Supported in part by the Merce Cunningham Trust:
Project: Cunningham's Events
Claire Bishop is a professor in the PhD Program in Art History at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her books include Installation Art: A Critical History (2005) and Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (2012), for which she won the 2013 Frank Jewett Mather award, and Radical Museology, or, What’s Contemporary in Museums of Contemporary Art? (2013). She is a regular contributor to Artforum, and her essays and books have been translated into eighteen languages. Her current research concerns the impact of digital technology on contemporary art and performance since 1989, and is funded by an Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant.
At the Center for Ballet and the Arts, Bishop will research Merce Cunningham’s Museum Events. The recent proliferation of contemporary dance in art museums has led to polarizing debates about the intersection of visual art and dance. Missing from these debates is an understanding of historical precedents, among which Museum Events, produced between 1964 and 2012, are crucial forerunners. These ninety-minute remixes of work in the company's repertoire were performed in non-traditional venues and broke the frontal orientation of dance. Bishop’s research seeks to provide a historical critique of how the Events developed, and their relevance to contemporary dance in the museum.
Project: Dance Careers: Commitments, Choices, Transitions, and Labor Markets
Ruth Horowitz is professor of Sociology at New York University. Among her publications are Honor and the American Dream: Culture and Identity in a Chicano Community (1983), Teen Mothers: Citizens or Dependents? (1994), Street Drugs, Street Kids, Street Crime (with J. Inciardi and A. Pottieger, 1993), and In the Public Interest: Medical Licensing and the Disciplinary Process (2013). She is the recipient of several book awards: Honorable mention, C. Wright Mills (1983); Cooley Award (1994); Law Section (2013). Additionally, she received the George Herbert Mead Distinguished Career Award (2015). Dance has always been her favorite “after school” activity.
Few high school aged ballet dancers continue on to careers in dance. Only a few join companies, staying only a few years. Some teach or make their lives outside the world of dance. Others join the “project based” economy, often after college, struggling to make a living from dance but often doing other activities too. Horowitz’s interviews and research will examine how dancers make these decisions and transition between different life stages.
Project: Short Ride Out, in Four
Annie-B Parson co-founded the OBIE award winning Big Dance Theater in 1991. Big Dance was most recently seen at The Kitchen, The Menil Collection, American Realness, and BAM, and was honored by P.S. 122. Parson has also made dances for the work of Mikhail Baryshnikov, David Byrne, David Bowie, St. Vincent, Laurie Anderson, Salt-N-Pepa, Jonathan Demme, Ivo van Hove, Sarah Ruhl, , Esperanza Spalding, and Nico Muhly, and has dances in the repertory of the Martha Graham Dance Company and The Royal Ballet. Awards include New York Dance and Performance Bessie Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, Duke Artist Award, Franky Award, USA Artist Award, Foundation for Contemporary Art’s Grants to Artists Award, and an Olivier nomination.
At the Center for Ballet and the Arts, Parson will work primarily on a suite of dances inspired by ideas around erasing the master. Parson will bounce off Rauschenberg's Erased DeKooning by erasing Stravinsky’s Concerto for Two Pianos (II. Notturno), at first slavishly attending to each musical gesture and then departing from it, while leaving faded marks of Stravinksy's rhythms and musical structures in the dance material. She will create two duets that will complete the quartet of dances, and will sketch new ideas for future works with her company Big Dance Theater.
Claudia Roth Pierpont
Project: City of the World
Claudia Roth Pierpont is a staff writer for The New Yorker, where she has written about the arts for more than twenty years. She has a Ph.D. in Italian Renaissance art history from New York University, and is the author of three books: Passionate Minds: Women Rewriting the World (2000), a collection of essays about women writers ranging from Hannah Arendt to Mae West; Roth Unbound: A Writer and His Books (2013), an exploration of the life and work of Philip Roth; and American Rhapsody: Writers, Musicians, Movie Stars, and One Great Building (2016), a collection of essays on American subjects including George Gershwin, Nina Simone, and the Chrysler Building.
A history of the culture of New York City leading up to and through its glory years in the twentieth century – broadly speaking, the twenties through the seventies – the book concentrates on both institutions and individuals. Chapter subjects include the American Museum of Natural History, Duke Ellington and his band, the Museum of Modern Art, and the New York City Ballet.
Project: Ballet Beyond its Choreographic Identity
Jean-Marc Puissant is an award winning set and costume designer working internationally for opera, theater and dance. Designing productions of all scales, styles, and genres, Puissant’s design practice is rooted in the identity of unique collaborations, supporting the nature and craft required by each art form across the performing arts. He was nominated as Best Scenographer at the 2016 Benois de la Danse, was a finalist of World Stage Design 2013, and several productions he designed won Laurence Olivier Awards, South Bank Show Awards, National Dance Critics Awards, and TMA Awards. Puissant trained at the celebrated Motley Theatre Design Course in London after studying Art History at La Sorbonne, Paris. His career began as a dancer, studying at Paris Opera Ballet School and Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris. A professional dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet and Stuttgart Ballet, Puissant danced and created roles in classical, neo-classical and contemporary repertoires.
At the Center, Puissant’s practical and research-based project will focus on the process surrounding creating and producing ballet, both historically and in a contemporary context from a non-choreographic perspective. In doing so, Puissant aims to create a forum of interviews and discussions with established creatives, producers and technicians. In parallel, he will work and document his current design work for contemporary ballet productions and existing ballet repertoire.
Christopher Williams is a choreographer, dancer, and puppeteer devoted to creating movement-based works in New York City and abroad since 1999. His work has been presented internationally as well as in local venues including City Center, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project, P.S. 122, the 92nd Street Y, and La Mama. His collaborators have included directors Peter Sellars and Michel Fau, conductor Raphaël Pichon of Ensemble Pygmalion, members of the Anonymous 4 and Lionheart, as well as critically acclaimed composer Gregory Spears and visual designer Andrew Jordan. Currently, he is working on commissions from Danspace Project and Interlochen Center for the Arts, and has previously been commissioned by the Opéra National de Bordeaux, English National Opera, Princeton University, the Harkness Dance Center, Danspace Project, and through HERE Arts Center’s Dream Music Puppetry Program. His awards include a Bessie Award for New York Dance and Performance (2005), fellowships from The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Bogliasco Foundation, as well as residencies via the Robert Raushenberg Foundation at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center, the Tyrone Guthrie Center, Kaatsbaan International Dance Center, Movement Research, Joyce SoHo, Djerassi, Yaddo, and The Yard.
As a fellow at the Center for Ballet and the Arts, Williams will conduct research and create choreography for an original contemporary ballet entitled Narcissus. The new work, set to Nikolai Tcherepnin's ballet score Narcisse et Echo, composed in 1911 for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, will reappropriate themes of the eponymous ancient Greek myth on which it is based to re-imagine the ballet through a contemporary queer lens.
Virginia B. Toulmin Fellow, sponsored by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation:
Project: mOving forward
Fueled by her vision to transform dance and engage new audiences with bold, innovative work, Israeli dancer-choreographer Danielle Agami founded Ate9 in 2012. Today, based in Los Angeles, California, she leads the nonprofit organization as a home for original creation and movement research. Previously, Agami was a member of the Batsheva Dance Company and senior manager for Gaga People USA. Agami’s recent awards and recognition include the 2016 Princess Grace award for Choreography, 25 to Watch in 2015 by Dance Magazine, and the grand prize for the 2013 & 2014 Annual Choreography Festival at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, California.
During Agami’s fellowship at the Center for Ballet and the Arts, she will invest in the development of a new technique class. After extensively practicing both the Gaga movement language and the traditional ballet technique, Agami will structure a class that allows the two to meet in balance. Agami and invited dancers will experience the relationship between content and form, enhancing the dialogue surrounding both. She will ask the dancers to reflect on their own experiences with dance, helping them stay in touch with their answers throughout their practice.
Fellow for the Study of Russia and Ballet, a collaboration between CBA and the NYU Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia:
Project: Power on Pointe: Russian Ballet from Petersburg to Paris
Natalie Rouland is a scholar of Russian literature and ballet. She holds a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Stanford University and has taught literature, film, and culture courses at Stanford, Miami University, and Wellesley College. Her research has been supported by the IIE Fulbright Program, the Fulbright-Hays Program, the Stanford Humanities Center, the Woodrow Wilson Center, and the Library of Congress.
In her book, Power on Pointe, Rouland argues that during the late imperial period of ballet, the embodiment of power, literature, and the voice of protest transformed the reputation of Russian art and culture in the twentieth century. In the space of heated debate over the future of Russian identity, the imperial ballet, its fanatics, and its critics kept the preoccupations of an era alive in the conversation between the page and the stage. The continued performance and cultural significance of these ballets and their preservation in divisive and riotous literature attest to their importance in the construction of Russian national identity. While contemporary Russian ballet showcases the strength of the state and the country’s rich cultural heritage, this comprehensive study of the ballet’s imperial roots in literature, history, and popular culture will illuminate the relationship of the ballet spectacle to political constructs and the public perception of power, enhancing our understanding of Russia’s continuing role on the world stage.
The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University is an international institute for scholars and artists of ballet and its related arts and sciences. It exists to inspire new ideas and new ballets, expanding the way we think about ballet and bringing vitality to its history, practice and performance in the 21st century. For more information on upcoming events, visit the Center for Ballet and the Arts at: balletcenter.nyu.edu.