Cécile Feza Bushidi, Brandon Stirling Baker, Chase Brock, Pontus Lidberg, and Janice Ross Among The Center’s Largest and Most Far-Reaching Cohort of Fellows
The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University (CBA), the first international institute devoted to the creation and academic study of ballet, today announced the 27 artists and scholars who will serve as CBA Fellows in the 2018-19 academic year. The group – which represents The Center’s largest and most far-reaching cohort yet – features distinguished individuals in a range of disciplines, including scholar Cécile Feza Bushidi, lighting designer Brandon Stirling Baker, choreographer Chase Brock, choreographer, filmmaker, and dancer Pontus Lidberg, and scholar Janice Ross, among others.
The Center also announced that harpist Bridget Kibbey, choreographer Lauren Lovette, violinist and composer Jessie Montgomery, and choreographer Netta Yerushalmy will receive The Center’s annual Virginia B. Toulmin Fellowship for Women Leaders in Dance, a unique fellowship designed to support the work of women in dance and promote broader equity in the field. The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation recently doubled its current level of annual support, allowing The Center to support Toulmin Fellows throughout the full academic year and to expand its applicant pool to include both women choreographers and women composers for dance.
Writer, journalist, and critic Marina Harss was named this year’s Fellow for the Study of Russia and Ballet, part of a joint fellowship with the NYU Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia.
2018-19 CBA Fellows also include NYU faculty members Patricia Beaman (NYU Tisch), Julie Malnig (Gallatin), Sylvie Vitaglione (NYU College of Arts and Sciences), and Mimi Yin(NYU Tisch – ITP); choreographers Stefanie Batten Bland, Ashley Bouder, Raja Feather Kelly, Jodi Melnick, and Catherine Turocy; author Vanessa Manko; scholars Eva Shan Chou, John Goodman, Tom Sapsford, and Elizabeth Schwall; dancer Russell Janzen; and a team made up of librettist and musical theater writer Mkhululi Z. Mabija and composer Paul Castles. (See full list of bios and project descriptions below.)
Entering its fifth year, the CBA Fellowship Program invites scholars and artists from the field of ballet and its related arts and sciences to work at The Center on their own scholarly and artistic projects. The program provides fellows with a stipend, access to studio and office space, an apartment in some cases, and time away from daily life to focus on their project – a book, a ballet, a film, a digital lecture series, or other work of their imagining related in some way to ballet.
Previous fellows have included choreographer Danielle Agami, writer and reporter Alma Guillermoprieto, artist Nick Mauss, composer Tarik O’Regan, puppeteer Basil Twist,singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega, filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, and scholar Christopher Wood.
The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University is an international institute for scholars and artists of ballet and its related arts and sciences. It exists to inspire new ideas and new ballets, expanding the way we think about the art form’s history, practice and performance in the 21st century. The Center is made possible by founding and ongoing support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and additional support from New York University and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
About the 2018-19 Fellows:
Virginia B. Toulmin Fellowship for Women Leaders in Dance:
The Mask of the Red Death (Macabre)
Bridget Kibbey tours internationally as a soloist and collaborator, crafting performance projects that showcase the vast cross-genre capabilities of the harp alongside today’s top artists – from showcasing French masterworks from the Belle Époque, to exploring cross-cultural pollination found in South America, to adapting the keyboard works of J.S. Bach to the harp. Kibbey is the recipient of a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, a SONY Records/Salon de Virtuosi Recording Grant, and a previous winner of Concert Artists Guild, Astral Artists, and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS II auditions. She has recorded in duo with Placido Domingo and Dawn Upshaw for Deutsche Grammaphon and SONY Records, and her own solo debut album was named one of Time Out New York‘s Top Ten releases. Bridget has appeared on WQXR, Sirius XM, Front Row Washington, WNYC, Sirius XM, and A&E’s Breakfast with the Arts. Kibbey leads the harp departments at Bard Conservatory and New York University. For a full season calendar, please visit www.bridgetkibbey.com.
Kibbey will work alongside choreographer Katarzyna Skarpetowska to craft a new ballet set to André Caplet’s Le Conte Fantastique after The Mask of the Red Death – for harp soloist and string quintet – based on the short story of Edgar Allan Poe. This new ballet, which will be featured in a touring project exploring light/dark sonorities, unmasks the temptation to turn a blind eye to the cries of the poor, the underrepresented, and the plagued. Additionally, Kibbey will work in collaboration with choreographer Andrea Miller of Gallim Dance to create a new work exploring the influence of Malian Kora on dance and culture, expressed on the modern classical harp.
A Journey of Discovery
Lauren Lovette began choreographing in 2007 as a student at the School of American Ballet. While enrolled there, she participated in two choreographic workshops and was then selected to create a work for the 2009 New York Choreographic Institute. In 2016, Lovette choreographed for the New York City Ballet (NYCB) Fall Fashion Gala, and was commissioned to make a work for an arts seminar at Kirkland and Ellis Law. In 2017, she choreographed for the Vail International Dance Festival, the NYCB Fall Season Gala, and the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company. With NYCB, Lovette has been employed as a dancer since 2009 and principal dancer since 2015.
At The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU, Lovette will immerse herself in a laboratory of unfamiliar artistic and academic disciplines in order to provoke deeper thought and openness to contrasting points of view and push her own personal comfort level beyond classical dance. She plans to include sign language as a medium of universal expression and open up opportunities for artists of different disciplines potentially including a poet, guitarist, and dancers with whom she has not previously worked. Lovette will use CBA’s resources to stretch her creative imagination and unlock new personal creative boundaries. Her perseverance through her own fighting path will be an underlying blueprint for every new choreographic work she creates at The Center.
[Untitled] New Work for the Virginia Arts Festival, premiered by Dance Theater of Harlem
Jessie Montgomery is a violinist, composer, and music educator from New York City. She performs and gives workshops in the United States and abroad and her compositions are being performed by orchestras and chamber groups throughout the country. Since 1999, Montgomery has been affiliated with The Sphinx Organization, which supports the accomplishments of young African-American and Latino string players, as a teacher, juror, orchestra member and concertmaster, panelist and ambassador, and a two-time laureate in their annual competition. She was also Composer-in-Residence with the Sphinx Virtuosi. Upon graduating with a bachelor’s degree in violin performance from The Juilliard School in 2003, Montgomery joined Community MusicWorks in Providence, Rhode Island. With it came her first experience as a professional chamber musician as a member of the Providence String Quartet. She continued her chamber music endeavors as a founding member of PUBLIQuartet, a string quartet made up of composers and arrangers. Following the completion of her graduate degree in composition for film and multimedia at New York University in 2012, Montgomery partnered with the American Composers Orchestra and the Sphinx Organization, and received commissions from the Albany Symphony, the Joyce Foundation, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and the Young People’s Chorus of New York. Since 2012, she has held post as a member of the highly acclaimed Catalyst Quartet. Most recently, she has begun collaborating with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble and will tour with them in the upcoming 2018-19 season.
As a Virginia B. Toulmin Fellow at The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU, Montgomery will complete work on a new score for Dance Theater of Harlem and the Virginia Arts Festival in collaboration with choreographer and Virginia B. Toulmin alumna Claudia Schreier. Together, they will complete a 20-25 minute ballet for a cast of up to twelve dancers, with music performed by the Catalyst Quartet and members of the Virginia Symphony.
Looking Through Agon / Paramodernities #6
Netta Yerushalmy is an award-winning choreographer based in New York City. Her work aims to engage with audiences by imparting the sensation of things as they are perceived, not as they are known, and to challenge how meaning is attributed and constructed. Honors and awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Jerome Robbins Bogliasco Fellowship, a National Dance Project Grant, a NYFA Fellowships, a Six-Points Fellowship, and recently a 2018 Grant to Artists from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Yerushalmy’s dances have been commissioned and presented by venues such as the Joyce Theater, American Dance Festival, Alvin Ailey Foundation, Danspace Project, New York Live Arts, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Centre National de la Danse (Paris), Suzanne Dellal Center (Tel-Aviv), Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin).
Yerushalmy works across genres and disciplines: she contributed to artist Josiah McElheny’s Prismatic Park at Madison Square Park, choreographed a Red Hot Chili Peppers music video, collaborated on evenings of theory and performance at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry (Berlin), and is involved in the production of Spinning by composer Julia Wolfe and cellist Maya Beiser. She has received repeated support from the Baryshnikov Arts Center, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Harkness Foundation for Dance, Djerassi Art Program, and Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center. Guest artist engagements include The Juilliard School, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, University of the Arts, and HaMaslool Conservatoir. Commissions from repertory companies include Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Zenon Dance Company, and SPDW. As a performer, Yerushalmy has worked with Doug Varone and Dancers, Pam Tanowitz Dance, the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, and Joanna Kotze, among others. Originally from Israel, Netta relocated to New York in 1996 to earn a BFA in dance from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Yerushalmy’s project bridges ballet, critical theory, experimental performance, aesthetics, and history. With a mix of reverence and violence, she will develop an interdisciplinary work that uses Balanchine’s ballet Agon (1957) as the portal for interrogating the physical limits of iconic work, and the vernacular of ballet more generally. At the same time, the project will hold Agon as a nexus point from which to explore discourses such as modernism, ableism, post-humanism, and sexuality. Agon’s original choreography will be subjected to systematic and rigorous deconstruction, stripped it of its gender assignments, musical score, and compositional logic, and then recrafted into a new performance that integrates writing and scholarship alongside the dancing.
Fellowship for the Study of Russia and Ballet:
Alexei Ratmansky—From Russia to the World
Marina Harss is a writer, journalist, and critic based in New York City, writing on all aspects of dance and occasionally on opera. Her features, profiles, think pieces, and interviews have appeared in: The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Nation, TheGuardian, TheBostonGlobe, BalletReview, DanceMagazine, PointeMagazine, Playbill, BAMBill, and Dancetabs.com, among others. She is also the dance critic for WNYC. She is currently at work on a book about the choreographer Alexei Ratmansky, to be published by Farrar Straus and Giroux.
At The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU, Harss will develop a critical biography of Alexei Ratmansky, a ballet choreographer in the prime of his career, and one who is imbuing the field of ballet with renewed energy. With his cooperation, and through wide-ranging interviews with him, as well as with friends, family members, and collaborators worldwide, Harss will explore how Ratmansky’s Soviet upbringing, peripatetic career, and personal curiosities have led to his particular style, and how this style, in turn, fits into the larger history and aesthetics of ballet. Her research also includes observation of Ratmansky’s work in the studio with dancers from various companies around the world, including the Bolshoi, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Zurich Ballet, Staattsballett Berlin, and Miami City Ballet. Farrar Straus and Giroux will publish the work.
Resident Fellows (Fall 2018):
Brandon Stirling Baker
The Choreography of Light
Brandon Stirling Baker is a lighting designer working internationally in ballet, opera, and theater. His recent work can be seen in the repertories of the New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Houston Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Semperoper Dresden, and Berlin Staatsballet. Baker is a frequent collaborator with choreographer Justin Peck of the New York City Ballet and has worked with a diverse group of visual artists and choreographers including Jamar Roberts, Benjamin Millepied, Troy Schumacher, Emery LeCrone, Ernst Meisner, Stephen Powers, Karl Jensen, Daniel Buren, and Shepard Fairey.
At The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU, Baker will develop a new ballet inspired by the close relationship between choreography and lighting design. The project will explore the past, present, and future of lighting for ballet with a close look at the presence of color and visual aesthetic. Baker will collaborate with choreographer Jamar Roberts from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to develop this new work.
Androgynes, Amazons, Turks, and Incans: Presenting the “Other” in Baroque Ballet
Patricia Beaman is Artist-in-Residence at Wesleyan University and teaches dance history at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. As a Baroque, Neo-Baroque, and contemporary dancer, she has performed and choreographed in the United States, Europe, and beyond. Her past research includes exploring the juxtaposition of the formulaic similarities between 18th century French theatrical dance and those of analytic Postmodern dance of the 1960s. Currently, Beaman is investigating French colonialist appropriation inherent in aristocratic Baroque opéra-ballets. She is the author of World Dance Cultures: From Ritual to Spectacle (Routledge Press, 2017).
Beaman’s writing project, titled Androgynes, Amazons, Turks, and Incans: Presenting the “Other” in Baroque Ballet, targets cultural appropriation of indigenous peoples and non-Christians in 17th and 18th century opéra-ballets. Rejecting Greco-Roman mythology, French monarchs Louis XII, XIV, and XV all chose to mine Turkish, Persian, and New World cultures for the basis of their aristocratic ballets. As a result, France’s colonialist power was reified through the cultural appropriation and interpretation of foreign ethnicities featured in these seminal Baroque entertainments.
The Girl with the Alkaline Eyes
Chase Brock, called “prolific” in both The New Yorker and The New York Times, is a 34-year-old choreographer working in theater, dance, opera, ballet, film, television, and video games. His choreography includes 31 dances and 7 commissioned scores for his Brooklyn-based dance company The Chase Brock Experience, the stage adaptation of Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (La Jolla, Millburn, Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart, Tokyo, Kyoto, Yokohama and Nagoya), Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and Picnic, A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Shakespeare in the Park, Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette for The Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Salzburger Festspiele, Stoptime Sketch, Bark! in the Park and Misfit Movement Makers for New York Theatre Ballet, the best-selling video game Dance on Broadway (Nintendo Wii, PlayStation Move) and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO), Late Show with David Letterman (CBS) and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (NBC). Brock has taught and spoken at The Juilliard School, Yale School of Drama, Barnard College/Columbia University, University of the Arts, Marymount Manhattan College, Montclair State University, Pace University, University of North Carolina Wilmington, and Spark Camp at Harvard University.
At The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU, Brock will collaborate with composer Eric Dietz to create an evening-length narrative ballet with the pacing and plotting of a binge-worthy Netflix thriller. This work uses 21st century American storytelling to reduce the suspension of disbelief required by 19th century European pantomime and bucolic setting. Through this ballet, Brock and Dietz address questions of what ballet looks, sounds, and feels like in our modern, diverse, and technological America.
Eva Shan Chou
Ballet in China: A History
Eva Shan Chou is a professor and chair of the Department of English at Baruch College. A regular writer for Ballet Review (New York), she received her BA from Harvard College, her PhD from Harvard University, and a fellowship from the Bunting Institute, Radcliffe College. Her scholarly work analyzes works of art both as creative works and also for their enlistment in China’s fashioning of self-identity. This dual focus has characterized her study of two literary giants, the 8th century classical poet Du Fu (Cambridge University Press) and the 20th century prose and fiction writer Lu Xun (Association of Asian Studies Publications) and now of ballet in China. Chou is the recipient of fellowships from the Kluge Center of the Library of Congress, the Japan Foundation, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, American Council of Learned Societies, and National Endowment for the Humanities. She has been a visiting scholar at the University of Cambridge and a visiting professor at Charles University in Prague.
Formal ballet training in China began the 1954 establishment of a division of ballet in the new Beijing School of Dance. Undertaken with Soviet aid, ballet’s introduction was a product of the Cold War and an alliance between the two largest Communist nations. Today, China’s companies and dancers participate fully in the global ballet scene. At The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU, Chou will develop a historical account of the contingent routes by which a specialized performance art reached this strikingly accomplished stage in its development. Like the country’s history, the path of ballet contained intense about-turns, multiple beginnings, and a recent strong arrival on the international scene. This history approaches the development of ballet in China as a function of fluctuating relations between an art form and cultural authorities, and it pays special attention to the role that ballet plays in the contestation and promulgation of national identity.
Stories of Schumann and Dancing (Both Real and Imagined)
Russell Janzen grew up outside of Philadelphia. He started dance lessons at the Rock School for Dance Education, and then later moved to New York City to attend the School of American Ballet. After graduating high school, he joined the New York City Ballet (NYCB) where he is now a principal dancer. His repertory with NYCB includes works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Justin Peck, Peter Martins, Christopher Wheeldon, and Benjamin Millepied, among others. He was a Riggio Honors student at the New School for Public Engagement and is interested in exploring art’s participation in larger contemporary conversations.
At The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU, Janzen will develop a multi-genre narrative focusing on the ballet Robert Schumann’s “Davidsbündlertänze” choreographed by George Balanchine in 1980. The work imagines Davidsbündlertänze is returning to the New York City Ballet’s repertoire next season. In preparing to dance the ballet again, Janzen delves deeper into the work, Schumann’s life, and what it means to take on another dancer’s repertoire. This exploration is paired with the fictional story of a friendship between two young queer men in the New York City dance world.
Mkhululi Z. Mabija and Paul Castles
The Road Between the Desert and the Ocean
Mkhululi Z. Mabija is a librettist and musical theater writer from Kimberly, South Africa. Productions include TSOTSI (Cape Town Opera 2018), MONGEZI (BLK JKS and Market Theater 2016), and BESSIE: THEBLUE-EYEDXHOSA (Cape Town Opera 2015). Awards include the Yip Harburg Award for Best Lyricist (2009 and 2010), Really Useful Group Award, and the Eugene O’Neill Music Theater Conference for GODDESS (2013). Mabija graduated from Tshwane University of Technology with a BA in musical theatre performance (2006) and from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with an MFA in musical theatre writing (2010). At the age of 24, he became the youngest adjunct professor at New York University teaching a subject called South African Culture through History, Art, and Media. Current commissions include a new opera for Gauteng Opera with composer Angelique Mouyis.
Paul Castles is a Brooklyn-based composer originally from Sydney, Australia. Productions include WILD GOOSE DREAMS (La Jolla Playhouse 2017), THEFOUNTAIN (Theater Troupe Georipae 2012; Best New Musical at the 6th Daegu International Musical Festival), TOUCHINGLOSS (Clare Cook Dance Theater 2016), and MISSJULIE (Theater Troupe Georipae 2013). He has composed music for the Miryang Summer Festival, Three Act Theater, Salem Theater, and Pac Un, and received commissions from the Nexas Quartet, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Clock Ensemble, and various companies and solo performers. His work has been developed by the Sundance Institute, Victorian Opera, Old Vic Lab, Cybec 21st Century Young Composers Program, Playwrights Foundation, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Fellows. Castles has an MMus. in Composition from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, an MFA in musical theater writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America.
The Road Between the Desert and the Ocean is an original ballet-opera with a libretto by Mkhululi Mabija and music by Paul Castles. It tells the story of Samo and Gamo, two elders lost in the deserts of the Kalahari Desert (present-day Namibia). Mabija and Castles will explore the use of ballet as the primary mode of narrative expression within a music theater piece and the dramatic storytelling possibilities of replacing text and staged action with movement and dance.
Reality Show: American Teen Dance and the Cold War
Julie Malnig is a cultural historian of dance and theatre performance. She is an Associate Professor at the NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where she holds a PhD in performance studies. Malnig is the author of Dancing Till Dawn: A Century of Exhibition Ballroom Dance and Editor of Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake: A Social and Popular Dance Reader. She is the former editor of Dance Research Journal, one of the major scholarly journals in the field. Recent articles have appeared in On Stage Alone: Soloists and the Modern Dance Canon and Perspectives on American Dance: The Twentieth Century.
While a fellow at The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU, Malnig will focus on her anticipated book, a study of rock and roll dance, race, and television during the height of the Cold War years, a time of social and political retrenchment brought on by fears of Communism, the atom bomb, and racial and ethnic strife in urban areas. The crux of the study is to explore how social and popular dance styles were created and disseminated within this new and burgeoning technology. It will also explore how the civil rights movement, also televised during this time, affected the way in which these dances were perceived and received.
A Question of Illumination: A Novel
Vanessa Manko is the author of The Invention of Exile, which was a finalist for The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Award, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick, and a Kirkus Reviews’ best books of 2014. Her work has appeared in Granta, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review’s The Daily, NPR’s Selected Shorts and in Dance Magazine, Dance Now, Dance Teacher, Pointe, and Dance Research Journal. Formerly the dance editor of The Brooklyn Rail, she earned her MFA from Hunter College where she was the recipient of a Hertog Fellowship. She earned an MA from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where she focused on dance studies and cultural history. Manko trained in ballet at the North Carolina School of the Arts and danced with the Charleston Ballet Theatre. Additionally, she has taught writing at Wesleyan University, New York University, and SUNY Purchase. A former Yaddo Fellow and Edith Wharton Writer-in-Residence at The Mount, Manko lives in Brooklyn.
A Question of Illumination is a novel-in-progress inspired by the life and work of Loïe Fuller, the American modern dance pioneer who performed in Paris at the Folies-Bergère in the 1890s. The novel will bring Fuller, her dances, and her artistic friendships to life, not only illustrating how she inspired leading male artists of the time, but also how her work came to bear on the lives of individual, common place women such as Fuller’s ailing mother, a young American ballet dancer abroad, a French woman and host of a popular salon, and a prostitute and imitator at the Folies-Bergère. All the while, Fuller will remain the fulcrum—like her body in her dances—and the different strands of the novel will culminate in a statement about how art, whether we are the creator, spectator, or benefactor, can consume us.
Ballet and Orthodoxy in Israel
Janice Ross is a professor in the Theatre and Performance Studies Department at Stanford University, where she has taught for more than 20 years. She is the author of four books including Like A Bomb Going Off: Leonid Yakobson and Ballet as Resistance in Soviet Russia (Yale University Press 2015), San Francisco Ballet at 75 (Chronicle Books 2007), and Anna Halprin: Experience as Dance (UC Press 2007). Her honors include the 2015 CORD Award for Outstanding Scholarly Research in Dance, Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships, Stanford Humanities Center Fellowships, Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture Fellowship, and a 2015 Israel Institute research grant. She is a former president of the International Society of Dance History Scholars.
Ross’ project seeks to understand why in Israel – a nation where fault lines between the secular and religious etch deeply across political and cultural divides – dance, historically emblematic of secular Zionist culture, is suddenly emerging among a surprising population: ultra-Orthodox young Jewish women and, in a form inimical to the Jewish state, classical ballet. Ross’ research will trace this arc of ballet from unwanted to profoundly emblematic in the Jewish state. Propelling her investigation is the question of why ballet is suddenly attractive to religious conservatives in a nation that, since its founding, has actively embraced folk and contemporary dance to shape national identity while shunning ballet.
“My body is my Patria”: Ballet, Race, Ethnicity, and Community in the Cuban Diaspora
Elizabeth Schwall earned her PhD in Latin American and Caribbean history from Columbia University in 2016 and held a Mellon Dance Studies in/and the Humanities Postdoctoral Fellowship at Northwestern University in 2016-2018. Her first book project, based on her dissertation, examines Cuban dance and politics from 1930 through 1990. She is also working on written and digital projects about Cuban dancers in Chicago. Her research has appeared or will appear in the journals Hispanic American Historical Review, Dance Chronicle, Cuban Studies, and two edited volumes. She has written book reviews for Dance Research Journal, Cuban Studies, and New West Indian Guide/Nieuwe West-Indische Gids, entries to the Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism and Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography, as well as pieces on recent Cuban dance developments for Cuban Art News.
Schwall’s project consists of two articles-in-progress on Cuban ballet dancers and teachers living and working in the United States. The first analyzes Cuban ballet artists in Miami, Pennsylvania, and San Francisco – from famous stars to teachers and students of small studios – to examine the place of ballet for the larger community of displaced Cubans. The second investigates the life and career of Caridad Martínez, the first African descended professional ballerina in Cuba and current ballet mistress at Ballet Hispánico.
Nijinsky’s Abandoned Saraband
Catherine Turocy is one of the leading experts in restaging and reviving the “lost art” of Baroque dance and opera for the stage. She co-founded the New York Baroque Dance Company 40 years ago, and it remains the premiere ensemble of its kind in America. She was decorated by the French Republic as a Chevalier (knight) in the Order of Arts and Letters for her productions of French opera-ballets and intimate dance concerts in North America, Europe and Asia. In 2017, Turocy’s work on Rameau’s Le Temple de la Gloirereceived three top prizes in the areas of best stage direction for opera, best choreography, and best photography. In March 2018 the work received an IZZIE for best restaging of a ballet. Presently, she is working with Pajarito Environmental Education Center and Planetarium in Los Alamos, New Mexico and will produce a 25-minute, 360 degree dome show, highlighting connections between dance and science, based on research of ballet’s origins with content reaching from the Greeks to the Baroque to the 20th century.
In 1913, Vaslav Nijinsky sent shockwaves with two modernist works for the Ballets Russes: The Rite of Spring and Jeux. But a third work, also from 1913, went unfinished: Nijinsky’s Saraband, set to music of Bach. As a fellow at The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU, Turocy’s mission will be the research and a proposed reconstruction of this ballet. Turocy will continue researching Nijinsky’s outline as she consults with experts and CBA alumni Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer, among others, and investigate the influences by Delsarte and Dalcroze on Nijinsky’s process.
Resident Fellows (Spring 2019):
Stefanie Batten Bland
Jerome Robbins Awardee Stefanie Batten Bland’s interdisciplinary creative practice is embedded in human relationships, the communicative choices we make, and how we fit into space and place. She interrogates the preconceived notions embedded within contemporary and historical culture and situates her work at the intersection of installation and dance-theatre in live performance settings. Her own company, Company SBB, was founded in 2008 in France while Stefanie was the head choreographer at the Paris Opéra Comique. In addition to dances commissioned by TU Dance (Minneapolis/St Paul), Second Avenue Dance Company (New York City), Modlin Center for the Arts (Richmond, VA), Zenon Dance Company (Minneapolis, MN), Transitions Dance Company (London), Alvin Ailey ll Company (New York City) and Frontier Danceland (Singapore), SBBs work has been seen in the United States, Europe and Asia. SBB has created eleven films that have been seen in international festivals in Europe, South America, the United States, and South Africa. She has also choreographed outside of concert platforms for galas, publicity, and industrials such as Guerlain Perfumes, Van Cleef & Arpels, Louis Vuitton, SYTYCD-Poland, and a French Presidential Gala. SBB currently is a 2019 CUNY Dance Initiative Awardee, has two theatrical commissions in development, performs for PunchDrunk, and is completing her MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts with a concentration in Performance Creation at Goddard College in Vermont. She resides in SoHo, New York City, with her family.
X Pollination is an interdisciplinary study of historical monuments found in our communities and our complex feelings around their construction and deconstruction. Seen through the lens of classical ballet, treated here as a physical monument with a difference, traditional ballet has historically celebrated only a certain monumental type. Society is now openly challenging and obliging the deconstruction of this shrine, asking it to evolve with a society that recognizes women, color, bodies, and gender fluidity differently. X Pollination will engage performers and spectators in an intimate relationship that is simultaneously active and performative.
Gender Fluidity in the Pas de Deux
Trained at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and the School of American Ballet, Ashley Bouder has been a dancer at the New York City Ballet for 18 years, 13 as a principal dancer. She has guest-starred at internationally renowned companies such as the Paris Opera and the Mariinsky and in ballet galas all over the world. Bouder’s awards include the Mae L. Wien Award, the Janice Levin Honor, two Dance Open Awards, and a Benois de la Danse nomination. Her choreographic accomplishments include the SAB Choreographic workshop, a piece for the NYCB Dancer’s Choice Program, and a work for the Ashley Bouder Project (ABP). As founder of the ABP, she actively recruits women and marginalized individuals to give them voices in creative and leadership roles in the dance and arts world.
At The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU, Bouder will create choreography for a film that will showcase ballet’s potential to demonstrate gender fluidity. Although we associate the pas de deux with a male/female identity, Bouder wonders what would transpire if we stripped away gender and made the dance about the connection of two people in a specific place and time.
Cécile Feza Bushidi
Dance and Settler Colonialism: A Conversation
Cécile Feza Bushidi is an artist and an early career scholar in the arts and humanities. She is currently a junior research fellow at Newnham College, the University of Cambridge, has held the Isobel Thornley Bequest at the Institute of Historical Research in London and received a PhD in history from SOAS University of London. She has taught classes on society and culture in the African past at SOAS University of London and the University of Cambridge. Her research has been supported by Newnham College, the Smuts Memorial Fund, the Wolfson Foundation, and l’Institut Français de Recherche en Afrique (IFRA). In a previous life, she has performed with Lakoma|Pal Frenak, Random Dance|Wayne McGregor, Freddie Opoku-Addiae, and Douglas Thorpe.
Bushidi is writing a monograph entitled Dance, Culture and Politics in Central Kenya, 1880s-1963. Located at the intersection of African history, dance history and performance theory, the book places dance in conversation with settler colonialism, drawing attention to the reimaginations of African political cultures, the missionaries’ efforts to reform African lifestyles and bodies, and the contested appropriations of land. The book offers a fairer epistemic space for dance and dance makers during the colonial period.
André Levinson and “The Faces of Dance”
John Goodman is a freelance art historian who received his PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and who has also been a professional translator for 25 years. He has published widely on French 18th century painting, but his most important work to date has been in the field of scholarly translation. His many translations include Diderot on Art (two volumes; 1995), Toward an Architecture by Le Corbusier (2007), and four books by the eminent art theorist Hubert Damisch. Goodman’s André Levinson on Balanchine, 1925-1933 has just been published in Ballet Review (Spring 2018).
At The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU, Goodman will continue his extended research campaign focused on the French publications of the great Russian-born critic and historian André Levinson (1927-1933), which began to appear immediately after his emigration to Paris in 1921. This remarkable body of work, which includes significant literary and film criticism as well as dance writing, remains insufficiently well known. Upon completion of his annotated English edition of Levinson’s La Danse d’aujourd’hui (Dance Today; 1929) in the fall of 2018, Goodman will commence work on a translation of Les Visages de la danse(1933), Levinson’s final anthology of dance criticism, one that, much like its predecessor, covers the full range of theatrical dance on offer in interwar Paris, from classical ballet and early modern dance to Asian dance, Spanish dance, and music-hall performance.
Raja Feather Kelly
The Warhol Series
Raja Feather Kelly was born in Fort Hood, Texas, and is the first and only choreographer to dedicate the entirety of his company’s work to the development of popular culture over the last thirty years. He is the creator of The Warhol Series, including Andy Warhol’s DRELLA (I Love You Faye Driscoll), Andy Warhol’s 15: Color Me, Warhol, and Andy Warhol’s TROPICO, and Another Fucking Warhol Production, all of which have been performed to critical acclaim. Kelly has worked throughout the United States and abroad (Austria, Germany, Australia, United Kingdom, and France) in search of the connections between popular culture and humanity and their integration into experiential dance-theater. Off-Broadway credits include choreography for Brenden Jacobs-Jenkins, Lila Neugabauer, Susan-Lori Parks, Lilieana Blain-Cruz, Daaimah Mubashshir, Sarah Benson, Jackie Sibles-Drury, Whitney White, and Rachel Chavkin. Honors include a 2018-19 Carthorse Fellowship at the Buran Theatre, a 2017 Princess Grace Award for a Fellowship in Choreography, a 2017 Bessie Schoenberg Fellowship at the Yard on Martha’s Vineyard, the 2016 Solange MacArthur Award for New Choreography, and was a 2016 NYFA Choreography Fellow. He received his BA with honors in dance and English from Connecticut College.
Since 2013, Raja Feather Kelly | the feath3r theory has been working on a series of dance-theatre works that challenge audiences to interrogate and celebrate their shared relationship to human empathy and personal ethics as expressed in (and distorted by) popular media. In 2019, the work will continue its research of popular culture’s role in shaping public sympathies with a vaudeville-cabaret-ballet called WEDNESDAY based on the untold story of Sydney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon and a postmodern ballet that brings to life Walt Disney’s 1940’s release of Fantasia.
Artificial intelligence and dance
Choreographer, filmmaker, and dancer Pontus Lidberg is recognized for his dance film The Rain, for which he received numerous awards around the world. His film LabyrinthWithinwon Best Picture at Lincoln Center’s Dance on Camera Festival in 2012. As a choreographer for the stage, Lidberg has created works for dance companies including the New York City Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, Semperoper Ballet Dresden, Le Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, The Royal Danish Ballet, The Beijing Dance Theatre, The Royal Swedish Ballet, Balletboyz, and Morphoses, as well as for his own concert group, Pontus Lidberg Dance. He is the artistic director of Danish Dance Theatre in Copenhagen, Denmark.
At The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU, Lidberg will research applications of Artificial Intelligence to dance, as he develops the libretto for a forthcoming dance work and the screenplay for an accompanying dance film. He will investigate if an A.I. can improvise, if it is possible to perform a duet with an A.I., and assess how the art forms of ballet and choreography can engage contemporary and near-future problems and realities such as A.I.
Choreographer/performer Jodi Melnick’s work stems from her postmodern, experimental, downtown New York City roots, and her recent workings with the New York City Ballet’s principal dancers. She uses the profound expression of the dancing body and lucid performing instincts to drive the creative process. The body is the work’s aesthetic material. Melnick has been honored with a Doris Duke Impact award, Guggenheim Fellowship, two Bessie awards, Jerome Robbins Essential Arts grant, and Foundation for Contemporary Arts grant. Her work has been presented at BAM, City Center, The Joyce Theater, Danspace Project, The Kitchen, NYLA, Vail Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, Lumberyard, and internationally. Melnick currently teaches at Barnard College and Sarah Lawrence College.
This new work starts with examining what is virtuosic and spectacular, as a creator, performer, and audience member. In this process driven work, Melnick will delve deep with her performers, transmitting postmodern sensibilities onto highly virtuosic ballet bodies. Opulence (working title), is a group work, made to be transferable between the ballet trained body and herself, a solo performer.
Tom Sapsford studies performance in ancient Greek and Roman contexts. He received his PhD in classics from the University of Southern California and is an early career associate at the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama at the University of Oxford. Sapsford has published work on dancers in Greco-Roman Egypt, contemporary dance adaptations of Homer’s Odyssey, and gender ambiguity in Powell and Pressburger’s film, The Tales of Hoffmann. Prior to academia, he danced for the Royal Ballet, Wayne McGregor, and Michael Clark. His choreography has been commissioned by the Royal Opera House, the Institute of Contemporary Arts (UK), and Channel 4 Television.
Sapsford is working on the first English translation and critical commentary of descriptions of ancient dance-forms recorded and briefly explained by a number of Greco-Roman writers. These dance-forms fall under the ancient Greek heading of schemata (poses), a term used also for rhetorical figures, philosophical concepts, and even sexual positions. In addition to compiling, translating, and editing this body of literature, Sapsford will examine how ancient Greeks and Romans codified nonverbal phenomena and how these diverse forms of poses – choreographic, erotic, and philosophical – interrelate in the classical imagination.
Between Pain and Pleasure: Ballet Documentaries and the Exhausted Body
Sylvie Vitaglione is a scholar of Screendance whose research concentrates on site-specific choreographic practices in dance films. She is trained in Vaganova-style ballet at the Academie de Danse Classique Princesse Grace in Monaco and modern and contemporary dance at University of California – Berkeley where she earned a BA in dance and performance studies. Vitaglione completed her MA in film studies at University College London and her PhD in cinema studies at New York University. Her research has been supported by a New York University London Global Research Initiative Fellowship and a Tisch Dance and New Media Grant. Her recent publications include Surface Tension: Experimental Dance Films And The Undoing Of Urban Space (2016) and New Materials: Natural Elements and the Body in Screendance (2016). As an adjunct professor, Vitaglione has taught core film classes and seminars on dance films and music videos at New York University, The New School, and CUNY.
Vitaglione’s project studies the theory and practice of ballet documentaries, arguing that through film ballet is able to vent and display boredom, fatigue, injuries, and pain. In the current media landscape, ballet documentaries offer a melodramatic cinematic counterpoint to the effortless, polished, and seemingly perfect stage version of ballet. This project will examine how seminal ballet docs have depicted company life, touring, rehearsals, dressing rooms, performances, and the personal lives of dancers in order to produce a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the insular world of ballet, highlighting narrative themes such as sacrifice and religious devotion to Art.
Mimi Yin is an artist, designer, and educator. She teaches at ITP, a technology program housed in New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her research looks at two aspects of designing interactive systems for live performance: algorithmic approaches to composition and interactivity as a form of structured improvisation. Currently, she is developing a method of inquiry that reframes choreography as a form of visual art in order to build common ground for choreographers and media artists collaborating on interactive work. Most recently, her work has examined the role of embodied cognition (or how bodies inform the mind) in group interactions.
At The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU, Yin will explore the use of interactive media as a mode of “choreographic intervention,” where coded rules of interaction provide a framework for dancers to collectively compose improvisations that explore form and structure with rigor and creativity. The goal is to refine a series of exercises and accompanying software tools to train dancers in this new mode of trans-media improvisation. Ultimately, the results of this research will be made available online as teaching materials or tools that will allow choreographers with minimal technical experience to create interactive work.
The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University is an international institute for scholars and artists of ballet and its related arts and sciences. It exists to inspire new ideas and new ballets, expanding the way we think about the art form’s history, practice and performance in the 21st century. For more information, visit balletcenter.nyu.edu.