Founded in 2012 by renowned choreographer and dancer Benjamin Millepied (former New York City Ballet Principal Dancer and Artistic Director of the Paris Opera Ballet), L.A. Dance Project has made an impact on the dance world with what the Los Angeles Times describes as “a defining artistic vision for our time” with its contemporary approach to art and movement.
Celebrity Series is pleased to offer an artist post-performance talk on Sunday, May 21, with L.A. Dance Project’s ballet master, Sébastien Marcovici. This 20-minute talk, moderated by Peter DiMuro of The Dance Complex, will be held in front of the stage immediately following the Sunday afternoon performance. In anticipation of the engagement, DiMuro shares his thoughts on the company and its Boston debut.
I know I am not writing about film in this space, but I can’t stop thinking about David Lynch and his movie Mulholland Drive. At some point, after my fourth or fifth viewing, Lynch’s version of Los Angeles had taken over for my brain’s View-Master worldview of the city. When once my visual equivalent for L.A. might have been scenes from Lucy and Ricky and the Mertz’s trip to Hollywood, it had now become Lynch’s dark world of dueling realities—one peopled by polished and endless bright adventures; the other, the gritty lives of imperfection, unraveling in front of us.
What does this all have to do with dance and L.A. Dance Project?
In preparation for the company’s performances here with Celebrity Series, I ventured into video-land and to the company’s website to refresh my memory. It wasn’t so long ago that Benjamin Millepied and colleagues founded the company in 2012. As Artistic Director, Millepied leads the company artistically, but it is suggested that, as a collective, there is a reimagining of company culture: how decisions get made, how things are run, but also this is likely not a dance business as usual.
It’s not I Love Lucy’s Hollywood. It’s not NYCB, or even Mark Morris, when it comes to L.A. Dance Project.
It will be interesting how much we, as an audience, will taste the flavors I feel come across through videos of the company’s repertory. We’ll know it’s not strictly ballet, or even contemporary ballet, for the variance in repertory choices alone—from Justin Peck’s Murder Ballades (pictured at top) to Harbor Me, with choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui—will scream multiple realities. From Peck’s more classical legs and free upper bodies to Harbor Me’s grounded, rolling, and writhing along a narrow path of light, Millepied is giving us a workout switching worlds. There will be at least one other work on the program, On the Other Side, choreographed by Millepied himself, which seems to be a reworking or an accumulation of previous works.
For us as an audience witnessing L. A. Dance Project, there will likely be a sense of appreciation for the fine company members’ technical abilities. What we may not readily appreciate is the skill to shift gears as performers so adeptly from piece to piece—how their sense of weight, their focus, and their musculature have to live differently in their skin to accomplish the work of translating each choreographer’s ideas. With multiple choreographic voices involved, you sense that these dancers need a special drive, a special engagement with the work to bring it a company cohesion.
In Lynch’s movie, the main character devolves and spirals out of control not able to deal with the grittier reality she was avoiding. I don’t think we will become that damsel in distress. But, I think we will be surprised by some interesting repertory choices, some shape-shifting on the part of the dancers—and we will question the Los Angeles that has potentially inspired this Project altogether.
Looking forward to seeing you in the theatre.
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