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Juilliard Dance Presents New Dances: Edition 2018

Juilliard Dance Presents New Dances: Edition 2018

Juilliard Dance, under the leadership of Alicia Graf Mack, opens its season with New Dances: Edition 2018 featuring four world-premiere dances by innovative choreographers Marcus Jarrell Willis (whose dance features the first-year class); Nelly van Bommel (featuring the second-year class); Juilliard alumnus Peter Chu (featuring the third-year class); and Stefanie Batten Bland (featuring the fourth-year class). Each choreographer works with one of the classes for the semester creating the new work; all Juilliard's dancers participate in the New Dances program.

Performances take place December 7, 8, 10, and 11, at 7:30pm and December 9 at 3pm in Juilliard's Peter Jay Sharp Theater.

Tickets at $30 ($15 for full-time students with a valid ID) are available at

About the Program

Marcus Jarrell Willis' piece for the first-year dancers, Quilt, was inspired by 1970s interviews with women quiltmakers. "There's a parallel between creating a quilt and our existence in the world as people," he said. The costumes will have a patchwork theme, and the music includes recorded works by Juilliard Creative Associate Caroline Shaw, faculty member Christopher Rouse, and Karol Beffa.

Nelly van Bommel's work Nadir for the second-year dancers is set in the late 1950s. It incorporates theater elements and spoken words. The music features selections by Vivaldi and Bizet as well as French-North African pop songs.

Juilliard alumnus Peter Chu (BFA '02, dance) is collaborating with Juilliard Jazz musicians for his piece Play Well With Others for the third-year dancers. "It's a full-on collaboration," Chu said. He commented "that the dancers have been devoting part of their rehearsal time each week to improvising with the musicians."

Stefanie Batten Bland's piece Look Who's Coming to Dinner for the fourth-year dancers was inspired by the 1967 film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, in which a white woman's black fiancé meets her parents. This work "pays tribute to those who paved the way toward acceptance in love and life," Bland said. The piece is set to an original composition by Paul Damian Hogan, who composes and records music for dance, films, art installations, and solo albums. Last year, he performed his score for Bienvenue by Stefanie Batten Bland for the dance's premiere at the La Mama Moves! Dance Festival.

About the Choreographers

Marcus Jarrell Willis has worked professionally with RIOULT, Dominic Walsh Dance Theater, Tania Pérez-Salas Compañía de Danza, and Ailey II. Willis performed with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater from 2008 to 2016, and he has presented choreographic works in festivals across the U.S. and Europe. Commissions include works created for Ailey II, TU Dance, Company Danzante, the Ailey School, University of Minnesota, Lucia Marthas Institute for the Performing Arts, Satellite Collective, Dance Gallery Festival Level Up 2013, and the 92nd Y Dance Introduction series, among others. Willis is the founder of MJ Willis Project-Inc, which made its debut in Wales in 2017, premiering My Brother, Dear Sister. He was named best choreographer for his TU Dance creation Sensible Existence in the City Pages Best of the Twin Cities 2018 issue and is a 2018-19 Leverhulme Choreography Fellow at Rambert Dance in London.

Nelly van Bommel, a French native of Dutch descent, was selected by Dance Magazine's as one of "25 to Watch" in 2010. She is an award-winning choreographer whose work has been featured in France, Taiwan, Canada, and the U.S. in major festivals and venues. Her residencies include Kaatsbaan International Dance Center, the Stella Adler Studio of Acting (MAD AIR), Western Michigan University Department of Dance in collaboration with DanceWorks Chicago, and the Baryshnikov Arts Center. She has been a guest teacher at the Taipei National University of the Arts in 2010 and 2017, and an e-choreographer at Springboard Danse Montreal. In 2012 and 2013, she was the director of choreography at the RDA Summer National Choreography Intensive. Her most recent work JOE, premiered in 2016 at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn. Van Bommel received her early dance training at the Académie de Danse Claudie Plaçais-Rocher and the Centre National de la Danse in Paris, where she worked with choreographers Claude Brumachon, Richard Alston, Susan Buirge, and Christian Trouillas, among others. In 2002, she moved to New York City on a fellowship from the Conseil Régional d'Ile de France. She is a student alumna of Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.

Born in the Bronx and raised in Cocoa Beach, Fla., Peter Chu began his training as a competitive gymnast, later nurturing his artistry at Dussich Dance Studio. Upon graduation from Juilliard, he performed with BJM Danse, EZdanza, Aszure Barton and Artists, Kidd Pivot, and in ?Celine Dion's Vegas spectacular, A New Day. In 2008, he formed a Las Vegas project-based dance company, chuthis, to showcase his own work and that of his collaborators. Chu has created works for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Charlotte Ballet II, Orlando Ballet Theatre, Hubbard Street 2, Giordano Dance Chicago, SYTYCD, Naomi Stikeman's Çaturn, Houston MET Dance, New Dialect, SALT Contemporary Dance, NDT Summer Intensive, Springboard Danse Montreal, and Juilliard, among others. This season, he will premiere works for Charlotte Ballet, Staatstheater in Augsburg, Germany, and HS Pro, in addition to chuthis.

Stefanie Batten Bland, choreographic artist, and movement director, is a Jerome Robbins awardee whose interdisciplinary creative practice is embedded in human relationships. Her French-American proscenium and installation creations have been commissioned by Ailey II, LaMama, Spoleto Festival (Italy), The Yard, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Singapore Frontier Danceland, TU Dance, Zenon Dance, Harlem Stage, and the Brooklyn Museum, and venues throughout Europe and Asia. She has created 11 dance cinema films that have been shown in international festivals from South Africa to Germany; and she's also created for multiple fashion and gala campaigns including Louis Vuitton, VanCleef & Arpels, and Hermès. Her current credits include movement director for the theatrical production of Eve's Song at the Public Theater, choreographer for American Ballet Theatre's new women's movement initiative (2019-2021), and is a 2019 Fellow for New York University's Center for the Ballet Arts. She has been featured in publications including The New York Times, Dance Magazine, Dance Europe, Dance Teacher, Bouger, and Marie Claire. In July 2019, she will complete her MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts with a concentration in performance creation at Goddard College. She lives in SoHo with her family. (

About Alicia Graf Mack, Director of Juilliard's Dance Division
Alicia Graf Mack enjoyed a distinguished career as a leading dancer of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She has also been a principal dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Graf Mack has danced as a guest performer with Alonzo King's LINES Ballet, Beyoncé, John Legend, Andre 3000, and Alicia Keys. Graf Mack graduated magna cum laude with honors in history from Columbia University and holds an MA in nonprofit management from Washington University in St. Louis. In 2007, Smithsonian magazine named her an American Innovator of the Arts and Sciences. She is a recipient of the Columbia University Medal of Excellence, an award given each year to an alumnus who has demonstrated excellence in their field of work. In 2008, she delivered the keynote address to the graduates of Columbia University's School of General Studies. As a dance educator, Graf Mack most recently taught as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Houston and was a visiting assistant professor at Webster University. She is a co-founder of D(n)A Arts Collective, an initiative created to enrich the lives of young dancers through master classes and intensives. She began her inaugural season as director of the Juilliard Dance Division in fall 2018.

About Juilliard's Dance Division
Now under the direction of Alicia Graf Mack, Juilliard's Dance Division aims to create true contemporary dancers-trained equally in classical ballet and modern dance. Established in 1951 by William Schuman during his tenure as president of The Juilliard School, with the guidance of founding division director Martha Hill, Juilliard became the first major teaching institution to combine equal instruction in both contemporary and ballet techniques.

Each year 24 dancers are accepted into the four-year BFA program. In addition to daily ballet and modern technique classes, every dancer participates in classical and contemporary partnering, dance composition, anatomy, acting, dance history, stagecraft, production, music theory, repertory, and elements of performing. Dancers are encouraged to present their own choreographed works in informal concerts and workshop presentations. Every fall, each class has the opportunity to work with established choreographers in premiere dances as part of the New Dances performances. Recent commissions include works by Bryan Arias, Roy Assaf, Gentian Doda, John Heginbotham, Matthew Neenan, Gustavo Ramírez Sansano, Katarzyna Skarpetowska, and Pam Tanowitz. Spring performances give dancers the opportunity to perform in established works from repertory. Recent repertory performances included works by Nacho Duato, William Forsythe, Martha Graham, Ji?í Kylián, José Limón, Mark Morris, Crystal Pite, Paul Taylor, and Twyla Tharp.

Juilliard dance alumni include the choreographers and directors Robert Battle, Pina Bausch, Jessica Lang, Lar Lubovitch, Andrea Miller, Ohad Naharin, and Paul Taylor. Juilliard dancers are currently dancing in Nederlands Dans Theater, Nederlands Dans Theater 2, Ballet BC, Aspen/Santa Fe Ballet, BJM_Danse, L.A. Dance Project, Limón Dance Company, GöteborgsOperans Danskompani, Ballett des Saarländisches Staatstheater, Kidd Pivot, and Batsheva Dance Company, among many others, as well as in several Broadway productions.

The Juilliard Dance Division is the proud recipient of the 2015 Capezio Award and was the first educational institution to receive the honor. (

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