Mose Allison swings New Orleans Ballet Theatre world premiere on June 19
"Diogo's piece is edgy and aggressively modern, taking our dancers out of the world of classical ballet, toe shoes and point work," Schramel said.
The Brazilian choreographer developed his vision while dancing with the world-touring Grupo Corpo ensemble. He impressed with New Orleans Ballet Theatre in 2014, and appeared on our list of "New Orleanians to Watch in 2015." He also contributed mightily to the ambitious contemporary programs of Marigny Opera Ballet's inaugural season.
Marjorie Schramel's new dance, "7 Mose Pieces," is a suite set to music of Mose Allison. New Orleans got an early taste of her approach in 2014, when she presented "Seventh Son," a brief duet set to Allison's music.
I reviewed that glorious teaser for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune: "Schramel's choreography perfectly matched the loping rhythms of Mose Allison's recorded blues performance. Dancers Josh Reynolds and Angelina Sansone zigzagged and spun through extended dance phrases that borrowed from ballroom, ballet and the shimmies that such music can trigger even when you're at home washing dishes. At times, I thought of the"wobble cop" whose videos went viral on the Internet during Mardi Gras: Natural grace is a rarity wherever one finds it."
Expanding that dance into a suite was strongly encouraged by Mose Allison and his family,who have taken an interest in NOBT. Although the pianist will not be attending Friday's performance, many family members will be there, and they will be bringing a Broadway producer, Gregory Schramel said.
Still not convinced that a Friday night ballet is your thing? Then listen to Schramel talk about why his company will perform at the Civic Theater in the CBD:
"We wanted a venue at the center of things – not Uptown or downtown – and we weren't only thinking about geography," he said. "We want our audience to know that ballet can be a fun night out, that this will be a party, and that New Orleans Ballet Theatre is here to entertain. We're making art for everyone. This isn't a marginal endeavor for dance insiders. Our goal to be at the center of New Orleans culture."
Mix Mose Allison tunes with toe shoes, add New Orleans dancers and lots of stars from across the nation: That's the recipe for the New Orleans Ballet Theater's "Summer Solstice 2" show at the Civic Theater.
The June 19 program won't be a "Swan Lake" and tutu affair – although NOBT has classical ballet in its bloodline. Instead, this decade-old contemporary ensemble will stage a program of original works, including world premieres by two of the city's most commanding choreographers: Diogo de Lima of Tulane University and NOBT co-founder Marjorie Hardwick Schramel.
To pull it off, NOBT has recruited dancers from three important companies: San Francisco's Smuin Ballet, Atlanta Ballet and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. The group also has borrowed back a favorite male dancer, Trey Mauldwin, from the Marigny Opera Ballet. The dozen dancers have been rehearsing together for weeks.
NOBT has no trouble recruiting dancers, said the troupe's artistic director Gregory Schramel -- and not just because the Schramels, a husband-and-wife team, can draw on years of connections from their own time on the stage.
"Our annual summer shows are a chance for national dancers to work with peers from other companies – to check out the competition – and we provide a working environment that's all about collaboration," Gregory Schramel said. "We couldn't do programs full of exciting new work if we didn't have help from a team of smart artists who bring their own interpretive ideas to the choreographer's vision. It's a process that's very stimulating for established dancers who don't want to be treated as robots. "
The June 19 show includes a pair of dances from the company's repertoire, both by Gregory Schramel – and the two premieres.
"I'm excited to reimagine my older pieces with a fresh group of dancers, but I'm most excited about the new choreography that we will showcase," Schramel said.
He called the two premieres a study in contrasts.