Youth America Grand Prix
City Center, Studio 4
New York, New York
Ashley Bouder: Behind the Scenes
Youth America Grand Prix, the organization that provides scholarship opportunities and master classes for young dancers around the world, as well as an annual international competition culminating in a week-long finals in New York and subsequent “Stars” galas, presented a special program last Monday in connection with its affiliated “First Position Club” titled Ashley Bouder: Behind the Scenes.
Like similar YAGP events over the past two years that provided attendees with in-depth knowledge of an aspect of ballet infrequently available, if at all, to the public, this program offered a peak into the choreographic process as Bouder, a New York City Ballet principal dancer, exhibited and demonstrated a piece that she’s choreographing in advance of its premiere early next year.
After introductory remarks welcoming the audience that filled the studio space’s seating area (the event is also a YAGP fundraiser), attendees were treated to a remarkably detailed interplay between Bouder and two of the six dancers who will perform in the piece: NYCB corps dancers Ashley Hod and Devin Alberda. The first portion of the 90 minute demonstration featured a section of the piece that had already been set, fine-tuned by Bouder and the two dancers. The second part showed the choreographic process in greater detail, as Bouder, Hod and Alberda collaborated on excerpts from the dance that were less fully formed, showing Bouder’s direction and vision, but also the process of integrating comments from Hod and Alberda.
In a question and answer period following the demonstration, Bouder explained that her dance utilizes a score composed by Miho Hazama, the associate director of the New York Jazzharmonic, a jazz band that includes several members of the NYCB orchestra. Bouder described the collaborative process between herself and Hazama – particularly that Hazama created an initial “draft” of the score based on Bouder’s concept, and then revised it after receiving suggestions and further input from Bouder.
Bouder’s dance will premiere at the Symphony Space on New York’s Upper West Side (95th St. & Broadway) on March 17 and 18, 2017, accompanied by the 17 piece New York Jazzhamonic, the theater’s resident jazz band since 2015, conducted by its Artistic Director Ron Wasserman. The piece will be part of a larger program that features dances created by three women choreographers and two women composers. In addition to the new premiere by Bouder, the evening will feature the world premiere of a new pas de deux being choreographed by Liz Gerring for Bouder and NYCB principal dancer Sara Mearns to a composition specially composed by Anna Weber, as well as a revival of Susan Stroman’s Blossom Got Kissed, set to music by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. NYCB principal dancer Amar Ramasar is also scheduled to appear in the program.
Following a year of competitions and semi-finals at venues around the world, YAGP’s 2017 New York Finals will begin on April 7 at NYU’s Skirball Center and the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, culminating in the Final Round at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center on April 12. It’s annual Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow Gala will be at the same theater on April 13, as will a Gala in Honor of Julio Bocca on April 14. A complete schedule is available on the YAGP web site.