On Thursday, June 20, opening-night patrons of Chamber Dance Project’s sixth season in Washington, D.C., mostly dressed in white, will take to the streets, following the Mosché Brass Band to Hotel Monaco for a summer-solstice party after the show.
Though the New Orleans-inflected celebration is a repeat of last year’s, the program for the company’s four-performance “New Works +” season at Sidney Harman Hall includes two world premieres and a Washington-area premiere.
One of the world premieres, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s “Rondo Ma Non Troppo,” required an unexpected trip to Ikea. The Amsterdam-based choreographer, who created a work for four dancers set to a movement of Franz Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” quartet, decided to make the centerpiece a “none too sturdy” table, according to Chamber Dance Project Artistic Director Diane Coburn Bruning. Fearing the worst (with good reason), Bruning had asked, “You’re not, like, going to jump on it or anything?” The “Rondo” title refers to the dancers’ movement around and on the table, which had to be reinforced at a cost exceeding its purchase price.
Live music is one of Chamber Dance Project’s signatures. The Schubert will be played by the company’s resident string quartet, led by Annapolis Symphony concertmaster Claudia Chudacoff, as will Samuel Barber’s “Adagio,” to which Bruning’s pas de deux “Journey” is set. Sophia Kim Cook, Montreal-born and -trained, will be the pianist for the Washington premiere of the pas de deux from “Extremely Close,” a work by Alejandro Cerrudo, resident choreographer of Chicago’s Hubbard Street, set to music by Philip Glass (“You come back from intermission and you watch feathers raining down on the stage for three minutes,” said Bruning).
Bruning’s “Songs by Cole” will be danced to Cole Porter standards performed by a jazz trio with singer Shacara Rogers, an alumna of Howard University and the Kennedy Center’s Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program.
Perhaps most eagerly anticipated is the other world premiere, “Prufrock,” a 12-minute work co-conceived and directed by Bruning and Matt Torney, associate artistic director of Studio Theatre. Torney will slowly recite (in his Irish brogue) “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” T. S. Eliot’s early masterpiece, as five dancers — Dan Roberge of the Washington Ballet; Francesca Dugarte and Jonathan Jordan, both formerly of the Washington Ballet and now with BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio; Julia Erickson of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre; and Ryan Carlough of Company E — appear in 15 vignettes.
Adding to the work’s interpretation of Eliot’s sometimes surrealistic imagery (“I should have been a pair of ragged claws/Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.”) is an electronic score, at times suggesting the kind of dance music you might hear in a club rather than in a theater, composed and performed (on laptop) by James Garver.
Calling “Prufrock” “a big departure,” Bruning said she knew she wanted to work both with text and with Torney, also a fan of Eliot’s poetry, with whom she had collaborated on a production for D.C.-based Irish arts group Solas Nua. “It’s a hybrid — neither narrative nor abstract,” she said of the new work. “The audience will need to assimilate it themselves.”
The other two dancers on the program are Chamber Dance Project regulars Luz San Miguel and Davit Hovhannisyan, both of Milwaukee Ballet.
One of Chamber Dance Project’s goals is to extend the annual period of employment for dancers, most of whom only work for about 36 weeks. Bruning is looking to expand next year to a June season of two programs and eventually tour.
Performances of “New Works +” will be Thursday, June 20, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, June 21, at 8 p.m.; and Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. Pre-performance artist chats will take place 45 minutes before the Friday and Saturday performances. Tickets are $38 to $52. For tickets, visit chamberdance.org.
Tickets for opening night including the party at Hotel Monaco are $175 for premium orchestra seats and $125 for young professionals (age 35 and under); to check on availability, call 202-499-2297.
A paying adult can bring a child (under 18) for free to the Saturday matinee, after which there will be a 20-minute participatory workshop; for those tickets, call 202-547-1122.
Of special interest to Georgetowners, on Saturday, June 29, Halcyon will host an open rehearsal and wine reception at Halcyon Arts Lab, 1801 35th St. NW, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. Another open rehearsal for the 2020 season will follow this winter at the Lansburgh Theatre.