The Unconventional Trumps the Expected as Peak Performances Announces 2012-13 Season

May 14
1:04 2012


Peak Performances has been rapidly making Montclair State University a major cultural destination, even for New Yorkers. Nine premieres including stunning, often startling, new music, dance and theater works by composers David T. Little, Laurie Anderson, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Toshi Reagon; choreographers Benjamin Millepied, Richard Alston, Vusi Mdoyi, Jasmin Vardimon; directors Robert Wilson and Romeo Castellucci are among the highlights of the 2012/13 Peak Performances season. Peak is where exceptions rule.

“Even shockingly new ideas always have a history,” said Peak Performances’ Artistic Director Jedediah Wheeler, “which is what our 2012/13 season is planned to reveal. Would there be a David T. Little had there not been a Laurie Anderson or a Schubert? Would there have been a William Forsythe had not Merce Cunningham and George Balanchine broken important ground? Probably, but their work would also probably be different. These iconoclasts, these exceptions to the rule, while unique in their own creative spirit, owe a debt to pioneering artists whose work is now revered as classic. This is what we want to celebrate in the wide range that distinguishes this season’s lineup.”

David T.Little, Royce Vavrek, RoBert Woodruff, Judy Budnitz, Alan Pierson, DOG DAYS. September 29–October 7, Times: September 29 and October 6 at 8pm, September 30 and October 7 at 3pm, October 5 at 7:30pm.

The season opens September 29 with the long-anticipated world premiere of David T. Little’s darkly comedic “DOG DAYS,” which combines elements of opera, musical theater and rock-infused concert music to shape its horrifying prediction of the future. Set in an imagined, war-torn United States, the opera poses a series of dangerous questions: Is it madness, delusion, or sheer animal instinct that guides us through perilous times? If necessary, when should man yield to his animal instincts to survive? Based on a short story by Judy Budnitz, and performed by a cast of six singers and an actor, “DOG DAYS” is tough, funny, and ultimately, deeply humane. Royce Vavrek is the librettist and Alan Pierson, the music director. This Peak production is being produced in association with Beth Morrison Projects.

Benjamin Millepied/L.A. Dance Project, New Work by Benjamin Millepied, QUINTETT by William Forsythe, WINTERBRANCH by Merce Cunningham. October 25–28, Times: October 25, 26 at 7:30pm, October 27 at 8pm, October 28 at 3pm.

The east coast debut of the L.A. Dance Project, the new six-member company by Benjamin Millepied, one of the fastest rising stars on the international dance scene, takes place at Peak, October 25-28. The repertory features the revival of Merce Cunningham’s still-controversial “WINTERBRANCH” (1964) set to La Monte Young’s two-note score; William Forsythe’s “QUINTETT” (1993) set to Gavin Bryar’s looping “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet,” and a premiere by Millepied (to be titled) set to a new score by his close musical collaborator Nico Muhly, with a visual design by painter Christopher Wool.

Richard Alstin Dance Company, A CEREMONY OF CAROLS, ROUGHCUT, UNFINISHED BUSINESS. December 13-16, Times: December 13, 14 at 7:30pm, December 15 at 8pm, December 16 at 3pm.

The United States premiere of Richard Alston’s “A CEREMONY OF CAROLS” is scheduled for December 13-16 when the London-based Richard Alston Dance Company makes its Peak Performance debut. Premiered in February 2012, the dance, which reaffirms Alston’s fame as one of contemporary dance’s most original and musical choreographers, was created to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten. The award-winning Montclair State University chorus, featuring MSU students and directed by Heather J. Buchanan, will accompany the dance on stage, along with harpist André Tarantiles. The program also features “ROUGHCUT,” a fiercely athletic dance set to the driving force of Steve Reich’s score and “UNFINISHED BUSINESS,” a lively, elegant work set to Mozart.

Robert Wilson, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Toshi Reagon, Jacqueline Woodson, ZINNIAS: THE LIFE OF CLEMENTINE HUNTER. January 26-February 3, Times: January 26 and February 2 at 8pm, January 27 and February 3 at 3pm, January 31 and February 1 at 7:30pm.

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