leonid17

Christopher Wheeldon & 'Morphoses'

120 posts in this topic

Given that the dancers mentioned come from a classical and neo-classical background, it would seem that they wish to develop other aspects of dance which their current casting does not enable them to explore as widely as they would wish. Why else would they take leave from their safe haven?
I think the two-company model supports this type of experimentation on the part of the dancers. Peter Boal, while full-time at NYCB as well as a faculty member at SAB, had his own small company, for which he commissioned contemporary/modern works in the off-season. The dancers in Suzanne Farrell Ballet perform with the Company on their off-time from their primary companies (Ballet Arizona, National Ballet of Canada, Boston Ballet, etc.); the Bejart and Balanchine rep as taught by Farrell could be viewed as an opportunity to explore more widely than what they dance or the coaching they get in their base companies. There's also Benjamin Millepied's touring group, for which he choreographs. This model allows the dancers to work collaboratively with the same core group on the off-season, without having to arrange individual guest stints or arrange with their other companies (like Vishneva and Malakhov) for time off.

I suspect there's a social aspect to this too: the ability to work with respected fellow dancers on a more egalitarian level and/or be mentored by a noted dancer in a small environment. Jacques d'Amboise didn't form a company, per se, but he did put together small groups of young dancers for lecture-demo/performances, coaching them in and giving them the opportunity to perform roles that they wouldn't have been cast in at NYCB.

The original Times article did quote Wheeldon as saying that he doens't expect the original roster to be the long-term roster. If Wheeldon does have the funds to support a full-time company with overlapping schedules, then his company would resemble Robbins' Ballets USA, which Barbara Milberg left NYCB to join.

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Given that the dancers mentioned come from a classical and neo-classical background, it would seem that they wish to develop other aspects of dance which their current casting does not enable them to explore as widely as they would wish. Why else would they take leave from their safe haven? Are we moving into an era of dancer power as opposed to company power?

It's very exciting for any dancer to have a talented choreographer create choreography on them. That doesn't necessarily mean the stars are wishing for different movement vocabulary, like say something from the modern dance world. Is that what you meant?

I wonder how often a year the typical principal gets brand new choreography to perform.

I think Hans van Manen's works would be a challenge for some academic classical dancers.

Although his latest piece for the Royal was in a way a challenge(not as much as Chroma) Christopher Wheeldon does know how their bodies function. This I think is probably important if dancers are to go from a disparate style to their usual repertoire in a short period of time

I can think of a number of dancers who were fulfilled without the experience of a regular diet of "... brand new choreography to perform." To put it bluntly, they are servants of their art not owners of companies and it is very rare for dancers to walk away from a company because they are not performing enough new works.

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it is very rare for dancers to walk away from a company because they are not performing enough new works

Not so rare in the Soviet era. They were called defectors.

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Balanchine also noted that anybody can make a solo for her/himself, or a pas de deux; the talented ones, even a pas de trois, but from there, the job of choreography becomes far more complex.

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I don't think anyone has mentioned a British example which may have been in Wheeldon's mind as he was formulating his plans - George Piper Dances, a small company founded by William Trevitt and Michael Nunn. They were originally with the Royal, left to join K Ballet in Japan, and later decided to do their own thing. The company has only ever had a handful of dancers on a shifting basis - maximum five, I think. GPD has commissioned or acquired work from a number of choreographers. They probably don't get reported here much as much of the work is not ballet, but one ballet that they did commission a couple of years ago was Mesmerics from Wheeldon, which I enjoyed very much - rather more than some of his higher profile commissions in fact.

GPD always give the impression of having a lot of fun and working with the people they really want to. From their last programme note last autumn, I noted that they had plans to follow Wheeldon to Russia and make a documentary film about his latest commission there. (Is this the Wheeldon Hamlet that the Bolshoi are due to bring to London next summer ?)

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(Is this the Wheeldon Hamlet that the Bolshoi are due to bring to London next summer ?)

I think it must be, I haven't heard that he's doing anything alse there. I'm particularly looking forward to Hamlet as it will be the first narrative work of his I'll have seen.

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Interesting, too, is his comment that Monica Mason has been supportive at the London end. There is no parallel mention of support from anyone at Wheeldon's former NYC base.

I think you mean his current NYC base. :off topic: But he did say that "City Ballet . . . has been a wonderful home to me." It's natural that a British reporter writing for (mostly) British readers would tend to highlight references to names most familiar to her readers. After all, we're not seeing a verbatim transcript of their meeting.

I don't see how creating a new position, Resident Choreographer, for a very young dancer with few ballets to show for himself at the time -- which is what NYCB did for Wheeldon -- can be construed as anything but resounding support. Now that he's established himself as a force to be reckoned with, well, supporting him is a lot less of a gamble.

However, I was surprised by this passage:

The other problem has been creative loneliness, although it was only when Wheeldon was back at the Royal working on DGV, with Wayne McGregor in the next studio, that he grasped how much more fun he should be having. The competition was fierce between the two but also fantastically enjoyable: "There was a really charged energy in the building that both Wayne and I fed off."
I understood that fomenting a creative crosscurrent was the thinking behind the various Diamond projects, several of which included Wheeldon. Maybe he just didn't connect with those choreographers (must have been over dozens of 'em!) in quite the same way he did with McGregor.

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Yet more on Mr. Wheeldon in yesterdays UK Guardian newspaper:

http://arts.guardian.co.uk/critic/feature/0,,1985101,00.html

Apologies if this has appeared elsewhere.

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/living/16392793.htm

The following Wheeldon statement's resoundingly, resonated with me."There are not so many young choreographers experimenting with the classical vocabulary,'' Wheeldon says. ``There's a stigma among young people and even in the dance community that ballet is uncool. Which is a shame, because ballet has a potential to be very cool, but there needs to be choreographers exploring things on pointe.'' and "Increasingly, ballet companies are turning to modern dance artists like Twyla Tharp and Mark Morris, who for all their prodigious talent don't have the immersion in the classical tradition needed to make ballet grow. "

I hope Monica Mason has read this?

PS Minutes after I posted this link, you now have to register to read it.

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Thanks, leonid. I was able to get both links. The Miami Herald article was especially interesting to me because "Liturgy" will be Wheeldon's first work for the company. Villella, interviewed in the Miami NPR station, was very complimentary about Wheeldon's work in generaland his role in the future of classical ballet. The complete Miami program -- combining the Wheeldon, Tharp's In the Upper Room, and revivals of Robbins' Faun, and Balanchine's Agon -- seems to be the sort of balance you see more and more in the Sons of Balanchine companies over here.

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I think I must clarify "brand new choreography" not to mean 'flashy trendy brand new' but rather choreography created on them -- not new choreography acquired by their company but created on other dancers. Dancing in someone else's footsteps isn't quite the same creative process as originating a role oneself.

I hope I'm now sufficently reprimanded for saying "brand new" instead of "original".

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This from my inbox:

Hi,

This is Lourdes Lopez and I am the Executive Director for Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company.

Thank you so much for contacting us and expressing your interests in our next steps.

Right now we are in the midst of finalizing our 2007 engagements and working on our 2008 and 2009 seasons.

Once we have more information regarding our present and future plans, as well as programming and venues, we will be sure to notify you.

Again, thank you for contacting us and we will be in touch!

Warmly,

Lourdes

Lourdes Lopez

Executive Director

Morphoses

This seems to be a career change for Ms. Lopez, too. Her name is no longer on the site of the Balanchine Foundation. In fact, the Foundation appears to have no Executive Director now.

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Wheeldon is a new contributor on The Winger. His first post includes some interesting comments on starting his new company.

Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company is still quite a long way in coming, although we will form as a pick up group for performances this summer. Our goals are longevity and a permanent company, which requires some serious time for planning and building a secure infrastructure.

I have an awesome roster of dancers including Wendy Whelan and Maria Kowroski from City Ballet. Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg from Royal. Angel Corella from ABT .The Ballet Boyz from the UK and Anastasia Yatsenko from The Bolshoi. She was in my recent ballet ‘Elsinore’ and is absolutely beautiful . I was so impressed by her commitment to my work that she is coming to New York for our City Center season. We also have Gonzalo Garcia from San Francisco, Laeticia Guiliani from Florence, Helene Bouchet and Thiago Bourdin from Hamburg and Carla Körbes and Miranda Weese from PNB. In London Alexandra Ansanelli dances with Angel Corella in Balanchine’s Allegro Brilliante. The rest of the rep is some my work including ‘After The Rain‘ and ‘Polyphonia’ mixed with some Forsythe , Michael Clark and Liv Lorent. It’s going to be really exciting. I have also asked ex-City Ballet dancer Edwaard Liang to make a new duet. This along with two brand new works of mine will make up the world premieres for this season. Of course these dancers are on loan for the summer but we hope that sooner rather than later we will be able to hire some permanent members of Morphoses.

The entire post is at The Winger. Scroll down a bit.

And, here's what they have so far on the company website: Morphoses. The Wheeldon Company

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Wheeldon is a new contributor on The Winger. His first post includes some interesting comments on starting his new company.
Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company is still quite a long way in coming, although we will form as a pick up group for performances this summer. Our goals are longevity and a permanent company, which requires some serious time for planning and building a secure infrastructure.

I have an awesome roster of dancers including Wendy Whelan and Maria Kowroski from City Ballet. Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg from Royal. Angel Corella from ABT .The Ballet Boyz from the UK and Anastasia Yatsenko from The Bolshoi. She was in my recent ballet ‘Elsinore’ and is absolutely beautiful . I was so impressed by her commitment to my work that she is coming to New York for our City Center season. We also have Gonzalo Garcia from San Francisco, Laeticia Guiliani from Florence, Helene Bouchet and Thiago Bourdin from Hamburg and Carla Körbes and Miranda Weese from PNB. In London Alexandra Ansanelli dances with Angel Corella in Balanchine’s Allegro Brilliante. The rest of the rep is some my work including ‘After The Rain‘ and ‘Polyphonia’ mixed with some Forsythe , Michael Clark and Liv Lorent. It’s going to be really exciting. I have also asked ex-City Ballet dancer Edwaard Liang to make a new duet. This along with two brand new works of mine will make up the world premieres for this season. Of course these dancers are on loan for the summer but we hope that sooner rather than later we will be able to hire some permanent members of Morphoses.

The entire post is at The Winger. Scroll down a bit.

And, here's what they have so far on the company website: Morphoses. The Wheeldon Company

Thank you very mucha bart!!

These so great dancers join the company only for touring isn't it? or will some of them be in the Morphoses staff?

I guess not Angel Corella as with the ABT and his Company in Spain he probably will not have time for more.

Unfortunately there is no plan for coming to Spain :dry: but September in London can be a good option :flowers:

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Wheeldon is a new contributor on The Winger. His first post includes some interesting comments on starting his new company.
The rest of the rep is some my work including ‘After The Rain‘ and ‘Polyphonia’ mixed with some Forsythe , Michael Clark and Liv Lorent.
The entire post is at The Winger. Scroll down a bit.

And, here's what they have so far on the company website: Morphoses. The Wheeldon Company

I've missed following this -- does anyone know what Michael Clark work they're going to be performing?

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Here's the -->permalink to Wheeldon's Winger entry. It does not specify which ballets of other choreographers will be performed.

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The City Center site now has a page for Morphoses' fall run from October 17-21. Tickets go on sale on July 16.

http://www.nycitycenter.org/events/event_d...vent_code=WDN08

"Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company celebrates its inaugural season with a New York debut at New York City Center! Founded by Christopher Wheeldon, today’s most innovative contemporary ballet choreographer, and Lourdes Lopez, former Principal Dancer with New York City Ballet and Executive Director of The George Balanchine Foundation, Morphoses aims to broaden the scope of classical ballet and maximize its innovation by fostering creativity through collaboration, and engaging a revitalized audience while redefining ballet’s future.

During its first season, Morphoses will perform several of Wheeldon’s works including Polyphonia, After the Rain, There Where She Loved, and Morphoses, the company’s namesake. These will be augmented by an assortment of other neoclassical and contemporary pieces: William Forsythe’s Slingerland Pas de Deux, George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante, and works by the Ballet Boyz, Michael Clark, Liv Lorent, and Edwaard Liang.

Narciso Rodriguez, the internationally celebrated couture designer, and the 2004 and 2005 winner of the Council of Fashion Designers of America award, has agreed to be Morphoses’ first collaborative artist for our inaugural season. Mr. Rodriguez will design the costumes to both of Wheeldon’s new works, the Prokofiev pas de deux and the much larger work for nine dancers, which features the music of the young contemporary composer, Joby Talbot’s, The Dying Swan. Both these ballets will have their American premiere at New York City Center. Mr. Rodriguez will also be working with Mr. Wheeldon on each of the ballets’ stage designs.

The dancers comprise a first-class ensemble of guest artists from leading companies such as New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and the Royal Ballet, among others."

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It is wonderful that Wheeldon has his own company but I'm just as excited about Lourdes Lopez being a Founder/Executive Director of it too!

She was always one of my favorites from the 80's. She must be one heck of a multi-tasker with being Executive Director of The George Balanchine Foundation and this.

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Lourdes always had a first-class brain and first-class people skills even when she was a teen. I danced with her in Miami then, and recall thinking, "This pretty girl will be able to do anything she wants to!"

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The Balanchine Foundation no longer lists Lourdes as its Executive Director.

She is also a very fine public speaker, having moderated many of the Works & Process programs commemorating the Balanchine Centennial.

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The Balanchine Foundation no longer lists Lourdes as its Executive Director.

She is also a very fine public speaker, having moderated many of the Works & Process programs commemorating the Balanchine Centennial.

Lourdes was very active and imaginative in 2004, during the Balanchine Centennial -- for just one example, the "Wall-to-Wall-Balanchine at Symphony Space was her idea, according to Isaiah Scheffer (I believe he mentioned it in one of the last panels.) Christopher is very fortunate to have her. (I was a real fan of hers when she danced.

This may be :) but I find it very disturbing that the Foundation (where she has not been listed for quite a while, though she still may be listed as a Board member) does not appear to have made any progress in the many wonderful projects that were planned, if we judge from the website, which is the only visible evidence we have at hand.

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City Center has posted the names of dancers for the Morphoses season, October 17-21:

...The company... will perform to live music each evening, including performances with full orchestra. Leading dancers from major U.S. and European ballet companies will be participating in this debut New York season, including Ashley Bouder, Darcey Bussell, Jonathan Cope, Gonzalo Garcia, Nehemiah Kish, Maria Kowroski, Michael Nunn, Oxana Panchenko, William Trevitt, Wendy Whelan, Anastasia Yatsenko and others.

So much for retirement, DARCEY BUSSELL!

While sorry to see that Alina Cojocaru (Get Well, Soon!) and Johan Kobborg are not listed, fans of NYCB should be especially pleased to see Ashley, Maria, and Wendy.

Elsewhere on their site, City Center has a full press release that also details the ballets to be performed in the two programs.

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And so much for Jonathan Cope's retirement as well. It will be good to see him again, even if it is just as porteur to Bussell.

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From the City Center News page:

Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company celebrates its inaugural season with a New York debut at New York City Center! Founded by Christopher Wheeldon . . . and Lourdes Lopez . . . , Morphoses aims to broaden the scope of classical ballet and maximize its innovation by fostering creativity through collaboration, and engaging a revitalized audience while redefining ballet’s future.
This makes it sound like Lourdes will have artistic influence. Isn't it unusual for companies to feature their administrators so prominently?

Lofty goals there. Here's to their success.

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I can't find City Center's July 9 Press release posted anywhere on BT, so I hope it is OK to post the dancers and the programs for MORPHOSES here without waiting any longer, since tickets go on sale Monday (I believe already being sold to City Center Members).

DANCERS

Ashley Bouder, Darcey Bussell, Gonzalo Garcia, Maria Kowroski, Michael Nunn,

Oxana Panchenko, William Trevitt, Wendy Whelan, and Anastasia Yatsenko

BALLETS

Program 1: (October 17, 18 & 19)

There Where She Loved

Christopher Wheeldon, (NY premiere)

Music: Frederick Chopin, Kurt Weill

Tryst Pas, Wheeldon, (NY premiere)

Music: James MacMillan (full orchestra)

Slingerland, William Forsythe, (NY premiere)

Music: Gavin Bryars (tape or full orchestra)

Satie Stud, Michael Clarke, (NY premiere)

Music: Erik Satie

Prokofiev Pas De Deux, Wheeldon, (American premiere)

Music: Sergei Prokofiev (full orchestra)

New Wheeldon Ballet, Wheeldon, (American premiere)

Music: Joby Talbot, (Full orchestra)

Program 2: October 20 & 21

Mesmerics, Wheeldon

Music: Philip Glass

There Where She Loved, Pas de Deux

Wheeldon, (NY premiere)

Music: Frederick Chopin, Kurt Weill

Propeller, Liv Lorent, (NY premiere)

Music: Antonio Vivaldi and Ezio Bosso

Satie Stud, Michael Clarke, (NY premiere)

Music: Erik Satie

Liang Pas de Deux, Edwaard Liang, (NY premiere)

Music: Franz Schubert

Morphoses, Wheeldon

Music: György Ligeti

http://www.nycitycenter.org/about/press.cfm

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Funny. I visited both CityCenter.org and Morphoses.org last night and didn't find the programs -- only a list of repertory.

You'd think efforts would be made to make specific info available before box office opens.

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