Tentatively titled “Spiders, Cooks and Mood Swings," Lynn Parkerson's newest work-in-progress will feature in Brooklyn Ballet's 10th anniversary season performances this month and next. Purchase tickets here.
Ballet’s fate has recently become an issue of popular debate thanks to Jennifer Homans’ Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet (November 2010). The author’s bold assertion that ballet is dying is a call to arms for choreographers like Lynn Parkerson, who has been ready and willing to answer for years. In line with this current preoccupation with ballet history and Homans' dire diagnosis, Lynn offered a curatorial nod to ballet’s past conditions and current vivacity in March.
This year Brooklyn Ballet Company rehearsed in the new studio in Downtown Brooklyn, unveiled the new performance space at The Schermerhorn and premiered four sections of a work-in-progress. Talk about progress and productivity!
After a nearly two-year-long hiatus, Lynn recruited dancers and returned to the studio to continue her exploration of ballet's relationship to other dance forms, artistic mediums and broader cultural questions. Building off of a duet between Kerry Shea and Mike "Supreme" Fields, she expanded her cast and extended the work by observing improvisational exercises and playing with classical pas de deux.
Kerry Shea was sitting in a deli during Brooklyn Ballet’s auditions. A friend who was auditioning gave her a call and told her to hurry down to the borough to tryout for the Company – “You’d love it!” the friend declared.
And love it she does. Grateful she ditched her sandwich and booked it to Brooklyn, Kerry doesn’t think she’d have the opportunity to do the kind of dancing she experiences with Lynn in any other company.
Lynn’s latest duet features Kerry and pop and lock artist Mike Fields. It’s a challenging but exhilarating blend of ballet and street dance – and excavation of connections between the two distinct genres of movement.
Lynn discusses her experience working with a pop and lock dancer and a ballerina in the same studio:
“Mike’s used to freestyle and Kerry’s used to being told what to do. She is exploring taking liberties with timing and whether or not she should do something. I want her to go further and further into that area. I think Kerry’s curious about other ways of being on stage. A lot of ballet dancers aren’t given enough of an opportunity to explore. There are psychological confrontations in the rehearsal process, nihilistic exploration, violent, hyper-mobile body contortion choreography -- that’s something that’s almost wanted by ballet dancers, because freedom is a more challenging element.”
Still, the dance contains elements that Kerry and Lynn are familiar with seeing in ballet.
“For me it’s always an opportunity to keep exploring to keep my interest piqued.” –Lynn Parkerson
Lynn’s latest choreographic journey involves multiple dance disciplines and techniques for generating movement. Kalle Laar, her friend and co-conspirator in creating art, expresses his thoughts on how they started working on their current project: