Juilliard LIVE to Premiere New Dances: Edition 2020-21 Beginning Thursday, August 19, 2021

Thursday, Aug 19, 2021
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Juilliard dancers in Matthew Neenan's piece on New Dances
Juilliard dancers in Matthew Neenan's "The Solo 7" (photo by Christopher Duggan)

NEW YORK –– Juilliard LIVE will premiere New Dances: Edition 2020-21, filmed in Juilliard’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater and free for online audiences, beginning Thursday, August 19, 2021, at 2pm (ET) at juilliard.edu/live. After the premiere, the performance will remain available for on-demand viewing on Juilliard’s media gallery and the Juilliard YouTube channel. Presented annually, New Dances features premieres of four new works, one by each class of Juilliard dancers. The works are created on—and with—them by professional choreographers, and every member of each class is involved. The 2020-21 choreographers are Tiler Peck, Sonya Tayeh, Bobbi Jene Smith, and Matthew Neenan.

Tiler Peck’s Broad and Free for the Class of 2024 is set to music by Juilliard Creative Associate Caroline Shaw and performed by violinist Alice Ivy-Pemberton and pianist Jinhee Park; Sonya Tayeh’s End, Middle, Begin for the Class of 2023 is set to music performed by Son Lux; alumna Bobbi Jene Smith’s Ways of Listening for the Class of 2022 is set to music by Juilliard Creative Associate and alumnus Nico Muhly and performed by cellist Coleman Itzkoff; and Matthew Neenan’s The Solo 7 for the Class of 2021 is set to excerpts from Mozart string quartets performed by the Juilliard String Quartet (1979 recording). Lighting design is by Clifton Taylor and costume coordinators are Luke Simcock and Márion Talán.

Juilliard dancers followed strict health and safety protocols during the New Dances creation process and filming. Each class was split into three groups to maintain social distancing in the studios. These groups worked independently of one another during the process, including during filming in the Peter Jay Sharp Theater. Choreographers worked with their dancers either in person or remotely via the Zoom platform. Large screens and wide lens cameras were made available in all studios to allow for synchronous classes with one teacher and students in multiple studios. In addition, some choreographers, such as Bobbi Jene Smith, worked with the entire third year class masked and outside on the plaza level of the Lincoln Center campus for some rehearsals; she also took advantage of the Zoom platform for most of her creation process. 

Alicia Graf Mack, dean and director of Juilliard Dance, said: “All of the works on this program have been created in pods of no more than eight dancers. The choreographers have collaborated with the students both on Zoom and in person, finding ways to generate movement without touching or partnering. Everyone from our Dance Division staff to our production team dedicated their energies to giving the dancers a meaningful learning and performance experience. In turn, the dancers 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.”

New Dances: Edition 2020-21 Choreographers

Tiler Peck

Tiler Peck is an award-winning principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, actress, author, designer, and rising choreographer. She made her Broadway debut in The Music Man at age 11 and starred as Ivy Smith in Broadway’s On The Town. She also portrayed Louise Bigelow in the Emmy-nominated production of the New York Philharmonic’s Live From Lincoln Center production of Carousel and played the title role in the Kennedy Center’s musical Little Dancer. She has performed twice at the Kennedy Center Honors and choreographed the smash hit action movie, John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum. Peck is the designer of Tiler Peck Designs for Body Wrappers and recently released her first children’s book, Katarina Ballerina. 

Sonya Tayeh

Sonya Tayeh is a Tony-nominated choreographer and director. Her work has been characterized as a blend of powerful versatility and theatrical range. Selected credits include Moulin Rouge! (Broadway/Alex Timbers, director), Sing Street (Broadway/Rebecca Taichman, director), Unveiling with Moses Sumney and dancers (Fall for Dance/City Center), Rent Live! (Fox Network/Michael Grief and Alex Rudzinski, directors), The Lucky Ones (Ars Nova/Anne Kauffman, director), Face the Torrent (Malpaso Dance Co./commissioned by the Music Center/L.A.), You'll Still Call Me by Name (commissioned by New York Live Arts and Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival), and Martha Graham Dance Company's Lamentation Variation series (Joyce Theatre)

Bobbi Jene Smith

Bobbi Jene Smith (’06, dance) is an alumna of Juilliard, the North Carolina School of the Arts, and Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. Her choreography has been presented by the Batsheva Dance Company, CORPUS of the Royal Danish Ballet, LADP, VAIL Dance Festival, LaMama Experimental Theater, and the Martha Graham Dance Company. In 2017, she became a founding member of the American Modern Opera Company and, in 2019, was awarded the Harkness Promise Award and was named Martha Duffy resident artist at Baryshnikov Art Center. Her film and video work includes Anagnorisis, directed by Wim Wenders; Annihilation, directed by Alex Garland; MA, directed by Celia Rowlson-Hall; and Yossi, directed by Eytan Fox. The documentary Bobbi Jene, which follows her trajectory of leaving a dance company to create her own work, won best documentary, best cinematography, and best editing at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017. The following year, Smith starred in as well as choreographed the films Mari, directed by Georgia Parris and choreographed by Maxine Doyle, and Aviva, directed by Boaz Yakin.

Matthew Neenan

Matthew Neenan began his dance training at the Boston Ballet School and later attended LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts and the School of American Ballet. From 1994 to 2007, he danced with the Pennsylvania Ballet, performing numerous principal roles in the classical and contemporary repertoire. In 2005, Neenan and fellow dancer Christine Cox cofounded BalletX, the resident dance company of the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia, which has toured nationally and internationally with Neenan’s work, including appearances at the Vail International Dance Festival, Kennedy Center, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, New York City Center, Laguna Dance Festival, and Joyce Theater. From 2007 to 2020, Neenan was the choreographer in residence at Pennsylvania Ballet. His choreography has been performed by numerous companies including the New York City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Washington Ballet, Ballet West, Tulsa Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Ballet Memphis, Milwaukee Ballet, Ballet Met, Kansas City Ballet, BODYTRAFFIC, USC Kaufman School, and Juilliard. He has received awards and grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, Dance Advance (funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts), Choo San Goh Foundation, and New York Choreographic Institute Fellowship Initiative. Neenan was the first recipient of the Jerome Robbins “NEW” Fellowship.

About Alicia Graf Mack, Dean and Director of Juilliard Dance

Alicia Graf Mack enjoyed a distinguished career as a leading dancer of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She has also been a principal dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Graf Mack has danced as a guest performer with Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, Beyoncé, John Legend, Andre 3000, and Alicia Keys. Graf Mack graduated magna cum laude with honors in history from Columbia University and holds an MA in nonprofit management from Washington University in St. Louis. In 2007, Smithsonian magazine named her an American Innovator of the Arts and Sciences. She is a recipient of the Columbia University Medal of Excellence, an award given each year to one alumnus who has demonstrated excellence in their field of work. In 2008, she delivered the keynote address to the graduates of Columbia University’s School of General Studies. As a dance educator, Graf Mack taught as adjunct faculty at the University of Houston and was a visiting assistant professor at Webster University. She is a cofounder of D(n)A Arts Collective, an initiative created to enrich the lives of young dancers through master classes and intensives. She began her inaugural season as director of the Juilliard Dance Division in fall 2018.

About Juilliard Dance

Under the direction of Alicia Graf Mack, Juilliard Dance develops artists of the 21st century—trained in ballet, modern, and contemporary dance forms. Established in 1951 by William Schuman during his tenure as president of Juilliard, with the guidance of founding division director Martha Hill, Juilliard became the first major teaching institution to combine equal instruction in both contemporary and ballet techniques. In the four-year dance program—leading to a bachelor of fine arts degree—students learn the great traditions of both past and present. Juilliard dancers enjoy unparalleled opportunities to work with today’s leading choreographers and perform both new and existing repertory. In addition to high caliber technical training and performances, dancers learn about the craft of choreography and immerse themselves in other facets of the field.

Located at Lincoln Center in New York City, Juilliard prepares dancers for all the possibilities that lie ahead. Juilliard dance alumni include the choreographers and directors Robert Battle, Pina Bausch, Jessica Lang, Lar Lubovitch, Andrea Miller, Ohad Naharin, and Paul Taylor. Juilliard dancers are currently dancing in Nederlands Dans Theater, Nederlands Dans Theater 2, Ballet BC, Aspen/Santa Fe Ballet, BJM, L.A. Dance Project, Limón Dance Company, GöteborgsOperans Danskompani, Ballett des Saarländisches Staatstheater, Kidd Pivot, and Batsheva Dance Company, among many others, as well as in several Broadway productions.

Juilliard’s Dance Division was the proud recipient of the 2015 Capezio Award, the first educational institution to receive the honor. (juilliard.edu/dance)

Dance commissions at Juilliard are made possible through the New Work/Guest Artist program, generously endowed by the Howard Gilman Foundation and the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust.

Juilliard’s creative enterprise programming, including enhancement to these performances, is generously supported by Jody and John Arnhold.

Juilliard gratefully acknowledges additional support provided by the Muriel Gluck Production Fund.

Juilliard’s livestream technology is made possible by a gift in honor of President Emeritus Joseph W. Polisi, building on his legacy of broadening Juilliard’s global reach.

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Program Listing:

Juilliard LIVE premieres New Dances: Edition 2020-21

Filmed at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater

Available free beginning Thursday, August 19, 2021, at 2pm (ET) at juilliard.edu/live. After the premiere, the performance will remain available for on-demand viewing on Juilliard’s media gallery and the Juilliard YouTube channel.

Featuring four world-premiere performances:

Broad and Free by Tiler Peck (Dancers from the Class of 2024)

End, Middle, Begin by Sonya Tayeh (Dancers from the Class of 2023)

Ways of Listening by Bobbi Jene Smith (Dancers from the Class of 2022)

The Solo 7 by Matthew Neenan (Dancers from the Class of 2021)