Twenty years following its founding, the New York Choreographic Institute launched its first virtual initiative in June 2020 with Summer Sessions, a program intended to engage choreographers and dancers amidst the COVID-19 lockdown.
Institute Director Adrian Danchig-Waring, a principal dancer with New York City Ballet, selected three choreographers – Houston Thomas, Sarah Foster-Sproull, and NYCB dancer Christopher Grant – from a pool of applicants for the Institute's 2021-22 sessions to participate in a six-day intensive over the summer of 2020, assigning each a pair of Company dancers who’d been quarantining together and could safely partner for the duration.
The dancers were provided with a tripod and steadicam and the choreographers were given free rein to produce an original work with editing support from the Institute as needed. The three resulting videos will premiere here, each Wednesday beginning February 3, 2021.
About The Choreographers
Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Houston Thomas began studying at the School of American Ballet at the age of 16 before moving to Germany to join the Dresden Semperoper Ballett two years later. Thomas has performed a number of featured roles, including in Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments and Justin Peck’s Heatscape, throughout his seven years with that Company, rising to his current rank of second soloist.
In his first piece created under the auspices of the New York Choreographic Institute, Thomas collaborated with NYCB Corps de Ballet Member Mimi Staker and Soloist Sebastian Villarini-Velez, completely over Zoom, resulting in An Afternoon of Angelic Voices.
Follow Houston on Instagram at @houdidit_
Sarah Foster-Sproull is Choreographer in Residence at The Royal New Zealand Ballet, currently based in Auckland, New Zealand, where she runs her company Foster Group Dance and co-directs Trigger Dance. She is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland—Dance Studies program with a research focus on choreography and creative practice. Foster-Sproull was the 2019 Director of Choreography at The World of Wearable Art, and her choreographic work has been performed in New Zealand, Singapore, China, Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, and Fiji.
For Fever Dream, her first piece commissioned by the New York Choreographic Institute, Foster-Sproull collaborated with New York City Ballet dancers Eliza Blutt and India Bradley, as well as composer Eden Mulholland, editor Maddie Daybell, camera person Darius Black, and Ghosts with Knives for accompanying text.
Christopher Grant was born in Jamaica, Queens, and began his dance training at the School of American Ballet (SAB) in 2002. Grant became an apprentice with NYCB in 2015, joining the Company as a member of the corps de ballet in August 2016; as an NYCB dancer, Grant originated a featured role in Lauren Lovette’s Not Our Fate and performed featured roles in Balanchine’s Firebird, Chaconne, and Coppélia, among others.
Grant’s first piece commissioned by the New York Choreographic Institute, Moon, is a collaboration with fellow NYCB Corps de Ballet Members Emma Von Enck and Andres Zuniga.