A Postcard from Abdul Latif on His Premiere "Alas" for the Ashley Bouder Project at The Joyce

A Postcard from Abdul Latif on His Premiere "Alas" for the Ashley Bouder Project at The Joyce

Published on June 29, 2018
Photo: Paula Lobo

Abdul Latif, known for his urban contemporary dance aesthetic and juxtaposed movement, will present the world premiere of Alas, with The Ashley Bouder Project, as part of the Joyce Ballet Festival, July 2-5. As part of a program dedicated to promoting diversity within the performing arts world, Latif joins Lauren Lovette, Liz Gerring, and Annabelle Lopez-Ochoa, to create new works on Bouder’s ensemble.

For ticket information go to The Joyce Website.

I first became acquainted with Ashley Bouder Project when they were at the Joyce Theater in 2015. I had gotten to know Ashley through my friendship with Amar Ramasar. I adore her onstage mystique and mesmerizing manner of moving.

Last November she leaned over to me and said, "You're going to choreograph for my next project.” I began conceptualizing the piece the following day.

Woman on pointe lifts her leg high in the air
Ashley Bouder Project; Photo: Paula Lobo

I met Ashley’s husband Pete, and fell in love with his father, Daniel Sutherland's photography. While taking in Dan's work "Nantucket," I would sit and listen to different composers. Dan was able to capture the same places in so many different ways, it was magical. The beaches, shorelines and the sea in his works weren’t merely places to sun, vacation, or sail, instead the ocean had feelings, temperament, and a mood.

I was reminded of Eve, Mother Nature, and  the female energy's power to sooth and scare — the sea can caress and conquer in one wave. As it was all coming together, I thought, 'This is what I feel about Ashley, my sister and mother.' There is a strength and a beauty that looks different each time I revisit them . . . Alas . . .

A woman lifts her leg high in the air. Her arms outstrech. Abdul coaches on the side.
Ashley Bouder Project and Abdul Latif; Photo: Paula Lobo

During my initial residency at Lincoln Center Institute my mother died. For most, if not all of my life, she was the matriarch and mistress of ceremony. When that magical person, who had the ability to stir up every emotion within you at once, is gone, you’re only left with memories.

I grew up in an orthodox Muslim household. There’s something about the subjugation or the silence of the female voice, its place as being second to the male's was the norm in our culture, but it was not the way it was in my family. Through this work, I celebrate and honor my mother and all of the females that came before and after her.

A man in orange shorts extends his leg parallel to the floor.
Ashley Bouder Project; Photo: Paula Lobo


As dance makers, we always hope that our works stay with audiences. There is something romantic about sharing something with all of those eyes. In small ways, we begin to understand the things that bring us closer together as humans.

Before I finish, I would like to acknowledge my collaborators: Toronto-based fashion designers Luis Padilla and Ana Carpio, of Mexican Heritage and Canadian Nationality,  and Daniel Sutherland. His photographs impacted this work so deeply that his images not only make up our scenic design, but are printed on the costumes. (You can see his works on display over the next month at Gallery 151).

Ron Wasserman not only re-arranged Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, but he guided a jazz orchestra into integrating my choreographic soundscape and rhythms. I felt that the music had a pulsating contemporary power dying to be unearthed, and Ron helped realize that. We layered jazz/scatting, hip-hop/beatboxing and house voguing/emcee sounds to honor the spirit of Vivaldi and remain relevant for all audiences.

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