This March, join us at the Davidson Theatre for three World Premieres from acclaimed choreographers Leiland Charles, Dana Genshaft, and Amy Seiwert. These works have been in process since fall and we are so excited to finally share them with Columbus.
So. What can you expect from a new work? How do you prepare to see dance that no one has yet seen?
There is a spectrum of approaches. On the one end is to know as much as you can—to look up the choreographers and read reviews of their past work, to keep a close eye on BalletMet’s socials, emails, and blog for the interviews and production glimpses that will be shared over the next few weeks, to research everything you possibly can. This end of the spectrum has you knowing everything there is to know about the pieces before you even step into the theatre.
The other end is to look up nothing at all beforehand and to show up at the theatre with an entirely open mind and absolutely no idea of what you are about to experience. Whatever happens, happens, and you simply let the dancers take you on a journey.
(If the latter sounds like you, close this tab and go save your seats now!)
Both approaches (and all the ones in the middle) are perfectly fine ways to prepare. It all comes down to individual preference. If you lean towards the first—wanting to know what you are getting yourself into—then keep reading to learn more about the show. If you lean towards the second—open mind, no expectations—then, well, this is your last spoiler warning.
These three works are as varied as they are innovative. Each choreographer saw something different in BalletMet dancers and crafted their choreography to pull out the strengths that most interested them. Although Susan Roemer designed the costumes for every piece, she too created something unique for each work.
Returning BalletMet audiences are well acquainted with Leiland Charles. He rejoins BalletMet, his artistic home of six seasons, from the National Choreographers’ Initiative, a prestigious opportunity for up-and-coming choreographers. Ten dancers in black and gold share the stage to a selection of music by Vivaldi, patterns emerging and dissolving as part of a greater complex system. Leiland looks to chaos theory for inspiration. In particular, he draws on the idea of the butterfly effect, where one small action has an unimaginably large impact over time. To him, this echoes the nonlinear trajectory of life. Although every dancer will have their moment, keep an eye out for a prominent section featuring Karen Wing, Tyleigh Baughman, or Iris R. Dávila, depending on the night—watch especially for Karen in her final performance with BalletMet (read her thoughts on retirement here). Leiland has been recognized by dance critic Steve Sucato for his “deliciously fun” choreography and “neo-classical genius that [is] entrancing on every level.” Part of the fun onstage comes from his approach to the studio. He leads the dancers from a place of encouragement and collaboration. It is not uncommon to hear laughter ringing from the studios when he is in rehearsal! The deep respect that he holds for the artists he works with is clear in performance, where the dancers are brilliantly confident in fully inhabiting the movement. A Columbus work from a Columbus choreographer—a beautiful fit for our Columbus company.
Dana Genshaft comes from a bit farther away, being born in Russia and spending much of her career with the San Francisco Ballet. Her first work for BalletMet celebrates the language of classical ballet alongside Mason Bates’ Garages of the Valley, a score inspired by the technical ingenuity of Silicon Valley. In the studio she is calm and decisive. She brings the whole space alive with dancers, masterfully building a cohesive fireworking exuberance from the seemingly separate duets and trios that spark up across the stage. The drive to discover that has inspired Californian technological innovation fills the work, from the bright open strings to the playful searching and reaching in the movement. The composer, Mason Bates, has noted Dana’s “gift [for] creating a clear emotional arc while also integrating a huge variety of dance styles within a singular, original voice.” Nine dancers wheel and spoke through one other in joyous exhilaration. How much more there is to uncover! How much more there is to experience! Dana’s work finds that energetic, youthful curiosity that many of us long to cultivate in our everyday lives through a choreographed spiritual awakening.
Amy Seiwert, the final choreographer, is no stranger to BalletMet. She choreographed Envy for Seven Deadly Sins (2011), restaged her 2007 duet Way to Blue for BalletMet OnDemand (2011), premiered an intermedia work Illusion of Choice in DanceTech (2012), and restaged Dear Miss Cline (2011) for The American Songbook (2012). Her work has been described by the San Francisco Classical Voice as “structurally robust” and “meticulously detailed”, where many influences work in complementary yet distinct ways to create a complex body of a piece. Her latest work for BalletMet revisits prior states to send almost a message in a bottle to one’s past self, set to the music of Matthew Pierce. Four men and four women reveal to connect throughout the piece. Vulnerability, authenticity, and exploration are key as the dancers allow themselves to be curious about the experiences of others while finding the nuanced power in sharing their own honest selves. Each maintains their individuality while transitioning in and out of a larger community. Amy was partially inspired by the concept behind Björk’s album Telegram, where the Icelandic singer remixed her older tracks to look at familiar ideas with fresh eyes. A returning collaborator makes the themes of Amy’s work all the more poignant. From their first meeting at Smuin Ballet through the establishing of her own company, Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, she and Susan Roemer have worked together many times on costume design, performance, and choreography. We are so glad to once again present a World Premiere of hers.
So, what to expect from a new work…Innovation. Excitement. Joy. Chaos. Fireworks (metaphorically). Vulnerability. Celebration!
And, most importantly—an evening well spent.
Written by Sara Wagenmaker