September 19, 2019

Building on a banner spring schedule that included being named one of “19 for 19: Artists to Watch in the Upcoming Year” by WQXR and performing at Washington’s Dumbarton Oaks and Carnegie Hall, groundbreaking orchestral collective The Knights teams up next month with Troy Schumacher’s BalletCollective (BC) – nine dancers from the New York City Ballet – to produce Faraway, an evening of world premiere compositions and choreography at the GK Arts Center in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood (Oct 23-26). This limited, four performance engagement includes two new ballets, choreographed by Schumacher and Preston Chamblee to new music by longtime Knights collaborator Judd Greenstein and Pulitzer Prize-winner Paul Moravec. Both ballets draw inspiration from visual works – by artist Zaria Forman and photojournalist George Steinmetz respectively – that explore Earth’s landscapes and their inevitable transformation. The program is rounded out with two more of BC’s trademark innovative, interdisciplinary works from the repertory, as well as entr’acte music from The Knights. The stage is designed by Emmy Award-winner Jason Ardizzone-West, whose work includes Jesus Christ Superstar Live (NBC, Emmy Award), Blue Man Group Speechless (national tour), and Adele, Live in NYC (NBC). The production incorporates collaborative elements from science fiction writer Ken Liu, artist Trevor Paglen, choreographer Gabrielle Lamb, and composers Julianna Barwick, Caleb Burhans, Christina Courtin, Alex Sopp and György Kurtág. Tickets for all performances are $20-75, or $12 for students. October 23rd benefit performance tickets begin at $250. Tickets are available at balletcollective.com/tickets.

BalletCollective Artistic Director Troy Schumacher explains:

“By joining forces, BalletCollective and The Knights are able to provide New York with an experience unique to this fall’s cultural landscape: a night of music and dance with 50 world-class artists and performers coming together to create four performances in an intimate setting,”

Knights co-artistic director Colin Jacobsen adds:

“There are many parallels to be drawn between the highly collaborative environment that Troy and his company have built within BalletCollective and the way we work within The Knights that make this partnership a natural fit.”

Themed around a psychological phenomenon dubbed “the overview effect” – a cognitive shift reported by some astronauts during spaceflight – Faraway’s two world premieres are inspired by the work of visual artists capturing the planet from above. Faraway, with music by Judd Greenstein and choreography by Schumacher, takes as its inspiration five works from Zaria Forman’s recent Overview series: large-scale pastel drawings of ice structures seen during NASA-commissioned flights over the Arctic and Antarctic. With a driving, rhythmic score by Greenstein, Schumacher’s choreography explores the human relationship to this stunning and fragile environment, embodying in human form both its beauty and the violence of its natural and man-made transformation.

Likewise, the as-yet-untitled collaboration between Paul Moravec and Preston Chamblee is inspired by images captured from a great height by award-winning photojournalist George Steinmetz while paragliding over remote deserts. Starting with that imagined perspective and figuratively zooming in, the music and choreography explore the heightening of emotion that comes with physical proximity.

The 2017 ballet Orange, choreographed by Gabrielle Lamb, is inspired by MacArthur “Genius” Grant-winning artist Trevor Paglen, whose work spans image-making, sculpture, investigative journalism, writing, and engineering. The choreography and score are inspired by Paglen’s work with machine vision, specifically a hazy and abstract image of an orange generated by a neural network that Paglen had trained to “see.” Lamb’s choreographic vocabulary focuses on tensions between artificial and human intelligence, embodying both machine-like precision and, as she describes it, “juicy tactility,” resulting in an on-stage world where the dancers are, by turns, abstract bits of information and people desiring connection and interaction. The score by Brooklyn-based composer Caleb Burhans – whose music has been commissioned by Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Kronos Quartet, and many others – imagines the detailed sensory overload of scent, flavor and texture revealed by the slow and meticulous peeling of the fruit.

Schumacher’s 2017 ballet Translation, an excerpt of which is also on the Faraway program, takes its inspiration from a commissioned essay by Nebula Award-winning science fiction writer and translator Ken Liu, which presents a haunting image of the mediated human experience of reality. Using Liu’s language as a point of departure, Schumacher’s ballet creates biomorphic shapes by abstracting relationships between bodies and limbs, exploring how movements, forms and outlines intersect. The ethereal original score by Julianna Barwick, known for a series of wordless vocal-based albums driven by overdubs and vocal percussion, is evocative of both an ancient past and distant future with layers of vocals and electronics.

The ballets are punctuated with entr’acte music from The Knights: four miniatures for solo violin by György Kurtág from his Signs, Games and Messages, and a new song co-composed by two Knights members, flutist Alex Sopp and violinist/vocalist Christina Courtin.

About BalletCollective

Founded in 2010 by Troy Schumacher, BalletCollective (BC) creates and performs forward-thinking works that reflect the world we live in. BC commissions emerging, established and acclaimed choreographers, composers, writers and visual artists to collaborate on ballet-based works. BC exclusively performs commissioned, collaborative work.

BC’s process fosters interdisciplinary inspiration and innovation. BC connects choreographers with composers, and together they choose a non-performative artist. The trio exchanges ideas in their work and the season’s curatorial concept. The visual artist or writer develops a work of source art for the composer and choreographer to utilize as inspiration for the piece and as a tool to ground the artistic conversation. The source art does not necessarily become part of the final work, but it could not exist without it. With each new collective there are new challenges, experiments, and ultimately new forms of expression that expand the definition of ballet for artists and audiences alike.

BC has commissioned and performed twelve works with over 50 choreographers, composers, musicians, artists, designers, and dancers, including Karen Russell, James Ramsey, Ken Liu, Julianna Barwick, Ellis Ludwig-Leone, David Salle, Dafy Hagai, Judd Greenstein, and Cynthia Zarin. BC has recently presented at the Joyce Theater, NYU Skirball Center, Guggenheim Works & Process, Fire Island Dance Festival, and Savannah Music Festival, and made its international debut at the Guggenheim Bilbao in August 2018.

To download high-resolution photos, click here.

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The Knights and BalletCollective
GK Arts Center, 29 Jay St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

BC dancers: India Bradley, Preston Chamblee, Emilie Gerrity, Mary Thomas MacKinnon, Mira Nadon, Erica Pereira, Davide Riccardo,  Aarón Sanz, and Cainan Weber

PAUL MORAVEC: Glaciers (Preston Chamblee, choreographer)
GYÖRGY KURTÁG: excerpts from Signs, Games and Messages
Perpetuum Mobile
Nepfadalle (Im Volkston)
Postcard to Anna Kellerman
The Carenza Jig
CALEB BURHANS: Orange (Gabrielle Lamb, choreographer)
ALEX SOPP & CHRISTINA COURTIN: New Song
JULIANNA BARWICK: Translation (Troy Schumacher, choreographer)
JUDD GREENSTEIN: Faraway (Troy Schumacher, choreographer)

Oct 23 at 7pm (Opening Night Soiree)
Benefit reception to follow, location TBD
Limited performance only, tickets available.
Oct 25 at 8pm
Oct 26 at 2pm & 8pm

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© 21C Media Group, September 2019