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BalletCollective to Collaborate on Two New Works in 2016 Season

by Helene Davis
October 7, 2016
Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at NYU
566 LaGuardia Place (at Washington Sq South)
New York, NY 10012
BalletCollective’s 2016 Season, entitled What Comes Next, will further explore the company’s unique collaborative process with world premiere works featuring two collaborations pairing architects Carlos Arnaiz and James Ramsey with composers Judd Greenstein and Ellis Ludwig-Leone respectively. Both works will be choreographed by BalletCollective director Troy Schumacher and will be premiered at NYU Skirball Center on October 27 and 28. The season will also feature "Invisible Divide" (2015) and will feature live music by Hotel Elephant with an ensemble of seven dancers, including New York City Ballet’s Harrison Coll, Rachel Hutsell Anthony Huxley, Lauren King, Isabella LaFreniere, Ashley Laracey and Lauren Lovette.

“Each year we start planning new works by surveying our existing repertory and asking ourselves the question: “Where would we like to go?” We started thinking about the similarities between dance, music, and architecture, and how the concept of underlying structure and space is fundamental to our work,” said Schumacher. “I’ve noticed that it’s almost impossible to speak of dance and music without using architectural terms, which presented me with the exciting prospect of further examining BalletCollective’s unique process. He continued, “This year we are looking forward to exploring new ways of constructing dance and music, taking inspiration from two forward thinking architects: Carlos Arnaiz and James Ramsey.”


The sixth ballet created in close collaboration between Troy Schumacher and Ellis Ludwig-Leone, with lighting design by Roderick Murray, is inspired by a series of sketches and renderings by architect James Ramsey, the creator of the Lowline, a new underground park and cultural center to be built underneath the Lower East Side of Manhattan, scheduled to open in 2020.

The Lowline will be realized in the former Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal, encompassing one acre just below Delancey Street. Ramsey’s design is built on innovative solar technology that will illuminate the historic trolley terminal by use of a “remote skylight” which delivers sunlight below ground using a system of optics.

For the new work’s source art, Schumacher and Ludwig-Leone will interpret a series of sketches and renderings of spaces by Ramsey, including the Lowline in different levels of conceptual development, providing inspiration and context for the basis of the work.

“When Troy and Ellis first presented this concept, I wasn't quite sure what to expect, said James Ramsey. “We went through a series of design drawings I was working on to extrapolate from. Seeing the very first rehearsal of the work completely blew me away. Watching a design concept expressed as a physical performance so effectively was something I really hadn't thought possible.”

The new piece will be the sixth work Schumacher and Ludwig-Leone have created and developed together. Their collaboration includes The Impulse Wants Company in 2013; All That We See and Dear and Blackbirds in 2014; and Common Ground and Invisible Divide in 2015. Common Ground, their first work for New York City Ballet, premiered in 2015.


The first collaboration between composer Greenstein and Schumacher following Clearing Dawn, their 2014 hit at New York City Ballet, will be with Carlos Arnaiz, the architect founder of CAZA. For this collaboration, Schumacher and Greenstein with work with Arnaiz to explore a recognizable moment in time — a signature play by basketball legend Allen Iverson — as viewed through an architect’s eyes. The piece has lighting design by Brandon Stirling Baker.
“The history of drawing in architecture has been about the representation of static forms. In an era beset by flux and ephemera, I am fascinated by the possibility that architecture drawing might be an active agent in the formation of something as fluid and personal as music and dance.” said Carlos Aznaiz.


"Invisible Divide," (2015) choreographed by Troy Schumacher, is a full company ballet with music by Ellis Ludwig-Leone and lighting design by Brandon Stirling Baker, performed by Indie vocalist Vanessa Upson (Violetness), with source art by photographer Paul Maffi.

BalletCollective, founded by Troy Schumacher in 2010, brings together artists, writers, composers, choreographers, and designers to collaborate as equals through the creation of distinctive works of art. BalletCollective’s works are intimate and reflective yet accessible, featuring a highly accomplished group of dancers in works that are made for them. At the heart of BalletCollective lies process. Artists from different genres come together and express ideas that are important to them individually; but as a group – a collective – they’re encouraged to think outside of what it is they usually do. A composer considers visual art, a choreographer the structure of a poem, a photographer is inspired by the rhythm of a piece of music. This collective effort is combined and refined, and ultimately presented to audiences. Each work’s creative life does not end at performance, but continues to be re-conceived as long as the work continues to be performed. BalletCollective has had previous seasons at the Joyce Theater, Baryshnikov Arts Center, the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay, NYU Skirball Center and has an annual week-long residency at the Palm Theater in Telluride, Colorado. The Company has performed at the Fire Island Dance Festival, and made its Vail International Dance Festival debut in 2015. www.BalletCollective.com


Carlos Arnaiz (contributing artist) is an architect, educator, writer and urban design consultant. He is the founder and principal of CAZA, the co-founder of SURBA and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design at Pratt Institute where he teaches a class on the history of ideas about the city and a studio on multi-family housing. His professional experience ranges from the design and construction of large-scale mixed-used complexes to the development of strategic sustainability plans for new cities around the world. Carlos holds a Master’s Degree, with Honors, from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and a Bachelor’s Degree, Magna Cum Laude, from Williams College. Carlos’ work has been recognized with prestigious awards such as two consecutive Progressive Architecture awards in 2008 and 2009 and the AIANY building merit award in 2008. His work and writings have been published in ARCHITECT Magazine, Metropolis, Kerb, Dialogue, and 50UNDER50. His work has also been selected as Finalist for ArchDaily’s Best Buildings of the Year, as well as Finalist for Architizer A+ Awards. He has participated in numerous international design competitions including the winning entry for the High Line competition in New York. Prior to founding CAZA, Carlos was associate partner at SAA in charge of over 20 global projects. Carlos started his career working as a design associate at a number of world-renown architecture firms such as Office dA and Field Operations.

Brandon Stirling Baker (lighting design, Carlos Arnaiz collaboration, Invisible Divide) Brandon Stirling Baker’s lighting can be seen in the repertories of New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Houston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance, BalletCollective and the LA Dance Project. His work has been presented by major theatre's internationally including Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Theatre du Chatelet, Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Maison de la Danse Lyon, Le Silo Marseille, Havana Ballet Cuba, Guggenheim Bibao Spain, Teatro Carlo Genoa, Oldenburg Staatstheatre in Germany and the Teatro Municpal Colombia in South America. Mr. Baker is a graduate of the California Institute of the Arts and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music &
Drama in Glasgow, Scotland. In 2016 Baker received the Lotos Foundation Prize for emerging artists in New York.

Judd Greenstein (composer) Judd Greenstein is a composer of structurally complex, viscerally engaging works for varied instrumentation. A passionate advocate for the independent new music community across the United States, Judd’s philosophy as both a composer and a curator involves the creation and promotion of music that is an organic blend of multiple styles, sounds, and instruments, open to all influences. Standout groups that reflect this “post-genre” sensibility, including yMusic and Roomful of Teeth, counted Judd among their earliest commissions and continue to perform his work to this day. As a national and international audience has taken notice of these and other like-minded artists, Judd has been increasingly in demand as a composer from major institutions such as the Minnesota Orchestra, the North Carolina Symphony, and the Lucerne Festival, among many others. Judd is a founding member of NOW Ensemble, the composer/performer collective, and is the co-director of New Amsterdam Records/New Amsterdam Presents, an artists' service organization that supports post-genre musicians through the development of performances and new recordings. He is the curator of New York’s Ecstatic Music Festival, an annual showcase of new collaborative concerts between artists from different musical worlds, and co-curates the Apples & Olives festival in Zurich, Switzerland.

Ellis Ludwig-Leone (composer and music director) is the bandleader and songwriter for Brooklyn-based band San Fermin. Their second album, Jackrabbit, was released worldwide in April of 2015 via Downtown Records. Ellis has written for a wide variety of ensembles, including ACME, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, Decoda, Fifth House Ensemble, Hotel Elefant, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, JACK Quartet, Metropolis Ensemble, and wild UP. He was the 2015 Composer-In-Residence for the Alabama Symphony, and has been a recipient of residencies from The MacDowell Colony, Banff Centre for the Arts, and the Við Djúpið festival in Iceland. He has worked closely with choreographer Troy Schumacher, most recently on Invisible Divide, a night of three ballets in collaboration with artist David Salle, photographer Paul Maffi, and poet Cynthia Zarin. He is the music director and resident composer for Schumacher’s BalletCollective, having written four ballets for the group. In September 2015, the New York City Ballet premiered Common Ground, Ellis’ first commission from the company. Other recent collaborations include a song cycle with playwright Max Posner and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, to be premiered in the fall of 2016. Upon graduating from Yale University in 2011, Ellis worked as a musical assistant to the composer Nico Muhly. Born in Rhode Island and raised in rural Massachusetts, Ellis currently lives in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

Roderick Murray (lighting design, Ramsey collaboration) has had a varied career the performing arts. His longest running collaborative relationship is with Yanira Castro, for whom he has designed and helped shape the environments, the lighting, and the audience seating for many of her installation-based works. Murray has also created the lighting and environments in many of Kimberly Bartosik’s choreographic work. His collaborations with Wally Cardona include Trance Territory (Bessie Award), Everywhere and Really Real. Murray created the lighting design for Ralph Lemon’s Come Home Charley Patton and Rescuing the Princess for the Lyon Opera Ballet. He has designed three world premieres for Luca Veggetti, including both the set and lights for the U.S. premiere of Oresteia at the Miller Theater. He has designed for Benjamin Millepied on ABT, Ballet de Grand Theatre de Geneve, and for the Lyon Festival de la Danse. He has also designed the lighting for Sekou Sundiata, Paul Simon, Ballett Dortmund, ABTII, Donna Uchizono, Paradigm, Scotty Heron, Pepatian, Hot Mouth, Risa Jaroslow, Bill Young and many others.

James Ramsey (contributing artist) is the co-founder and creator of The Lowline, and principal of RAAD, an award-winning design and architecture firm based in New York. Ramsey founded RAAD in 2004, and has more than 100 built projects ranging from residential design to retail to urban design and community-driven green spaces. Ramsey’s studied architecture at Yale University where he won a Bates Fellowship to study cathedral design in Europe. He then went to work as a satellite engineer for NASA, an integral part of the team that created the Pluto Fast Flyby and the Cassini satellites. After his time at NASA, Ramsey gained large firm experience at DMSAS in Washington, DC before transferring to the boutique outfit in New York, Penny Yates Architects. RAAD now consists of three divisions—products, architecture and urban design. James closely oversees each of these aspects and personally holds several patents for inventions, including the Remote Skylight technology that powers the Lowline. Ramsey has spoken at conferences around the world regarding his work, and has been featured in hundreds of publications from The Wall Street Journal, to The New York Times and Vice.

Troy Schumacher (director and choreographer) formed BalletCollective as a twenty-first century model inspired by historic ballet, music and visual art collaborative efforts. Its mission is to present ballet-based work in an intimate setting with live music that represents contributions from the choreographer, dancers, musicians and artists who engage in an ongoing give and take process. Schumacher has received choreographic commissions from New York City Ballet, 92nd Street Y, Danspace Project, Performa, School of American Ballet, New York Choreographic Institute, and Atlanta Ballet. Schumacher is active in other cultural media and has participated in a number of collaborations including work for Google in collaboration with Jeff Koons, Sony PlayStation, Capezio featuring Maddie Ziegler, HP, Aritzia, CR Fashion Book, Tom Ford, and The New York Times Men’s Style Section. As a dancer with New York City Ballet, Schumacher has performed principal roles in a number of ballets, including George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Mozartiana, Peter Martins’ Swan Lake, and Jerome Robbins’ Four Seasons and Interplay. Schumacher has choreographed and premiered two commissioned ballets for the New York City Ballet: Clearing Dawn in 2014, featuring music by Judd Greenstein and costumes by Thom Browne, and Common Ground 2015, featuring a new score by Ellis Ludwig-Leone and costumes by Marques’ Almeida.

NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts is the premier venue for the presentation of cultural and performing arts events for New York University and lower Manhattan. NYU Skirball’s mission is to showcase and support diverse and eclectic talent from around the world, while cultivating audiences for live performance through deeper engagement opportunities.

BalletCollective will perform on Thursday, October 27 and Friday, October 28 at 7:30 pm at NYU Skirball Center. Tickets are $20 - $75; student tickets are available for $12 and may be purchased online at www.balletcollective.com/tickets at or in person at the NYU Skirball Center Box Office: Tuesday-Saturday, 12:00–6:00 P.M. NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts is located at 566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square, New York, New York 10012.

For season more information on BalletCollective, visit www.balletcollective.com
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