New York Theatre Ballet to Perform Four Ballets at Schimmel Center, 9/19-20
On Saturday and Sunday, September 19th and 20th, New York Theatre Ballet will present four ballets in an unforgettable evening. The program will include ballets by Agnes deMille, Nicolo Fonte, Merce Cunningham, and Pam Tanowitz. Nicolo Fonte's 20-minute piece for four dancers, There, and Back Again, is inspired by the Brothers Grimm classic story "Hansel & Gretel" in a wholly contemporary esthetic, performed to a new score for piano and violin by Kevin Keller. Pam Tanowitz's Double Andante is a13-minute ballet for ten dancers set to the Andante movement of Beethoven's Sonata in D Major #15, which will be played live on piano two times at different tempos. The dance is based on the "pas de deux" and will be used as a metaphor for the age-old notion of unrequited love. The company also revives Merce Cunningham's trio Cross Currents, staged by Jennifer Goggans and performed to an arrangement by John Cage of Conlon Nancarrow's Rhythm Studies for Player Piano Nos. 1-6. Agnes deMille's Three Virgins and A Devil is set to Respighi's Ancient Airs and Dances for the Lute. The piece was first performed in the revue Why Not Tonight at the Palace Theatre, London, on April 24, 1934. The ballet is the comic tale of three young virgins on their way to join a nunnery when they are confronted by a devil who uses each of their weaknesses to entice them into Hell.
New York Theatre Ballet's Founder and Artistic Director, Diana Byer has curated an evening that reflects both the company's mission, to preserve the small classic masterpieces (Cunningham and deMille) and to support new choreographers (Fonte and Tanowitz) as well as reflecting her own history with renowned choreographers. She also promises, "Each of these works bridges the past and present and offers a view of the familiar in a way that is strikingly original, provocative and exciting."
Diana Byer has a personal connection to the classical pieces being presented.
"Agnes deMille was introduced to me by her great friend, Margaret Craske, who in turn was my teacher and the ballet mistress of New York Theatre Ballet for 8 years. Her Three Virgins and a Devil is delightfully mischievous and fun, and it has always been one of my favorites. The first time I saw it was with American Ballet Theatre with Sallie Wilson as the Fanatical Virgin. Sallie became NYTB's Ballet Mistress and coach for over 15 years, until her death.
Merce Cunningham is also an important figure in my life. Many of the dancers in his company studied along with me in Margaret Craske's class at Manhattan School of Dance, thus inspiring me to include his works in NYTB's repertoire. His dances are compelling and unpredictable but always satisfying. David Vaughan, an NYTB Advisor and my dear friend, has advised me on which Cunningham dances would be best suited to NYTB."
New York Theatre Ballet has a history of discovering and fostering talented choreographers under the direction of Diana Byer.
"Elizabeth Sawyer, pianist for Antony Tudor, was my connection to Nicolo Fonte, whom she taught at SUNY Purchase. Through her recommendation and introduction, NYTB commissioned from him one of his first works straight out of college. Since then, his reputation has soared, and his dances have become richer and more complex.
The program that we offer at the Schimmel Center is eclectic, very modern in feel, just like our own heterogeneous world. But what each piece achieves -- in very different ways -- is to startle, even to unbalance, and then to unify and satisfy."
Ticket prices for New York Theatre Ballet at Pace University are $29. The performance will take place on Saturday and Sunday, September 19th and 20th 7:30pm.
Choreography by Pam Tanowitz
Assistant to the Choreographer, Ashley Tuttle
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven, Sonata in D Major Opus 28, II. Andante
Costume Design by Sylvia Taalson Nolan
Choreography by Merce Cunningham
Music by Conlon Nancarrow, Rhythm Studies for Player Piano
Original Lighting Design by Beverly Emmons
Costume Design by Merce Cunningham
Staged by Jennifer Goggans
There, And Back Again
Choreography by Nicolo Fonte
Original Score by Kevin Keller
Costume Design by Sylvia Taalson Nolan
Three Virgins and A Devil (1941)
Choreography by Agnes de Mille
Staging by Diana Byer & Elena Zahlmann
Music by Ottorino Respighi
Book by Ramon Reed