Fall 2019 Session


The Institute's two-week Fall Session began on Monday, October 14, 2019, pairing three choreographers with six designers from the NYU Department of Design for Stage and Film. These collaborations gave the choreographers the essential experience of working with lighting and costume designers to develop and envision how their ballets could be realized for the stage. The participating dancers were members from 
New York City Ballet.


The Fall 2019 Session immersed the choreographers in interdisciplinary collaboration with their lighting and costume designers, generating concepts and renderings of designs which were then presented in studio showings. The designers were part of the rehearsal process from day one, attending all rehearsals and meeting with the choreographers after each rehearsal to evolve their collaborative ideas. 

The choreographers and designers advanced their collaborations through a series of Lighting Labs led by professor M.L. Geiger, head of lighting design at NYU, and designer Clifton Taylor. The session began with an introductory lab highlighting technical and theoretical elements of lighting design. The second lighting lab allowed the artists to deepen their process by experimenting with stage lighting in a black box theater environment. The costume designers incorporated fabric samples into this process, allowing the collaborators to experiment with light and materiality. In this context each team was also able to see the dancers perform excerpts from their respective choreography under the lighting they had conceptualized during that first week of the session.

The costume designers were able to bring to life their designs by working with
NYCB's costume shop. Marc Happel, Director of Costumes, met with them to discuss their ideas and sketches and created mock-ups of the designs.

Photo © Rosalie O'Connor

SevenAdriana Pierce, a freelance choreographer based in New York,  worked with NYU costume designer Wang Ying Tu and NYU lighting designer Abby Hoke-Brady.

Photo © Rosalie O'Connor

THEMMarcus Jarrell Willis, a freelance choreographer based in London, partnered with NYU costume designer Ramaj Jamar and NYU lighting designer Nick Kolin.

Photo © Rosalie O'Connor

Stutter Step: Alysa Pires, National Ballet of Canada's Choreographic Associate, partnered with NYU costume designer Jessica Harrison and NYU lighting designer Keegan Butler.


During the session, the choreographers consulted with dramaturg Sarah Lunnie.

These dramaturgical sessions helped to guide the development of their ballets and provided the choreographers with new tools for building effective stage worlds. Choreographer Alysa Pires comments on the value of these sessions: "Sarah was incredible. I found my conversations with her to be so helpful. They weren't always directly related to the structure of the work or how to formulate the piece, but her support and her responses to what she was seeing in the studio were invaluable. She pulled me out of a hole when I was stuck and feeling defeated." 

As always, a broad array of multidisciplinary performances and exhibitions throughout New York City were attended by our resident choreographers and designers. They attended William Forsythe's "A Quiet Evening of Dance" at The Shed, Troy Schumacher’s BalletCollective, and performances by American Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, Kyle Abraham's A.I.M., and Lucinda Childs's The Day starring Wendy Whelan. Additionally, we hosted a group visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where curator Ian Alteveer led the group through the Deep Looking, With Vija Celmins exhibition. This not only provided a foundation for roundtable discussions and critical debate, but it furnished the artists with inspiration for their own collaborative processes. Lighting designer Keegan Butler elaborates: "Being able to have a knowledgeable discussion after seeing each performance with not only my collaborators, but also with many of the other designers and choreographers, was essential in breaking down what I was artistically reacting to within each piece." 

The choreographers also had a working session with William Forsythe (after seeing his production at The Shed) and a roundtable discussion with Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. The conversation with William centered on creativity and process, while the conversation with Annabelle centered on the business aspects of managing a freelance choreographic career. Choreographer Alysa Pires explains why she considered this a highlight of the session: "Though they were completely different in scope, these conversations were extremely inspiring and full of actionable advice for moving forward in my career both from a creative process perspective and a business one."



The 2019 Fall Session concluded with an informal showing on October 25, presented in NYCB's studios for an invited audience. The choreographers and their casts gathered to show their works along with presentations of the designers' and choreographers' concepts. 



Photo © Rosalie O'Connor



Photo © Rosalie O'Connor


Stutter Step 

Photo © Rosalie O'Connor