RIOULT Dance NY takes to the stage of New York’s Joyce Theater next week, and included in the programme is a world premiere performance of Pascal Rioult’s Iphigenia. Inspired by the Greek heroine of Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis, this work was created in collaboration with composer, Michael Torke, whose specially commissioned score will be performed live by the Camerata New York Orchestra. The programme also features On Distant Shores, Prelude to Night and Bolero – one of the Company’s signature works.
Led by former Martha Graham principal dancers, Pascal Rioult and Joyce Herring, RIOULT Dance NY was founded in 1994, rapidly establishing itself as a modern dance company, “with a classic sensibility”. Described by Backstage as “perhaps the most adept and courageous choreographer in mainstream modern dance today”, Pascal Rioult is known for his exploration of classical scores, however he also engages American composers to collaborate with him through his Dance to Contemporary Composers series, the first of which was On Distant Shores, created in 2011.
“I’ve been intrigued by Michael Torke’s compositions and their minimalist structure and infusion of the classical and contemporary, says Pascal Rioult. “Iphigenia will inherently push my boundaries, since Michael Torke’s aesthetic differs greatly from that of traditional, classical music which I often use. Still, I find his music ideal for dance because of its effusive energy, interesting rhythms, and the visual imagery that colours its melodies”.
Michael Torke sees this work as “operatic”. The Chorus and ensemble sections, he says, “provide the recitatives advancing the story, while the pure dance moments are like arias – stopping the action and allowing the emotion to be expressed.” His score is based on a unique orchestration of eight instruments: two clarinets, two bassoons, two French horns, a cello, and contrabass.
On Distant Shores – the result of a collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, Aaron Jay Kernis – is a re-imagining of another Greek heroine, Helen of Troy, evoking ancient myths whilst still having a decidedly contemporary feel to it. “I always thought that Helen got a bad rap,” says Rioult. So, determined to redeem her reputation, his work sees Helen being brought to Troy against her will. She is joined by four god-like warriors who join her in fleeting duets, but ultimately she walks alone in a path of light as the war heroes fade into a dream.
Prelude to Night – created in 2002 – is set to three pieces of music by Maurice Ravel – his Prelude a la nuit, Alborada del Gracioso, and Feria. It portrays a journey by the central character – through her imagination, dreams and nightmares – from one state of being to another.
The final work on the programme is Bolero. A co-commission by Cal Performances and The Théâtre de Saint Quentin en Yvelines, France, it is set to Ravel’s most famous musical composition which, in turn, was originally composed as a commission for Russian ballerina, Ida Rubinstein, and premiered in 1928. Rioult’s Bolero – which premiered in 2002 – has become one of the company’s most acclaimed works, and is described as “a bold and unique interpretation” of Ravel’s score.
RIOULT Dance NY has an established repertoire of over 40 works. The Company presents an annual season in New York, and tours both nationally and abroad. Education and community outreach have always been an important part of the Company’s output, its DanceREACH program – founded in 1997 – introducing students at public and private schools in the New York metropolitan area to the art of modern dance.
The RIOULT Dance NY season opens at The Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street, on June 4th, and runs until Sunday June 9th. For further information on the Company, its New York season and the Gala dinner, please visit the RIOULT Dance NY website www.rioult.org. For information on ticketing for this season, please visit the website of The Joyce Theater.