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Morphoses 2009 season

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A release:

MORPHOSES 2009 SEASON

09 Season ImagesOur season is approaching, and it's going to be vibrant and exciting. This season will feature five world premieres, five New York premieres, two Morphoses commissions, and a fully collaborative work with three top artists from the visual arts and fashion world.

We begin with performances at the Spoleto Festival, followed by a two week residency at the Vail International Dance Festival and two performances at both Central Park SummerStage and Fall for Dance. In August, we head to Martha's Vineyard for a five week residency at the Vineyard Arts Project and then go on to Dallas for a three week residency at the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts. We will finish the season with performaces at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London, New York City Center, and Het Muziektheater in Amsterdam.

Our program celebrating the Ballets Russes Centenary will premiere at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London followed by our annual engagement at New York City Center. This first program, with full orchestra, will include Christopher Wheeldon's Commedia, Alexei Ratmansky's Bolero, Softly as I Leave You reworked for dancers Drew Jacoby and Rubinald Pronk by choreographers Lightfoot/León and a new work from Australian choreographer, Tim Harbour to music by Ross Edwards.

The second program for our London and New York seasons will explore dance to piano and will include Christopher Wheeldon's Continuum with music by György Ligeti, Softly as I Leave You by Lighfoot/León, and the World Premiere of Christopher's new work to music from Suites for Two Pianos by Rachmaninoff with costumes by Francisco Costa. For this new work, Brazilian visual artists, the Campana Brothers, will be creating a new set, live, each night at City Center.

The 2009 calendar:

http://www.morphoses.org/?page=2009seasonoverview&r=1

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NEW YORK CITY CENTER PRESENTS

MORPHOSES/THE WHEELDON COMPANY

Third Annual Season Features

U.S. Premieres by Christopher Wheeldon

and Tim Harbour

Includes Works by Alexei Ratmansky and Lightfoot León

With

Andrew Crawford, Rory Hohenstein, Drew Jacoby, Gabrielle Lamb,

Juan Pablo Ledo, Edwaard Liang, Rubinald Pronk, Danielle Rowe,

Lucas Segovia, Beatriz Stix-Brunell and Wendy Whelan

October 29 – November 1, 2009

New York, NY, July 16, 2009 – New York City Center will present the third annual season of Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, October 29 – November 1, 2009, featuring two unique programs including U.S. premieres by Artistic Director Christopher Wheeldon and Australian choreographer Tim Harbour, as well as works by Lightfoot León, Alexei Ratmansky and Mr. Wheeldon. The engagement will feature live music performed by the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas, with the opening night conducted by the orchestra’s founder and music director, Alondra de la Parra. Tickets go on sale September 8th.

The season celebrates the centenary of the Ballets Russes, inspired by the legendary company’s commitment to creating innovative, collaborative productions with the seminal artists of its time. The first program features Wheeldon’s Commedia (2008), performed to Stravinsky’s “Pulcinella Suite,” and Alexei Ratmansky’s Bolero, re-created for the Bolshoi Ballet in 2004, with music by Maurice Ravel. Husband and wife choreographic team Paul Lightfoot and Sol León, resident choreographers of Nederlands Dans Theater, follow with Softly as I Leave You, re-worked in 2009 as a duet for Morphoses dancers Drew Jacoby and Rubinald Pronk. The program will conclude with a new work by Tim Harbour commissioned by Morphoses with music by Ross Edwards.

The second program features Wheeldon’s Continuum (2002), performed to the music of György Ligeti, followed by Lightfoot Leon’s Softly as I Leave You. The program concludes with Christopher Wheeldon’s untitled new work, co-commissioned by New York City Center and Sadler’s Wells, London, which will have its world premiere at Sadler’s Wells one week prior to its U.S. premiere at City Center. This new work, set to Rachmaninoff’s “Suites for Two Pianos,” will feature sets by the Havana-based installation artists Los Carpinteros and costumes by Francisco Costa, creative designer for Calvin Klein. Continuum and Wheeldon’s new work will be performed to live piano music.

“I am so excited to be able to present two premieres this year at City Center,” said Christopher Wheeldon. “One of these original works, created for our 2009 season, will be my new ballet to the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff. This is a timeless piece music that conjures images of romance and sensuality, offering a rich score around which I can build my choreography. It is incredibly inspiring that in only our third year, we are adding three more exciting creative artists to our list of collaborators: Los Carpinteros, Francisco Costa, and Tim Harbour, as well as once again, a group of world class dancers. I feel that with every year we follow our mission to bring ballet into the 21st century, and I am personally grateful to both New York City Center and Sadler's Wells Theatre for their support of Morphoses and our goals, and the freedom they offer us to create a repertoire for a new era.”

Leading dancers from major U.S. and European ballet companies will once again join the company, including Andrew Crawford, Ty Gurfein, Rory Hohenstein, Drew Jacoby, Kate Kadow, Gabrielle Lamb, Juan Pablo Ledo, Edwaard Liang, Matthew Prescott, Rubinald Pronk, Carrie Lee Riggins, Danielle Rowe, Lucas Segovia, Rachel Sherak, Beatriz Stix-Brunell and Wendy Whelan.

Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, formed by Christopher Wheeldon and Lourdes Lopez in 2007, has as its mission to broaden the scope of classical ballet by emphasizing innovation and fostering creativity through collaboration. The company is Guest Resident Company at both New York City Center and at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London. Christopher Wheeldon is Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells Theatre.

The Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas was founded in New York City in 2004 by then 23 year-old Mexican conductor and pianist Alondra de la Parra. Her vision has materialized into what is now an acclaimed orchestra that serves as a platform to showcase young composers and performers from the Americas, ranging from Argentina to Canada, presenting annual subscription concerts in New York City and touring the United States and Latin America. Since its inception, the Orchestra has performed for over 20,000 concertgoers in New York, Mexico City, Guadalajara, Oaxaca, Dallas, and Washington DC, featured 15 young soloists from the Americas, and performed 10 world premieres of American composers. Its musicians hail from 19 different countries and are largely aged under 35. In recent seasons, POA has built on its early success by recording film scores, performing at the Latin Grammys, instigating an international Young Composers’ Competition, and creating an innovative arts and education program for underprivileged youth in the United States and Mexico.

Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company will play for four performances, October 29– November 1, at New York City Center, West 55th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues, according to the following schedule: Thursday, October 29 at 8pm; Friday, October 30 at 8pm; Saturday, October 31 at 8pm; and Sunday, November 1 at 3pm. Tickets can be purchased by calling CityTix® at 212-581-1212, online at www.nycitycenter.org <http://www.nycitycenter.org/> or at the City Center Box Office (West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues).

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It's interesting that the only current NYCB dancer listed for the engagement is Whelan. In the past, Morphoses has drawn heavily from the ranks of NYCB. I always wondered what happened to Carrie Lee Riggins. I'm glad to see she is still dancing. Has anyone seen Ratmansky's Bolero?

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Here is the information for the upcoming Friday and Saturday, at Central Park's Summer Stage. The performance is free.

http://www.summerstage.org/index1.aspx?BD=21391

On Friday, there will be "a world premiere by choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, set to new music by Martha Wainwright, both commissioned by City Parks Foundation."

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I haven't read anything about Morphoses on BT in a while so I thought I'd mention that tickets have been available at CC for 3 weeks.

This year there are several dancers that I don't know, but will look forward to seeing. Except for Wendy (or as I call her "my" Wendy.

As I've mentioned she's my favorite dancer ever) there are no NYCB dancers this year. That said, several former NYCB dancers (Edwaard Liang, Carrie Lee Riggins and Melissa Barak) are dancing with the company. I was very disappointed to find out that the exquisite Edward Watson and Leanne Benjamin (RB) will be not at CC (sigh.... I'll have to catch them in London again).

Do any other BT-ers plan on attending? (I'm going to 3 performances, as well as Wendy's evening, hosted by Damian (hooray!) Woetzel)

I love to reading others opinions of the performances.

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NEW YORK CITY CENTER PRESENTS

MORPHOSES/THE WHEELDON COMPANY

Third Annual Season Features

U.S. Premieres by Christopher Wheeldon

and Tim Harbour

Includes Works by Alexei Ratmansky and Lightfoot León

Accompanied by the

Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas

Opening Night Performance Conducted by Alondra de la Parra

With

Andrew Crawford, Rory Hohenstein, Drew Jacoby, Gabrielle Lamb,

Juan Pablo Ledo, Edwaard Liang, Rubinald Pronk, Danielle Rowe,

Lucas Segovia and Wendy Whelan

October 29 – November 1, 2009

New York, NY, revised, October 15, 2009 – New York City Center will present the third annual season of Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, October 29 – November 1, 2009, featuring two unique programs including U.S. premieres by Artistic Director Christopher Wheeldon and Australian choreographer Tim Harbour, as well as works by Lightfoot León, Alexei Ratmansky and Mr. Wheeldon. The engagement will feature live music performed by the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas, with the opening night conducted by the orchestra’s founder and music director, Alondra de la Parra.

The season celebrates the centenary of the Ballets Russes, inspired by the legendary company’s commitment to creating innovative, collaborative productions with the seminal artists of its time. The first program features Wheeldon’s Commedia (2008), performed to Stravinsky’s “Pulcinella Suite.” Husband and wife choreographic team Paul Lightfoot and Sol León, resident choreographers of Nederlands Dans Theater, follow with Softly as I Leave You, re-worked in 2009 as a duet for Morphoses dancers Drew Jacoby and Rubinald Pronk, followed by Alexei Ratmansky’s Bolero, re-created for the Bolshoi Ballet in 2004, with music by Maurice Ravel. The program will conclude with Leaving Songs, new work by Tim Harbour commissioned by Morphoses with music by Ross Edwards.

The second program features Wheeldon’s Continuum (2002), performed to the music of György Ligeti, followed by Lightfoot Leon’s Softly as I Leave You. The program concludes with Rhapsody Fantaisie, Christopher Wheeldon’s new work, co-commissioned by New York City Center and Sadler’s Wells, London, which will have its world premiere at Sadler’s Wells one week prior to its U.S. premiere at City Center. This new work, set to Rachmaninoff’s “Suites for Two Pianos,” will feature sets by the Havana-based installation artists Los Carpinteros and costumes by Francisco Costa, Women's Creative Director, Calvin Klein Collection. Continuum and Wheeldon’s new work will be performed to live piano music.

“I am so excited to be able to present two premieres this year at City Center,” said Christopher Wheeldon. “One of these original works, created for our 2009 season, will be my new ballet to the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff. This is a timeless piece music that conjures images of romance and sensuality, offering a rich score around which I can build my choreography. It is incredibly inspiring that in only our third year, we are adding more exciting creative artists to our list of collaborators: Francisco Costa, Los Carpinteros and Tim Harbour, as well as once again, a group of world class dancers. I feel that with every year we follow our mission to bring ballet into the 21st century, and I am personally grateful to both New York City Center and Sadler's Wells Theatre for their support of Morphoses and our goals, and the freedom they offer us to create a repertoire for a new era.”

Leading dancers from major U.S. and European ballet companies will once again join the company, including Melissa Barak, Andrew Crawford, Ty Gurfein, Rory Hohenstein, Drew Jacoby, Gabrielle Lamb, Juan Pablo Ledo, Edwaard Liang, Matthew Prescott, Rubinald Pronk, Carrie Lee Riggins, Danielle Rowe, Lucas Segovia, Rachel Sherak and Wendy Whelan.

About the 2009 Morphoses Season:

Christopher Wheeldon

Rhapsody Fantaisie, U.S. Premiere

Christopher Wheeldon’s newest work, set to Rachmaninoff’s “Suites for Two Pianos” with set designs by the Havana-based installation and collective artists Los Carpinteros and costumes by Francisco Costa, Women's Creative Director, Calvin Klein Collection, will have its U.S. premiere on October 30.

The Havana-based collective Los Carpinteros (The Carpenters) has created some of the most important work to emerge from Cuba in the past decade. Interested in the intersection between art and society, the group merges architecture, design, and sculpture in unexpected and often humorous ways. They create installations and drawings which negotiate the space between the functional and the nonfunctional. Their carefully crafted works use humor to exploit a visual syntax that sets up contradictions among object and function as well as practicality and uselessness. Los Carpinteros's pieces are part of the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Museo de Bellas Artes, Havana and other museums worldwide.

Francisco Costa assumed the role of Women’s Creative Director of Calvin Klein Collection after working directly with Calvin Klein and other top design houses of Gucci, Balmain Couture, and Oscar de la Renta. Mr. Costa's first collection for the house debuted for Spring 2004. Mr. Costa has received his critical acclaim and recognition for his work and has received numerous awards. In 2006, and again in 2008, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) named Mr. Costa the Womenswear Designer of the Year. In 1993, Mr. Costa began a five-year collaboration with Oscar de la Renta that included the designer’s signature collection as well as Pierre Balmain haute couture. Tom Ford recruited Mr. Costa in 1998 to join his Gucci design studio, where he was senior designer concentrating on eveningwear, including custom designs for select clients and celebrities, before joining Calvin Klein's studio in early 2002.

Commedia (2008), performed by eight dancers to Igor Stravinsky’s “Pulcinella Suite,” has costumes and sets designed by Isabel Toledo and Ruben Toledo.

Continuum (2002), performed by eight dancers to music by György Ligeti, was created for the San Francisco Ballet and set to Ligeti’s atonal and arrhythmic score for piano and harpsichord.

Tim Harbour

Leaving Songs, U.S. Premiere

Australian choreographer Tim Harbour’s new work for seven dancers, commissioned by Morphoses, features music by Ross Edwards and costumes designed by Benjamin Briones. Harbour danced with The Australian Ballet for 13 years. He made his choreographic debut in 2005 with Sunken Waltz for The Australian Ballet, which was nominated as 'Best New Dance Work' in Australia's Critics’ Choice Awards. He followed this with Eve in 2006, Fielder in 2007, and Wa and Schattenwelt in 2008.

Lightfoot León

Softly as I Leave You (revised, 2009) has been re-worked as a duet for Morphoses dancers Drew Jacoby and Rubinald Pronk by husband and wife choreographic team Paul Lightfoot and Sol León, resident choreographers of Nederlands Dans Theater. This work is a combination of solos and duets with music by Arvo Pärt and Johann Sebastian Bach. Paul Lightfoot and Sol León met as dancers with Nederlands Dans Theater in 1987. Since the beginning of their collaboration in 1991, they have created over thirty ballets for NDT. Paul Lightfoot and Sol León were named resident choreographers of the Nederlands Dans Theater in 2002.

Alexei Ratmansky

Bolero (re-created for the Bolshoi Ballet in 2004) is set to the music of Maurice Ravel. Born in St. Petersburg, Alexei Ratmansky trained at the Bolshoi Ballet School in Moscow and performed as principal dancer with the Ukrainian National Ballet, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Royal Danish Ballet. As a choreographer, Ratmansky has created ballets for the Dutch National Ballet, Kirov Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, the Royal Swedish Ballet, New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and the State Ballet of Georgia. He was recently appointed Artist in Residence by American Ballet Theatre.

Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, formed by Christopher Wheeldon and Lourdes Lopez in 2007, has as its mission to broaden the scope of classical ballet by emphasizing innovation and fostering creativity through collaboration. The company is Guest Resident Company at both New York City Center and at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London. Christopher Wheeldon is Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells Theatre.

Funding for the Ballets Russes Centenary Season is made possible in part by American Express, The Jerome Robbins Foundation and The Shubert Foundation.

In addition, American Express is the lead sponsor of Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company at New York City Center and a proud supporter of the Company’s transatlantic season at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London.

New York City Center also gratefully acknowledges the generous support of Anne H. Bass, Ted and Mary Jo Shen and the New York City Center Dance Council for this presentation of Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company at New York City Center. It also salutes Fred and Robin Seegal for their underwriting support of the 2009-2010 dance season.

The Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas was founded in New York City in 2004 by then 23 year-old Mexican conductor and pianist Alondra de la Parra. Her vision has materialized into what is now an acclaimed orchestra that serves as a platform to showcase young composers and performers from the Americas, ranging from Argentina to Canada, presenting annual subscription concerts in New York City and touring the United States and Latin America. Since its inception, the Orchestra has performed for over 20,000 concertgoers in New York, Mexico City, Guadalajara, Oaxaca, Dallas, and Washington DC, featured 15 young soloists from the Americas, and performed 10 world premieres of American composers. Its musicians hail from 19 different countries and are largely aged under 35. In recent seasons, POA has built on its early success by recording film scores, performing at the Latin Grammys, instigating an international Young Composers’ Competition, and creating an innovative arts and education program for underprivileged youth in the United States and Mexico.

New York City Center has long been known and beloved by New York audiences not only as one of the City’s preeminent performing arts institutions but also as an accessible and welcoming venue for dance and theater. New York City Center produces the Tony-honored Encores! musical theater series, and is home to some of the country’s leading dance companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, Paul Taylor Dance Company and Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, as well as Manhattan Theatre Club, one of New York’s leading theater companies. Continuing to fulfill its mission to make the arts accessible to the broadest possible audience, in 2004, City Center launched the acclaimed Fall for Dance Festival. In 2006, City Center formed a partnership with London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre to facilitate the exchange of innovative dance works as well as providing a dual home base for Morphoses. In 2007, City Center introduced the Encores! Summer Stars series with the critically acclaimed production of Gypsy, which was followed by the 2008 hit, Damn Yankees, and this summer’s production of The Wiz.

Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company will play for four performances, October 29– November 1, at New York City Center, West 55th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues, according to the following schedule: Thursday, October 29 at 8pm; Friday, October 30 at 8pm; Saturday, October 31 at 8pm; and Sunday, November 1 at 3pm. Tickets can be purchased by calling CityTix® at 212-581-1212, online at www.nycitycenter.org or at the City Center Box Office (West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues).

Melissa Barak appears courtesy of Los Angeles Ballet, Danielle Rowe appears courtesy of The Australian Ballet, and Wendy Whelan appears courtesy of New York City Ballet,

# # #

MORPHOSES/THE WHEELDON COMPANY

2009 Complete Schedule

PROGRAM A

Commedia, Softly as I Leave You, Bolero,

Leaving Songs

Thursday, October 29 at 8 pm

Saturday, October 31 at 8 pm

COMMEDIA (2008)

Music: Igor Stravinsky

Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon

Costumes: Isabel Toledo

Set Design: Ruben Toledo

Lighting: Penny Jacobus

Dancers: Melissa Barak, Rory Hohenstein, Drew Jacoby, Edwaard Liang, Matthew Prescott, Rubinald Pronk, Carrie Lee Riggins, Danielle Rowe,

Wendy Whelan.

SOFTLY AS I LEAVE YOU (2009)

Music: Arvo Pärt and Johann Sebastian Bach

Choreography: Lightfoot León

Costumes: Lightfoot León

Set Design: Lightfoot León

Lighting: Tom Bevoort

Dancers: Drew Jacoby, Rubinald Pronk

BOLERO (2004)

Music: Maurice Ravel

Choreography: Alexei Ratmansky

Costumes: Marianne Wilson

Lighting: Brian Njie

Dancers: Melissa Barak, Juan Pablo Ledo, Edwaard Liang, Danielle Rowe, Lucas Segovia, Wendy Whelan.

LEAVING SONGS (2009)

Music: Ross Edwards

Choreography: Tim Harbour

Costumes: Benjamin Briones

Lighting: Marie Louise Geiger

Dancers: Melissa Barak, Andrew Crawford, Ty Gurfein, Rory Hohenstein, Gabrielle Lamb, Matthew Prescott, Rubinald Pronk, Carrie Lee Riggins, Danielle Rowe,

PROGRAM B

Continuum, Softly as I Leave You,

Rhapsody Fantaisie

Friday, October 30 at 8 pm

Sunday, November 1 at 3 pm

CONTINUUM (2002)

Music: György Ligeti

Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon

Lighting: Natasha Katz

Dancers: Melissa Barak, Andrew Crawford, Rory Hohenstein, Gabrielle Lamb, Edwaard Liang, Matthew Prescott, Danielle Rowe,

Wendy Whelan.

SOFTLY AS I LEAVE YOU (2009)

Music: Arvo Pärt and Johann Sebastian Bach

Choreography: Lightfoot León

Costumes: Lightfoot León

Set Design: Lightfoot León

Lighting: Tom Bevoort

Dancers: Drew Jacoby, Rubinald Pronk

RHAPSODY FANTAISIE (2009)

Music: Suites for Two Pianos by Sergei Rachmaninoff

Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon

Costumes: Francisco Costa

Set Design: Los Carpinteros

Lighting: Marie Louise Geiger

Dancers: Melissa Barak, Andrew Crawford, Rory Hohenstein, Drew Jacoby, Juan Pablo Ledo, Edwaard Liang, Rubinald Pronk, Carrie Lee Riggins, Danielle Rowe, Lucas Segovia, Rachel Sherak and Wendy Whelan.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/25/arts/dan...=1&ref=arts

Putting aside the financial issues confronting Morphoses (although there are a lot of companies that would kill for a $1.3 million budget), here is what puzzles me: What is the audience for this company? Or, to put it another way, what need wasn't being met by its absence??

It seems to me that the people who love the "grand personalities" and general gaudiness at ABT and the Royal Ballet wouldn't be interested in the comparatively "plain Jane" nature of Morphoses. And the ultra-hipsters who like Cedar Lake wouldn't find Morphoses hip enough. As a result, Morphoses occupies a kind of uncertain middle ground -- neither grand in the old manner or hip in the 21st century way.

Please -- tell me what I'm missing!?!

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http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/25/arts/dan...=1&ref=arts

Putting aside the financial issues confronting Morphoses (although there are a lot of companies that would kill for a $1.3 million budget), here is what puzzles me: What is the audience for this company? Or, to put it another way, what need wasn't being met by its absence??

It seems to me that the people who love the "grand personalities" and general gaudiness at ABT and the Royal Ballet wouldn't be interested in the comparatively "plain Jane" nature of Morphoses. And the ultra-hipsters who like Cedar Lake wouldn't find Morphoses hip enough. As a result, Morphoses occupies a kind of uncertain middle ground -- neither grand in the old manner or hip in the 21st century way.

Please -- tell me what I'm missing!?!

Interesting question. If they had a company of dancers, perhaps they could be the "Joffrey" of today. Back in the day, the Joffrey Ballet offered a group of dancers that were diverse, in many cases not ABT or NYCB material, but great and beloved by many (Crist, DeAngelo, Singleton to name a few). The company had a new age sensibiliy, along with revivals, and cheap tickets. I'm not saying that Morphoses should copy Joffrey exactly (which ultimately had to leave NY), but that there is a way to find an audience occupying a middle ground. To my way of thinking a company of interesting dancers is the key.

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miliosr, that's a great question. However, isn't Cedar Lake more a contemporary / modern dance company rather than a ballet based company? (And let's ignore the dancers' backgrounds and education.) Hopefully, Morphoses and Cedar Lake won't share much repertory.

From what I've read about the old Joffrey, not only did it have a company of interesting dancers, but it also had an outstanding repertory.

If Morphoses' programmes were made up of 1 Wheeldon + 1 legacy work (Ashton/McMillan/Balanchine) + 1 flavour of the month, I think that would be quite hip. :(

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However, isn't Cedar Lake more a contemporary / modern dance company rather than a ballet based company?

From a technical standpoint -- yes. But I was thinking more of the general look/sensibility of the two companies -- the same unisex/unitard stage presentation, the same contortionism in the dancing, etc. And I think Morphoses loses that "battle" between it and Cedar Lake.

From what I've read about the old Joffrey, not only did it have a company of interesting dancers, but it also had an outstanding repertory.

Exactly! When the Joffrey was at its peak, it was one of the few (the only?) places in the United States where you could see those revivals Robert Joffrey so loved. To paraphrase Martha Graham: "They found a need and they filled it."

If Morphoses' programmes were made up of 1 Wheeldon + 1 legacy work (Ashton/McMillan/Balanchine) + 1 flavour of the month, I think that would be quite hip. :(

You've just described a Royal Ballet mixed bill under Monica Mason! :wink:

I'm still perplexed as to the rationale for Morphoses. It's not like Chris Wheeldon is trying to preserve a very specific technique the way the Graham and Limon companies are. And given how promiscuous he is in choreographing for every company under the sun, it's not like Morphoses exists to be the sole presenter of his works. (Actually, if he wanted to increase the "uniqueness" of Morphoses, he should start cutting off the supply of new Wheeldon works to other companies. In the absence of doing that, why bother to go see Morphoses when you can see a wide cross-section of Wheeldon works at other companies???)

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I would imagine that the majority of Wheeldon's personal wealth/income derives from his work for other major ballet companies and from opera companies. Given the tenuous financial state of Morphoses, it is unlikely that he is deriving a huge personal fortune from Morphoses. IN fact, I would guess that he could not continue with Morphoses if he didn't also have his income from these other ballet companies for most of the year. I wouldn't call that "promiscuity", as one ballettalker did above. Also, there are a number of works that he has created for Morphoses exclusively and has not sold the performance rights to other companies. For example, has he sold the rights to Fools Paradise or Commedia to any other company?

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I would imagine that the majority of Wheeldon's personal wealth/income derives from his work for other major ballet companies and from opera companies. Given the tenuous financial state of Morphoses, it is unlikely that he is deriving a huge personal fortune from Morphoses. IN fact, I would guess that he could not continue with Morphoses if he didn't also have his income from these other ballet companies for most of the year.

I don't disagree with you. But that's the self-made trap he finds himself in, isn't it? The outside work pays the bills but lessens the need for a specialized company. If you can see a Wheeldon piece practically anywhere, why do you need Morphoses?

I wouldn't call that "promiscuity", as one ballettalker did above.

I stand by my "promiscuous" remark. He's too available . . . and that makes Morphoses less of an exclusive, destination event.

Also, there are a number of works that he has created for Morphoses exclusively and has not sold the performance rights to other companies. For example, has he sold the rights to Fools Paradise or Commedia to any other company?

And if he stands firm in not staging those works (and future Morphoses works) for other companies, then Morphoses becomes that "exclusive, destination event" I mentioned above.

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As someone living in Seattle, WA, where we have an excellent local company but don't see much ballet beyond them, I would be thrilled if Wheeldon's company took the Joffrey as their model because the Joffrey toured extensively. Most people talk about how Robert Joffrey took the Ballet Russe as his artistic model as far as casting and repertory was concerned, but consciously or not, they also emulated their presentation model -- they performed regularly in NYC, but also across the US.

(I know, I know -- all the arguments about how hard it is to tour a ballet company in the 21st c -- but I miss it all the same!)

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As someone living in Seattle, WA, where we have an excellent local company but don't see much ballet beyond them, I would be thrilled if Wheeldon's company took the Joffrey as their model because the Joffrey toured extensively

Speaking from 90 miles north of Miami, I agree completely. I'd put in a plug for West Palm Beach or Fort Lauderdale too, since each has a winter audience that includes many fans -- and financial supporters -- of NYCB and the NYC dance scene in general.

As to the difficulties, the Joffrey and other companies travel with ballets that don't require big productions. I assume that Morphoses does the same right now. It CAN be done.

By the way, the Times article was fascinating: a good reporting job by Sulcas and amazing candor by Wheeldon. How can you NOT want to read an article that begins: "Christopher Wheeldon wasn't feeling cheerful."

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I would imagine that the majority of Wheeldon's personal wealth/income derives from his work for other major ballet companies and from opera companies. Given the tenuous financial state of Morphoses, it is unlikely that he is deriving a huge personal fortune from Morphoses. IN fact, I would guess that he could not continue with Morphoses if he didn't also have his income from these other ballet companies for most of the year.

I don't disagree with you. But that's the self-made trap he finds himself in, isn't it? The outside work pays the bills but lessens the need for a specialized company. If you can see a Wheeldon piece practically anywhere, why do you need Morphoses?

I wouldn't call that "promiscuity", as one ballettalker did above.

I stand by my "promiscuous" remark. He's too available . . . and that makes Morphoses less of an exclusive, destination event.

Also, there are a number of works that he has created for Morphoses exclusively and has not sold the performance rights to other companies. For example, has he sold the rights to Fools Paradise or Commedia to any other company?

And if he stands firm in not staging those works (and future Morphoses works) for other companies, then Morphoses becomes that "exclusive, destination event" I mentioned above.

Well, one could argue that you can see Balanchine performed by almost every company under the sun these days, but that New York City Ballet is still relevant. Wheeldon for me is a bit of the "same, old, same, old" all the time. Many of his ballets are unremarkable and some are plain dull. And some of his better things are performed better by other companies. (San Francisco Ballet as an example). And I can't see him taking on the mantle of Robert Joffrey. Their esthetic just isn't the same. For a touring company to succeed you have to offer the audience a bit more than dancers in endless contortions that come to nothing. After seeing the recent "Seven Sonatas" from Alexei Ratmansky at the ABT Fall Season, one can easily distinguish a master ballet maker (Ratmansky) from a choreographer that has been hyped too quickly and from whom we can probably expect very little. Sadly, Wheeldon is not Balanchine's heir. But he may have been able to grow and improve had he stayed at City Ballet. At least there he had some of the best dancers around to explore and help shape his work. All the money in the world can't make a great choreographer. I think Balanchine at one time worked for a dollar a year!

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Many of his ballets are unremarkable and some are plain dull. And some of his better things are performed better by other companies. (San Francisco Ballet as an example). And I can't see him taking on the mantle of Robert Joffrey. Their esthetic just isn't the same.

Wheeldon's ballets are stunning & virtuosic -- especiLly when done by SFBallet and he's just been here and put all the finishing touches in place -- but I can't sY they're wonderful. They don't really develop and I agree with alaistair M that he can't do variation form which is at the heart of ballet -- even Cunningham has maybe a form of it in his wit and Michael Clark Company despite its punky dishelvedness has a nice musicality and fills the stage like a painter does his or her canvas. I can't imagine seeing three W's on one program.

Disclaimer - typed on an iPod touch while hard drive is in shop being replaced. Many happy go lucky defaults -- especially it's / its --must be overridden.

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This might be a little bit off topic but I was at the Wendy Whelan evening at City Center (Studio 5) last night (and was lucky enough to ride the elevator up with Chris Wheeldon. I asked him if he was jet lagged -- Morphoses just returned from London on Sunday night -- and he gave me an extremely good natured answer. He is just adorable!)

At one point -- later in the 90 minute program -- Damian Woetzel invited both Alexei Ratmansky, and then Chris, to talk about why they choreographed parts specifically for Wendy. Chris's answer was quite interesting. I'm paraphrasing, but essentially he said that he sees Wendy

in every ballet he choreographs, even if she's not in it.

The evening was delightful. NYCB dancers Tiler Peck, Jared Angle, Philip Neal, Andy Veyette, Megan Fairchild and Philip Neal, as well as David Hallberg (he performed a lovely excerpt from "Apollo" with Wendy), and Matthew Prescott performed short pieces from Wendy's best known ballets. Wendy also danced with Philip, Jared (twice), and David. But the highlight was when Damian -- in street clothes -- took Wendy in his arms and danced for a couple of minutes (from a Balanchine ballet).

Two of the ballets that will be performed by Morphoses (back to the topic!) were also previewed.

It was truly a special event.

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Wheeldon's ballets are stunning & virtuosic -- especiLly when done by SFBallet and he's just been here and put all the finishing touches in place -- but I can't sY they're wonderful. They don't really develop and I agree with alaistair M that he can't do variation form which is at the heart of ballet ...
I think you hit the nail squarely on the head, Quiggin. The early critical praise for Wheeldon, which may well have been intended as encouragement, was read by many as an anointing. He has occasional interesting ideas, but he tends to plunk them into his ballets without taking them anywhere.

His ambition is greater than his talent, and his timing in striking out on his own is just plain unlucky.

...Damian Woetzel invited both Alexei Ratmansky, and then Chris, to talk about why they choreographed parts specifically for Wendy. Chris's answer was quite interesting. I'm paraphrasing, but essentially he said that he sees Wendy

in every ballet he choreographs, even if she's not in it.

As many suspected Balanchine did for Farrell after she'd left. :-)
But the highlight was when Damian -- in street clothes -- took Wendy in his arms and danced for a couple of minutes (from a Balanchine ballet).
Oh, don't be a tease! :wink: Which one?

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The early critical praise for Wheeldon, which may well have been intended as encouragement, was read by many as an anointing.

It was hard to avoid that conclusion, given some of the hosannas with which the advent of Wheeldon was greeted. I did think that Wheeldon was initially overpraised but I also felt for him when the inevitable backlash occurred.

.....his timing in striking out on his own is just plain unlucky.

Couldn’t have been worse, in retrospect. But it’s possible for the gifted and blessed to learn from tough times and in the long run Wheeldon may profit from the difficult period he’s going through now. I'm glad to have been able to see so many of his ballets in San Francisco.

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Oh, don't be a tease! :wink: Which one?

______

Oops, sorry! I thought I included it -- Mozartiana!

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As someone living in Seattle, WA, where we have an excellent local company but don't see much ballet beyond them, I would be thrilled if Wheeldon's company took the Joffrey as their model because the Joffrey toured extensively.
Speaking from 90 miles north of Miami, I agree completely. I'd put in a plug for West Palm Beach or Fort Lauderdale too, since each has a winter audience that includes many fans -- and financial supporters -- of NYCB and the NYC dance scene in general.

Thank you sandik and bart for identifying a possible niche for Morphoses. As a corollary, I would add that there is a hunger for dance in smaller cities and large college towns. The modern/postmodern/contemporary companies meet this hunger fairly well as they are willing to tour extensively and perform "one night stands". (Suzanne Farrell and her little troupe are actually doing something like this in 2009-10 with visits to the University of Michigan and the University of Minnesota.)

Is Wheeldon willing to go down that route, though? If you think about it, he 's led a very charmed life in terms of where he's staged his dances. He started out at the top -- City Ballet -- and has pretty much avoided the small markets ever since. Just this year has seen/will see glamorous stops in Martha's Vineyard and Vail and London and New York. Does he have the stomach to slog it out with other mere mortals in the hinterlands???

Wheeldon for me is a bit of the "same, old, same, old" all the time. Many of his ballets are unremarkable and some are plain dull. For a touring company to succeed you have to offer the audience a bit more than dancers in endless contortions that come to nothing. After seeing the recent "Seven Sonatas" from Alexei Ratmansky at the ABT Fall Season, one can easily distinguish a master ballet maker (Ratmansky) from a choreographer that has been hyped too quickly and from whom we can probably expect very little.

It seems unlikely that Wheeldon will fulfill his original promise (or, more accurately, meet the extravagant claims foisted upon him by overexcited critics.) Sadly for Wheeldon, the current curdled reaction to Morphoses and his current work comes just as Mr. Ratmansky appears to be stealing his thunder as the next, great hope of ballet.

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Oh, don't be a tease! :wink: Which one?

______

Oops, sorry! I thought I included it -- Mozartiana!

In street clothes? And it worked?? I guess that's the power of great choreography.

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Oh, don't be a tease! :wink: Which one?

______

Oops, sorry! I thought I included it -- Mozartiana!

In street clothes? And it worked?? I guess that's the power of great choreography.

And/or a great dancer. In the Delouche film about Monique Lourdieres ("Comme les oiseaux"), there's a scene with Vladimir Vasiliev coaching Lourdieres in "Giselle", in street clothes and black patent leather shoes. It is a dream.

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I attended Morphoses program B last night. City Center was packed. Many NYCB dancers -- including 3 of the new NYCB principals (Tyler Angle, Tess Reichlen and Amar Ramasar), and Craig Hall, and Justin Peck, as well as David Hallberg, Damian Woetzel and his wife Heather Watts (I was a big fan of Heather's when she was with NYCB) -- were out in force to support Morphoses.

You know that something is wrong when audience gazing is more fun than the actual ballet program.

I did not love "Continuum" -- a ballet that most of the London reviewers consider one of Chris Wheeldon's finest. However, I will be seeing it again tomorrow; I hope a second viewing will illuminate the ballet. The dancers were uniformly excellent. I especially loved Danielle Rowe,

Rory Hohenstein, Edwaard Liang (who was "the" dancer of the evening in my book. He gets better every year. I do miss him at NYCB), and the

always magnificent, Wendy Whelan.

I loathed (a word I rarely use) "Softy as I leave You." It's little more than a gimmick -- and a bad one at that. It's also a total waste of the

"Goddess" (and if you haven't seen this woman, believe me -- she's that great), Drew Jacoby. Rubi Pronk showed his usual

incredible extensions, but my eye was always drawn to Drew -- even in this trashy (and boring!) ballet.

There's a ballet waiting to get out of "Rhapsody Fantasie." It's crying out for a ballet "editor." Right now it's a lot of starts and stops -- mixed in with some gorgeous dancing. It's also too long. I saw part of this piece at Wendy Whelan's evening at City Center on Monday night --

that seemed to be the best part of the entire ballet. There was also a very good section with three male couples. All the men were good, but Edwaard Liang was brilliant (and I really did like Rory Hohenstein again; He's grown a lot as a dancer in the last year).

As for the women in "Rhapsody Fantaisie, " it was so nice to see the always smiling former NYCB dancer, Carrie Lee Riggins back on the stage.

Danielle Rowe was also good in this ballet, as were Melissa Barak (also formerly of NYCB) and Rachel Sherak. Drew Jacoby was terrific with Rubi Pronk in this piece, but it was the final section with Wendy Whelan that was the heart of this ballet. It had everything in that part that seemed to be missing in so much of the rest of the ballet.

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