Artistic Director: Troy Schumacher
Love Me While I’m Here
Choreography by: Omar Román de Jesús
Music composed by: Robert Honstein
Lighting Design: Ben Rawson
Costumes by: Karen Young
Dancers: Davin Alberda, David Gabriel, Ruby Lister, Kennedy Targosz, Sebastián Villarini-Vélez
Music performed by Bergamot Quartet: Ledah Finck & Sarah Thomas, violins; Amy Tan, viola; Irène Han, cello
The World We Left Behind
Choreography by Troy Schumacher
Music composed and performed by: Phong Tran
Lighting by: Ben Rawson
Costumes styled by: Barbara Erin Delo and Troy Schumacher
Dancers: Dominika Afanasenkov, Devin Alberda, David Gabriel, Ruby Lister, Mary Thomas MacKinnon, Kennedy Targosz, Sebastián Villarini-Vélez
What inspires an artist to take a chance? “How often do we stop to acknowledge those chance moments that inspire, delay, disrupt, and create opportunity for us…?” questions Troy Schumacher, artistic director of BalletCollective. Taking risks, artistically and collaboratively, has always been crucial for Schumacher, who founded BalletCollective in 2010. The collective annually rotates a multitude of artists, ranging from writers and musicians to visual artists and composers. Each work performed by BalletCollective is not only collaborative, but also exclusively commissioned. “Not exactly knowing what’s to come has always thrilled me when being a part of new work,” says BalletCollective dancer Mary Thomas MacKinnon. “You have no idea what music you will be dancing to or what movement style, so there’s the element of surprise that is quite thrilling.” BalletCollective presents the 2023 fall season,“The Moment is Imminent” in the heart of Trinity Commons with evening-length works by Omar Román de Jesús and Troy Schumacher.
Taking risks artistically and collaboratively is crucial for Troy Schumacher, Artistic Director of BalletCollective. Each year, the company rotates a roster of writers, musicians, visual artists and composers who come together to collaborate on a previously commissioned piece. “Not exactly knowing what’s to come has always thrilled me when being a part of new work,” says BalletCollective dancer Mary Thomas MacKinnon. “You have no idea what music you will be dancing to or what movement style, so there’s the element of surprise that is quite thrilling.” This year, BalletCollective presents “The Moment is Imminent '' at Trinity Commons featuring evening length works by Omar Román de Jesús and Troy Schumacher.
There is no upstage or downstage in the performance space at St.Trinity Church; the audience surrounds the performers on two sides. Choreographer Omar Román de Jesús makes his BalletCollective debut in collaboration with composer Robert Honstein and Berlin-based visual artist Kathrin Linkersdorff with Love Me While I’m Here. Linkersdorff’s visual series Fairies is an accumulation of images of tulips in liquid solution, dripping in color and fluidity on canvas. Linkersdorff describes the images as a “haunting dance” which inspired Román de Jesús and Honstein, informing their artistic choices for the creative process. In perfect timing for fall, the dancers appear in earth toned unitards, graceful and mesmerizing like leaves cascading from a tree. Effortlessly intertwining, the dancers spiral as their wrists and hands rotate with detailed delicacy. Moments in Román de Jesús’s choreography play with counterbalance and breaks in momentum. Following a soaring leap, one dancer suddenly pauses, statuesque and still. A visceral heartbeat vibrates through the entirety of Román de Jesús’s work, with a steady pulse exuding from the dancers’ rhythmic choices. Love Me While I’m Here feels personal and intimate, leaving the audience wishing for a longer love story.
The World We Left Behind choreographed by Schumacher is an enticing ballet fueled by a tight knit collaboration between Schumacher and performing composer Phong Tran, heavily inspired by abstraction and game design. Schumacher and Tran share interest in game designer Samantha Leigh’s work, especially her tabletop role-playing games (TTRPG). A faded green box of light illuminates Tran as he begins to use his soundboard. Hot pink neon squares flash over the dancers, the light immediately reflecting off their intricate tiled gold costume pieces to create a holographic effect. The dancers’ energy reflects Tran’s score – their movements are eccentric and focused, with an underlying sense of urgency. Rippling formations whirl on and off the floor and the dancers dazzle with exquisitely intricate footwork. Even without having read the descriptive program, Schumacher’s movement speaks for itself, resembling video game simulation. The dancers walk past each other at sharp angles as if on a board game. A lingering sense of wonder is present among the hypnotic neon lights and mirroring effect in some of Schumacher’s choreography. Curiosity sparks: what do videogames and ballet have in common? The World We Left Behind is a visual experience tying modern technology and classical ballet together in a seamless yet thought provoking manner.
BalletCollective emphasizes an important aspect to programming: contrast. Román de Jesus and Schumacher’s work bring two opposing worlds into the church walls: a wistful love story and an electronic balletic videogame. Both worlds are equally enticing and immersive.