New York City Ballet to Present Piece d'Occasion by JR, 4/29-5/4
New York City Ballet announced today that JR, the prize-winning artist and creator of NYCB's 2014 Art Series installation, The Eye of New York City Ballet, will next collaborate with the Company on an original theatrical work that will premiere on Tuesday, April 29, on the opening night of the Company's 2014 Spring Season.
An eight-minute pièce d'occasion, conceived and directed by JR, the ballet will be set to an original score composed for the New York City Ballet Orchestra by acclaimed musical artist Woodkid. The work will also include more than 40 NYCB dancers and Guest Artist Lil Buck, the Memphis jookin dancer who has worked with such diverse artists as Madonna and Yo-Yo Ma. The premiere will also mark JR's debut as a theatrical director, and he is working with NYCB Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins to translate his ideas for the stage.
The work, as of yet untitled, will also feature video projections and costumes by JR (created in collaboration with Marc Happel, NYCB's Director of Costumes), with lighting by Mark Stanley, NYCB's Resident Lighting Director.
The original work has been inspired by JR's own experiences during the 2005 riots in the Parisian suburbs, where his photographs of young people from the neighborhood were illegally pasted on the streets of the housing projects where they lived. These streets, in the eastern suburbs of Paris, later became the epicenter of the riots, with one of JR's images, which took up the entire width of an apartment building, providing an unexpected visual backdrop as the outbreak of the riots was documented by media outlets around the world.
"Choreographing has been a totally new experience for me. The dancers became my paper and have helped me draw my vision and create new things," said JR.
JR, who is best known for his grand-scale public photography projects, was the recipient of the prestigious TED Prize in 2011, and most recently created a site-specific art installation for the NYCB Art Series, which is currently on display at NYCB's home at Lincoln Center. The centerpiece of the installation is a 6,500 square foot image called The Eye of New York City Ballet, which blankets the Promenade of the David H. Koch Theater. Featuring photographs of more than 80 NYCB dancers, The Eye of New York City Ballet has become a social media sensation since the opening of NYCB's Winter Season on January 21.
"Working with JR has been an extraordinary experience for all of us at New York City Ballet. He is an incredibly gifted and visionary artist, and when he approached me with the idea of creating something for the stage I knew that it would be a fitting finale to our 2014 Art Series," said NYCB Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins. "I am also thrilled that he has brought in two remarkable collaborators, Woodkid and Lil Buck, and I have no doubt that their collaboration will be an exciting adventure for both the Company and our audiences."
Woodkid is the director, artist, producer, and musician behind acclaimed videos for such performers as Lana Del Rey, Drake, Rihanna, and Katy Perry. Born Yoann Lemoine in Poland and raised in France, Woodkid is widely regarded as one of the most creative and exciting artists currently working in contemporary music.
Now based in New York City, Wookid first released his own music in 2011 with Iron EP, and in 2013 he released his first album, titled The Golden Age. His live stage spectacles, often featuring a 30-piece orchestra, have been seen in venues around the world, including the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, and Paris' Le Grand Rex, the largest cinema in Europe. His single Run Boy Run was nominated for a 2013 Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video.
Lil Buck, who was born Charles Riley, specializes in a form of dance called jookin, which originated in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. In 2011 Lil Buck was the Artist in Residence at the Vail International Dance Festival, which is led by former NYCB Principal Dancer Damian Woetzel, who teamed Lil Buck with cellist Yo-Yo Ma for a performance of "The Swan" from Saint-Saën's Carnival of the Animals, which has become an online phenomenon. Lil Buck has also toured as a dancer with Madonna, appearing on her 2012 MDNA Tour and Super Bowl Halftime Show. He recently starred in Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson ONE, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.