ABT's Fall Season To Celebrate Herman Cornejo, Includes Premieres by Twyla Tharp and Gemma Bond
If like us you're already mourning the end of American Ballet Theatre's marathon Met season, don't fear. The company just announced the lineup for its fall season, and there's a lot to look forward to.
Running October 16-27 at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater, ABT's fall lineup includes world premieres by choreographers Twyla Tharp and Gemma Bond. While Tharp has been creating for ABT since 1976 (the company's Met season included a trio of her works), corps dancer Gemma Bond will be making her choreographic debut for ABT's main company. The season also shines a spotlight on principal Herman Cornejo, who will be celebrating his 20th anniversary with the company.
Tharp's ballet will have its premiere at ABT's October 16 Fall Gala, sharing a program with Jessica Lang's Let Me Sing Forevermore (in its New York premiere) and George Balanchine's Theme and Variations, as well as a performance by students of ABT's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. Tharp's new work, her 17th for ABT, will be set to Johannes Brahms' String Quintet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111 and will feature Cornejo.
In recent years, Bond has created works for companies including The Washington Ballet, Atlanta Ballet and ABT's Studio Company, and has received a 2017 Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship among other awards. She's been a member of ABT's corp de ballet since 2008, making it all the more exciting to see her home company giving her this major opportunity. Her ballet, premiering on October 23, will be set to Benjamin Britten's Suite on English Folk Tunes, with costumes by Sylvie Rood.
Herman Cornejo in La Bayadère
Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT
October 26 will mark a special all-Cornejo program, celebrating his long tenure with the company. He's slated to dance in works by Tharp and Balanchine.
This diverse season will also feature revivals of Balanchine's Apollo and Clark Tippet's Some Assembly Required, as well as the return of Alexei Ratmansky's The Seasons, Lang's Garden Blue, Tharp's Deuce Coupe and Michelle Dorrance's Dream within a Dream (deferred).
Chiara Valle is just one of many dancers heading back to the studio this fall as companies ramp up for the season. But her journey back has been far more difficult than most.
Valle has been a trainee at The Washington Ballet since 2016, starting at the same time as artistic director Julie Kent. But only a few months into her first season there, she started experiencing excruciating pain high up in her femur. "It felt like someone was stabbing me 24/7," she says. Sometimes at night, the pain got so bad that her roommates would bring her dinner to the bathtub.
Just four years ago, the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance welcomed its first class of BFA students. The program—which boasts world-class faculty and a revolutionary approach to training focused on collaboration and hybridity—immediately established itself as one of the country's most prestigious and most innovative.
Now, the first graduating class is entering the dance field. Here, six of the 33 graduates share what they're doing post-grad, what made their experience at USC Kaufman so meaningful and how it prepared them for their next steps:
Michele Byrd-McPhee's uncle was a DJ for the local black radio station in Philadelphia, where she was born. As a kid she was always dancing to the latest music, including a new form of powerful poetry laid over pulsing beats that was the beginning of what we now call hip hop.
Byrd-McPhee became enamored of the form and went on to a career as a hip-hop dancer and choreographer, eventually founding the Ladies of Hip-Hop Festival and directing the New York City chapter of Everybody Dance Now!. Over the decades, she has experienced hip hop's growth from its roots in the black community into a global phenomenon—a trajectory she views with both pride and caution.
On one hand, the popularity of hip hop has "made a global impact," says Byrd-McPhee. "It's provided a voice for so many people around the world." The downside is "it's used globally in ways that the people who made the culture don't benefit from it."