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Baryshnikov Arts Center presents the World Premieres of Mats Ek and Ana Laguna's "Whilst" and "My Letter" (VIRTUAL)

Baryshnikov Arts Center presents the World Premieres of Mats Ek and Ana Laguna's "Whilst" and "My Letter" (VIRTUAL)


Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC)




Monday, October 4, 2021 - 5:00pm daily through October 14, 2021



Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC)



New York, NY — Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC) is pleased to present the world premieres of Whilst & My Letter, two filmed dance solos from renowned Swedish choreographer Mats Ek and acclaimed dancer Ana Laguna. The presentation, part of BAC’s Fall 2021 Digital Season, is free and available to watch on demand October 4–14 (Monday at 5pm EST until Thursday at 5pm EST) at bacnyc.org

The two solos by Mats Ek—Whilst, performed by the choreographer himself, and My Letter, performed by Ana Laguna, his artistic and life partner—offer a personal response to feelings of isolation during the global pandemic. Periods of quarantine during fall 2020 and winter 2021 spurred a heightened sense of the passage of time, fueling the legendary duo’s artistic practice and leading to dance works created and filmed at their country home in northern Sweden. The program includes a recorded conversation with the artists and dance writer Jann Parry.


Whilst (2020) 

Choreographed and Performed by Mats Ek 

Music by Franz Liszt 

Filmed by Ana Laguna 

Editing by Moment 22 


My Letter (2021) 

Choreographed by Mats Ek 

Performed by Ana Laguna 

Music by J.S. Bach 

Filmed by Mats Ek 

Editing by Moment 22

Running time: 50 minutes


About the Artists

Mats Ek is the son of Anders Ek, one of Sweden’s most celebrated actors, and Birgit Cullberg, the choreographer and artistic director for the Cullberg Ballet Company. He was born in Malmö in 1945, and began a short period of dance studies in 1962 with Donya Feuer in Stockholm; in addition, he later took theater studies in Norrköping. From 1966 to 1973 Ek worked as stage director and assistant at the Royal Dramatic Theatre of Sweden and the Marionette Theatre in Stockholm. In 1972 he re-established his contact with dance, and in 1973 began dancing with the Cullberg Ballet. From 1974 to 1975, Ek was a member of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Düsseldorf, then made his choreographic debut in 1976 with The Officer’s Servant for the Cullberg Ballet, the first of many of his works formed on them. Through such early pieces as Soweto (1977) and The House of Bernarda (1978) he began to gain an international profile, one that was strengthened in many subsequent works for the Cullberg Ballet, most immediately The Four Seasons (1978) and Antigone (1979). In 1980 he became a member of Nederlands Dans Theater, and his associations with the company have continued in works later created for them: Over There (1990), Journey (1991), and A Sort Of (1997). From 1980 to 1984, Ek shared the artistic directorship of the Cullberg Ballet with Birgit Cullberg. Then, in 1985, he was appointed sole artistic director, a post he held until 1993. Giselle (1982) and The Rite of Spring (1984), both for the Cullberg Ballet, had already shown his interest in reinterpreting the classical repertory, one fostered during his time in the company of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, with whom he performed such works as The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, and Romeo and Juliet. This important strand of his choreographic exploration has continued with his own particular slants on the familiar presented in Swan Lake (1987), Carmen (1992), and The Sleeping Beauty (for the Hamburg Ballet, 1996). After leaving the Cullberg Ballet in 1993 he continued to be prolific in his choreography, producing such works as She was Black (1995), and the TV ballet Smoke (1995), which he reworked as Solo for Two in the following year. He has also become a guest choreographer for the leading companies of the world, working with, among many others, the Royal Swedish Opera, the Norwegian Opera, Stuttgart Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, La Scala, Metropolitan Opera (New York), and Paris Opera Ballet. In 2008 he created Place, a pas de deux for Ana Laguna and Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Black Radish for the Royal Swedish Ballet. Ek’s style has become distinctive for its imaginative interpretations of storylines, in combination with a lyrical approach that conveys through movement the underlying emotions and feelings rather than just the narrative detail. Ek has retained his interest in other forms of theater, staging productions of plays including Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta (Orion Theatre, Stockholm, 1998) and Molière’s Don Juan (1999), Racine’s Andromaque (2002), and Strindberg’s A Dream Play (2006) for the Royal Dramatic Theatre, Stockholm. In 2007 he staged Gluck’s Orphée for the Royal Swedish Opera.


Born in Saragossa, Ana Laguna studied ballet with Maria Avila. At 19, she started her career at the Cullberg Ballet in Stockholm under Birgit Cullberg and Mats Ek, where she danced roles by Merce Cunningham, Maurice Béjart, Christopher Bruce, Jirí Kylián, and Ohad Naharin, among others. In 1993, she left the Cullberg Ballet to work as an actor, theatrical dancer, and choreographic assistant to Mats Ek. Her numerous awards include the Prix Nijinsky of the Monaco Dance Forum and an Emmy Award. Laguna has collaborated and danced with artists including Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov.


About Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC)

BAC is the realization of a long-held vision by artistic director Mikhail Baryshnikov who sought to build an arts center in Manhattan that would serve as a gathering place for artists from all disciplines. BAC’s opening in 2005 heralded the launch of this mission, establishing a thriving creative laboratory and performance space for artists from around the world. BAC’s activities encompass a robust residency program augmented by a range of professional services, including commissions of new work, as well as the presentation of performances by artists at varying stages of their careers. In tandem with its commitment to supporting artists, BAC is dedicated to building audiences for the arts by presenting contemporary, innovative work at affordable ticket prices. For more information, visit bacnyc.org.

Baryshnikov Arts Center is grateful for the support of its generous individual and institutional annual fund donors in 2019–2021.


Anonymous (3); Joanne and Tuvia Barak; Mikhail Baryshnikov and Lisa Rinehart; Simon Basner; Carol Baxter and Loren Plotkin; Michael Benari; Ray and Jane Bernick; Jamie Bishton; Dr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Borer; Catherine Brennan; Dino Buturovic and Mirjana Ciric; Cora Cahan; Pamela Ceglinski; Frank and Monique Cordasco; Anya and Peter Cole; Nancy Dalva; Richard and Jennie DeScherer; Janet Dewan; Joseph and Diana DiMenna; Estate of James H. Duffy; Cheryl Lee and Steven C. Dupré; William James Earle; David Fanger and Martin Wechsler; Alan and Judy Fishman; Barbara G. Fleischman; Anne and Chris Flowers; Sandra Foschi; Jennifer Frautschi; Alex and Jenia Fridlyand; Kineret Gal-On; Randy Gaugert; Joan Geller; Carol Giles-Straight; Jon Gilman and Brad Learmonth; Slavka B. Glaser; Dan and Tara Goleman; Agnes Gund; Cynthia Harvey; David S. Hattem; Deborah Hicks; Huong Hoang; Joan Hooker; In Honor of Roger Hooker; Sarah Hooker; Fred Humphrey; Susan Israel; Bobbo Jetmundsen; Carine Joannou; Stephanie Joel; Susan Justman; Leo and Nadine Keegan; Miodrag Kukrika; Iya Labunka; Evgenia Lando; Jarrett and Maritess Lilien; Julie Lilien; Topper Lilien; Marianne Lockwood and David Bury; Nick and Cass Ludington; The Honorable and Mrs. Earle Mack; Maia Mamamtavrishvili; Marsha Mason; Hilary McDaniel; Karen McLaughlin and Mark Schubin; Adam Miller; Gary Miller and Valerie Beaman; Bob and Carol Morris; Mark Morris; Mark R. Morris; Kirsten Munro; Alexander Nakhimovsky; Brooke Garber Neidich and Daniel Neidich; Bebe Neuwirth; Alessandra Nicifero; Ingrid Nyeboe and Louise Fishman; Zoya and Anna Obraztsova; Lorenza Panero; Denis Pelli; Ray Pepi and Karen Arrigoni; Steven and Michèle Pesner; Georgiana Pickett; Darryl Pinckney; Jane Pratt; Noni Pratt; In Honor of Vladimir Radunsky; Mary Ann Reddy; Christina Repetti; John Rockwell; John Sansone; Jed David Satow Family Foundation; Dorothy Scheuer; Michael Schmale; Laura Schoen; Joel Shapiro and Ellen Phelan; Wallace Shawn and Deborah Eisenberg; Sandy Siegel; Jeremy Smith; Gus Solomons; Ellen Sorrin and David York; Jerry I. Speyer and Katherine G. Farley; Christina Sterner and Steve Poses; Angele Surault; Anne and William Tatlock; Lisa Marie Valeri; Deidra Wager; Robert and Kathleen Wallace; Robert Warshaw and Debbie Schmidt; Shelley Washington; Mary R. Waters; Suzanne Weil; Roger Weisberg and Karen Freedman; David N. White; Stephen Wood and Louisa Spencer.


Affirmation Arts Fund; Altman Foundation; American Chai Trust; Anonymous (2); Bay and Paul Foundations; Blavatnik Family Foundation; Bloomberg Philanthropies; Dance/NYC’s New York City Dance Rehearsal Space Subsidy Program, made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation; The Enoch Foundation; Don Falconio Memorial Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation; Howard Gilman Foundation; Harkness Foundation for Dance; Irving Harris Foundation; Francena T. Harrison Foundation Trust; Dubose & Dorothy Heyward Memorial Fund; Consulate General of Israel in North America; Jerome Foundation; Alex Katz Foundation; Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine Kaye Foundation; Kent Van-Alen Fund; Mertz Gilmore Foundation; Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation; MJR Foundation; New England Foundation for the Arts Dance Project with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; North American-Chilean Chamber of Commerce; Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation; NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund in The New York Community Trust; Princess Grace Foundation-USA; Robert Rauschenberg Foundation; The Reed Foundation; Related Companies; The Jerome Robbins Foundation; Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Fund; Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation; The Shubert Foundation; The Seth Sprague Educational and Charitable Foundation; Soros Fund Charitable Foundation; Consulate General of Switzerland in New York; The Thompson Family Foundation; Trust for Mutual Understanding; Twin Beeches Foundation


Baryshnikov Arts Center is also grateful for support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Funding is also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.


Yamaha is the official piano of the Baryshnikov Arts Center.


As of September 2021


Pictured: Ana Laguna. Still by Mitt Brev

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