American Ballet Theatre artistic director Kevin McKenzie has announced that world premieres by Gemma Bond, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Christopher Rudd and Pam Tanowitz will be released at ABT’s 80th Anniversary now digital Fall 2020 Gala, Wednesday, November 18, on the company’s YouTube Channel and on www.abt.org.
These new commissions are being created in quarantined settings with dancers and choreographers coming together on four and five-week residencies in ballet bubbles at two locations in New York State. Each creation period adheres to strict medical and safety guidelines with a quarantine and testing period prior to the start of rehearsals.
Behind-the-scenes footage, along with interviews with dancers and creators, will be captured for viewing on ABT’s social media platforms.
Two individual ballet bubbles began on September 21 at the Silver Bay YMCA Conference and Family Retreat Center in Silver Bay and at P.S. 21 in Chatham, New York.
In Silver Bay, New York, former ABT dancer Gemma Bond will create a new work set to John Harbison’s Variations for Clarinet, Violin and Piano for dancers Breanne Granlund, Hee Seo, Katherine Williams, Carlos Gonzalez and newly promoted principal dancer Thomas Forster. Bond’s new work is her second for ABT, following A Time There Was (2019).
Also at Silver Bay, Christopher Rudd will create with recently promoted ABT principal Calvin Royal III and corps de ballet member João Menegussi. Rudd’s new work, Touché, a male duet, is set to ‘Que Te Mate Desierto’, from the original motion picture score by Woodkid and ‘Giuseppe Tornatore Suite’ from the motion picture Malèna by Ennio Morricone and recorded by Yo-Yo Ma. Commissioned in early 2020 and delayed due to the pandemic, Touché is Rudd’s first work for American Ballet Theatre.
Simultaneously in Chatham, New York, six dancers will quarantine, train and create with Darrell Grand Moultrie. His first work for ABT is a celebration of American jazz created to a score by Duke Ellington. The cast includes Anabel Katsnelson, Betsy McBride, Erica Lall, Jacob Clerico, Melvin Lawovi and Duncan McIlwaine.
Beyond the ballet bubbles but in an outdoor socially distanced setting, Pam Tanowitz will create a solo work in New York City for principal dancer David Hallberg. A reflective look at Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt, the short film and Tanowitz’s first work for ABT, combines classical, modern and quotidian vocabularies.
Elsewhere, fourteen dancers from the ABT Studio Company, under the artistic direction of Sascha Radetsky, will bubble in two locations, Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam, Connecticut and Kaatsbaan Cultural Park in Tivoli, New York, from September 27 to November 16. New works by choreographers including Hope Boykin, Jessica Lang and Lauren Lovette will be staged during the residencies.
Boykin, recently retired from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, will create a new work and her first for ABT’s Studio Company at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park.
Lang’s Children’s Songs Dance, set to selections from Chick Corea’s ‘Children’s Songs’, was choreographed in early 2020, pre-pandemic, but not premiered. A work for seven dancers, it is her sixth work for ABT Studio Company.
Lovette’s new La Folia Variations, set to music of the same name by Francesco Geminiani, is a piece for eight dancers. Although completed the day before ABT’s studios were closed in March 2020, it was never performed for an audience. La Folia Variations is Lovette’s second work for ABT Studio Company after Le Jeune (2017).
Footage of ABT Studio Company repertoire captured during the residencies will be presented during an online presentation of the new works on a date to be confirmed. ABT Studio Company’s training and rehearsals will also be captured and shared on ABT’s social media platforms throughout the residencies.
McKenzie says, “This continuation of our 80th Anniversary programming represents the resiliency of our dancers and our collective desire to continue to create through crisis. With the innovative spirit that has defined Ballet Theatre since 1940, we will continue our mission to extend our repertoire and share the power of ballet with the widest possible audience.”
For more information on American Ballet Theatre, online offerings and the ABT Crisis Relief Fund, visit www.abt.org.