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2013 MacArthur Genius Awards

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Two choreographers are among the recipients this year: Alexei Ratmansky & Kyle Abraham:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/25/arts/macarthur-genius-award-winners-named.html?hp&_r=0

For several winners, including Abraham, the award will give them the financial stability to focus on their work for the next several years. This article says nothing about Ratmansky's plans and, with his numerous worldwide commissions, financial stability doesn't seem to be an issue for him. So it will be very, very interesting to see what his plans are. He can continue to focus on choreography, rather than directing a company, but that seems to be what he was going to do anyway.

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Too early...I have a typo in the heading. It should be: "MacArthur" -- can an administrator fix that? Thanks!

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Congratulations to both. Great choices. I think this will give Ratmansky the luxury of time to breath and think when and if he needs it. Rushing from commission to commission isn't always the best condittion for developing new work, and he does have a family to support.

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I don't think Ratmansky rushes around from company to company because he needs money. I think he does it because he enjoys the crreative output and process, and he also enjoys his reputation as one of the foremost choreographers in the world. This award is just icing on the cake. I doubt we will see him diminish his work load, or spend more time with ABT, because he got this grant.

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Two choreographers are among the recipients this year: Alexei Ratmansky & Kyle Abraham:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/25/arts/macarthur-genius-award-winners-named.html?hp&_r=0

For several winners, including Abraham, the award will give them the financial stability to focus on their work for the next several years. This article says nothing about Ratmansky's plans and, with his numerous worldwide commissions, financial stability doesn't seem to be an issue for him. So it will be very, very interesting to see what his plans are. He can continue to focus on choreography, rather than directing a company, but that seems to be what he was going to do anyway.

Let me give you folks an AP link: List of 2013 'Genius Grant' recipients (This link to AP is FREE.helpsmilie.gif)

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/list-2013-genius-grant-recipients

With this grand, I guess, Ratmansky can hire some assistants to help him.

Actually, there are many restrictions on how to use this kind of grand, e.g. what the programs are, where the money is used, .... ABT might benifit most from Ratmansky's grand money; and Russian might have to wait.

tiphat.gif

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His assistant is his wife. She stages his ballets, Keeps it all in the family.

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Thanks so much for the links -- I'd heard on the radio that today was the announcement, but they didn't read through the whole list.

yudi -- one of the reasons we're so excited about these awards is that they are absolutely without restrictions. The winners can use them for whatever they like, professional or personal. They could make a new work, take a holiday, donate it all to someone else -- it's string-free.

I agree that Ratmansky seems to be everywhere all at once, but honestly, you learn to make dances by making dances and that's what he's doing. I don't know that he's taken any assignments recently strictly because of the money, but more likely because of the opportunities.

Some of the BA denizens may not be as familiar with Kyle Abraham, but I just wanted to say how excited I am for him as well -- he makes some astonishing stuff, and this award means there will be more of it.

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I'd like to see Ratmansky not produce for a while (which does not mean stop making work), as I'd like to see a lot of ballet choreographers stop producing for a while. Many need to think more, as our collective dissatisfaction with contemporary ballet shows; others need more time in the studio; most need to get their heads out of "the business" and back into dance. I say this b/c of the innovations I see in the other performing arts--music, theater, opera--that ballet as a field just isn't keeping up with. This is a luxury that the MacAruthur affords. IMHO.

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Too early...I have a typo in the heading. It should be: "MacArthur" -- can an administrator fix that? Thanks!

Done!

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I agree that Ratmansky seems to be everywhere all at once, but honestly, you learn to make dances by making dances and that's what he's doing. I don't know that he's taken any assignments recently strictly because of the money, but more likely because of the opportunities.

I'd like to see Ratmansky not produce for a while (which does not mean stop making work), as I'd like to see a lot of ballet choreographers stop producing for a while. Many need to think more, as our collective dissatisfaction with contemporary ballet shows; others need more time in the studio; most need to get their heads out of "the business" and back into dance.

I'm conflicted about this. Balanchine was able to work for most of his career with a company of dancers he himself had selected. They were his lab. As he changed he began to reward and hire a different kind of dancer. But before that, he benefited (I think) from having to take jobs of all sorts, with the dancers available at the time.

Wheeldon is arguably quite overstretched now.. He does seem to need to "not produce for a while," in Ray's terms. And you do need a secure base (including financial security) for that.

Ratmansky, on the other hand, is still a hugely creative guy who might be limited (even frustrated) if he could only work with ABT dancers, and with the constraints of ABT's performance schedule in mind. Traveling around to different companies might, for someone like Ratmansky, and like the younger generation (Peck, Scarlett, etc.) actually replicate what Balanchine was obliged to do when he arrived in western Europe and before he found the berth that Lincoln Kirstein and other were able to provide for him in NYC.

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This is an interesting topic. I spent some time this morning totalling up how many works Nicolo Fonte has made in the last few years (just under 50, since 1999), looking at where he worked and how often he returned to certain companies. As Bart points out, there can be a real benefit for a choreographer to working with a stable group of dancers, especially someone like Balanchine who was as involved in transforming classical ballet as he was in creating his own choreographic style. But I'm not really sure where Ratmansky could find a similar home base -- even as a resident at ABT he gets less time in the studio with that company than Balanchine did during the first part of his work with Ballet Society/New York City Ballet. At the beginning, Wheeldon seemed to want to create a similar home for himself with Morphoses, but that didn't really work out, or at least, didn't work in that way.

One of the twisty parts of being the resident choreographer for a company is that you often wind up creating the fill-in work (we need a program-length work, we need something for a small group, we need something for the dancers that aren't involved in another project...) Working as a guest gives him a certain freedom to pick and choose projects, but it does mean he's starting fresh with a new group of people more often than not.

Twyla Tharp is here right now, making a new work for Pacific Northwest Ballet. She's been her a couple of times for new projects, as well as coming in to whip some other rep into shape, so she's not a stranger to many of the dancers here, but I don't anticipate that her work will be as ground-breaking as some of the dances she made when she had her own ensemble. I'll be thrilled if I'm wrong, but I won't be surprised if I'm right.

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Ratmansky was offered a resident choreographer position with NYCB but turned it down because it was too restrictive in its requirements regarding the amount of time and number of works he would have to create at NYCB. ABT's offer allowed him the freedom to travel around and make works for other companies during most of the year. Ratmansky does not want to be tied on a full time basis to a home company, it would appear. This has all worked out pretty well for Justin Peck, who now appears to be NYCB's "go to" choreographer.

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This has all worked out pretty well for Justin Peck, who now appears to be NYCB's "go to" choreographer.

And Peck is still performing, I think?

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Yes, Peck is still performing. He was promoted to soloist earlier this year.

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That's a very different kind of career, where you're juggling those two commitments.

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That's a very different kind of career, where you're juggling those two commitments.

Indeed. Justin Peck's involvement with Miami City Ballet is a case in point. Scheduling has to be one of the major concerns when you are combining a dance career with one company with a choreography gig with another company .... and when you also have to factor in the completely separate schedule of an independent orchestra.

Peck was in Miami last spring to choreography a 2-person ballet, to be performed in April 2014 (more than a year later) at a concert of the New World Symphony. The dancers he selected were Jeanette Delgado (whom he describes as "one of America's greatest ballerinas right now") and Kleber Rebello. Title is "Chutes and Ladders." Music is from Benjamin Britten's String Quartet No. 1.

Peck will be back in Miami in early March, when he will participate in a couple of the Open Barre performances at the studio in Miami Beach. (March 7-8). Then, I assume, back for the premiere on April 20th.

The following is completely OFF TOPIC, but the MCB blog has a well-produced and thoughtful 3-minute video of Peck talking about the process, including studio video as well.

Imagining "New Work" with Justin Peck

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Kyle Abrahams was just interviewed by Chris Hayes on "All In with Chris Hayes" on MSNBC. I believe that show will be rebroadcast in a few hours. They include several clips of his dancers, along with discussion about how important the MacArthur money will be for the company.

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Kyle Abrahams was just interviewed by Chris Hayes on "All In with Chris Hayes" on MSNBC. I believe that show will be rebroadcast in a few hours. They include several clips of his dancers, along with discussion about how important the MacArthur money will be for the company.

Oh thank you for the heads-up -- I would miss this otherwise.

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Kyle Abrahams was just interviewed by Chris Hayes on "All In with Chris Hayes" on MSNBC. I believe that show will be rebroadcast in a few hours. They include several clips of his dancers, along with discussion about how important the MacArthur money will be for the company.

Oh thank you for the heads-up -- I would miss this otherwise.

It's now on the MSNBC web site. It's part of a story on food stamps (which Abrahams once needed). His interview starts at about 2:33:

http://video.msnbc.msn.com/all-in-/53108739#53108739

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I saw it, and thought he did a great job. He's quite articulate as an artist, and that extended into his discussion of the arts economy.

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