Ballet Stars

Clifton Brown Brings a New Voice to The Washington Ballet

Clifton Brown. Photo by Andrew Eccles, Courtesy Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

On March 14, The Washington Ballet will present a triptych of new works by Marcelo Gomes, Gemma Bond and Clifton Brown. "What I found really interesting with these three is that they're all still performers," says TWB artistic director Julie Kent. "They serve both as muse and as creator."

Though Gomes and Bond share the same American Ballet Theatre genesis as Kent, Brown is best known for his many years with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and choreographers Lar Lubovitch and Jessica Lang. Kent and Brown met many years ago while working on a duet by Lang. "I knew that he was interested in choreography," says Kent. "And one of my responsibilities as director is to develop young talent."




Brown is relatively new to dancemaking; this will be his first commission for a major company. "I was kind of shy about putting something onstage with my name on it. It's a little exposing," he says. Brown's work will open the program. The piece has 10 dancers (6 men and 4 women) and will be performed to a live Rossini duet for cello and double bass. Though Brown's background differs from the other two choreographers', he believes they're all working in the "classical vein," as he puts it. "I don't know what people expect from me as an Ailey dancer, but this piece is coming out rather balletic—so quite possibly not this," he says.

The other two works will also be performed to live music; Bond's to Purcell, and Gomes' to Brahms. "It's so exciting," says Kent, noting that this program allows her to bring old collaborators to her new home. "I love seeing these works come to life by dancers celebrated in their own right."

The program will run from March 14-18 at the Sidney Harman Hall in Washington, DC.

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