“Architecture of Dance” Celebrates NYCB’s Extraordinary Commitment to New Works, with Commissioned Scores from Thierry Escaich, Jay Greenberg, Bruno Moretti, and Esa-Pekka Salonen; Seven World Premiere Ballets; and Original Designs by Preeminent Architect Santiago Calatrava
As the centerpiece of its 2010 spring season, New York City Ballet presents “Architecture of Dance – New Choreography and Music Festival.” To celebrate the company’s long tradition of commissioning new music, which dates back to George Balanchine’s collaborations with Stravinsky and Hindemith, four new scores have been commissioned for the festival. Scores by Thierry Escaich, Jay Greenberg, and Bruno Moretti will receive world premieres, and Esa-Pekka Salonen’s powerful Violin Concerto will have its New York premiere, with the composer conducting and the concerto’s dedicatee Leila Josefowicz as soloist. All seven of the ballets in Architecture of Dance are world premieres, with new choreography by Melissa Barak, Mauro Bigonzetti, Peter Martins, Wayne McGregor, Benjamin Millepied, Alexei Ratmansky, and Christopher Wheeldon. Five of the ballets – including all four of those with new music – feature designs by preeminent architect Santiago Calatrava. Besides the festival, New York City Ballet’s 2010 spring season, which runs from April 29 through June 27 at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater, pays tribute to the company’s extraordinary repertory, with 29 performances of ballets by founding choreographers Balanchine and Jerome Robbins.
One of the world’s foremost dance companies, the New York City Ballet was founded in 1948 by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein, both of whom shaped the history of 20th-century dance. With approximately 90 dancers, today the company is the largest dance organization in America. It has an active repertory of more than 150 works, principally choreographed by Balanchine, Robbins, and Martins. Currently under the artistic direction of Ballet Master in Chief Martins, New York City Ballet remains dedicated to the preservation of Balanchine’s ideals.
Martins found inspiration for the Architecture of Dance festival in New York City Ballet’s roots and in its history of extraordinary commitment to new work. Beginning with Stravinsky’s Orpheus in 1948, Balanchine, Kirstein, and Martins have commissioned more than 30 scores, including works by Paul Hindemith, Leonard Bernstein, Hershey Kay, Georges Auric, Michael Torke, Charles Wuorinen, John Adams, Richard Danielpour, James MacMillan, and Bright Sheng.
Italian composer Bruno Moretti worked with Italian choreographer Mauro Bigonzetti, his long-time collaborator; French composer and organist Thierry Escaich worked with his fellow countryman Benjamin Millepied; American teen prodigy Jay Greenberg created a score for his compatriot Melissa Barak’s ballet; and the legendary Finnish composer/conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen composed his Violin Concerto for the world premiere by fellow Scandinavian Peter Martins, who is Danish.
A fifth new ballet features music by another living composer: British sensation Thomas Adès, whose recent violin concerto Concentric Paths is now coupled with choreography – by Wayne McGregor, resident choreographer of London’s Royal Ballet – for the first time. The remaining new ballets pair the music of Argentinean composer Alberto Ginastera with choreography by British-born Christopher Wheeldon, and that of French Romantic Édouard Lalo with choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, former artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet.
In keeping with the festival’s architectural theme, five of the new ballets – all four of those set to commissioned scores (Bigonzetti/Moretti, Millepied/Escaich, Barak/Greenberg, Martins/Salonen, and the new ballet by Wheeldon – feature scenic designs by leading architect Santiago Calatrava. Best known for his dazzling public projects, such as bridges, stadiums, and train stations, Calatrava is currently designing the new transit hub at the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan. Architecture of Dance marks the first time he has designed for the theater.
Except where otherwise noted, all of the new ballets will be conducted by New York City Ballet’s Music Director, Fayçal Karoui. One of France’s leading young conductors, Karoui is also the Music Director of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Pau, a position he has held since 2001; there his repertory ranges from classical and Romantic symphonic works to new works by contemporary composers. Appointed to that post when he was just 30 years old, Karoui had been awarded a number of prestigious conducting prizes in his native France, and served as an assistant to Michael Plasson at the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse.