American Ballet Theatre – creativity in challenging times

Pushing the boundaries of creativity in challenging times, American Ballet Theatre presents Pas de Deux, a series of short documentaries created by one of the company’s soloists, celebrating the collaboration between dance and four very different aspects of creativity – music, food, film and art.

Devised by ABT Soloist Gabe Stone Shayer, this series features individual online conversations between Shayer and Grammy Award®-winning singer, songwriter and actor Alicia Keys (with a dance sequence directed and filmed by Pierce Jackson); Principal Dancer Isabella Boylston and master chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson; Principal Dancer Cassandra Trenary with Kat Sullivan, Artist in Residence at New York City’s virtual and augmented reality lab, RLAB; and ABT Soloist Luciana Paris with visual artist Chloe Wise.

ABT Soloist Gabe Stone Shayer © Pierce Jackson

In these chats, the artists discuss aspects of their own speciality, each undergoing a fascinating learning curve about the other’s form of creativity, and unearthing much that neither side knew about the other’s art form.

For this docu-series, American Ballet Theatre partners with CHANEL – a fitting link, since fashion designer Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel was not only the very embodiment of innovation, but was fascinated by dance, and an avid supporter of the art, becoming a friend, designer and patron to the unique and colourful impresario Serge Diaghilev, founder of the Ballets Russes in Paris in 1909.

The idea for Pas de Deux, says Shayer “first hit me when thinking about how I could continue to create in quarantine. I wanted to highlight the innovation that is magnified by an artist feeling stifled. I’m obsessed with multimedia collaborations and felt this was the moment where we could explore the intersection of art and artists.”

Pas de Deux is produced Oscar®-winning Little Monster Films, again an appropriate choice, since the company, according to director Chai Vasarhelyi “is inspired by movement, ambition and creation”. A long-time fan of the ballet, Ms Vasarhelyi and her husband Jimmy Chin produced the film Free Solo, which won the 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Pas de Deux is available to view – free of charge – on the American Ballet Theatre Youtube channel and on IGTV.

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