Featuring Secus by Ohad Naharin,
Seven Sonatas by Alexei Ratmansky
and a new work by Tara Lee
Modern Choreographic Voices presents the works of some of today’s most sought-after contemporary choreographers.
Ohad Naharin is back this season with the Atlanta Ballet premiere of the incendiary Secus after electrifying audiences last year with Minus 16.
From Alexei Ratmansky, the current artist in residence at American Ballet Theatre and former artistic director of the legendary Bolshoi Ballet, Atlanta Ballet presents the hypnotic Seven Sonatas.
Tara Lee returns with a world premiere after awing audiences with 2012’s Pavo. Lee, also an accomplished dancer entering her eighteenth season with Atlanta Ballet, has proven that she is a multi-dimensional and distinctive emerging choreographer.
*Contains nudity. Parental discretion advised.
Maybe it’s Gaga technique, Gyrotonics, yoga or some combination of those. Maybe it’s the atmosphere, where dancers are nurtured as individual artists and where creativity is valued over commercialism. Whatever it is, something is happening at Atlanta Ballet, and audiences should take note.
Atlanta Ballet Artistic Director John McFall has repeatedly gifted Atlanta with stunning new repertoire that astonishes and intrigues audiences, but, more than that, it engages them. The 2013 NCV surpassed previous performances in every way. This year's performance offered three works that drastically differed from one another, and that dared the audience members to remain aloof from the action on the stage and in their midst.
Artistic director John McFall believed his classically trained Atlanta Ballet dancers were ready for the demanding contemporary choreography of Ohad Naharin.
The question was, would the white-hot Israeli choreographer share McFall’s leap of faith?
I thought this might be a “dancer’s evening” that might not feel accessible to the average Joe. Boy was I wrong!!
I’m telling you now, RUN, don’t walk to see this production!!! This is by far the most moving evening of dance I’ve ever seen!!! I’m not kidding. I openly wept during the second act.
He predicts that the world premiere of Patterson’s “I Am” will touch audiences deeply. He invited some of the company’s trustees to watch a rehearsal recently and was amazed at their reaction. “I looked over and saw all these trustees crying,” he says. “They didn’t just have watery eyes, they were sobbing. It’s not often that you get that kind of emotional response.”
It was both exhilarating and liberating, a mad rush of adrenaline. A friend who witnessed the moment said the smile on my face was the most genuine thing he’d seen in a long time. No wonder. Thursday night, I got back in touch with my inner child. And what child doesn’t dream of someday catching a beautiful ballerina?
The three unique pieces will surprise you with their clever beauty, and the company has integrated interesting packaging that invites you to really feel like you are involved in the performance.
The three short pieces that make up the Atlanta Ballet's New Choreographic Voices are abstract works without specific characters, settings or stories, but nonetheless there's about as much drama on stage as you'd ever want in an evening at the theater.
The past few weeks have been a blur for Atlanta Ballet’s Tara Lee. There are daily rehearsals for a world premiere by choreographer Helen Pickett, called “Prayer of Touch,” in which Lee has a leading role. Then, after that, there’s a second daily rehearsal for yet another world premiere, “Pavo,” choreographed by … Tara Lee.
Atlanta Ballet dancer Tara Lee describes “Pavo” as a story of transformation, the struggle to recognize the unhealthy cycles we adopt in life and the greater struggle to break free of them.
Throughout her career with the ballet, Lee says it's been the company's collaborative and democratic environment that has kept her there for 16 seasons, and that it helped make "Pavo" the piece it is. "'Pavo' is obviously material that could never have been created with just me or just them," she says of the company. "This had to happen collectively. My intent from the beginning was that this was going to come through all of us. It wasn't necessarily going to be 'my ballet.' It was just something I was guiding."
In rehearsal for her new work “Prayer of Touch,” New York-based choreographer Helen Pickett watches intently as Atlanta Ballet veteran Tara Lee darts across the studio, her tiny, muscular body just barely glistening with sweat as she performs a complicated, lightning-quick movement sequence.
A cast of emerging choreographers in the Atlanta Ballet’s now annual season closer will present a mixed repertory program beginning tonight at the Alliance Stage of the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta.
Choreogrpaher, untitled new work
Tara Lee made her choreographic debut with Sixteen String in 2003. Originally created for an Atlanta Ballet choreographers’ workshop, Sixteen String, with music by Lou Harrison, was handpicked by John McFall for the Company’s next season. In 2004, John McFall offered Tara another opportunity, which led to the creation of Poem, a dramatic duet that she danced with Brian Wallenberg to the music of Jeff Buckley. After making its world premiere with Atlanta Ballet, Poem was performed by New Orleans Ballet Theatre. Subsequent works include two commissions for Emory Dance Company; a Margaret Mitchell-inspired duet for Georgia Public Broadcasting; and an ensemble piece, Akara, which she created with Jesse Tyler for Atlanta Ballet’s Wabi Sabi. Tara would like to express special thanks to her director, John McFall, for giving her unlimited amounts of encouragement, trust, and freedom during this amazing creative process.
Ohad Naharin has been hailed as one of the world’s preeminent contemporary choreographers. As Artistic Director of Batsheva Dance Company since 1990, he has guided the company with an adventurous artistic vision and reinvigorated its repertory with his captivating choreography. Naharin is also the originator of an innovative movement language, Gaga, which has enriched his extraordinary movement invention, revolutionized the company’s training, and emerged as a growing force in the larger field of movement practices for both dancers and non-dancers.
Born in 1952 on Kibbutz Mizra, Ohad Naharin began his dance training with the Batsheva Dance Company in 1974. During his first year with the company, visiting choreographer Martha Graham singled out Naharin for his talent and invited him to join her own company in New York. While in New York, Naharin studied on scholarship at the School of American Ballet, furthered his training at The Juilliard School, and polished his technique with master teachers Maggie Black and David Howard. He went on to perform internationally with Israel’s Bat-Dor Dance Company and Maurice Béjart’s Ballet du XXe Siècle in Brussels.
Naharin returned to New York in 1980, making his choreographic debut at the Kazuko Hirabayshi studio. That year, he formed the Ohad Naharin Dance Company with his wife, Mari Kajiwara, who died of cancer in 2001. From 1980 until 1990, Naharin’s company performed in New York and abroad to great critical acclaim. As his choreographic voice developed, he received commissions from world-renowned companies including Batsheva, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, and Nederlands Dans Theater.
Naharin was appointed Artistic Director of Batsheva Dance Company in 1990 and has served in this role except for the 2003-2004 season, when he held the title of House Choreographer. During his tenure with the company, Naharin has choreographed over 20 works for Batsheva and its junior division, Batsheva Ensemble. He has also restaged over 10 of his dances for the company and recombined excerpts from his repertory to create Deca Dance, a constantly evolving evening-length work.
Naharin trained in music throughout his youth, and he has often used his musical prowess to amplify his choreographic impact. He has collaborated with several notable musical artists to create scores for his dances, including Israeli rock group The Tractor’s Revenge (for Kyr, 1990), Avi Belleli and Dan Makov (for Anaphaza, 1993), and Ivri Lider (for Z/na, 1995). Under the pseudonym Maxim Waratt, Naharin composed music for MAX (2007) and edited and mixed the soundtracks for Mamootot (2003) and Hora (2009). Naharin also combined his talents for music and dance in Playback (2004), a solo evening which he directed and performed.
In addition to his work for the stage, Naharin has pioneered Gaga, an innovative movement language. Gaga, which emphasizes the exploration of sensation and availability for movement, is now the primary training method for Batsheva’s dancers. Gaga has also attracted a wide following among dancers around the world and appealed to the general public in Israel, where open classes are offered regularly in Tel Aviv and other locations.
Naharin’s compelling choreographic craft and inventive, supremely textured movement vocabulary have made him a favorite guest artist in dance companies around the world. His works have been performed by prominent companies including Nederlands Dans Theater, Ballet Frankfurt, Lyon Opera Ballet, Compañía Nacional de Danza (Spain), Cullberg Ballet (Sweden), the Finnish National Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, Balé da Cidade de São Paulo, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet (New York), Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Les Grand Ballets Canadiens de Montréal. Naharin’s rehearsal process with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet during a restaging of Deca Dance was the subject of Tomer Heymann’s documentary Out of Focus (2007).
Naharin’s rich contributions to the field of dance have garnered him many awards and honors. In Israel, he has received a Doctor of Philosophy honoris causa by the Weizmann Institute of Science (2004), the prestigious Israel Prize for dance (2005), a Jewish Culture Achievement Award by The Foundation for Jewish Culture (2008), a Doctor of Philosophy honoris causa by the Hebrew University (2008), and the EMET Prize in the category of Arts and Culture (2009). Naharin has also been the recipient of the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government (1998), two New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Awards (for Naharin's Virus at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2002 and for Anaphaza at the Lincoln Center Festival in 2003), the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement (2009), and a Dance Magazine Award (2009).
Choreographer, Seven Sonatas
Alexei Ratmansky was born in St. Petersburg and trained at the Bolshoi Ballet School in Moscow. His performing career included positions as principal dancer with Ukrainian National Ballet, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and the Royal Danish Ballet. He has choreographed 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, under the artistic direction of ABT principal dancer Nina Ananiashvili. His 1998 work, Dreams of Japan, choreographed for Ananiashvili, earned a prestigious Golden Mask Award by the Theatre Union of Russia. In 2005, he was awarded the Benois de la Danse prize for his choreography of Anna Karenina for the Royal Danish Ballet. He was made Knight of Dannebrog by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark in 2001. Ratmansky was named artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet in January 2004. For the Bolshoi Ballet, he choreographed full-length productions of The Bright Stream (2003) and The Bolt (2005) and re-staged Le Corsaire (2007) and the Soviet-era Flames of Paris (2008). Under Ratmansky’s direction, the Bolshoi Ballet was named “Best Foreign Company” in 2005 and 2007 by The Critics’ Circle in London, and he received a Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for The Bright Stream in 2006. In 2007, he won a Golden Mask Award for Best Choreographer for his production of Jeu de Cartes for the Bolshoi Ballet. In 2009, Ratmansky choreographed new dances for the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Aida. Ratmansky joined American Ballet Theatre as artist in residence in January 2009. Seven Sonatas was Ratmansky’s third work for American Ballet Theatre since On the Dnieper, his first work for the Company, and Waltz Masquerade, a ballet honoring Nina Ananiashvili’s final season. The Nutcracker was his first full-length ballet for the Company.