By Mary Ann Bourbeau |
The American Repertory Ballet (ARB) is launching its spring tour at the Two River Theater on March 23 and 24.
The company will present “Generations: Influences from the Modern Age,” a triple bill of critically acclaimed works by José Limón, Gerald Arpino and Douglas Martin, ARB artistic director.
The aim is to bring the joy, beauty, artistry and discipline of classical and contemporary dance to New Jersey and nationwide audiences. The tour will also make stops at Hunter College in New York City and the McCarter Theatre in Princeton next month.
“This program represents the influence that past generations have on their future counterparts,” said Martin. “Current artists absorb the knowledge of past generations and explore and expand upon their ideas. As a dancer, you are influenced by the style, narrative and construction of the works you perform. As a choreographer, you process those experiences and reach out to find your voice.”
Martin danced with the Joffrey Ballet for nine years before moving to ARB in 1993. He was a dancer and teacher before taking on the role of artistic director in 2010.
“The repertoire, the style of the company and the proximity to New York are all very important to me,” he said. “We’re a touring company and I enjoy being on the road. I love the ability to go to different theaters and perform.”
This is the first time ARB has performed at the Two River Theater and Martin is excited for the opportunity.
“It’s a great size for dance,” he said. “The audience is close enough to really get involved.”
The triple bill begins with “There is a Time,” a deeply evocative work by modern dance pioneer José Limón. This classic work, based on Ecclesiastes 3, evokes rich feelings through both the dance and the familiar words. In 2015, ARB premiered the work as part of the José Limón International Dance Festival in New York. World-renowned director Sarah Stackhouse, who was a principal dancer with Limón from 1958 to 1969, has returned to ARB to work with the dancers for this performance.
“The greatest thing about dance is also the hardest thing about dance,” said Martin. “It needs to be passed down person to person, and Sarah is one person removed from Limón.”
The program also features the ARB premiere of “Sea Shadow”and “Rite of Spring,” two works that Martin performed as a former principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet. “Sea Shadow,” choreographed by Gerald Arpino, has been described by The New York Times as a “neo-romantic tale of love between a mortal and a supernatural with contemporary naturalness.”
Martin choreographed “Rite of Spring,” inspired by the revolutionary works that Ballet Russes brought to America in the early 20th century. He kept the original libretto but reset the story in 1961 corporate America, AKA “Mad Men,” exploring office relations and gender roles.
“I am the culmination of all the choreographers I either worked with or got to perform their work,” said Martin. “Every piece is a real joy to experience.”
The American Repertory Ballet will perform at 8 p.m. March 23 and 24. Tickets are $31 to $51 and are available at 732-345-1400 or tworivertheater.org.
This article was first published in the March 22-29, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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