First Look Sparks Creativity, Discussion and More

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.

Close to You was shown as a work-in-progress during the First Look performance series in the new multi-purpose performance space at The Schermerhorn in May 2010. Lynn presented and pondered during three Saturday evening concerts. The dance is set to music by Burt Bacharach, Bjork, The Kinks, Tsutchie and Kunst Oder Unfall (Art or Accident).

In one section, street dancers and ballerinas stand back to back, sharing and reacting to their partners’ weight and shifts in position. Another section sets classical pas de deux to “All Day and All of the Night” by The Kinks.

I heard it on the radio one morning before rehearsal and there was something about connecting pas de deux work and this misogynistic rock era that struck me, and I love the song” Lynn said. “I was creating these neoclassical duets, and I wanted to inject energy into the pas de deux work because it's very controlled. When I see contemporary ballet and there’s all this manipulation of the woman’s body—it doesn’t work for me, it seems dead. But it worked if I had this music going. It made sense to me. Something about the song can push you to the extremes in a way that's exciting and energetic. I think I’ll call this section Mutual Consent.”

Like many of her other projects, Lynn used performance as part of the process, learning more about the character, tone and meaning of the dance during its debut.

Certain ideas would emerge in the performance and since we would have one or two rehearsals in between shows, I would make a change,” she said. “I added little motifs to connect the pieces, and I thought about starting with the last section and doing it in reverse. I didn’t get any definitive answers by the last performance except that I’m not sure it has to fit together so neatly. Maybe it's kind of a collage of experiments.”

Opening the new performance space at The Schermerhorn was also a learning process. Lynn was grateful to have feedback from her audience after each show, not just about the choreography but about how it affects viewers differently in a more intimate setting. Many of First Look’s audience members enjoyed hearing the dancers' breath and seeing the effort behind the activity on stage.

With a permanent rehearsal studio and an eagerness to focus more intensely on choreography, Lynn is thrilled to fully revive Brooklyn Ballet Company. She'll continue to extend and shape Close to You, and a new piece will soon be in the works for Carnegie Hall's 120th Anniversary Festival at LIU Kumble Theater in 2012.

The festival’s theme is the gilded and silver ages between 1891 and 1917, starting the year Carnegie was built and putting it into the context of today,” Lynn said. “Back then you had Isadora Duncan and the Nutcracker… I want to bring something to this performance that bridges then and now, provides historical information and somehow makes connections that maybe haven’t been made in the performance arena.

“Again, it’s about making connections. I don’t want to use the word ‘educate’ – it sounds dull in the theatrical context. I believe performance should be transcendent. Having a historical theme narrows your focus a bit and lets you explore very particular things. Not only do I want to make these connections for my audience, but I want my dancers to experience something they haven’t yet. I want to give them the tools to expand their own expressiveness and performing abilities.

“It’s about bridging, synthesizing, mothering and transcending.”

Stay tuned for more on the Company’s work with Lynn.

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