JR, NYCB Choreographer

February 26, 2014

We’ve spent much of New York City Ballet’s winter season oohing and ahhing over French artist JR’s mind-bending installation for the Koch Theater. The most striking aspect of the project, part of NYCB’s Art Series, is his eerily realistic photocomposition for the floor of the theater’s promenade—a 6,500-square-foot collection of life-sized images of the company’s dancers, lounging gracefully in swirls of white paper. The kicker, as fourth-ring onlookers have discovered, is that the larger pattern forms an eye. JR looked carefully at NYCB’s dancers, just as we do in the theater; then he made them “look” right back at us.


JR’s installation on the floor of the Koch Theater’s promenade. Photo Andrea Mohin/New York


And JR isn’t finished looking. Yesterday, NYCB announced that he’s creating a pièce d’occasion for the opening night of the company’s spring season this April.


JR in the studio with NYCB


JR, choreographer? Well, sort of. It sounds like the eight-minute work, JR’s theatrical debut, is a collaborative effort with NYCB director Peter Martins (shades of Ocean’s Kingdom, perhaps?). But the piece will feature an original score by Woodkid and a guest appearance by jookin’ sensation Lil Buck, and JR will be creating video projections and costumes as well as movement. The information in that last sentence alone is enough to get us in the theater.


According to the press release, JR’s ballet is inspired by his experiences during the 2005 Parisian riots. According to JR’s Instagram feed, that’s going to translate to an overwhelming visual spectacle, with Lil Buck and soloist Lauren Lovette at the center of its maelstrom.


Top left: Lauren Lovette in a costume fitting for the piece; top right: Lovette and Lil Buck get intense; bottom two: JR puts the dancers through their paces.


JR’s photos documenting the process also include shots of none other than Madonna and Robert De Niro. Fingers crossed that they might make an onstage appearance. (We can dream, can’t we?)


Madonna (left, with Lovette and Lil Buck in front) and Robert De Niro, just hanging out.


(All photos via JR’s Instagram feed, unless otherwise noted.)