The possibilities in choreography are endless. If there was any question about that in my mind, the recent Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference in New York City reminded me. At this annual showing of performing arts from around the country, I saw sleek, contemporary ballet from BalletX of Philadelphia, explosive street tap by TenFootFive from Minneapolis, provocative dance theater by BodyVox from Portland, and a courageous attempt at matching Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring from New Yorker Nicholas Leichter. I saw Montreal’s Coleman Lemieux company in a haunting duet for two men by James Kudelka, Robert Battle’s solo Takedemi to Indian tabla music, and luscious jazz dancing from the Giordano Company and River North, both of Chicago.
In this, our third annual choreography issue, we try to capture a tiny slice of that diversity. For “Minds in Motion,” we spoke to 11 dancemakers and found that, no matter what the genre, they all welcome creative contributions from their dancers. It seems that what’s going on in studios these days is more democratic than yesteryear.
Our cover choice is Jorma Elo, the current “it” choreographer (that’s what Matthew Neenan of BalletX called him at APAP). Here is someone with dancing in his bones, and after 15 years of performing with companies in Europe, his passion overflowed and spilled into choreography. His dances crackle with energy and inventiveness. In the photo below, you see me sitting quietly at Boston Ballet watching Jorma lead rehearsal, but what I really wanted to do was jump up and join the dancers in his spiraling, quirky movement. Of course I didn’t get to do that, but in a funny roundabout way, I did participate in the Jorma’s new piece. When transcribing our interview, I heard him say he didn’t have to “break the eyes” of the BB dancers. But he told me later that he meant “break the ice,” and added that he thought my (mis)interpretation was “wild and cool.” To my surprise, he titled the piece with a variation of my phrase, Brake the Eyes. So maybe the moral is, you can learn from your mistakes—and you can put other people’s mistakes in your titles.
Editor in Chief