By Melia Kraus-har
17 January 2020
Cellist Maya Beiser’s history with composer David Lang’s 2001 work world to come includes commissioning and recording it for an album, accompanying choreographer Pontus Lidberg’s film Labyrinth Within (utilizing Lang’s score) which introduced her to dancer Wendy Whelan in 2010. And now, as a collaboration with Whelan, choreographer Lucinda Childs, and commissioning an additional “prequel” composition from Lang for the evening-length work, THE DAY, to be co-presented by Tennessee Performing Arts Center and Oz Arts Nashville in partnership with Nashville Ballet on January 18, 2020. Speaking by phone, Beiser described her early practice sessions learning world to come, born out of 9/11 experiences. “I kept getting imagery for the music while I practiced. While music is usually a very visual experience for me, I kept seeing a woman dancing. She embodied the feelings of everyone’s experience. The piece became multi-disciplinary to reflect the visceral aspect of sense and remembrance. THE DAY is not a 9/11 memorial, but builds upon the memories we hold on to, or the images that deeply shape memory.”
In terms of building the creative team for the work, Beiser felt strongly that women should shape the artistic direction. Whelan also concurred by phone, deeming that she “played it safe” in her initial departure from New York City Ballet (NYCB) working in a traditional male to female structure learned from her classical ballet background. Whelan credited her transition into contemporary works for developing confidence in diversifying gender leadership and thinking bigger, which “ultimately gave her the courage to return to NYCB” in her current role as Associate Artistic Director. Whelan described her time away from NYCB as giving her tools to support current company artists with what she wanted and needed as a young dancer, lauding the value of collaboration for both ballet and contemporary artist development. Whelan had wanted to work with Childs (ballet dancers respond well to her movement vocabulary), and Beiser was familiar with Childs’ work with mutual colleague Philip Glass. Beiser valued Childs’ approach to music and movement, noting that “not all choreographers read music.” Beiser described Childs’ interpretation of the music as “broad and deep, with a complex polyrhythmic pattern.”
Read the full article on Broadway World.