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on the New York Choreographic Institute
by Dean Speer and Francis Timlin
March x, 2004 --
We recently caught up with Pacific
Northwest Ballet Principal Dancer Paul Gibson while PNB was in the throes
of preparing for its recent Balanchine Centenary program. Mr. Gibson talked
about his experiences in creating a new ballet for the New York Choreographic
Institute, which he has titled "ERAR." What follows is an edited
version of our conversation.
Sounds like it was an interesting
project. Please tell us more about it.
It was interesting! I had received
a call from the assistant to Mikko Nissinen, who indicated that Mr. Nissinen
would like to nominate me. The actual selection of who was participating
occurred sometime in May or June of 2003.
I was in New York for two weeks, and we worked Monday through Friday the
first week and Sunday through Thursday the next. It was great working
with New York City Ballet dancers, even though I didn't know exactly who
I was going to get to work with until I got there. The dancers sign up
for this prior to going to Saratoga, and it's done during layoff weeks
(first two weeks of October). I had first planned a work for five women
and three men but got two extra men, so I was able to make a piece for
It's to music by the Balanescu
Quartet and is called "ERAR," which stands for "East, Revolution,
Autobahn, and Robots." There are four pieces of music, and I used
the first three but not the fourth.
I did not know any of the dancers or how they moved. While choreographing
the second movement, which musically is strong and militaristic, I found
the boys to be stronger and re-choreographed accordingly. It was different
there as all of the dancers were young -- apprentices and corps members
-- and the dancers wanted "more." If things weren't working,
they wanted to make it work; so they worked on improving it, rather than
having me change movement.
This was the very first time I went into rehearsal not having pre-choreographed.
I just worked with the dancers in the studio, and so it was more of a
collaborative effort and very satisfying. The performance was held in
the Rose Building of the New York City Ballet studios. The other choreographers
were Adrian Burnett from Australia, Matthew Neenan (Pennsylvania Ballet),
and Yuan Yuan Wang (China).
It was a great experience. My only disappointment was not being able to
meet more with Peter Martins directly about each of our pieces to get
feedback. He finds it hard, as a choreographer, to critique others' ballets.
I did get to meet with Richard Tanner and Alan Soren. I also got to meet
over breakfast with Christopher Wheeldon and had drinks with him and Angel
I'm adapting the piece for PNB -- mostly simplifying and clarifying. I
felt that I had tried to put in or say too much before, so I'm re-working
it slightly here. Overall, the piece is about 22-23 minutes, with the
fourth movement longer than the first and second together.
Unusual music. Where did
you come across it?
Believe it not, on a BMW commercial! The second movement has talking in
Others making works for the workshop are Stanko Milov, Olivier Wevers,
Sonia Dawkins, Jonathan Porretta, and Andrei Vassiliev.
Dancers in "ERAR" include Christophe Maraval, Louise Nadeau,
Alexandra Dickson, Le Yin, and eight members of the corps.
The workshop program will be held during the second week of the Carmina
Burana/Serenade program. Subscribers will be invited and Iím serving as
the "Choreographic Coordinator."
Edited by Lori Ibay
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