Jessica Lang, who choreographs to onstage visual projections, will showcase i.n.k. at the Ballet v6.0 festival.
Rooted in rigorous technique little changed from the time Edgar Degas depicted the graceful stances of Parisian dancers, classical ballet still defines the repertoires of many major companies. George Balanchine, among the first to incorporate elements of modern dance in his work at New York’s American Ballet Theater, evolved the form. But for spiritual descendants of Balanchine’s neo-classicism, the chance to experiment in mainstream productions, unlike in modern dance, are few. Hence, the Joyce Ballet created a festival for dancers and choreographers wanting to push ballet’s boundaries and imbue it with a 21st-century modernity. “Ballet is ingrained with formality, which like Downton Abbey, can be great to watch, but doesn’t always relate to today’s world,” says Troy Schumacher, director of BalletCollective, a group performing at the Ballet v6.0 festival.
Six troupes from top companies throughout the country will be featured in the program, which runs from August 6 to 17. Choreographer Jessica Lang, says Ballet v6.0 is an opportunity to show “what ballet can be.” Lang, critically described as “a master of visual composition,” has broken new ground by choreographing to striking onstage visual projections, as she does notably in i.n.k., which will be performed at the festival. For BalletCollective choreographer Schumacher, moving the ballet needle involves referencing the latest ideas in music, design, and literature in his compositions.
As to why the Joyce is holding a festival in August, typically a slow month for the performing arts in Manhattan? “We think there’s an audience for dance year-round,” says Linda Shelton, the Joyce’s executive director. “Besides, a lot of foreign visitors are here in the summer, and with ballet, there’s never a language problem.” Ballet v6.0 runs August 6 through 17 at the Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Ave., 212-691-9740
Photography by TAKAO KOMARU