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The Juilliard Dance Division opens its 2009-2010 season with a special edition of Composers and Choreographers 2009 when the School's student dancers are joined by fellow dancers from the Paris Conservatory, Friday, December 4 at 8 PM and Saturday, December 5 at 2 PM and 8 PM in The Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Juilliard (155 West 65th Street). Last spring, Juilliard dancers performed at the Paris Conservatory on their European tour, which also included appearances in Dresden and Caen. This fall, the dancers from the Paris Conservatory were eager to make the exchange and perform at Juilliard for the first time. The first half of the program features Juilliard with newly choreographed dances and new music performed with live musicians and the second half features Juilliard's guests from Paris. Performances are FREE; no tickets are required. For further information, call (212) 769-7406 or go to www.juilliard.edu.
The Choreographers and Composers performances are the culmination of the long-running Juilliard classroom/studio course of the same name, which gives Juilliard Dance and Composition students techniques to explore collaborative art. The course introduces each discipline to the needs, vocabulary and work methods of the other and finds common ground on which both can flourish. Juilliard composer-choreographer teams featured on the first half of the program are: Michael Ippolito and Jeffrey Sykes; Elizabeth Lim and Jehbreal Jackson; Barret Anspach and Julia Eichten; Gity Razaz and Tal Adler; Michael Gilbertson and William Barry; and Jeremy Beck and Haylee Nichele. Juilliard faculty members Jerome Begin (Dance Division's Music Advisor), Daniel Ott (Music Composition), and Janis Brenner (Dance Composition) will be working as advisors on the program.
The Paris dancers perform a program of three works: a new composition by Mourad Merzouki; L'Entrouvert by Christine Bastin; and Sunset Fratell by Jean-Claude Gallotta.
Choreographer Mourad Merzouki, originally from Saint-Priest, near Lyon, created his first piece, Kafig (Cage in German and Arabic) in 1996, the same year that he founded his company. Trained in martial arts and circus in his childhood, he discovered hip hop in his adolescence, as well as contemporary dance.
Dancer and choreographer Christine Bastin trained with Anne-Marie Debatte in Lille and in the Nikolai course in Paris with Christine Gérard, Nikolais, Murray Louis, Susan Buirge, and Carolyn Carlson. She incorporates theatrical elements into her movement work. Winner of many international choreography competitions, she created her own company, La Folia, in 1986 and has created about twenty pieces that tour regularly in France and abroad.
Jean-Claude Gallotta trained in fine arts at the Ecole d'Art in his native city of Grenoble, France, but interrupted his studies to experiment with edgy performance works that brought together actors, musicians, dancers, and visual artists. In 1978, he travelled to New York, where he discovered the work of Merce Cunningham. He co-founded the Groupe Emile Dubois with Mathilde Altaraz. The group was renamed Centre Chorégraphique National de Grenoble, and then Le Cargo.
The Dance Company of the Paris Conservatory is made up of students in their fifth year of the dance program at CNSMDP (Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris). The students, age 17 to 23, are divided into two groups: classical and contemporary. Led by two ballet masters and working as if part of a professional company, the students of the Dance Company learn classical and contemporary repertoire pieces and work beside choreographers commissioned by the Conservatory. The Dance Company gives a series of performances during the year at the Conservatory in addition to touring France and abroad. This additional year in the Dance Company, which moves away from the schooling of the first four years of the program, puts the students in the independent situation of a pre-professional company, allowing them experience with performing on stage for audiences and working through the creation with choreographers.
Now in its 58th season, the Juilliard Dance Division is a groundbreaking conservatory dance program whose faculty and alumni have changed the face of dance around the world. The program was established in 1951 by William Schuman during his tenure as president of Juilliard with the guidance of founding director Martha Hill. It became the first major teaching institution to combine equal dance instruction in both contemporary and ballet techniques. Among the early faculty members were Alfred Corvino, Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, José Limón, Anna Sokolow, Antony Tudor, and Hector Zaraspe.
Ballet master and master teacher Lawrence Rhodes was appointed the director of the Juilliard Dance Division in July 2002. In his seven years as director, he has reordered the curriculum and elevated requirements for the diploma and degree programs at Juilliard. He has increased the number of performances and brought in many prominent choreographers to work with the students. Graduates of the program have gone on to perform with virtually every established contemporary and ballet company in the United States and abroad, and they also are among the directors and administrators of respected companies worldwide. Alumni of Juilliard's Dance Division include Robert Battle, Pina Bausch, Martha Clarke, Mercedes Ellington, Robert Garland, Charlotte Griffin, Kazuko Hirabayashi, Adam Hougland, Saeko Ichinohe, Jessica Lange, Lar Lubovitch, Bruce Marks, Susan Marshall, Ohad Naharin, and Paul Taylor.