Aggressive, absurd and at times overpowering, Naharin’s world came down in stark contrast to Ratmansky’s “Seven Sonatas.” Hopefully, the company will continue to explore both realms. But whether poetically precise or boundlessly ecstatic, Atlanta Ballet continues to invite its audience into a wild, multifaceted and ever-changing world. - See more at: http://www.artsatl.com/2014/03/review-atlanta-ballet-rides-poetic-extremes-latest-modern-choreographic-voices/#sthash.RNEvigiu.dpuf
Mara’s fanciful dream took some unexpected turns along the way. But now, at 28 and eight seasons into a thriving career at Atlanta Ballet, she’s getting to dance the part originated by one of her early heroes, American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Julie Kent, in “Seven Sonatas.”
Choreographed by ABT’s Russian-born artist in residence Alexei Ratmansky, the dance is one of three in Atlanta Ballet’s diverse and challenging Modern Choreographic Voices program next weekend at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.
Atlanta Ballet, which has increasingly blended bold contemporary choreography with classical dance in recent seasons, appears primed to take a leap of even greater boldness during this weekend’s “Modern Choreographic Voices” program.
For both performers and audience, the evening promises a challenge. Follow Agami’s advice for best results: “Melt into it, and let it affect you,” she suggests. “The situation is asking you to take a layer off, then a second, and under the third you might find something you’re afraid of. It’s wild, but we’re all wild. It’s like a mirror for the viewer.” - See more at: http://www.artsatl.com/2014/03/preview-modern-choreographic-voices-atlanta-ballet-permission-groove/#sthash.yS3DjXO6.dpuf
Deborah Friedesa of the Jerusalem Post said of “Secus,”: “From total stillness, the dancers burst into flurries of activity, creating a sense of organized chaos both in the space and within their bodies. Their novel movement often defies description, but it constantly commands attention and inspires awe.”
The Atlanta Ballet will also present ballet icon Alexei Ratmansky’s “Seven Sonatas.” Ratmansky, who revived the Bolshoi Ballet and served as its director for four years, is currently artist in residence at American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in New York.
He has been called “the most looked-to choreographer in Western ballet” and “the most gifted choreographer, specializing in classical ballet today” by The New York Times.
Atlanta Ballet is certainly challenging its dancers, both by the works they are performing and by the compression of the season, requiring dancers to shift choreographic styles weekly and learn new ballets in days. “Seven Sonatas” is so demanding it requires two casts to allow dancers sufficient recovery time. I saw Cast B, which is not an inferior cast, just a description. The company is also challenging the audience: Modern Choreographic Voices is filled with choreography that requires the full attention of the audience and that pushes the dancers to expand their technical and artistic palettes. The program may be too abstract for general or young audiences with little or no dance experience, but it definitely explores the directions in which contemporary dance is heading. For dance aficionados, it is a delightful program.
By presenting the works of world-renown, innovative choreographers such as Ratmansky and Naharin, as well as supporting company dancer Tara Lee as she investigates her own movement vocabulary, Atlanta Ballet showed that it is more than a top-tier American ballet company. The company proved it is hungry to learn and perform current, edgy work.
If you are an avid ballet/dance patron then this is going to ring your chimes.
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.
Choreographer, Minus 16
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, Classical Symphony
Yuri Possokhov received his training under Pyotr Pestov at the Choreographic Ballet Academy in Moscow. Upon graduating in 1982, he joined the Bolshoi Ballet. During his ten years with the company, he worked primarily with Ballet Master Yuri Grigorovich and was quickly promoted to become one of the premier dancers in the company, partnering Natalia Bessmertnova, Ludmila Semenyaka, Nadezhda Pavlova, and Galina Stepanenko. During his time with The Bolshoi, Possokhov performed the leading roles in almost all of the classical and contemporary ballets in the repertoire at that time. He danced the lead role in the Bolshoi’s premiere of The Prodigal Son, the company’s first performance of a work by George Balanchine.
While performing, Possokhov studied choreography and the teaching of ballet at the State College of Theatrical Arts, completing the five-year course under Evgeny Valukin in 1990. In addition to participating in the Bolshoi’s frequent international tours, Possokhov was often invited to perform as a guest artist in Europe, Asia and Latin America. He also performed with Bolshoi ballerina Nina Ananiashvili’s own company, Ananiashvili and Friends, in numerous performances and galas worldwide.
In 1992, at the invitation of Ballet Master Frank Andersen, Possokhov joined the Royal Danish Ballet as a principal dancer. Performing many leading roles on the stage of The Royal Danish Theater, Possokhov’s repertory diversified with works by John Neumeier, Anna Laerkesen, George Balanchine, and John Cranko. Possokhov was also cast in the role of Prince Desiré in the Royal Danish Ballet premiere of Helgi Tomasson’s The Sleeping Beauty. The following year, he was invited to dance a guest performance at San Francisco Ballet’s opening night gala, after which Helgi Tomasson invited him to join the company as a principal dancer.
Possokhov spent the following 12 years dancing with San Francisco Ballet, performing leading roles with the company both in San Francisco and abroad, and partnering many of the company’s ballerinas, including Yuan Yuan Tan, Joanna Berman and Lucia Lacarra. During this period, he began choreographing. In 1997, he completed three separate works – Songs of Spain and A Duet for Two set on fellow San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancers Muriel Maffre and Joanna Berman; and Impromptu Scriabin for San Francisco Ballet Soloist Felipe Diaz. He also organized a program titled Ballet Beyond Borders, with sixteen dancers from San Francisco Ballet, which performed in five cities in Russia. The success of the tour led to additional performances with San Francisco Ballet dancers in Japan, China and Denmark in the following years.
In 1998, Possokhov premiered in the title role of Lar Lubovitch’s Othello — a co-production of the San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theatre (ABT) — and reprised the role as a guest artist with ABT in New York City the same year.
In 2000, Yuri Possokhov created Magrittomania, a work commissioned for San Francisco Ballet’s Discovery Program and inspired by the paintings of René Magritte. The ballet won an Isadora Duncan Dance Award for outstanding choreography the following year. In 2002, Possokhov premiered Damned, a work based on Euripides’ play Medea. The piece was performed during the season and was taken on tour to New York City with the company that fall. Damned was subsequently re-staged and performed under the name Medea at The Perm Opera and Ballet Theater (Russia) in 2009. In 2003, he co-choreographed a full-length production of Don Quixote with San Francisco Ballet Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson, which the company subsequently performed in Los Angeles and Paris. Study in Motion, set to the music of Alexander Scriabin, was Possokhov’s piece for San Francisco Ballet in 2004, which was performed in London the same year and reprised in San Francisco the following season. The same year, he was invited by Oregon Ballet Theater (OBT) to create a new production of Firebird, which was so successful that he was invited back the following year to create La Valse.
For San Francisco Ballet’s 2005 Repertory Season, Possokhov created Reflections, a piece set to the music of Felix Mendelssohn. In early 2006, he was invited by the Bolshoi Ballet to create a full-length Cinderella, which premiered to critical acclaim and was performed by the company in Moscow, at the Royal Opera House in London, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. As part of San Francisco’s earthquake centennial in 2006, Possokhov created Ballet Mori, which was performed by SFB principal dancer Muriel Maffre. After the 2006 Repertory Season, Yuri Possokhov retired from the stage as a principal dancer; his last performance was during the company’s tour to New York’s Lincoln Center that summer.
Following his retirement, he joined the Artistic Staff at San Francisco Ballet as a Choreographer in Residence, where he continually choreographs new works for the company and dances principal character roles. In 2006, he created Once More, a ballet performed at the New Century Chamber Orchestra Gala by Joanna Berman and principal dancer Damian Smith. The following year, he premiered his Firebird with San Francisco Ballet, adapted from his previous work for Oregon Ballet Theater. In 2007, The Georgia State Ballet commissioned Sagalobeli, a one-act work that the company presented on its first-ever American tour in 2008.
In the following years, Yuri Possokhov has continued to create new works for each of San Francisco Ballet’s repertory seasons, including Fusion, Diving Into the Lilacs, Classical Symphony, RAkU, and Francesca da Rimini. Both Classical Symphony, originally premiered in 2010, and RAkU in 2011, have been presented on the company’s national and international tours, including an engagement at London’s Sadler’s Wells Theater. Yuri Possokhov is a frequent guest at Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet, having staged both Bells and a new full-length Don Quixote for the company in 2011. In 2012, Possokhov returned to Copenhagen and created Narcisum, commissioned by the Royal Danish Ballet. His latest work for San Francisco Ballet was Rite of Spring, choreographed in 2013 to mark the centennial year of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps. Click here for a full list of Mr. Possokhov's dance roles.