American Repertory Ballet presents a program of dances by Twyla Tharp (Baker's Dozen), Lauri Stallings, and company artistic director Graham Lustig, with guest artist Carmen de Lavallade, Friday & Saturday March 24 & 25 at 8 PM. Also on Saturday March 25 at 4 PM, the Company presents a one-hour family performance of Beauty and the Beast - A Gothic Romance, Lustig's unique vision of the classic story, set to music by Rossini.
Twyla Tharp's Baker's Dozen, premiered in 1979, is performed to piano compositions written in the 1920's by Willie "the Lion" Smith. Hailed as one of Tharp's seminal works, Baker's Dozen takes audiences, by way of its satiny smooth jazz music, to a "palm court" space where afternoon social dancing occurs with utter ease, touched throughout by gentle physical eccentricities. Staging is by former ARB ballet mistress and ABT and Tharp dancer Elaine Kudo.
By Lauri Stallings is the world premiere of exorcising Man, a three-movement dance depicting the dualities of the individual self in contemporary society. The concertos of JS Bach and CPE Bach provide the core of the work as exorcising Man draws parallels to the rare moments of harmony found in the life of every man. Ms. Stallings, originally from Florida, began her professional career at Cleveland San Jose Ballet, followed by BalletMet, Canada's Ballet British Columbia and, until recently, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. The ballet is the 9th commission by ARB's DTTC (Dancing Through The Ceiling) program, which supports works by woman dancemakers.
Graham Lustig presents two ballets: Dialogues (world premiere) and VISTA. The company welcomes CARMEN DE LAVALLADE as guest in the passionate Dialogues, inspired by the lyric score of young New York-based composer Pat Rasile, based on eight love poems by Michelangelo. The music is performed live by pianist Max Midroit and soprano Lorraine Earnest. Mr. Lustig's new work has been created with the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Musicians Guild.
The evening concludes with Lustig's VISTA, a friendly, feel-good dance to the musical stylings of The Lounge Lizards. Robert Johnson called the work "a seductive romp" (Star-Ledger), and Marshall Huntenberger, writing for ballet-dance.com, found it "hypnotic, erotic and joyful."
The family performance of Saturday at 4 PM shows Lustig's one-hour Beauty and the Beast - A Gothic Romance, a Mary Shelley style drama danced to Rossini sonatas (written in 1804 when the composer was only 12 years old). For location, the choreographer has chosen the early nineteenth century New Jersey Pine Barrens, inspired by its history, legends, folklore, lost villages, and the New Jersey Devil. Lustig's quest for period authenticity is reflected in the costuming, and in the use of a form of percussion called "Bone" playing. Mr. Joe Birl, 89-year old bone player from Philadelphia, was called in to give the dancers a workshop, and their newly discovered musical talents appear in the wedding scene as others are dancing authentic clogging steps. The original story of Beauty and the Beast was written in 1756 by Madame Le Prince de Beamont, a governess for well-to-do young children. At its heart the story teaches two major lessons: do not think because you are wealthy, that you are better than others, and, never judge a book by its cover.