Huoah, a work for three women and four men, is Kevin O'Day's second commission for New York City Ballet. A plotless ballet (but one that hints at ever-changing relationships), it is a dance with a definite streetwise, "downtown" attitude. Alternating light and dark, dramatic tension and playful wit, Huoah is a work that highlights intricate partnering, daredevil lifts, and the dancer's jumping abilities. According to O'Day (who is also a former jazz horn player), the title refers to the dragging sound made by the orchestra brass, a dominant feature of the music. The score itself is derived from a piece for brass that Graham Fitkin wrote in 1988 to accompany a silent movie — René Clair's 1924 "Entre'acte." Kevin O'Day was a member of American Ballet Theatre, the Joffrey Ballet and has also danced with Twyla Tharp, William Forsythe's Frankfurt Ballet, Mikhail Baryshnikov's White Oak Dance Project, and has appeared on Broadway in Singin' In The Rain. Mr. O'Day choreographed Quartet for IV (and sometimes one, two or three...) for the White Oak Dance Project and Viola Alone (1994) for New York City Ballet.
Graham Fitkin was born in West Cornwall in 1963. Following studies with Peter Nelson and Nigel Osborne at Nottingham University he moved to Holland in 1984 to work with Louis Andriessen. A year later he co-founded The Nanquidno Group, four pianists at two keyboards, and created a series of works for this ensemble. Since then piano music, for both solo and multiple pianos, has formed the central core of his work. In 1990 he was awarded the Composers for Dance Award and wrote a new piece for David Massingham Dance. Fitkin has composed for instrumental groups such as The Smith Quartet, Ensemble Bash, Sound Affairs and Icebreaker, and his forays into vocal writings include Nasar for Nicola Walker Smith, Far for Sirinu, and a chamber opera Ghosts for The Garden Venture. In 1993 he was appointed Programme Director for the SPNM in England and in 1994 began a two year appointment as Composer in Association with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. He was awarded the International Grand Prix Music for Dance Video Award at the end of 1994 and continued the dance association in 1995, conducting a new version of Huoah with New York City Ballet, working with the French choreographer Sidonie Rochon, and composing a new work for Wayne McGregor's Random Dance Company.