Spring 2019 Session




The Institute's two-week spring session began on Monday, February 25, partnering three choreographers with three composers from the Juilliard School. The composers and choreographers engaged in dialogue for several months prior to the session in order to generate original compositions. Dancers were selected from the advanced divisions of the School of American Ballet. This session provided an intensive collaborative exercise for the participating choreographers and posed new challenges for their respective practices. Choreographer Alysa Pires elaborates on what inspired her to participate: "What the Institute provides in these sessions is an absolute dream for any choreographer. I had heard of NYCI years ago (and applied) but wasn't really working with ballet dancers at that time. I was thrilled to be invited to participate this year, especially at this pivotal moment in my career as I transition more fully into the ballet world." 



In 2003, the New York Choreographic Institute formed a partnership with the Juilliard School. Together, the two organizations have paired over 30 composers from Juilliard with an international roster of emerging Institute choreographers from around the world, creating new music for works in progress.

In the months preceding the Institute session the composers sent sketches of working compositions to their choreographers to fuel their collaborative process. Ideas were exchanged between the artists, and the musical scores evolved over the winter. Several weeks before the session took place, studio recordings were made of the finalized compositions, and the choreographers received completed scores to work from.

These collaborations spark conversation and serve as a laboratory for experimentation—challenging artists to communicate skillfully, listen acutely, push themselves beyond their familiar working style, and take greater risks in the process. The artists come to understand—with clarity—their own creative impulses. Composer Trey Makler reports that one of the highlights of this session was witnessing choreographer Nayon Iovino "completely understand my musical intention and realize it through movement." 


Photo © Rosalie O'Connor

PixieNayon Iovino, a dancer with Ballet Arizona, partnered with Juilliard composer Trey Makler

Photo © Rosalie O'Connor

Standard DeviationAlysa Pires, National Ballet of Canada's choreographic associate, partnered with Juilliard composer Jack Frerer.

Photo © Rosalie O'Connor

A Hummingbird Told MeMariana Oliveira, a freelance choreographer based in Chicago, partnered with Juilliard composer Saad Haddad


Over the course of the session the choreographers consulted with dramaturg Janice Paran, from Sundance Institute. These Dramaturgical Sessions provided a critical framework to help guide the development of their ballets and gave the choreographers new tools for building effective stage worlds.

As always, a broad array of multidisciplinary performances and exhibitions throughout New York City were attended by our resident choreographers and composers. This not only provided a foundation for roundtable discussions, analysis, and debate, but it furnished the artists with inspiration for their own collaborative processes. Choreographer Mariana Oliveira elaborates on how these activities outside of the studio informed her choreographic choices: "It is vital to my creative process to be in contact with other forms of art. So being exposed to all of those activities made me grow as an artist and as a person."




The Spring 2019 Session concluded with an informal showing at NYCB's studios on March 8. The choreographers and their casts gathered to show their works in progress, accompanied by live music: performed by students and recent graduates of the Juilliard School. The explosive energy of the dancers—coupled with soulful interpretations of these original compositions—brought three new ballets to life.



Standard Deviation


A Hummingbird Told Me


NYCI Rehearsal and Performance Images © Rosalie O'Connor