Ballet Stars
Daniil Simkin. Courtesy Works & Process at the Guggenheim.

On the heels of his successful 2015 project INTENSIO , American Ballet Theatre principal Daniil Simkin is presenting a new multi-media work at the Guggenheim Museum's Works & Process series set in the museum's multistoried rotunda. "The rotunda is iconic, white and symmetrical," he says. "Having dance and projection in there is an amazing sight." The new work, created by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo, is titled Falls the Shadow and will premiere September 4.

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Ballet Stars
Lauren Lovette of NYCB as Juliet in Peter Martins' Romeo + Juliet. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

It's been five years since a female choreographer premiered a work at New York City Ballet. Fortunately the 2016 fall gala on September 20 presents a more gender-diverse choreographic lineup, including company principal Lauren Lovette and independent choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. The gala program includes premieres by two other NYCB dancers: resident choreographer Justin Peck and corps member Peter Walker, who creates his first ballet for the company.

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Daniil Simkin with Céline Cassone. Photo by NYC Dance Project: Ken Browar and Deborah Ory. Courtesy Joyce Theater.

Vacation may seem like an unknown concept to American Ballet Theatre principal Daniil Simkin. Instead of resting during ABT's winter layoff, he gathered some fellow company members, plus Céline Cassone of Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal, to perform in his fledgling dance venture, INTENSIO. The program of four premieres makes its New York debut at the Joyce Theater now through Jan. 10. For Pointe's biweekly newsletter, we spoke with Simkin about the experience.

 

Why did you create INTENSIO?

I wanted to explore the more European side of contemporary ballet. That's why we picked choreographers with a more European aesthetic: Jorma Elo, Alexander Ekman and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. The only American is Gregory Dolbashian, but he mashes hip hop and contemporary. I also wanted my friends at ABT to have work created on them. For any dancer, that's a dream.

 

What does "INTENSIO" mean? 

It's an analogism to reflect the words "intention" and "intensity." On the one hand, we had an intention for the evening. And on the other, it should be an intense experience.

 

The show includes innovative technology. Why did you want to explore this?

These days, we're so saturated with media and the internet. The projections add another layer to the dance, and I think it's my duty to explore those possibilities. Basically, there is an infrared camera on top of the stage which picks up the dancers' silhouettes, and a real-time projection is thrown back at the floor to amplify their movements. It makes a dynamic environment.

 

How do you juggle all this with your schedule at ABT?

I'm just organized. I have no other choice but to be! I grew up in Germany where life is very structured. I went to a regular high school and had ballet on the side, so even then my brain was divided. Now, doing different things grounds me and keeps me from overthinking any part of my life.

 

News
Jorma Elo rehearses Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside for INTENSIO. Photo by Daniil Simkin, Courtesy Simkin.

American Ballet Theatre principal Daniil Simkin has a lot on his plate. Not only has he been dancing in and rehearsing for ABT's spring season, he's also spearheading his own brand-new project, INTENSIO, which will premiere at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Massachusetts, July 22–26.

Simkin, who both directs and dances in INTENSIO, has created an international all-star cast of choreographers and dancers. The project features new work by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Alexander Ekman, Gregory Dolbashian and Boston Ballet's resident choreographer Jorma Elo. Fellow ABT principals Hee Seo, James Whiteside and Isabella Boylston will perform, along with Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal star Céline Cassone. "I've organized simple gala performances before," says Simkin, "but this project is on another artistic level. It's so big that I couldn't immediately grasp the whole thing. But I enjoy a challenge."

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Daniil Simkin's Intensio project will have its premiere on July 22. The project features choreography by Alexander Ekman, Gregory Dolbashian, Jorma Elo, and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and dancers from American Ballet Theatre—along with Céline Cassone of Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal. You can read more about the project in Pointe's June/July Callboard story.

 

Watch the trailer below, and click here for tickets.

 

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