L.A. DANCE PROJECT MAKES A RARE EAST COAST APPEARANCE AT JACOB'S PILLOW DANCE
Benjamin Millepie / L.A. Dance Project
L.A. DANCE PROJECT MAKES A RARE EAST COAST APPEARANCE
IN ITS JACOB’S PILLOW DEBUT, AUGUST 19-22
August 18, 2015 – (Becket, MA) L.A. Dance Project, an exuberant contemporary dance collective hailing from Los Angeles, makes a rare east coast appearance in its Jacob’s Pillow debut at the Ted Shawn Theatre, August 19-22. Benjamin Millepied, former New York City Ballet principal dancer, choreographer for the film Black Swan, and current director of the Paris Opera Ballet, founded L.A. Dance Project in 2012. These impressively daring, classically trained dancers perform Murder Ballades by New York City Ballet’s Justin Peck, the U.S. premiere of Israeli choreographer Roy Assaf’s II acts for the blind, and Millepied’s new ballet Hearts & Arrows.
L.A. Dance Project, noted by Alastair Macaulay of The New York Times as “attractive, personable, skilled, individual” has a contemporary vision and stylistically diverse repertory. The young artist collective “has depth far beyond its years” (Robert Greskovic, Wall Street Journal) and is devoted to creating and presenting high quality work in Los Angeles and throughout the world. Renowned choreographer and Founding Director Benjamin Millepied has selected a group of classically-trained dancers to perform new works by both established and emerging choreographers using creative commissions. Together with an acclaimed leadership team of visual and musical artists including founding producer Charles Fabius, composers Nico Muhly and Nicholas Britell, and art consultant Matthieu Humery, the company incorporates multimedia elements into their live performances and fuses art forms in stimulating dance films. Former Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Carla Körbes takes the reins as L.A. Dance Project’s Associate Artistic Director in this Pillow engagement; dancer and Rehearsal Director Charlie Hodges will give his last performance with the company at Jacob’s Pillow before his retirement from the stage.
The program opens with Justin Peck’s contemporary ballet Murder Ballades. Inspired by the spirit of choreographer Jerome Robbins and folk songs of the 1930s and 40s, the work is danced in sneakers and pedestrian clothing, and features the bright athleticism and technical prowess of the ensemble. Roslyn Sulcas of The New York Times states that “Peck’s own voice emerges clearly in his gift for structure and patterning, in the dynamic contrasts of the movement and in his ability to surprise, both choreographically and psychologically.” Murder Ballades is set to an original score by indie-rock band The National’s Bryce Dessner, recorded by Chicago-based, three-time GRAMMY Award-winning sextet eighth blackbird.
Seen at the Pillow in its U.S. premiere, Israeli choreographer Roy Assaf’s II acts for the blind is both a strikingly theatrical and profoundly personal work, created in collaboration with the dancers. Assaf’s work features a storyteller and solo performances in a modern evaluation of “The American Dream”. In a square light onstage, dancers interpret the storyteller’s narrative through movement and moments of both serious and comedic spoken word. “One of the major emerging choreographic voices on our dancing stages” (Ora Brafman, The Jerusalem Post), Assaf made his name working closely with acclaimed choreographer Emanuel Gat and is known for his frank, simple, and raw aesthetic.
A contemporary tribute to Balanchine’s classic work Jewels, Benjamin Millepied’s Hearts & Arrows is the second installment of his trilogy Gems, and focuses on the architecture and radiance of diamonds. Van Cleef & Arpels jewelers have had a long-standing relationship with ballet, and supported Millepied in the commission of this work. Set to music from Philip Glass’s “String Quartet No. 3”, eight dancers move through numerous patterns where “everything is unexpected, and everything feels serendipitously right” (Roslyn Sulcas, The New York Times). Millepied created a film of Hearts & Arrows in the urban L.A. River, bridging dance with filmmaking for a performance in a non-traditional setting.
ABOUT L.A. DANCE PROJECT
L.A. Dance Project’s mission is to create new work and to revive seminal collaborations from influential dance makers. Programs include full-length evenings in traditional theater venues as well as various modular performances in non-traditional environments. Nationally, L.A. Dance Project has appeared at: University of California Davis’ Mondavi Center; Alexander Kasser Hall at Montclair State University, New Jersey; White Bird Dance in Portland, Oregon; and the Westobou Festival in Augusta, Georgia. Internationally, the company has performed at major theaters in Paris, London, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Istanbul, China, Japan, and Korea.
ABOUT BENJAMIN MILLEPIED
Born in France, Benjamin Millepied rose through the ranks at New York City Ballet (NYCB) and was a principal dancer from 2001 to 2011. With the NYCB, Millepied danced a vast repertoire and had many original roles created for him by Jerome Robbins, Peter Martins, Alexei Ratmansky, Christopher Wheeldon, Angelin Preljocaj, and Mauro Bigonzetti. In 2012, Millepied moved to Los Angeles, where he founded L.A. Dance Project to promote new work and revisit influential multidisciplinary collaborations from the past. Many of his ballets are in the repertory of major dance companies around the world, including the New York City Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, the Mariinsky Ballet, and the Lyon Opera Ballet. His collaborators have included Nico Muhly, David Lang, Philip Glass, Christopher Wool, Barbara Kruger, Paul Cox, Rodarte, Thierry Escaich, Santiago Calatrava, and Daniel Buren. Millepied works in film as a choreographer and as a director, and in 2010 choreographed Darren Aronofsky’s film Black Swan. Millepied was appointed director of The Paris Opera Ballet in January 2013, a role he assumed in October 2014.