Cincinnati Ballet to make Bold Moves, April 26-29

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Cincinnati Ballet closes its 2017-2018 subscription season with Bold Moves April 26-29, an adventurous, star-studded production at the Aronoff Center, complete with live music by Chicago ensemble, Eighth Blackbird.  This triple bill features popular music of today, adventurous choreographers, and bold elevations into uncharted dance territory. This year’s program showcases renowned New York City Ballet dancer/choreographer Justin Peck in collaboration with world-famous musician Bryce Dessner for Murder Ballades, plus World Premieres by Kate Weare and Cincinnati Ballet Resident Choreographer, Jennifer Archibald.

The centerpiece of this season’s Bold Moves is Murder Ballades, Cincinnati Ballet’s second work by New York City Ballet Resident Choreographer, Justin Peck.  Recently the subject of the documentary Ballet 422, Peck has been described as “the most eminent choreographer of ballet in the United States.” (Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times). Cincinnati Ballet welcomed Peck to Cincinnati last season with a performance of his Capricious Maneuvers.

With no specific story line, Murder Ballades takes the audience through an exuberant choreographic journey. While rooted in classic ballet technique, the movement is extremely approachable and audiences will immediately relate to the characters. When they first enter the stage, it almost appears as if the dancers came in off the street.  Their hair is down. They wear sneakers. Their attire is similar to items that might be hanging in our own closets.  If the audience strips away the choreographic feats they perform, they will be able to see themselves in these people. We may not know their story, but their emotions and their sense of being grounded will be strikingly familiar.

Murder Ballades features the music of Cincinnati-born musician/composer Bryce Dessner, best known as a member of the Grammy-nominated indie rock band, The National, and Artistic Director of Cincinnati’s MusicNow Festival. Murder Ballades, which premiered in 2012 at Los Angeles Dance Project, is the first collaborative work between Justin Peck and Bryce Dessner. It is set to seven instrumental ballads with composition inspired by the music, stories, and playing styles of the great American folk music tradition.

Cincinnati’s connection to the work extends beyond the music to include the scenic elements of Murder Ballades. When the original backdrop for the piece was unavailable, Cincinnati Ballet Artistic Director, Victoria Morgan with the blessing of the choreographer sought out local artists through a collaboration with Cincinnati visual art agency, ArtWorks. Following initial proposals by five renowned local painters, David Buetsche’s design was selected by Justin Peck and commissioned by Cincinnati Ballet to serve as the visual backbone of Murder Ballades.  Buetsche led a team of three ArtWorks apprentices (Nathaniel Bischoff, Henry Burdsall, and Taylor Helms) to complete the backdrop, which is entitled Dark of the Sea and Sky.

In addition to Murder Ballades, Bold Moves maintains its tradition of commissioning brand new work with World Premieres.  This year’s program includes inventive pieces by two very talented female choreographers, Kate Weare and Jennifer Archibald.

Kate Weare is the founder and Artistic Director of New York-based contemporary dance company, Kate Weare Dance.  She is known for her ability to combine formal choreographic values with visceral emotional interpretation, and her choreography has been presented nationwide by the Joyce Theater, Jacob’s Pillow, and American Dance Festival. Bold Moves will be the first time that Weare is working with Cincinnati Ballet. Her piece, Show Yourself to Me, is set to Cast, composed by Jacob Coober, and Still Life with Avalanche, composed by Missy Mazzoli.

Jennifer Archibald is the founder and Artistic Director of the Arch Dance Company in New York.  A graduate of the Alvin Ailey School, she pulls from a variety of influences and experiences, seamlessly blending ballet with hip hop and contemporary. This is Archibald’s fourth World Premiere for Cincinnati Ballet, following her acclaimed piece, Sit, in 2014’s Kaplan New Works Series, and two more sequential pieces: Redeem, and Never.Nest.

“This Bold Moves series was one of the most satisfying repertoires to bring to fruition.  Using the music of the world’s most renown contemporary composers, many of whom you will associate with Cincinnati’s Music Now festival, happening in this same weekend, and having our entire evening played by Eighth Blackbird, who I fell in love with several years ago, at a music festival in Knoxville, is like an audio dream come true,” says Victoria Morgan.

“Add to that, bringing a great local abstract painter, David Beutsche, to our community’s attention, through the recommendation and participation of ArtWorks. Now layer on the local, but grown to international fame composer, Bryce Dessner, and his music, Murder Ballades, choreographed by one of the world’s most in-demand choreographers, Justin Peck.  Combine all this richness of genre-blending, local and international talent into a single ballet and it does not get much better than that! To further accentuate the point, Cincinnati Ballet has focused on female choreographers, there will be two world premieres by women, well-known in the contemporary dance world, both exploring their ‘pointe shoe’ vocabulary.” 

Alex ReillyCULTURE