Live Dance Documentary Combines Ballet with Video to Open the 2014-15 Season
August 20th, 2014
Darrell Grand Moultrie to create a world premiere “live dance documentary” as spoken-word dancer interviews take center stage alongside Swipe
Two contemporary ballets are set to open the 2014-15 season for Richmond Ballet, as Studio One features the world premiere of iNVERSION, a multimedia dance work from New York-based choreographer Darrell Grand Moultrie and the return of Val Caniparoli’s highly successful Swipe, originally commissioned by Richmond Ballet in 2011. Mr. Moultrie, who was first invited to choreograph for Richmond Ballet during the 2013 New Works Festival, returns to Richmond with a new work that will meld video and audio elements with choreography. Inspired by the dancer experience, iNVERSION will feature stories provided by the Ballet’s own company dancers, collected through recorded interviews. The first of its kind at Richmond Ballet, Mr. Moultrie’s multimedia work will function much as a live dance documentary produced in close partnership with the Richmond Ballet production department. Swipe will make a return after three-year absence from the Richmond stage. Last seen by audiences at the Linbury Theatre at the Royal Opera House during the company’s London tour in the summer of 2012, Richmond Ballet’s production of Swipe will once again be part of the touring program ‘Made in The USA: Traditions & Innovations’ that will travel to China in May of next year. The Richmond Ballet commission has also been taken into the repertories of Smuin Ballet in San Francisco and Singapore Dance Theatre.
“Studio One should be a terrific opening to the season,” said Richmond Ballet Artistic Director, Stoner Winslett. “The Studio Theaters were originally envisioned as performances that had two ballets, one revival and one brand new work; this will once again be the format for this year’s Studio One. But what’s so exciting is that the revival, Val Caniparoli’s Swipe, was at one time a new work at the Richmond Ballet. Swipe has been so successful for us not only in Richmond but in London and we are very excited to be able to take it to China next May.”
Swipe marked the fifth collaboration between the San Francisco-based choreographer and Richmond Ballet when it premiered in April of 2011. A contemporary piece cloaked in a dark chrome color scheme designed by Sandra Woodall, Swipe is a syncopated mash-up of classical ballet and hip-hop dance. With Gabriel Prokofiev’s score comprised of dueling techno-remixes of string quartets, Swipe’s metallic, hollow music matches the athleticism and power demanded by the ballet’s challenging choreography. The work bears the hallmarks of Mr. Caniparoli’s choreographic style, with its touch of silky grace and its angular pulse. Feather-light, travelling balletic steps mix with grounded hip-hop footwork while asymmetrical leaps mix with staccato, spring-like jumps to create a unique choreographic rhythm. Swipe demands that the dancers attack its steps with a fierce precision at times and a comfortable ease at others. “There’s no hidden meaning, there’s no background of anything other than music, dancers and dance,” said Mr. Caniparoli, speaking before the premiere. “I want the audience to just enjoy themselves and to experience not only my choreography but the dancers at Richmond Ballet.”
Much as in Swipe, the dancer also forms the beating heart of Mr. Moultrie’s iNVERSION. Stories, provided by the Richmond Ballet dancers and recorded last spring, are woven together to create a larger study on this unique human experience. “The concept for this piece is something I have thought a lot about. I knew I wanted to add a multi-media aspect to the piece that I was creating,” Mr. Moultrie explained. “I think it’s rare when you can actually see dance, but also hear more about these artists, these athletes, who are in front of you, and hear more about their stories. So I wanted to do a work that incorporated their lives, their journeys, their inspirations. I wanted a piece that, when you finish watching it, you’ll feel more in tune with these artists; the audience might almost feel like they are watching a live, dance documentary, where I can mix the dancers’ stories, the dancers’ lives, in with solid choreography.”
“This new piece should be unique to Richmond Ballet, to our company and to our city, and a very different format than anything we have produced before,” added Ms. Winslett. While iNVERSION will indeed prove itself to be unique, Mr. Moultrie believes that the work can, and will, have a universal appeal. “Even though we are using the dancer as the storyteller – using both their bodies and their words – the stories are human. We all know a story of struggle, of success, of hope.”
Since beginning work on iNVERSION last spring, Mr. Moultrie has found a close partner in the Richmond Ballet production department. Production Director MK Stewart and A/V Supervisor Dave Watkins have helped Mr. Moultrie to design both a set and a soundscape that will function as another medium through which the dancer stories are shared. Mr. Watkins will also mix spoken words with pre-recorded music to create a multi-layered soundscape that will reflect the cutting-edge choreography. Rebecca Turk will oversee the costume design for this world premiere work.
Mr. Moultrie was eager to return to Richmond after the success of Saidera, which premiered at the New Works Festival in 2013. According to Mr. Moultrie, Richmond Ballet and its dancers were the perfect fit for iINVERSION, which relies so heavily on a steadfast trust and willing collaboration from a team of connected dancers. “When you do a piece like this, you need to work with a company where you can feel the connectivity,” Mr. Moultrie said. “Here, I know I am working artists who are open, engaged, and who want to share their stories. Everyone is very comfortable around each other, and again, that’s something that is rare within the dance world.”
A Juilliard graduate, Mr. Moultrie has choreographed for theater, ballet, and modern dance companies, and has become a leader in the commercial dance genre. He has worked with Grammy award-winning artists such as Beyoncé during her ‘Mrs. Carter Show’ world tour, and Tony Award-winners in hoofer Savion Glover and director Diane Paulus.
Swipe | Choreography by Val Caniparoli | Music by Gabriel Prokofiev
iNVERSION | Choreography by Darrell Grand Moultrie | Music TBA
Richmond Ballet Studio Theatre
Tuesday, September 23, 6:30 pm
Wednesday, September 24, 6:30 pm
Thursday, September 25, 2:00 pm and 6:30 pm
Friday, September 26, 6:30 pm
Saturday, September 27, 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm
Sunday, September 28, 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm
Tickets start at $20.00.
Major support for Darrell Grand Moultrie’s world premiere is provided by the John A. Cable Foundation.
Additional support is provided by the Richmond Ballet Choreographers’ Fund.
The 2014-15 Studio Series is generously sponsored by Altria Group.
Studio One is sponsored by Davenport & Company LLC and McGuireWoods LLP.
The Studio Onemedia sponsor is Style Weekly.
Richmond Ballet, The State Ballet of Virginia, receives support fromthe Virginia Commission for the Arts
and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Richmond Ballet also receives support from the Arts and Cultural Funding Consortium
(City of Richmond, Hanover County and Henrico County)
Photo: Cody Beaton in Val Caniparoli’s Swipe. Photo by Sarah Ferguson.