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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."

American Repertory Ballet, State Theater, Livingston


New Brunswick, 732-246-7469. Online at 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.

Cinderella, American Repertory Ballet, State


Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, 732-246-7469. Saturday and


May 19 and 20.

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