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Bodiography Announces New Artistic Director

Maria Caruso will still maintain a strong influence over the company and school as she hones in on her commercial projects through M-Train Productions.

Bodiography Announces New Artistic Director

Lauren Suflita Skrabalak, 20-year company veteran, rehearsal director, and regisseur of Maria Caruso's collection of over 140 ballets, has assumed the role of Bodiography's first Artistic Director since the company's inception. The season began with a European Tour in August, a collaborative performance with Brazil's Cisne Negro in Pittsburgh in September, an Outer-Burgh Tour inclusive of free public performances of Caruso's off-Broadway 80's retrospective Rearview Mirror,and a performance of guest artists' works in collaboration with La Roche University at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater in November. Now, Caruso passes on the torch more fully in preparation for Skrabalak will guide Bodiography's signature season of performances in March, Facets.

Supported in part by the Heinz Endowments, Skrabalak will be spending the remainder of the year and the beginning part of 2023 engrossed in the re-staging of Caruso's 2013 requiem, Lux Aeterna, 2016 pointe work, Parabola, and 2022 creation for Italy's ARB Dance Company, Beyond Boundaries. Additionally, Bodiography's Principal Company Artist, Isaac Ray, will be the first active company artist to contribute choreography to a mainstage production. Working collaboratively with the current roster of company artists, all being primed for future leadership, will the focus of what is ahead.

While Caruso gave rise to Bodiography's global visibility and local prominence over the past 20+ years since founding the organization in New York City in 2000, the organization's vision and mission remain focused on inclusivity in dance with the mantra of dance for Every-BODY. Her more recent years during the pandemic were not only focused on international growth but centered on a strong succession plan focused on sustainability. In 2021, Skrabalak accompanied Caruso to New York City for the double opening of her off-Broadway shows, Metamorphosis, and Rearview Mirror. There she tended to rehearsal direction of the artists, and aswhile Caruso became the first woman to star in two shows on the same night in two different theaters. In 2022, with a torn labrum and broken foot, Skrabalak not only assisted with re-staging Caruso's works, Fractured and Rebuilt and Really?!, but performed herself after Caruso adapted the choreography to allow a safe performance in the 20th Anniversary Celebration.

"While I initially thought she was crazy tTo get me on stage again, I let 20 years of faith take over and I put my trust in her as a choreographer and more importantly a friend," Skrabalak said. For years, Caruso has been notorious for putting injured dancers on stage for performance by cleverly adapting choreography to disguise injuries. In 2007, she did just that for Skrabalak after a knee surgery in her ballet, Bound, and did it again for the February 2022 performance. "It was the 20th anniversary performance that made me realize how critical it was to take the position."

Skrabalak looks to the future with excitementexcitement, and she brings a wealth of experience to the table with not only her tenure as a performer, choreographer, and educator for Bodiography, but an academic post at Winthrop University and her early years of experience with Ballet West and the Winter Olympics. The opportunity to nurture a company that she believes so passionately about has been a pandemic-enabled gift and one that may not have been possible without the pandemic. The rise of technology will allow for rehearsals to be run from her home in North Carolina as she commutes to Pittsburgh for interment residencies. "We have learned about the value of virtual rehearsal technology during the COVID crisis, and now we can use that knowledge to work to our advantage to break geographic boundaries," remarks Skrabalak. "I can be with my family in Charlotte and be an integral part of the Bodiography family at the same time."

While Skrabalak will be at the helm of all artistic decisions, Caruso will still maintain a strong influence over the company and school as she hones in on her commercial projects through M-Train Productions.



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