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Breaking: New York City Center Gala Will Tribute A CHORUS LINE; Encores! Line-Up Announced

Breaking: New York City Center Gala Will Tribute A CHORUS LINE; Encores! Line-Up Announced

New York City Center is sure to be a singular sensation this fall!

New York City Center President & CEO Arlene Shuler today announced programming and a series of artistic and community initiatives for the 2018 - 2019 season in celebration of New York City Center's 75th Anniversary Season.


2018 Fall Season Programming

The landmark season will pay tribute to the institution's past and celebrate its singular role in the arts today beginning with the 15th Fall for Dance Festival (Oct 1 - 13), showcasing an international array of dance artists and companies in five unique programs. The first Fall for Dance was held in 2004 with the goal of building a new audience for dance. In his closing night review of that inaugural season, Jack Anderson wrote in The New York Times, "Fall for Dance has proved to be the brightest idea to light up the New York dance scene in a long time." In celebration of the milestone year, the ten-day festival will feature six world premiere commissions from Gemma Bond, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa,Justin Peck, Sonya Tayeh, Caleb Teicher, and Jennifer Weber. In keeping with City Center's founding mission to make the arts accessible to the widest possible audience, all tickets for Fall for Dance are $15. City Center will kick-off the celebratory season by opening its doors early on October 1-inviting audience members for a champagne toast while touring the archive exhibit and taking in pop-up dance performances from MOVE(NYC), Caleb Teicher, and others.

Beginning on October 31 (through Nov 4), City Center will celebrate choreographer George Balanchine and the historic work he created for New York City Ballet while the company was in residence. Over six programs, an international roster of eight prestigious companies will represent ballets both made at City Center and popular works performed as part of New York City Ballet's regular seasons at the historic theater from 1948 - 1964. The monumental festival titledBalanchine: The City Center Years will feature performances by American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, Miami City Ballet, New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, The Royal Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet, accompanied by the New York City Ballet Orchestra. The festival will be complemented by two special Studio 5 programs on October 25 and 29.

Equally rooted in the institution's history, the life of the Broadway dancer will be celebrated in the Annual Gala Presentation of A Chorus Line (Nov 14 - 18), led by Bob Avian (original co-choreographer) and Baayork Lee (Connie, original cast) with music direction by Patrick Vaccariello. The first performance, on November 14, will honor City Center Board Member Stacy Bash-Polley, a longtime partner at Goldman Sachs and founding supporter of Encores! Off-Center.

Funds raised at all seven performances of A Chorus Line will allow City Center to make the performing arts accessible to the widest possible audience by subsidizing affordable tickets throughout the year.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater first brought the City Center audience to its feet during the 1971 season, returning the following year as City Center's first resident modern dance company. Their annual season, openingNovember 28 (through Dec 30), will feature repertory from a wide range of choreographers, including premieres, new productions, repertory favorites, and Alvin Ailey's must-see American masterpiece Revelations (with live music on select programs). A special program on December 11 will be presented in celebration of City Center's opening performance in 1943.

2019 Winter - Spring Programming

Musical theater played an integral role in the institution's success in the early years with productions of classics like Carousel, Oklahoma!, and Show Boat all gracing the stage. City Center's influence on American musical theater was galvanized when the first season on the Tony-honored Encores! series was presented in 1994.

Led by Artistic Director Jack Viertel and Music Director Rob Berman, the 2019 season will revisit Irving Berlin's Call Me Madam (1950), originally mounted for the second Encores! season in 1995.

The series will also pay tribute to two titans of the dance world whose careers are profoundly linked to City Center and made a name for themselves on Broadway: George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. The 1938 Rodgers and Hart musical comedy I Married an Angel featured choreography by Balanchine and starred his then wife Vera Zorina in the title role. For the Encores! production, Joshua Bergasse will direct and choreograph for his soon-to-be wife NYCB principal dancer Sara Mearns as the Angel.

The third Encores! show will be High Button Shoes (1947), music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Sammy Cahn, and book by Stephen Longstreet, which features a ten-minute dance number, choreographed by Robbins, known as "The Bathing Beauty Ballet."

MasterVoices will also celebrate City Center's rich musical theater history with a special tribute concert performance featuring Victoria Clark in Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin's Lady in the Dark (Apr 25 & 26), last presented in New York City as part of the inaugural Encores! season.

The spring season will host a series of limited engagements showcasing the leading dancers of today and offering a glimpse at City Center's next seventy-five years. Tap sensation Michelle Dorrance and her company Dorrance Dancereturn to City Center (Mar 28 - 30) for their largest solo engagement to date. The program includes a re-imaging of her 2013 piece, SOUNDspace, and world premieres by Dorrance and Bill Irwin, commissioned by New York City Center. In April, international ballet stars Natalia Osipova and David Hallberg will appear in a US premiere by Alexei Ratmansky, co-commisioned by New York City Center and Sadler's Wells. Appearing alongside the legendary partners will be Jonathan Goddard and Jason Kittelberger in a repertory evening of classic and contemporary works by Anthony Tudor, Roy Assaf, and a second US premiere by Ivan Péréz (commissioned by Sadler's Wells). Nederlands Dans Theater 2 andDance Theatre of Harlem will also appear during the spring, and Flamenco superstar Sara Baras returns as part of the annual Flamenco Festival (Mar 7 - 10).

The acclaimed Encores! Off-Center series returns in summer 2019. Programming for the Off-Center season will be announced at a later date.

Visual Art Commissions

In honor of the 75th Anniversary Season, City Center will mount a program of visual art commissions for the first time in its history. The first of these commissions will be by conceptual artist and native New Yorker Lawrence Weiner, whose language-based work has been widely exhibited around the world. Weiner's piece will be his response to the City Center building and installed in the east and west stair landings connecting the main auditorium's Orchestra-level and Grand Tier lobbies. The work will be on view to all who enter the theater. Notepads that incorporate the design will be distributed free of charge to audiences throughout the season. During his initial site visit, Weiner mentioned that he was not, in fact, taking on new projects but was inspired to change his mind and create this work for City Center after walking through the theater and recalling fond memories of attending performances as a young man.

The second commission will be by photographer Nina Robinson, who focuses on portraiture and documentary work. Based in Arkansas and New York, Robinson's photography has been exhibited at the Bronx Documentary Center, the Bronx Museum, and Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. Robinson will capture theater and dance artists throughout the historic building and in the spaces in which they live and create. The life-size photographs will be on view to the general public beginning TK in the through-block passage adjacent to City Center (between 55th and 56th streets,) inviting our community to appreciate Robinson's work free of charge.

The third commission will be by Spanish-born architect, professor, and artist Jorge Otero-Pailos, who will create an immersive installation in The Harkness Studio at City Center. Otero-Pailos has been commissioned by and exhibited at several major art institutions including the 53rd Venice Art Biennial and the Louis Vuitton Galerie Museum, and received the 2012 UNESCO Eminent Professional Award. His piece will evoke concepts of history, memory, and impermanence through the fabrication of latex casts of the studio's surfaces, which will be illuminated by light boxes placed throughout the large rehearsal room. The latex casts will lift the dust and other residue left on the surfaces of the studio by those who use it as a creative space. The accompanying sound score will be a collage of choreographer Merce Cunningham's voice and sounds from rehearsals. The installation will be on view for three week-long exhibitions- in October 2018, March 2019, and April/May 2019-and will be free to the public.

Community Programs

Expanding its mission to make the best in the performing arts accessible to all, City Center will embark on a two-week tour of the five boroughs, bringing the extraordinary artists from its stage directly to New Yorkers in their neighborhoods. The inaugural tour will engage communities with world-class dance without boundaries through a series of free performances and interactive classes featuring Bronx-born choreographer, teacher, and tap artist Ayodele Casel. A frequent City Center collaborator and 2017 recipient of the "Hoofer Award," Casel will be joined by two dancers and two musicians for an electric presentation. City Center has partnered with the NYC Parks Department to select five tour stops from among their 64 recreation centers-sharing Casel's singular style with the broadest possible cross-section of New Yorkers.

The Museum of the City of New York will celebrate City Center's milestone anniversary with a series of talks and live performances centered around the institution's history of musical theater performances, curated by and featuring Encores! Artistic Director Jack Viertel.

Throughout the season, City Center will continue to bring the backstage center stage with talks and master classes offering audiences an intimate exchange with today's leading artists. The popular Studio 5 series will offer behind?the?scenes conversations and performances featuring today's great dance artists, with a special focus on the institution's historic impact on the New York dance community. The series will be expanded to twice the number of events starting on Thursday, October 25, with former NYCB principal dancer and "Balanchine ballerina" Heather Watts, who will explore the repertory being presented during Balanchine: The City Center Years with excerpts performed by NYCB principal dancers Tiler Peck and Jared Angle, accompanied by pianist Cameron Grant. On October 29, a Studio 5 event showing the specialized training that goes into the making of a Balanchine dancer will be presented in partnership with the School of American Ballet. Full programming will be announced later. Offering a unique opportunity for emerging musical theater artists to explore everything from composition and auditioning to vocal technique with Broadway luminaries, the master class series Front & Center returns for its third season with sessions led by Stephanie J. Blockon February 4 and Lea Salonga on May 6. A third master class will be announced at a later date.

Tickets and General Information

Performance-only tickets for A Chorus Line go on sale June 4 for Members and June 18 for the General Public. Balanchine: The City Center Years will go on sale to Members on June 25 and to the General Public on July 9. All remaining performances will go on sale Tuesday, September 4 (Members August 27), except for the 15th Fall for Dance Festival, which will go on sale Sunday, September 9 at 11am. Current subscribers may renew their Encores! subscriptions now through June 22. New Encores! subscriptions for Members are available starting July 30 and for the General Public starting August 6.

Tickets can be purchased online at NYCityCenter.org, by calling 212.581.1212, or in person at the City Center Box Office. The City Center Box Office will be closed July 29 through September 3. New York City Center is located at 131 W 55th Stbetween Sixth and Seventh avenues.

NEW YORK CITY CENTER (Arlene Shuler, President & CEO) has played a defining role in the cultural life of the city since 1943. For 25 years, City Center's Tony-honored Encores! series has been "an essential New York institution" (The New York Times). In 2013, City Center launched the Encores! Off-Center series, which features seminal Off-Broadway musicals filtered through the lens of today's innovative artists. Dance has also been integral to the theater's mission from the start and programs like the annual Fall for Dance Festival remain central to City Center's identity. Home to a roster of renowned national and international companies including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (City Center's Principal Dance Company) and Manhattan Theatre Club, New York City Center was Manhattan's first performing arts center, founded with the mission of making the best in music, theater, and dance accessible to all audiences. That mission continues today through robust education and community engagement programs which bring the performing arts to over 9,000 New York City students each year and the expansion of the theatrical experience to include art exhibitions, pre-show talks, and master classes that offer an up-close look at the work of the great theater and dance artists of our time. NYCityCenter.org

Originally built in 1923 by the Ancient Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (The Shriners) as a meeting hall called Mecca Temple, the distinctive neo-Moorish theater in Midtown Manhattan known as New York City Center was saved from the wrecking ball by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and City Council President Newbold Morris, reopening in 1943 as Manhattan's first performing arts center. Charged with the civic mission to present the best in the performing arts for all audiences, "the people's theater" served as a place where dance, theater, opera, and music could all be enjoyed under one roof. In the years that followed, luminaries like Leonard Bernstein, Barbara Cook, José Ferrer, Helen Hayes, Marcel Marceau, Paul Robeson, Beverly Sills, and Orson Welles would all perform on the City Center stage. George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein famously established New York City Ballet, Laszlo Halasz founded New York City Opera, the Joffrey Ballet began a thirty-year residency, and the list continues. Seventy-five years on, City Center remains at the center of the arts in New York.

This rich history will be celebrated in two striking archival exhibitions-one at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, on view October 23 - March 2, and the other in a revolving installation at City Center itself, on view for the duration of the season. The exhibits will bring together a wide range of archival materials-many of which will be exhibited for the first time-providing a broad perspective on City Center's first 75 years. Highlights of the Library's exhibit, titled The People's Theater: Celebrating 75 years of New York City Center, include a 35-foot, three-dimensional wall of the great dancers who have performed at City Center from the very first-The Ballet Russe of Monte Carlo-to recent standouts from the Fall for Dance Festival and cases filled with treasures from the building's construction and original interior decoration to props from twenty-five years of Encores! productions. A special gallery of nearly 20 Hirschfeld drawings and prints documenting virtually the entire history of theater, dance, music, and opera at City Center will be exhibited on the Library's second floor. In addition, the Library will host two talks in connection with the exhibit.

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