For Cincinnati Ballet artistic director Victoria Morgan, the company's annual Kaplan New Works Series is all about invention. "If you're comfortable, then you're not in the right place," she says. This year's program, held September 13–23 at the Aronoff Center, features a new kind of invention: Two company dancers will step into the role of choreographer for the first time. Soloist David Morse and corps dancer Taylor Carrasco will join contemporary queen Mia Michaels, Cincinnati Ballet resident choreographer Jennifer Archibald and San Francisco Ballet dancer Myles Thatcher in creating new works.
Morse and Carrasco were selected from a choreographic contest held within the company. "We chose them for completely different reasons," says Morgan. Morse's work, Gathering, is set to a minimalist score, and centers on four couples. "It looks at the innate human desire for ritual and its transformative power," he says. Carrasco's work, says Morgan, is "wacky." He took his inspiration from punk marching band Mucca Pazza's album Plays Well Together. "It reminded me of some of the most joyous times in my life, which have been at parties with people I didn't know, but where we were just being humans together," says Carrasco.
Giving dancers the chance to develop as choreographers is a priority for the company, which puts on skill-building workshops each year. "I think it's important to have that experience of standing in front of the room with all those eyes looking at you," says Morgan. "It gives you some empathy for the choreographers you'll be working with in the future."