Reimagining ChoreoComp

Thursday, Mar 25, 2021
Juilliard Journal
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A dancer performing, costumed in a red dress in a kneeling pose with arms extended behind her
Larissa Leung

A meaningful learning and performance experience

Like so much else in this past year, ChoreoComp—the culmination of the beloved Choreographers & Composers class—has been reimagined for a new reality. Alicia Graf Mack, dean and director of the Dance Division, reflected on this year’s edition in the program book; here’s an excerpt.

By Alicia Graf Mack

After nearly a year of working through the pandemic, I have been reflecting on what I have learned. First, and most obviously, I have learned that our dancers thrive on opportunities to move within the spaces in our building. The chance to be together, even in small groups, makes all the difference. The transference of energy from one artist to another has a cumulative effect, leading to an environment steeped in generosity and gratitude. Second, I am proud of how we, as a community, have problem-solved and found creative solutions despite the restrictions. In fact, the restrictions and challenges have amplified our innovative thinking. And last, this time has solidified my belief that we are an incredibly resilient group of artists who are going to seize the day and live boldly in each moment. The work that I see unfolding at Juilliard is nothing short of remarkable.

Created by Juilliard faculty members Janis Brenner, Jerome Begin, and Daniel Ott, Choreographers & Composers is a celebrated cross-divisional course. Six choreographers from the Class of 2022 were paired with six composers in the spring semester of 2020. The initial conversations and seeds of music and movement were generated via Zoom. Eventually, in October, the choreographers were able to work in person with the dancers, in small groups of four, in studios at the school. Everyone from the Dance Division staff to the production team dedicated their energies to giving the students a meaningful learning and performance experience. In turn, the students gave their all. Seeing these performances beautifully documented on film reminds me of the power of dance and music to tell stories and communicate in the universal language of the soul.

The six world premiere pieces are FLARE by Ellexis Hatch and Horacio Fernández Vázquez, Touching the Sun by Aaron Choate and Yangfan Xu, my tears become the tide by Scott Autry and Katie Jenkins, Standpoint by Morgan Clune and Iván Enrique Rodríguez, Folds in Familiarity by Cyrie Topete and Nick Marsella, and Still a Bell by Holden Cole and Hannah Ishizaki.