.” Then he added: “I beg your pardon if it was hard to listen to.” Getting an explanation from an artist, let alone an apology, is one of the reasons that NCI has become one of the most popular Southern California dance events. The independent, nonprofit NCI, run in partnership with the Barclay Theatre and UCI’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts, attracted a near-capacity crowd Saturday. Nearly everything about it defies conventional wisdom. The pieces are incomplete and often experimental; they are performed by a pickup group of 16 dancers from mid-size troupes across the United States, with nary a star in the bunch; and the choreographers are little known outside the dance world. But NCI, now in its sixth year, sells tickets to those who want a behind-thescenes look at the mysterious and normally private process of creation. As movies such as “Center Stage” and television programs like “Dancing With the Stars” have demonstrated, there’s an allure to dance’s backstage scene, which even sophisticated events like NCI can tap into. Every year the NCI works-in-progress showing attracts neophytes, die-hard dance fans, local arts administrators and usually a surprise out-of-town guest or two. On Saturday, international star Vladimir Malakhov, now a dancer and director with the Staatsballett Berlin, was spotted.

Culture Monster ALL THE ARTS, ALL THE TIME JULY 27, 2009

Dancers perform Deanna Carter’s “Ash to Glass.” Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu / For The Times

The director of NCI is Molly Lynch, former artistic director of Ballet Pacifica and now a UCI professor, and she served as host and moderator. The participants have been in Irvine since July 6 practicing six days a week for nine hours day, she explained. The 16 dancers were chosen from 100 applicants, a record number. The choreographers have no conditions on what they can make, and they retain the rights to their works. (The performance is not reviewed.) First up was Deanna Carter, a ballet mistress and professor at the University of Iowa. With five days to go before the showing, Carter said she finally put music (excerpts from compositions by Ezio Bosso and Gary Eistler) to her composition, “Ash to Glass.” “I came here without a preconceived idea of what I wanted to work on,” she explained, adding that the creation process would go on back home. “So for me...,” she continued. Lynch gently touched her arm. “You can’t tell everything,” Lynch said, and the two women left the stage so the eightperson lyrical piece could begin. McCullough’s rapid-fire work “Weather” was second. “One of the things I set out

to do was to develop my own personal contemporary ballet vocabulary,” said McCullough, a professor at Florida State University. New York resident Sidra Bell, the only one of the four who has her own company, said she had been experimenting with gestures for her piece “Iconography.” She commissioned a vocal score from her father, jazz musician Dennis Bell. “I’m very fascinated by hands and upper body. One of the dancers told me, ‘I’m still trying to understand your language,’ ” she noted. “Hush-Hush” was last. Created by Olivier Wevers, a principal with Pacific Northwest Ballet, it was an exploration of clandestine relationships, and was framed by a shadow play scene in a doorway. Like the others, Wevers began with movement before music. Well into the process, he still couldn’t choose between harpsichord compositions by J.S. Bach and Philip Glass. Stumped, he turned to his collaborators. “I let the dancers vote,” he said, revealing just how democratic the fabled artistic process can be. -- Laura Bleiberg

National Choreographers Initiative • • July 12 - 30 , 2011

Events • July 23, 2010 National Choreographers Initiative Sat., July 31, 2010 at 8:00pm Irvine Barclay Theatre


Hardly the capital of the cutting edge, Orange County nonetheless harbors passionate proponents of contemporary dance. Exhibit one: Molly Lynch, who showcased new choreography during her years leading Ballet Pacifica, where she built an audience that trusted her taste in dancemakers and dancers. That audience followed Lynch when she left Ballet Pacifica and established the National Choreographers Initiative. Now in its seventh year, NCI has again recruited four choreographers, who range from the known and established -- Anne Marie deAngelo and San Francisco’s Victor Kabaniaev, with the less familiar; Europe’s Helen Heineman and Canada’s Peter Quanz, who are given three weeks to explore new movement with 16 dancers. With professional ballet dancers on hiatus during the summer, NCI consistently attracts a high caliber of dancers from major U.S. ballet companies. With Lynch as moderator, the postperformance Q&A offers insights into the choreographers’ process. Catch a preview of the choreographers and dancers preparing


Irvine Barclay Theatre 4242 Campus Dr.; Irvine CA

NCI Discovery July 30th at 8pm • Irvine Barclay Theatre • • Click here for tickets>>

National Choreographers Initiative 2011  

NCI is an intensive 3-week project to support choreographers and their work. Director Molly Lynch invites four choreographers to participate...

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