Purchase Students to Dance in BAM’s Next Wave Festival
Students focus intently as renowned choreographer Luca Veggetti instructs them to move as slowly, yet naturally, as possible. They carry large reeds, wave them, drop them, and additional students bundle them—each movement precise and protracted.
Veggetti is directing and reimagining Jerome Robbins’ Watermill during the Next Wave Festival at the internationally acclaimed Brooklyn Academy of Music in October. Watermill premiered in 1972, performed by the New York City Ballet and has rarely been staged since. Described as daring and controversial at the time, the dreamlike piece, based on Japanese Noh theatre, explores the nature of time and perception. (Visit BAM or see below for performance dates and details.)
Veggetti contacted Conservatory of Dance Director Nelly van Bommel, expressing interest in working with Purchase students.
“Of course I was interested,” says van Bommel. “It’s such a great opportunity for our students to learn and experience this rarely performed Robbins’ masterwork.”
Veggetti has worked with Purchase in the past. He was a guest artist in residence in 2009–10 and has worked with alumni over the years. He believed Watermill would be a good fit for Purchase students.
“Apart from its male protagonist, Watermill needs a cast of young dancers, they embody an image of the world while projecting in the space elements of his inner life. There is something beautiful and powerful in the diversity, humbleness and dedication that these students incarnate,” he says.
“Watermill is a theater piece that is enacted by dancers. Or, to paraphrase Antonin Artaud in his seminal essay about Balinese theater, it is a kind of superior play in which the actors are, above all, dancers,” he says.
Veggetti kindly answered a few questions, below:
Q: What do you find most rewarding working with students, and Purchase students in particular?
LV: Working with students has become an essential component of my activity and career. Apart from the thrill of seeing the potential of young dancers, it is one of the most exciting ways for me to develop new ideas. In their extraordinary diversity, Purchase students embody a field of possibilities that is particularly interesting to me on a choreographic level.
Q: A 2010 New York Times article quoted you as saying of Purchase students, “They are fearless. They are not afraid of launching themselves into the work. They have a very fresh, direct and exciting approach to movement.” Do you still find that to be true?
LV: Watermill makes demands that are somehow different from the ones that pertained to the works I created for the Purchase students in the past, though yes, I still stand by those words.
Q: If so, do you find it’s something unique to Purchase students, or is it more broadly American students, or something else entirely?
LV: All dance students are unique. A young person that, motivated by the passion for movement, dedicates that many hours in the studio to search for the truth in every gesture, is not only extraordinary but also the most vital expression of man’s yearning for the absolute. This is of course true anywhere and at anytime, but dancers, and especially young ones, are also the reflection of the world they inhabit, and of the tensions they have to confront themselves with. In this respect there is here a sense of attack, of dynamism, of free and unfettered ideas that is maybe singular when confronted with the burden of a cultural baggage so present in other realities.
Music by Teiji Ito
Visit BAM for tickets.
Fisher After Hours
Then and Now: Watermill With Sharon Lehner, Joseph V. Melillo, and Luca Veggetti