I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time in the studio lately, working with some of the most interesting and passionate folks in Tulsa — and a very special visitor, as well.
The visitor is Edwaard Liang, formerly a glorious dancer with New York City Ballet whom I loved to watch when I lived there, and currently an up-and-coming choreographer who has created dances for the likes of the Joffrey Ballet and San Francisco Ballet in the past few years. In 2010 he choreographed a clever, moving piece for Tulsa Ballet’s “Creations in Studio K” series called “Beautiful Child,” set to songs by Rufus Wainwright. TB artistic director Marcello Angelini thought enough of Liang’s work, both here and elsewhere, to invite him back for a very different project: a brand new evening-length “Romeo and Juliet.”
To say creating a new “R&J” is a tall order is to understate the matter. The greats of choreography have made their mark on the ballet over the decades, beginning with John Cranko in 1962 and continuing with Kenneth MacMillan, Rudolf Nureyev, and most recently Alexei Ratmansky, whose production last year at the National Ballet of Canada drew lavish praise.
Liang was hard at work when I visited the Tulsa Ballet studios. It is, as Angelini said, “crunch time,” with the premiere about a month away. I look forward to sharing more with you about his creative process and his approach to “Romeo” as we near opening night.
There’s a flurry of other original choreography going on at the same time in studios around Tulsa, as Portico Dans Theatre and TuMM and Living Water and Soluna and The Bell House continue fleshing out projects they’ll perform in the spring and summer. There are big evening-length works in process — Portico’s “BorN” and TuMM’s “Confessions,” for instance — as well as shorter pieces like a duet Rachel Bruce Johnson and I have been working on, tentatively titled “Fences.” Several local modern dance companies are also preparing to present pieces at Tulsa Ballet in early May, as openers for “Creations in Studio K.” (Contact the Tulsa Ballet box office for information on who’s performing when.)
And there’s a new festival emerging — it’s called eMerge, as a matter of fact. More on that in a bit.
It’s going to be a busy season, folks, with more original dance work being created and performed than ever before in this city. Spread the word.