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This article by Nicole Plett was prepared for the
April 18, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Busy Days at American Rep
American Repertory Ballet’s 23rd season has been a
busy one. Fresh from three March premieres in its "Dancing Through
the Ceiling" initiative for women choreographers, the company,
under artistic director Graham Lustig, brings another world premiere
and two company premieres to State Theater, Saturday and Sunday, April
21 and 22. The program features the world premiere of
choreographed by Lustig, inspired by the art and music of the 1960s.
Also featured are company premieres of "Lambarena,"
by Val Caniparoli, and "The Turn of the Screw," choreographed
by Salvatore Aiello.
Performed to a musical collage created by composer Jay Cloidt, Lustig
describes his "Silkscreens" as a comic and ironic
of Andy Warhol’s famous Pop Art prints that were fabricated in his
Factory studio in New York in the 1960s and ’70s. Featuring, among
others, music by the Velvet Underground, Lustig pays homage to some
of Warhol’s iconic images with a sly look at 20th-century culture,
portraying both the brassy glamour and the darker underside of pop
stardom. This is Lustig’s third new work created for the company since
he joined ARB in 1999.
Val Caniparoli’s "Lambarena," a company premiere, is a fusion
of African and classical dance that provides an exhilarating
of cultures and art forms. Created as an homage to Albert Schweitzer,
"Lambarena" unites two elements that formed Schweitzer’s
— the music of Bach and the indigenous melodies and rhythms of
his adopted homeland Gabon, which he loved. "Lambarena" is
the work of Hughes de Courson, French composer and producer, who fused
the classical structure of "Lambarena," and Pierre Akendengue,
author, philosopher and guitarist from Gabon. The score interweaves
African rhythms and airs with extended passages from various Bach
compositions to underscore the idea of music as a universal language.
Choreographer Caniparoli sets out to achieve a similar kind of
in his ballet: to create a choreographic language that rhythmically
adapts to both African and European music. In addition to Camparoli,
who is resident choreographer of the San Francisco Ballet, the company
received instruction from two African dance and music specialists,
Zakariya Soa Diouf and Naomi Gedo Johnson-Washington, who worked with
the dancers on African dance technique and style.
In "Turn of the Screw," based on Henry James’ ghost story
about a governess and her two young charges, is set to the haunting
music of Benjamin Britten’s opera of the same name, adapted by
Aiello. The drama of the ballet resides in the conflict that arises
between the Governess and the malevolent spirits of Quint, a former
manservant at the estate, and Miss Jessel, the former governess.
in 1898, "The Turn of the Screw" is James’ most famous tale.
The season has featured a major new holiday production of "The
Nutcracker," choreographed by Lustig and designed by Zack Brown.
In March, the company premiered three new works commissioned for its
"Dancing Through the Ceiling" program, featuring women
Dominique Dumais, Susan Hadley, and Elaine Kudo. Dumais’ compelling
"A part between parts," a sensuous modern ballet set to music
by a trio of Baroque composers, proved one of the company’s richest
and most dynamically intriguing ballets in recent years. Both it and
Susan Hadley’s witty and engaging "Corps," inspired by the
hardworking women in white of the corps de ballet, will be reprised
during ARB’s week-long spring season at New York’s Joyce Theater,
May 8 to 13. And still to come is the company’s spanking new
of "Cinderella," choreographed by Lustig, updated, and set
to Prokofiev, to be presented at the State Theater, Saturday and
May 19 and 20.
The board of trustees of ARB announced last week that
Jeffrey A. Kesper, former executive director of the New Jersey State
Council on the Arts and most recently executive director of the
Arts Federation (SAF), has been named as ARB’s new executive director.
"Jeff was the unanimous choice of the search committee because
of his solid experience and success at SAF and as director of the
New Jersey State Council on the Arts," says ARB board chairman
Nancy MacMillan. "Jeff is a strong advocate for partnerships,
collaborations, and arts education. His proven leadership and ability
to develop effective alliances with leaders and legislators in
education and government will be a great asset as we seek to
our financial position and continue the innovative programs developed
by Graham Lustig and Princeton Ballet School director Mary Pat
Kesper served as director of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts
from 1983 to 1990, a period when the council’s budget grew from $3.2
million to over $23 million, permitting major arts initiatives
the state. Concurrently, he also administered $40 million in state
revenues from a $100 million Quality of Life Bond Issue to support
capital improvement of New Jersey’s cultural facilities.
Kesper graduated from Rutgers University with a bachelor’s degree
in History and went on to earn a Master of Library Science degree
there. He and his wife live in North Brunswick.
"I am delighted that Jeff has joined the team here at ARB,"
says Lustig. "His knowledge of arts organizations and advocates
in New Jersey, as well as his management expertise will prove
as we move ARB forward to firmly establish a solid base for our
programming and talented dancers."
New Brunswick, 732-246-7469. Online at www.arballet.org. Graham
"Silkscreens," with "Lambarena" and "The Turn
of the Screw". $16 to $32. Saturday, April 21, 8 p.m. and
Sunday, April 22, 2 p.m.
Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, 732-246-7469. Saturday and
May 19 and 20.
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