English choreographer Christopher Wheeldon is Artistic Associate of The Royal Ballet. He trained at The Royal Ballet School and danced with the Company 1991–3. For The Royal Ballet he has choreographed Tryst, DGV: Danse à grande vitesse, Electric Counterpoint, ‘Trespass’ (Metamorphosis: Titian 2012, in collaboration with Alastair Marriott) , Aeternum (Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production) and Strapless, and the three-act ballets Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Winter’s Tale and Corybantic Games. Works of his performed by The Royal Ballet and originally created for other companies include After the Rain and Within the Golden Hour.
Wheeldon was born in Yeovil and trained at The Royal Ballet School. In 1991 he won gold medal at the Prix de Lausanne with a solo of his own creation and that year entered The Royal Ballet, where Kenneth MacMillan encouraged him in his choreographic work. In 1993 Wheeldon joined New York City Ballet, promoted to soloist in 1998. He created his first work for NYCB, Slavonic Dances, in 1997 and became the company’s first Resident Choreographer in 2001. Works for NYCB include Polyphonia (London Critics’ Circle Award and Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production) and The Nightingale and the Rose.
Wheeldon regularly choreographs for leading international companies, including Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Dutch National Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. In 2007 he founded Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company and became the first British choreographer to create a new work for the Bolshoi Ballet. In 2012 he collaborated with Marriott on the closing ceremony of the London Olympic Games. His awards include the Tony Award for Best Choreography (An American in Paris). He was made an OBE in 2016, and that year was artistic director for Les Arts Décoratifs’ Fashion Forward exhibition.
Jorma Elo is one of the most sought-after choreographers in the world. He has created works for companies including American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, New York City Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, Royal Ballet of Flanders, Vienna State Opera Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Netherlands Dance Theater, and Finnish National Ballet, among others. Elo trained with the Finnish National Ballet School and the Kirov Ballet School in Leningrad. He danced with Finnish National Ballet and Cullberg Ballet until joining Netherlands Dance Theater in 1990, where he enjoyed a 15 year career.
Elo was appointed resident choreographer of Boston Ballet in 2005, where he has created many world premieres, including Sharp Side of Dark (2002), Plan to B (2004), Carmen/Illusions (2006 & 2009), Brake the Eyes (2007), In on Blue (2008), Le Sacre du Printemps (2009), Sharper Side of Dark (2012), and Awake Only (2012). Boston Ballet premiered a full-length performance titled Elo Experience in 2011. Elo was awarded the Benois de la Danse prize for best choreography in 2010, for his production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, commissioned by Vienna State Opera Ballet, and Slice to Sharp for the Stanislavsky Music Theatre.
In 2012, the Finnish Government awarded Elo the Dance Artist Prize. Elo has also been awarded the Choreography prize in the 2005 Helsinki International Ballet Competition, and he was the recipient of the Prince Charitable Trust Prize and the Choo-San Goh Choreographic Award in 2006. He was nominated for a 2008 Isadora Duncan Dance Award. Elo has been featured in Esquire, Dance, and Pointe magazines. Elo was awarded the 2015 Pro Finlandia Medal of the Order of the Lion of Finland, one of Finland’s highest honors.
JEROME ROBBINS (born 11 October 1918 in New York City) was the younger of two children of Harry Rabinowitz, who emigrated to America from Poland in 1904, and his wife Lena Rips. Rabinowitz was at first a shopkeeper with a delicatessen on the Upper East Side of Manhattan; in the 1920’s he moved the family to Jersey City and then to Weehawken, New Jersey, where he and a brother-in-law established the Comfort Corset Company. Young Jerome, who showed an early aptitude for music, dancing, and theatrics, attended schools in Weehawken and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1935. Intending to study either chemistry or journalism, he matriculated at New York University in the autumn of 1935; but the Depression took a turn for the worse in 1936 and his family could no longer support his education — especially considering that he was, by his own account, failing two courses (math and French) out of five. Unwilling to work in the corset factory, he tried to find employment in some form of show business; and through his sister Sonia, who had already danced professionally with Irma Duncan and Senya Gluck-Sandor’s Dance Center, he got an apprenticeship with Sandor’s company.
Gluck-Sandor was a hybrid as a choreographer — ballet-trained, dedicated to modern dance, but also a veteran of Broadway, burlesque, and vaudeville — and his expressive, theatrical style attracted Robbins from the outset. But the fledgling dancer — who like other members of his family took the surname of Robbins for work in the theater — also studied ballet with Ella Daganova and in 1937 appeared in the Yiddish Art Theatre production of The Brothers Ashkenazi, directed by and starring Maurice Schwartz, for which Sandor did the choreography. In the summer of 1937 Robbins began dancing and choreographing at Tamiment, a progressive-movement resort in Pennsylvania’s Pocono mountains which featured a resident singing-acting-dancing troupe and weekend revues starring emerging talents like Danny Kaye, Imogene Coca, and Carol Channing. His work from this period consisted mainly of burlesque-like blackout sketches on the one hand and dramatic works with strong social content, like Death of a Loyalist or Strange Fruit, (set to Abel Meeropol’s song about a lynching) on the other. But he was beginning to gain an audience: some of his dances were performed under the auspices of the Theatre Arts Committee at New York’s 92nd Street YMHA and others as part of The Straw Hat Revue, which Tamiment producer Max Liebman opened on Broadway in 1939.
Robbins spent three summers at Tamiment and taking on one-shot roles in ballet performances at Jones Beach, the New York World’s Fair, and elsewhere; he found work during the regular theater season in the Broadway choruses of Great Lady (1938), Stars in Your Eyes (1939), and Keep Off the Grass (1940) — the last-named choreographed by George Balanchine. In the summer of 1940 he was accepted into the recently-formed Ballet Theatre, where he soon advanced from the corps de ballet to solo roles which showed off the taut fluidity with which he compensated for his lack of heroic classical technique: the Young Man in Agnes De Mille’s Three Virgins and a Devil, an apple-munching Hermes in Helen of Troy, and — the role which made him famous — the tragic puppet in Petroushka.
He had been burning to choreograph a ballet himself for the company, preferably one with an American theme, to American music; but all his ideas were too grandiose for the perennially strapped company to consider. Encouraged to “think small” he came up with the idea for a ballet about three sailors on shore leave in New York City. To write the score he sought out the services of a young unknown composer named Leonard Bernstein, and Ballet Theatre’s Oliver Smith agreed to design the scenery. On April 18, 1944, Fancy Free premiered at the Metropolitan Opera House to a raucous two dozen curtain calls; and in December of that year On the Town, a musical comedy based on the ballet, with music by Bernstein, dances by Robbins, sets by Smith (who also produced), and book and lyrics by a pair of Bernstein’s cabaret buddies named Betty Comden and Adolph Green, had a fairy-tale opening on Broadway. From that moment until his death more than fifty years later Robbins’s primacy on Broadway and in ballet was assured; but he did more than reach the top in his two spheres of influence. He changed each of his worlds from the inside out.
On Broadway he quickly established himself as the choreographer of the moment at a time when musical comedies were evolving out of the stylish but contentless song-and-dance anthologies that had showcased the talents of the Gershwins and Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hart. Robbins shows — and as he began to direct as well as create ideas and dances for them, they truly were Robbins shows — had, or aimed to have, a story, characters, a point.
So the Roaring Twenties musical, Billion Dollar Baby (1946 — with book and lyrics by Comden and Green and music by Morton Gould), revolved around a gold-digging bathing beauty who serially married for money; 1947’s High Button Shoes (his first collaboration with composer Jule Styne) was a nostalgic romp set in New Jersey in 1913 and featuring a Keystone Kops ballet. And 1948’s Look, Ma, I’m Dancin’ (which he co-directed with George Abbot, and for which he received the credit “conceived by Jerome Robbins”) was the autobiographical backstage story of a super-ambitious dancer-choreographer’s collision with the brewery heiress backing his ballet company; his changed character is mirrored in the two ballets he creates — the first a brash, over-complicated expression of youthful hubris, the second altogether subtler, more thoughtful and human.
Look, Ma was succeeded by one of Robbins’s rare flops, a show called That’s the Ticket (1948), which Robbins directed but did not choreograph. An overly whimsical mishmash, it closed in Philadelphia after ten days. But at this point Robbins made a life altering career-change.
At Ballet Theater he had followed Fancy Free with a series of dances that integrated the classic vocabulary with modern subject matter: among them the be-bop ballet Interplay (1945) and Facsimile (1946), an angst-ridden exploration of a love triangle with a new score by Bernstein. But in 1949 he left Ballet Theater to join George Balanchine’s new-born New York City Ballet, where he was almost immediately named Associate Artistic Director. He danced numerous quasi-dramatic roles for Balanchine — including Prodigal Son, Tyl Eulenspiegel and as a principal opposite the glamorous Tanaquil Le Clercq in Bourrée Fantasque — before retiring from performance in the mid 1950’s; but it was as a choreographer that he made his mark. Ballets like The Guests (1949, score by Marc Blitzstein), Age of Anxiety (1950, to Bernstein), and the terrifying fable The Cage (1951, to Stravinsky), showcased his flair for drama, his all-American sass and energy, and his affinity for modern music. And his association with Balanchine gave him a security and sense of kinship that nourished his genius.
Robbins continued to work on Broadway, as the choreographer of two Irving Berlin shows, Miss Liberty (1949) and Call Me Madam (1950), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I (1951), and Two’s Company (1952), a revue starring Bette Davis. But in 1953 he stunned the theatrical community, if not the world at large, by appearing before the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he admitted to membership in the Communist Party during the 1930’s and named eight individuals who he said had also been members.
His testimony was denounced by many (including some of his family) for whom McCarthyism was only steps from Nazism, but Robbins refused to justify or explain himself beyond his public statement that he had “made a great mistake… in entering the Communist Party.” His decision haunted him, however, and ultimately he placed it at the center of an autobiographical drama, The Poppa Piece, which he experimented with in workshops during the early 1990’s.
Ironically, his career seemed to take on added luster in this troubled time. He staged the all-American Ford 50th Anniversary Show (1953) for television with Ethel Merman and Mary Martin; co-directed The Pajama Game (1954) on Broadway; conceived, directed, and choreographed Peter Pan (1954) starring Mary Martin; directed Aaron Copland’s opera The Tender Land (1954); directed and co-choreographed Bells Are Ringing (1956) starring Judy Holliday; and choreographed the film version of The King and I (1956). Meanwhile at New York City Ballet he created two masterpieces, the lyrical Afternoon of a Faun (1953) and the hilarious send-up, The Concert (1956), among other works.
In 1957 he teamed up once again with Leonard Bernstein on a musical he had been discussing with him and playwright Arthur Laurents for some years: West Side Story, a retelling of Romeo and Juliet set against a background of gang warfare in New York’s Puerto Rican ghetto. Directed by Robbins, with his electrifying street-smart choreography integrated into the action, West Side Story was arguably the first “concept musical”; it broke the mold of the Broadway show and also established Robbins’s reputation as a perfectionistic, difficult taskmaster — a reputation that was one factor in his dismissal as director of the 1961 film version. He won an Academy Award for his direction nonetheless — sharing the Oscar with co-director Robert Wise — as well as one for choreography.
After West Side Story Robbins left New York City Ballet for a time and formed his own company, Ballets: USA, to appear at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. For it he made the explosive New York Export: Opus Jazz (1958), a ballet without music called Moves (1959), and other works; the company toured extensively in Europe but — despite enthusiastic notices and even an appearance at the Kennedy White House — it failed to find an ongoing audience in the United States and was disbanded in 1961. In the meantime Robbins had also directed the ultimate backstage musical, Gypsy (1959) with Ethel Merman, and now he began to branch out into non-musical theater. In 1962 he directed the American premiere of Arthur Kopit’s mordant mother-son comedy, Oh, Dad, Poor Dad, Mama’s Hung You In the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad and in 1963 a production of Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children starring Anne Bancroft.
Two Broadway hits followed — both shows he had originally agreed to direct, then withdrew from, and finally returned to when each seemed in danger of shipwreck during out-of-town tryouts. But although reviews for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962) didn’t mention his name, and although for Funny Girl (1964) he was listed only as “production supervisor,” he reshaped both those musicals radically. He got full credit and then some, however, for Fiddler on the Roof (1964), the musical setting of Sholem Aleichem stories which he choreographed and directed, bringing to life as an organic musical whole the lost world of the Russian shtetl.
He accomplished a similar feat with his mammoth staging of Stravinsky’s Les Noces (1965) for American Ballet Theatre, but then retreated from the pressures of huge collaborative productions. Broadway was moving in the direction of rock spectacles like Hair and Jesus Christ, Superstar, and Robbins didn’t want to move with it. With the help of a 1966 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, he established the American Theatre Lab to explore experimental music-theater techniques, from dance to Noh drama, with a small handpicked company in a workshop setting for a period of two years.
Seemingly re-charged from this work, he re-emerged at City Ballet with Dances at a Gathering (1969), a poignant and playful celebration of youth and love which was widely hailed as a masterpiece. There followed a fertile creative period in which Robbins made such vastly different works as the moonlit, expressive In the Night (1970), The Goldberg Variations (1971), which explored Bach’s thematic geometry, and Watermill (1972), a Noh-like meditation on the passage of a man’s life. In addition he collaborated with Balanchine, with whom he now shared the title of Ballet Master, on dances for Firebird (1970) and Pulcinella (1972) — a demonstration of the collegiality and mutual respect that had always marked their relationship. As Balanchine once said to him, speaking of the legendary Russian ballet master Marius Petipa: “Very few people can do. Petipa, you, me — we can do.”
Robbins never really left City Ballet again, except for a leave of absence in 1989 and forays into the theater for workshops of an adaptation of Brecht’s The Exception and the Rule (1987) and of The Poppa Piece (1991), and the triumphant staging of his anthology show, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway (1989), for which he won his fifth Tony Award. Increasingly his work seemed to move in a more and more abstract direction, away from the character-driven dances of his youth — a process reflected in the changes he made in his last collaboration with Bernstein. Premiered as Dybbuk (1974) and based on the S. Anski play, it was first revised as The Dybbuk Variations (1974) and then as A Suite of Dances (1980), a ballet-in-progress which Robbins kept trying to reduce to its essence.
Essence did not mean homogeneity, however: Robbins’s work was still as protean as ever, from the sensuous and jazzy lyricism of In G Major (1975) and the opera-house pyrotechnics of Four Seasons (1979) to the spiky Opus 19: The Dreamer (1979) and the elegiac In Memory of… (1985). He was still experimenting with contemporary music, with ballets to Philip Glass (Glass Pieces, 1983) and Steve Reich (Octet, 1985), but it was Bach who spoke most clearly to him in his last decade, when he made the spare, poetic A Suite of Dances (1994) for Mikhail Baryshnikov to Bach’s suites for unaccompanied cello; the deceptively simple Two- and Three-Part Inventions (1994) for the students of the School of American Ballet, and the exuberant Brandenburg (1997) for City Ballet.
By then he was in fragile health, following a bicycle accident in 1990 and heart-valve surgery in 1994; in 1996 he began showing signs of a form of Parkinson’s disease and his hearing was poor; yet he insisted on staging Les Noces for City Ballet (1998). It was the last thing he did; two months later he suffered a massive stroke, and he died at his home in New York on July 29, 1998.
Robbins had already been made Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, and had won 5 Donaldson Awards, 5 Tony Awards, 2 Academy Awards, 1 Emmy Award, the Kennedy Center Honors, and numerous other prizes; on the evening of his death, the lights of Broadway were dimmed for a moment in tribute. In the more than sixty years in which he had been active in the theater, he had transformed it because he never stopped asking questions. “Why can’t we do ballets about our own subjects, meaning our life here in America?” he asked before making Fancy Free. And, speaking of the collaboration that made West Side Story, “Why couldn’t we, in aspiration, try to bring our deepest talents together to the commercial theater?” His own work answered both questions in the affirmative.
Born in Stratford, East London on 23 March 1944, he was educated at the Sir George Monoux Grammar School, Walthamstow and studied at the Royal Academy of Music from 1961-64 with Dr Peter Fletcher, Alan Bush and Geraint Jones. Between 1964-67 Nyman was a Ph.D student at King’s College, London under Thurston Dart, studying English baroque music and the principles of scholarly editing, producing the ﬁrst modern edition of Purcell’s Catches (Stainer and Bell, 1967) and a new edition of Handel’s Concerti Grossi, Op.6 (Eulenberg, 1973). He spent the academic year 1965/6 as a British Council exchange student collecting folk music in Romania.
In 1968, whilst working as music critic for The Spectator he coined the term ‘minimal music’ and in the following decade he both reﬂected and inﬂuenced a certain school of thought in contemporary music. Most of his important reviews, articles and interviews from The Spectator, New Statesman, The Listener and Studio International have since been published in Michael Nyman: Collected Writings, (Ashgate, 2013). In 1974, as a development of his journalistic work, Nyman published the still-classic book on new music, Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond (Studio Vista, London).
In 1969 Nyman was commissioned to write the libretto for Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s opera Down By The Greenwood Side. A subsequent commission from Birtwistle in 1976 to write music for Carlo Goldoni’s Il Campiello, the opening production at the National Theatre, led to the formation of the Campiello Band, (subsequently renamed the Michael Nyman Band) which for over four decades has been the laboratory for much of his inventive and experimental compositional work.
Nyman has also enjoyed a highly successful career as a ﬁlm composer, a role in which, somewhat to his regret, he is best known to the general public. His reputation was established through a series of highly successful scores for ﬁlms directed by Peter Greenaway, including The Draughtsman’s Contract, Prospero’s Books, A Zed and Two Naughts and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. Other scores include Neil Jordan’s The End Of The Affair; Michael Winterbottom’s Wonderland, A Cock And Bull Story, and The Trip; Andrew Niccol’s Hollywood sci-ﬁ blockbuster Gattaca (1997), and his enchanting music for Jane Campion’s 1993 ﬁlm, The Piano, the soundtrack album of which has sold more than three million copies. His music was used in the BAFTA award winning and Oscar nominated ﬁlm, Man on Wire whilst his score for Erasing David (2009) was awarded Best Original Soundtrack at The London East End Film Festival.
More recently Michael has focused on composing soundtracks for silent ﬁlms from the late 1920’s: Jean Vigo’s A Propos de Nice, Sergi Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin and new soundtracks for three Dziga Vertov ﬁlms- Man with a Movie Camera, The Eleventh Year and A Sixth Part of the World.
Over the past few years Nyman has produced and exhibited a series of multi-screen moving image installations, enhancing his international reputation as a composer with his work as a ﬁlm-maker. Working in collaboration with ﬁlm editor Max Pugh, Nyman has developed an impressive body of ﬁlmic works, drawing on his extensive collection of moving images and stills made over many years. These beautiful and striking ﬁlms, recorded during Michael’s travels in many countries and locations are blended with his musical compositions to create unique and extraordinarily evocative works. Nyman’s innate eye for detail, timing, colour, form, pattern and movement, are combined with his sense of humor and acute understanding and appreciation of visual and conceptual art.
His multi-screen installation NYman with a Movie Camera combines and intercuts extracts and fragments from many of Nyman’s extraordinary short ﬁlms with his soundtrack for Dziga Vertov’s 1929 masterpiece. The resulting twelve-screen installation is both a tribute to the original ground-breaking ﬁlm and a showcase for Nyman’s love of cinema, his ﬁlmic eye and his sense of pace and rhythm.
Nyman’s subsequent large-scale ﬁlm project War Work: 8 Songs with Film, commissioned by the War on Screen International Film Festival to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War, is a powerful and moving evocation of the horrors of war. The ﬁlm draws together rare archive ﬁlm material of the devastating trauma and destructive power of war on those who bore the impact of conﬂict and battle, with imagery by painters and artists who were both witness and victim.
Although the range and scope of his musical output is a clear demonstration of his versatility, Nyman’s preferred musical form is opera, for which he has composed a number of inﬂuential works including The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat (1986), Facing Goya (2000), and the critically acclaimed Man and Boy: Dada (2003).
His ten song cycles set texts from diverse writers including Shakespeare, Neruda, Octavio Paz, Paul Celan, Milton, and Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz as well as Mexican ‘folk’ poets, amongst others. Additionally, Michael has composed music for a number of the world’s most distinguished choreographers including Siobhan Davies, Ashley Page, Lucinda Childs, Stephen Petronio, Karine Saporta and Shobana Jeyasingh.
In addition to his composing and ﬁlm-making activities, Nyman has a full international touring schedule with the Michael Nyman Band as well as a series of unique one-off performances with a variety of collaborators, including musicians from outside the western/classical/experimental traditions such as the Orqestra Andalusi de Tetouan, Rajan and Sajan Misra, U. Shrinivas, Estrella Morente, Seijin Noborakawa, Ute Lemper, Evan Parker, Peter Brotzmann, Paolo Fresu, Mike Giles, the Flying Lizards, Dagmar Krause, Sting, Damon Albarn, David McAlmont and Alva Noto.
Michael was awarded the CBE for services to British music in 2008. His music has been released by Virgin, EMI, Decca, Warner Classics and Sony and is now represented exclusively by his own record label, MN Records and published by Chester Music Limited.
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Philip Glass was born in 1937 and grew up in Baltimore. He studied at the University of Chicago, the Juilliard School and in Aspen with Darius Milhaud. Finding himself dissatisfied with much of what then passed for modern music, he moved to Europe, where he studied with the legendary pedagogue Nadia Boulanger (who also taught Aaron Copland , Virgil Thomson and Quincy Jones) and worked closely with the sitar virtuoso and composer Ravi Shankar. He returned to New York in 1967 and formed the Philip Glass Ensemble – seven musicians playing keyboards and a variety of woodwinds, amplified and fed through a mixer.
The new musical style that Glass was evolving was eventually dubbed “minimalism.” Glass himself never liked the term and preferred to speak of himself as a composer of “music with repetitive structures.” Much of his early work was based on the extended reiteration of brief, elegant melodic fragments that wove in and out of an aural tapestry. Or, to put it another way, it immersed a listener in a sort of sonic weather that twists, turns, surrounds, develops.
There has been nothing “minimalist” about his output. In the past 25 years, Glass has composed more than twenty operas, large and small; ten symphonies (with others already on the way); two piano concertos and concertos for violin, piano, timpani, and saxophone quartet and orchestra; soundtracks to films ranging from new scores for the stylized classics of Jean Cocteau to Errol Morris’s documentary about former defense secretary Robert McNamara; string quartets; a growing body of work for solo piano and organ. He has collaborated with Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Yo-Yo Ma, and Doris Lessing, among many others. He presents lectures, workshops, and solo keyboard performances around the world, and continues to appear regularly with the Philip Glass Ensemble.
After graduating from Cornell University, Jennifer Tipton’s first lighting design for Broadway was in 1969 for Our Town, and her most recent, in 2013, for The Testament of Mary. Among her many awards and nominations, she won the 1977 Tony Award for Best Lighting Design for lighting Andrei Serban’s production of The Cherry Orchard and the 1989 Tony Award for lighting Jerome Robbins’ Broadway. In addition, she had won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lighting Design, twice. She is known for her designs for dance and is the principal lighting designer for the Paul Taylor Dance Company. She has also worked with such choreographers as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Jiri Kylian, Dana Reitz, Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp, Dan Wagoner, and Shen Wei.
Tipton was awarded The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize in 2001, and The Jerome Robbins Prize in 2003. In 2008, Tipton became a United States Artist “Gracie” Fellow and a MacArthur Fellow.
She has served as a Professor in the Practice of Design and Lighting Design Advisor at the Yale School of Drama since 1981.
Tipton has trained such lighting designers as Donald Holder, Christopher Akerlind, Michael Chybowski, M.L. Geiger, Robert Wierzel, and 2006 Tony award winner, Howell Blinkley, who assisted her for many years.
Jean-Marc Puissant is an award-winning set and costume designer who works internationally for theater, musical, opera, ballet, and contemporary dance productions.
Jean-Marc studied at The School of Paris Opera Ballet and the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris. He went on to dance professionally with both The Birmingham Royal Ballet and The Stuttgart Ballet.
Jean-Marc trained at the Motley Theatre Design Course in London (with the kind support of the Dancers’ Career Development) and studied Art History at La Sorbonne, Paris. He is now a guest tutor for theatre design at Central School of Speech and Drama, London.
Jean-Marc has received the Laurence Olivier Award, the South Bank Show Award, the National Dance Critic’s Award, and a TMA Award. In 2013, he was a finalist of World Stage Design. In 2016, he was nominated as the Best Scenographer at the Benois de la Danse in Moscow. He has been invited to give talks at London’s V&A and New York’s Guggenheim museums. He serves on the Board of Directors of Dance Umbrella, London’s international contemporary dance festival. Jean-Marc is a 2018 Resident Fellow at New York University’s Center for Ballet and the Arts.
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Born in Asahikawa, Japan to parents who owned a small Kimono business, Yumiko Takeshima began dancing at the age of four in Sapporo, Japan. At the age of 14 she left home to study with the San Francisco Ballet School. She received her first professional dance contract soon after.
Yumiko was a Principal dancer with Universal Ballet (Seoul), Alberta Ballet (Calgary) and Feld Ballet (New York). In 1993, she moved from New York City to join the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam as a principal. In early 2002, she launched YUMIKO dancewear and the YumiGirl Network.
Since 2002, Yumiko has continued to develop her made-to-order line, as well as a ready-to-wear line, of high quality, great fitting, and beautifully designed dance and active wear for women and men. Since moving to Amsterdam, Netherlands, Yumiko has designed costumes for numerous choreographers, most notably David Dawson and William Forsythe. She has been praised in the press not only as a dancer, but also as a designer for creating some of the most elegant, simple, and esthetically beautiful dance costumes in the world.
Yumiko was a principal dancer with the Semperoper Ballett in Germany and Guest Principal Artist with the Dutch National Ballet in Holland, when she retired from the stage in April 2014. Since retiring as a dancer, Yumiko has focused more heavily on her career as a designer.
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Born in Greensboro, North Carolina, Brad Fields has traveled extensively throughout the world over the past 20 years as the lighting designer for ballet and modern dance companies. Since joining American Ballet Theatre in 1995, he has designed the lighting for numerous ballets including Coppélia, La Fille mal gardée, workwithinwork and Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison.
Fields frequently works in Spain for Compañía Nacional de Danza where he has designed the lighting for Nacho Duato’s Arcangelo, Bach: Multiplicity, Castrati, Diecisite, Dreams of Ether, Herrumbre, Ofrenda de Sombras, Remanso and Without Words. Other credits include George Balanchine’s Don Quixote, Nicolo Fonte’s RE: Tchaikovsky and Follia for Göteborg Opera Ballet, Robert Hill’s Danzon for Ballet de Monterrey, Natalia Makarova’s La Bayadère for The Australian Ballet and Bella Lewitzky’s Meta 4 for the Lewitzky Dance Company.
He has also designed for such companies as Ballet Argentina, Ballet Basel, Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, The Royal Ballet, Lyon Opera Ballet, Houston Ballet, Netherlands Dance Theatre, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Los Angeles Chamber Ballet, North Carolina Black Repertory Company and North Carolina Dance Theater.
Fields is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts.
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Ben Benson is remembered for his large body of ballet and theatre designs. He designed for George Balanchine (Who Cares? and Ballo della Regina and Kammermusik #2), Jerome Robbins (Glass Pieces, Piano Pieces, Opus 19), Peter Martins (Magic Flute), d’Amboise (Celebration), Helgi Tómasson (Ballet d’Isoline) and Christensen (Norwegian Woods). Benson designed a full-length Cinderella starring Suzanne Farrell for Paul Mejia’s company in Chicago. His designs for Peter Martin’s Tango were filmed for PBS “Dance in America.”
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