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CounterPointe & 2015 Season - Save the dates!

April 10-12 & April 16-19

Brooklyn Ballet Presents CounterPointe on April 10-12, in collaboration with Norte Maar. The series, curated by Julia K. Gleich, features work by established and emerging women choreographers making new work on pointe.

The following weekend, April 16-19, is Brooklyn Ballet's 2015 Season. This year's annual season is a program of dances and collaborations including a revival by Founding Artistic Director Lynn Parkerson, new works by David Fernandez, Emily Oleson, and Matthew Powell, plus another sneak peek of The Brooklyn Nutcracker. With live music by Malcolm Parson & the Brooklyn Ballet String Band! 

Brooklyn Ballet Performs at Dance at Socrates!

Join Brooklyn Ballet's professional company and youth ensemble for a free outdoor performance in the lovely Socrates Sculpture Park. 

Saturday, August 23rd @ 4:00pm

Socrates Sculpture Park is located at 32-01 Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City, NY. Click here for performance details. 

Brooklyn Ballet Bessie Nomination!

Brooklyn Ballet's design team of Avram Finkelstein, Kathy Morganroth, and Jenny Mui of YMX by Yellowman; Patricia Forelle; and Nicholas and Sayaka Vermeer, Olivia Barr, and William Ward of NYC Resistor were nominated for a  2014 NY Dance and Performance (Bessie) Award for Outstanding Visual design for “Vectors, Marys, and Snow”. Click on the video above to see an excerpt of the nominated performance. 

 
Vectors, Marys, and Snow
Photos by Lucas Chilczuk

The 30th Annual Bessie Awards will take place on Monday, October 20, 2014 at 8:00 p. m. at the legendary Apollo Theater in New York City. Tickets go on sale August 4.


Bessie Dance Awards 2014 Press Conference
Photo by Anna Kuzmina/AK47

Brooklyn Ballet thanks the Bessie Committee for their recognition and congratulates the artists on this nomination! 

Two World Premieres by Lynn Parkerson

We open tomorrow! Did you get your tickets?

Each season we pride ourselves on beautiful dancers, live music, innovative collaborations, and world premiere dances. This year we're proud to present two world premieres by Artistic Director Lynn Parkerson:Three Marys & Quilt/One Night Stand

Last year's first look at Quilt, an improvisational, mathematically-inspired collaboration in choreography with Resident Choreographer Julia K. Gleich, was a huge hit. Live music fueled wonderful movement. Experiments in rehearsal generated great energy. And the dancers just wowed audiences.

Live music at Brooklyn Ballet

This year, we have a different musician accompanying the piece live at every show and we can only expect that it will surprise and amaze us all - even the dancers performing!

Lynn's second world premiere of the season is Three Marys, a work that features three women dancers, who represent a Baroque Mary, a black Madonna and a spirit Mary. Inspired by a study of the resurgence of the worship of Mary in religious circles in the Baroque period, the dance uses traditional Baroque movement as well as more lyrical dance.

3 Marys

Three Marys is set to music by Nicola Matteis (b. 1650). Julius Abrahams, keyboard, Wen Yang, viola da gamba, and Jude Ziliak, violin, execute the score. More live music!!

Can't wait to share these premieres with you starting tomorrow night!

Collaborating with Resident Choreographer Julia K. Gleich

Rehearsals of "The Solitude;" by Jason Andrew
Julia K. Gleich was the obvious and best choice.

This is the first year since 2007 that Brooklyn Ballet has invited a guest artist to hold the position of Resident Choreographer for the Company’s performance season.

Over 20 years of working together, Lynn Parkerson and Julia have developed a strong sense of mutual respect. Recent projects like last year’s Quilt (and this year’s Quilt/One Night Stand) and the creation of the CounterPointe series featuring women choreographers making work on pointe have only strengthened their connection.

Lynn's quest for instilling contemporary structures and ideals into the formal constraints of ballet led to last year’s collaboration on Quilt, a largely improvised work using a mathematical concept of choreography introduced to the Company by Julia. Bringing improvisation into our ballet dancers’ rehearsals was profoundly challenging and produced extraordinary results.

 

“Quilt” Work In Progress - Brooklyn Ballet 2013.03 - 02 from Brooklyn Ballet on Vimeo.

So it was only natural to welcome Julia and her new methods of working with ballet into our 2014 season, too. We can't wait to share her work onThe Solitude and her collaborative contributions to our world premiere ofQuilt/One Night Stand.

Opening night is this Thursday, April 3!

Learn more about Julia and her choreography at gleichdances.org

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A Different Musician for Every Show: Quilt/One Night Stand

Brooklyn Ballet has always made it a point to collaborate with great musicians and provide live music in performance as often as we can.

We are overjoyed that this year we're collaborating with a new artist at every performance of our world premiere of Quilt/One Night Stand!

Audiences and dancers will both be hearing the music for the first time during each show. World-class musicians of many styles and multiple talents span the season's performances - from vocalist Shelley Hirsch to trombonist Jen Baker.

If you're a lover of the empty slate, unpredictability, and the emerging unexpected, Quilt/One Night Stand will satisfy. 

Click the photos below to learn more about each of these fantastic musicians. Then be sure to grab your tickets!

Shelley Hirsch, vocalist, April 4
Shelley Hirsch

Andrei Matorin on April 5
Andrei Matorin

Baba Israel on April 6
Baba Israel
  

Andrew Drury on April 11
Andrew Drury

Russ Lossing on April 12
Russ Lossing
  

Jen Baker on April 13
Jen Baker
  

And Opening Night, Thursday, April 3, Julius Abrahams plays excerpts from Sonatas and Interludes by John Cage.

Julius Abrahams

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Thank You For Celebrating Elevate @ 10! and Supporting Dance Education in Public Schools

Last week we celebrated 10 years of working with students in Brooklyn's public schools. Elevate @ 10!, a fundraiser for Brooklyn Ballet's Scholarship Fund, included two special performances for excited parents, fans and dance aficionados. Thanks to all who attended for celebrating with us! We're so grateful to those who gave generously to our Elevate Scholarship Fund.

Elevate @ 10! was electric - just super fun! John Michael Abenanty and Naazir and Shaakir Muhammad's reprisal of Caridad Martinez's “3 Toreros,” a trio they originally performed in 2007, was one of the celebration's many highlights. What a treat to see firsthand how much these young men have grown in their technique and performance. All the dances performed by our Elevate All-Stars, Company, Youth Ensemble and dance school students were phenomenal. They blew us all away!

After the amazing performances we had a delicious feast of pumpkin vegetable soup, jerk chicken, and rice & peas catered by the amazingFisherman's Dawta (407 Atlantic Ave). To work it all off, we danced to terrific reggae, hip hop, latin, disco and R&B tunes in the studio. It was a true celebration of the positive impact that dance can have.

Conservatory student M'Shiari Gonzales dancing it up with her dad

The event honored Corcoran Cares for their long-time support of Brooklyn Ballet's education programs, with a gift of appreciation presented by Artistic Director Lynn Parkerson and Board Chair Geri Armine-Klein.


Geri Armine-Klein with Lynn on stage at Saturday's performance

Liz Koch, Arts & Culture Specialist at the Brooklyn Borough President's Office, attended the Elevate @ 10! celebration and made the announcement that the Borough President, Marty Markowitz, had proclaimed Saturday, June 8, as Brooklyn Ballet Hall of Fame Day!

John Michael Abenanty inducted into the Brooklyn Ballet Hall of Fame

We couldn't be happier to announce that our first inductee is John Michael Abenanty! John Michael got his start in our Elevate program at PS 207, trained at Brooklyn Ballet and has now completed his pre-professional training at the prestigious Harid Conservatory in Florida. He just signed his first professional contract with Columbia Classical Ballet in South Carolina and was one of 20 students chosen internationally to participate in the highly competitive and renowned Ballet program at the School at Jacob's Pillow.


Naazir Muhammad with his All-Star medallion

  

We know John Michael is the first of many who will enter the professional ballet world with roots planted firmly in Brooklyn. And we honored seven more of our promising Elevate All-Stars that evening for their hard earned achievements, too! Thank you for helping us reach our $5,000 Kickstarter goal that made these All-Star shows a reality, so we could honor these young dancers.


Elevate and Brooklyn Ballet School instructor Meagan Brunke dancing with conservatory students after the performance

  

We're on our way to reaching our target of $30,000 in order to maintain our Elevate Scholarship program. We have $15,000 in contributions to the Fund so far - please continue to help us spread the word about our terrific public school program and the great benefit a scholarship provides for a young dancer.


Elevate Education Director Catherine Green with Elevate student Olivia Jervise (PS
 312)

“Elevate certainly brings ballet to thousands of children who would not otherwise have access and among this wide pool of Brooklyn children there are those with extreme, even stunning aptitude for ballet. Without Elevate scholarships, these children would very likely never consider ballet. The program opens doors.”
-Elevate Education Director Catherine Green

Roxana Vadia, Company Dancer J-Floats & All-Star Daniel Falkin 

It's been truly inspiring to work with these supremely talented young dancers, watching them move from discovery in the classroom, to professional performance experiences.

Thanks to your support of Brooklyn Ballet, we'll can continue to discover and educate many more talented and driven young artists budding in Brooklyn's Public Schools. We can't wait to meet them!

Elevate All-Stars: Naazir & Shaakir Muhammad

“When I'm dancing, I feel as if I can express myself without being judged. I can dance the way I'm feeling.”
-Naazir Muhammad

“Lynn discovered us.”
-Shaakir Muhammad

Brooklyn Ballet- Naazir & Shaakir Muhammad from Ben Holbrook on Vimeo.

It wasn't love at first sight for Elevate All-Star Naazir… Before he saw the men's variations at Brooklyn Ballet's grade school performance, Naazir wasn't convinced he would want to get involved in dance. Once the men were jumping, turning and lifting the women, he was impressed and wanted to try it for himself.

Naazir and Shaakir trained at Brooklyn Ballet School on  scholarship and danced in our Youth Ensemble for six years before joining American Ballet Theatre's pre-professional program at JKO School. Now Naazir and Shaakir are looking forward to a long career on stage, working hard for their dream of principal roles in New York City or beyond.

Join us on June 5th for a performance by all of our Elevate All-Stars and a Jamaican dinner by Fisherman's Dawta. Brooklyn Ballet dance party to follow!

Or help us celebrate our 10th anniversary with a gift to support these young dancers!

We still need to raise $2,273 for our June performances! Any size donation brings us closer to our goal, so visit our Kickstarter and donate what you can today!

And don't forget to share our campaign on Facebook, Twitter and forward this email. Let's spread the word about Elevate!

 

Thank You for Supporting Brooklyn Ballet's 2013 Season Performances

photo by William Ward
Thank you from all of us at Brooklyn Ballet!

Brooklyn Ballet's 2013 season In 4D was a great success! We wish to extend tremendous thanks to our incredible dancers, esteemed collaborators, wonderful production crew, and our amazing supporters! We are so grateful for the support.

In case you missed our remarkable press or weren't able to attend a performance, click on these links to learn more about the show.

Read all about it:
The Dance Enthusiast
DNA Info/NY Neighborhood News
Norte Maar
Brooklyn Daily/Go Brooklyn

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Brooklyn Ballet in rehearsal with Gil Morgenstern

Brooklyn Ballet is absolutely ecstatic to be performing with the fabulousGil Morgenstern again this year. A superb violinist and director of Reflections Series International, Gil has collaborated with Lynn Parkerson on all our season performances in the Actors Fund Arts Center. Lynn and Gil believe live music truly invigorates dance in performance, and our audiences have wholeheartedly agreed.

The musician extraordinaire took a few moments to answer some of our questions about his musical choices for this season’s new mixed movement work-in-progress, Quilt. And we stealthily filmed some of last week’s rehearsal to give you a peek and a listen at how the dance is shaping up.

Join us this week for the opening of our 2013 season!

 

Q: When were you first introduced to dance? And to Brooklyn Ballet?
A: I guess I was first introduced to dance in a “formal” way when I was a student at Juilliard, and I had a few friends in the New York City Ballet. I was privileged to attend quite a few performances and even snuck backstage sometimes, although thankfully, Mr. B never found out. Over the years my interest in dance grew to the point where I formed a small experimental company with the wonderful Paul Taylor dancer Mary Cochran.

I met Lynn about 10 or 12 years ago when she contacted me at the suggestion of a mutual friend at the 92nd Street Y. Lynn invited me to perform a work of hers with her company and we've been friends and collaborators ever since.

Q: What captured your attention about the art form? 
A: Well I suppose most people are fascinated about art forms they know they could just never do themselves…

Q: The music for Quilt includes works by composers Johann Sebastian Bach and Vytautas Barkauskas. Lynn says the Bach & Barkauskas selections are fascinatingly similar. Can you tell us more about Bach's influence on the contemporary composer?
A: Bach's Six Sonatas and Partitas are really the gold standard of solo instrumental writing; no composer since can write for solo violin without looking over his or her shoulder back to Bach. The Barkauskas work is a clear homage to Bach: the work is titled Partita and the movements all have Baroque names. Additionally, as in Bach's Partitas, Barkauskas incorporates contemporary dance forms into his music.

Q: What do you hope to illuminate by placing these pieces of music side-by-side?
A: Although all these pieces are written with different musical vocabularies, I think they fit in perfectly with Lynn's vision for Brooklyn Ballet, including the reinterpretation of traditions in a contemporary setting and the combination of seemingly unrelated works.

Q: Brooklyn Ballet's audiences love the inclusion of live music in our performances. Why do you think live music changes the way people view choreography? 
A: I believe the audience begins to better understand the relationship between music and dance. In a way, it focuses their attention on the music through live performance; something recorded music obviously cannot achieve.

Opening night is this THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28! Purchase tickets for our two week performance season here.

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Rehearsing Brooklyn Ballet's New Digital Collaboration: "Tracing Back"

Rehearsals with our ballet dancers for “Tracing Back” have started in earnest. Last week, Gabriela Galvez Espana, Duane Gosa, Miku Kawamura, Kerry Shea & Vincent Marra took a break from moving to watch a video of choreography Artistic Director Lynn Parkerson is referencing to create this new digitally-enhanced ballet.

New company member Gabriela Galvez Espana dances as Duane Gosa and Miku Kawamura look on

As the dancers learn some moves from the existing work in Brooklyn Ballet's repertory, Lynn has the luxury to focus less on the steps and more on the stylistic choices the dancers will make, as well as the spatial patterns that will ultimately become the work's scenery.

Artistic Director Lynn Parkerson

Lynn Parkerson demonstrates for the dancers

NYC Resistors, a Brooklyn-based hacking collective with a love of ballet, will set up a camera and work with the theatre to track the motion of our dancers. They'll create a scenic backdrop reflecting floor patterns of the ballet dancers and integrate them into the piece as a kind of technological visual art to enhance the choreography.

Vincent in rehearsal

Lynn looks on at dancers Vincent Marra and Gabriela

All of us are intrigued by how this concept of charting and tracking the ballet dancers in space will become visual art on its own. While watching rehearsal, you can imagine the energy of the patterns. A scatterplot of dancers on the floor, slowly waking into movement before returning to low, crouched or seated positions. A duet that moves back and forth in a horizontal line upstage. Criss-crossed paths punctuated by large jumps. A central cluster of bodies characterized by calm, elegant motion, one dancer at a time.

How will that translate through technology?

Lynn directs dancers in rehearsal

Lynn directs Duane & Gabriela

But for now, in this stage of our preparation for our 2013 season, the focus lies on the technique and performance of the dancers. Lynn instructs Duane and Gabriela on their partnering, holding Gabriela's waist - “Really make sure she's secure here” - she directs.

DNA New York attended rehearsal last week and created a great video about our project. 

Read more from DNA info here.

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Brooklyn Ballet Announces 2013 Performance Season: In 4D

Company Uses Digital Technology to Reveal Intricacies of Ballet Choreography

Lynn Parkerson directs dancers in rehearsal last week

We're back in the studio!

Dancers are rehearsing five times a week for our upcoming season, and we couldn't be more excited about our shows next month. So thrilled, we want to share our process with you this year - continue to tune into our blog for tidbits from rehearsal, interviews with our dancers and collaborators, video, photos & more.

The curtain goes up on Brooklyn Ballet's 2013 season, In 4Don February 28. The Company will perform three exciting works, two of which are new additions to our repertory. This year's concert includes a cutting edge collaboration with NYC Resistors - hackers, digital artists, and yes, balletomanes, based in Brooklyn. Artistic Director Lynn Parkerson is working with the Resistors on Tracing Back, a dance enhanced by the digital collection and display of spatial patterns in the work.

Tracing Back reveals an aspect of choreography an audience does not usually see: the floor pathways of the dancers as they travel in real time,” Lynn says. “I've been thinking about this idea for years and when I recently stumbled upon a world of techno/digital artists who are passionate about creating something new with ballet, it just fit.”

Also new to our loyal audiences will be work-in-progress, Quilt, a new ballet/street dance mash-up created by Lynn and London-based choreographer Julia K. Gleich. The duet pairs the sinuously sweet Kerry Shea with our master of smooth, J-Floats. Based on Julia's mathmatically-inclined experiments with dancers at The Laban Institute (more on that later!), we're discovering new ways of initiating movement in ballet, pop-and-lock and more. It's sure to be a surprising and fresh way to create new connections in both of these distinct dance worlds.

You may remember our Stravinsky work-in-progress Spiders, Cooks and Mood Swings from last season… Well, it's back, and this time polished as a world premiere. This mixed movement mash-up connects 19th and 21st century aesthetics, updating the story-ballet village antics of classical ballet with a crew of contemporary characters.

“Spiders, Cooks and Moodswings” performed in 2012

Music lovers will be excited to hear that violinist Gil Morgenstern and pianist Julius Abrahams will return for our February-March dance performances. Gil will even join us on stage for Quilt, so you can look forward to watching him make magic with Bach and Barkauskas. Costume designers YMX by Yellowman and Patricia Forelle are back to make us look fabulous. And Mike “Supreme” Fields has his hand in helping shape the street dance portions of our mixed movement works.

We're just thrilled to be back in creation mode. And we hope you'll join us for more sneak peeks into the making of our 2013 performance season at The Actors Fund Arts Center. We love our Downtown Brooklyn space, and we're excited to open our doors to you!

Tickets are on sale now. Check out our calendar!

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CounterPointe Performance: A Great Success!

Norte Maar, in collaboration with Brooklyn Ballet, presented CounterPointe, a new performance series featuring emerging and established women choreographers making new work on pointe.

The series ran three nights at The Actors Fund Arts Center (160 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn, NY), Fri, Sept 28 + Sat, Sept 29 at 7:30pm and Sun, Sept 30 at 4pm. The evening featured new works by Lynn Parkerson, Julia K. Gleich, and Marie Renee Bennett with additional showings by Eve Chan, Emily Bufferd, Susan Jaffe, and Eryn Renee Young. 

With special appearences by the Brooklyn Ballet Youth Ensemble and a Q & A discussion with prominent dance scholar Claudia Jeschke. 

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Brooklyn Ballet Students Participate ABT Summer Program

Six talented Brooklyn Ballet students were selected for American Ballet Theatre's Young Dancer Summer Workshop, which ran from July 30th to August 10th.

The participating students were Penelope Birnbaum, Bhajhan Williams, Zoreika Ollivierre, Chantel St. Fleur, Olivia Riess, and Rachel Tranter. The classes, which were held from 9:30am to 3:30pm Monday through Friday, focused on “building a solid foundation in ballet technique and educating younger dancers about related topics in the world of dance.” On August 10th at ABT Studios in Manhattan, parents watched the students in a final show which included a ballet technique class, boys variation and choreography. 

We are very proud to see how Brooklyn Ballet students have grown with the program, made possible through our partnership with ABT. Bravo!

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Live Music: Rehearsing with Gil Morgenstern/Reflection Series International

So Grateful for Live Music in Rehearsal and Performance

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.

 

Lynn Parkerson discussing the movement with Gil Morgenstern (violin) and Julius Abrahams (piano)

 

It was Gil Morgenstern, violinist and director of Reflection Series International, who first suggested including Stravinsky’s “Suite Italienne” in Brooklyn Ballet’s performances. The reduced form of the Stravinsky suite—just violin and piano—appealed to Lynn because it is open, transparent, penetrating. Movements of the suite will also be explored by frequent collaborator Mike “Supreme” Fields and his crew of street dancers.

Rehearsing and performing with live accompaniment by Gil on violin and Julius Abrahams on piano is a dream. The video below provides a quick listen:

Brooklyn Ballet In Rehearsal with Gil Morgernstern/Reflection Series International from Brooklyn Ballet on Vimeo.

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Sneak Peek: Costume Illustrations by Patricia Forelle

Brooklyn Ballet has collaborated with Patricia Forelle since she designed costumes for Mystery Sonatas in 2005. (You can read more about our work with Patricia here.)

La Folia, photo by Julie Lemberger

Her breathtaking Baroque costumes (see above) for La Folia earned her a 2011 Bessie Award nomination for design, and we simply can't wait to see our dancers in costume for this year's Forest Fairies and Peasant Revolt.

A presentation of Michel Fokine's Les Sylphides alongside Isadora Duncan'sChopin Dances, Forest Fairies requires a few drastically different ideas in terms of costume design. So far, we're smitten with Patricia's watercolors of dress for the sylphs and Isadora figure. Can't wait to see the dancers move in these beautiful designs!

Watercolor of the Isadora figure by Patricia Forelle
 
Watercolor of the sylphs by Patricia Forelle

 

Keep checking our blog for more glimpses into Brooklyn Ballet's 10th Anniversary Season, beginning March 29.

Tickets on sale now

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Rehearsal Video: Stravinsky's Italian Suite

Beautiful dancing by Brooklyn Ballet's company members in rehearsal this week…even with the blooper at the end of this clip. We're not worried - our show is in March!

Join us for our 10th Anniversary Season:

Home Season Previews
March 29, 30 & 31 at 8pm
April 1 at 3pm
The Actors Fund Arts Center
Downtown Brooklyn

Revolutionaries and Romantics!
April 13 at 8pm 
Kumble Theater
Downtown Brooklyn

Tickets on sale soon!

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Brooklyn Ballet Costume Designer Patricia Forelle Nominated For Bessie Award in NYC

NYC Costume Designer Patricia Forelle takes her place as one of the top costume designers for ballet

Brooklyn Ballet is celebrating its 10th anniversary season this year, and we’re kicking off the season with an illuminating and entertaining lecture on ballet costume design by Patricia Forelle. Dressing For The Dance,the costume design lecture event, takes place Wednesday, October 19 at 7pm in the Actors Fund Arts Center, 160 Schermerhorn, Brooklyn NY 11201.

Brooklyn Ballet is also using this event to build support for its Costume Fund:

For our 10th birthday, we aim to raise $10,000 for costume design for Brooklyn Ballet's 2012 Season, $10,000 for scholarships for Brooklyn's talented children and and $10,000 for community outreach to inspire Brooklyn's neediest communities with ballet. It's all about multiples of 10! 10 free performances, 10 outreach events in Brooklyn public schools, 10 new scholarship students and much more.” Founding Board Member, Geri Armine-Klein.

Click here to buy your tickets and support the Costume Fund

Patricia Forelle is a longtime collaborator of Brooklyn Ballet. In fact, Artistic Director Lynn Parkerson met her at the start of Brooklyn Ballet in 2001 and asked the New York City costume designer to design for Mystery Sonatas in 2005. Last season, Patricia was behind the costume design of the Baroque-inspired ballet costumes in Lynn’s La Folia.

Costume Design for La Folia

Costume designer NYC Patricia Forelle

For La Folia, Patricia’s intention was not to reconstruct period ballet costume designs but to convey the elegance of dress and sense of magnificence and opulence of the court during the 1700s. The costume design appears in sharp contrast to the unadorned modern professional dancer of today. It is for this work that the costume designer is nominated for a Bessie Award this year.

Patricia’s Dressing For The Dance lecture evening will focus on the role of costume design within the political, social and economic life of France from Louis XIV to Louis XVI. She will share her knowledge of the subject as well as visuals of her own costume designs.

Please join us for a toast to Brooklyn Ballet’s first 10 years. We can’t think of a better way to start the season!

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From Baroque to Hip Hop: First home season a success

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.

From Baroque to Hip Hop: Brooklyn Ballet 2011 Season from Lynn Parkerson on Vimeo.

Brooklyn Ballet celebrated its first home season, From Baroque to Hip Hop, with a timeline of dances ranging from 1700 to today, commemorating ballet’s roots and defining moments as well as showcasing possible modes of progression. (Homans was the guest of honor at the opening gala performance, signing books and conversing with audience members.)

Roslyn Sulcas of The New York Times applauded Lynn's programming, drawing attention to its “notable reconstruction of 18th-century and 19th-century dances.” A performance of Lynn and Thomas Baird’s “La Folia,” which sets Baroque style dance by Raoul Feuillet beside contemporary ballet by Lynn, highlighted the roots of balletic language and playfully demonstrated the stark differences between today’s movement and its ancestral derivation.

Collaborating artists and dance scholars, Claudia Jeschke and Robert Atwood presented “The Justamant Suite,” three short but intricate works choreographed by Henri Justamant, a French ballet master heretofore unknown among historians, whose work was uncovered at the Theatersammlung in Cologne, the Bibliotheque Opera de Paris and the Dance Collection of the New York Public Library. Before Brooklyn Ballet’s performance last month, these works had not been presented in 150 years.

Thanks to the George Balanchine Trust, Brooklyn Ballet was also able to include Balanchine’s “The Four Temperaments (Themes I-III)” in the season's concerts. This seminal 1946 work encouraged audiences to note the significant role Balanchine played in shaping contemporary performance.

Last, and most current, Lynn presented the world premiere of “Close to You,” which was shown as a work-in-progress at last spring’s First Look series at The Schermerhorn. The intertwining of street dance and ballet contemporizes the genre and validates its position in the present landscape of contemporary art, with its penchant for defying classification by entertaining diverse influences.

You Can't Hurry Love. Or Dance.

“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:

We bring together the different skills that we have — dance, poetry, music, sound art — and see what comes out of it. We decided to collaborate without necessarily having an idea for the piece. We just know we like to work together. At first, that’s enough, and we work without any clear direction. Direction evolves very quickly and we come to a few points of interest. Lynn’s interest in Baroque music, for example. The idea of game came up through sign language and thinking of signs used in sports – then we’re connecting this type of popularity with our project… These become reference points.”

Kalle is interested in the juxtaposition of old and new. He finds Lynn’s work with the duet engaging because of its seemingly inherent quest for the qualities shared between its multiple disciplines.

What I liked from the very beginning was the idea of the very traditional represented by Baroque music or dancing en pointe with the very new. I like this clash — not trying to clash these things but instead seeing what the common ground can be. Maybe we can come up with the common ground.”

Because Kalle works and lives in Munich and Lynn is making strides on the project here in Brooklyn, the collaborative process will be lengthy and happen in parts.

We don’t want to do just another piece in the usual way — make it and then it’s finished. We decided to conceive it as a process where we’re creating content in a year or longer; sending bits and pieces back and forth, whenever we can we get together.”

Kalle visited Brooklyn to attend the Mixed Movement session hosted at Brooklyn Ballet in mid-December and Lynn will be in Munich in mid-February. She wants to find a way to bring the duet with her to Germany, either by incorporating it in a performance by projection or some other type of showing. She plans to showcase her work in “Raw Barre,” Brooklyn Ballet’s first home season series of performances in April, but she’s not set on that showing being the project’s final phase. She suggests that this duet may grow in stages, referencing the late Merce Cunningham’s inclination to number things – Event 1, Event 2, etc. April’s performance may be World Premiere, Phase 1, indicating that it exists in time and place without it needing to be more than that.

Kalle agrees with this approach for this particular work. Lynn’s improvised solo at last September’s Mixed Movement was a complete dance on its own. The last few showings of the progressing duet were also complete in their own way. 

I have nothing against a finished product at the end,” Kalle says.

But this collaborative team doesn’t want to rush to a result and miss out on the magic of the process itself.

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