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Julia Adam, choreographer


(Compiled February 1999)

A native of Ottawa, Canada, Julia Adam's career has led her from dancing with the National Ballet of Canada, to San Francisco and a budding career as a choreographer. Ms. Adam credits her mother with getting her started in dance as she had also trained to be a professional ballet dancer. Her mother was trained in Ottawa, went on to New York and the School of American Ballet and was taking classes with New York City Ballet when her family persuaded her to return to University. It was there that she met Ms. Adam's father. Although now a ballet teacher herself, she never taught Julia. Ms. Adam maintains that she was always a natural entertainer. She was pretty athletic and, as all good Canadian children, she was an ice skater. At ten years old she began studying dance as her mother believed this was the time to start training the body.

When 13 years old Ms. Adam went as a boarder to the National Ballet School in Toronto where she remained until she was 18. While still at school she created a ballet for a student workshop to the music of Brian Eno. Even before the ballet was seen and appreciated by a public, Ms. Adam knew that she enjoyed the process of choreography. At this point, however, she entertained no serious thought of becoming a choreographer by trade; dancing was still definitely her goal. "I always wanted to dance," she says. "I never thought about being a choreographer."

On graduation from the National Ballet School Ms. Adam auditioned for and won a Canada Council grant that enabled her to study in New York and travel in Europe for four months. After working as an apprentice with the National Ballet of Canada Ms. Adam joined that company, working under the direction of Erik Bruhn for three years. After the death of Erik Bruhn in 1988 Ms. Adam auditioned for Helgi Tomasson of the San Francisco Ballet and secured a place in the corps de ballet. She has remained with that company, being promoted to principal dancer status in 1996.

A happy accident led to her next foray into choreography. There was a sign up sheet for participation in a choreographic workshop at San Francisco Ballet, and Ms. Adam noticed that all the participants were male. With her mother's urging Julia decided that she would do something for the workshop, and this led to the 1991 creation of The Medium is the Message. Set to a selection of blues music, this humorous piece for three dancers and a couch ended up being the hit of the show. Ms. Adam found herself nominated for an Isadora Duncan (Izzy) Award in the company of Mark Morris and Alonzo King, who was the eventual winner.

For her second San Francisco choreographic workshop in 1994, Ms. Adam created Once is Enough to the music of Yo Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin. Again her work was greeted with enthusiasm, and the director of the San Francisco Ballet School had the dance staged for his graduating students, who included BalletMet's Hiromi Ushino. The ballet was also seen at the opening of the new Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. In the same year Ms. Adam created a solo for Hiromi for her participation in the 1995 International Ballet Competition in Korea. It was set to Pie Jesu from Fauré's Requiem.

The following year Ms. Adam choreographed Where 's George to the music of Corelli for the Marin Ballet, and in 1997 she returned to create Butterfly's Day Out. In June 1996 Julia was awarded the chance to create a dance for the Bay Area Dance Series, a juried performance series. For this project she used five dancers from San Francisco Ballet and set a series of dances based on 13 international lullabies. Each section was inspired by a different children's game but was not a literal telling of it, e.g. 'Ring around the Rosie' became a dance in circles. This ballet Thirteen Lullabies garnered Ms. Adam an Izzy Award for her choreography.

In February 1998 Julia choreographed a new work Seven Ages in 3/4 for Robert Moses' Kin that was presented at San Francisco's Theater Artaud. Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director of Alberta Ballet, commissioned Chameleon, created to a compilation of music ranging from Satie's Gymnopédie to twelfth-century Sephardic music. In November 1998 the Lawrence Pech Dance Ensemble premiered Ms. Adam's Newton (3 Laws of Motion) at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Ms. Adam's ballet the Medium is the Message was recorded by the Bravo channel and is seen regularly on Canadian television. The production was directed by her brother.

In 1997 Ms. Adam premiered her first work for BalletMet, Innocence and Experience, the success of which led to the commissioning of another new work; Allegoria.

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