Morphoses now and next

At Sadlers Wells Theatre in September 2008, Chistopher Wheeldon told me his plans for Morphoses.

With the company’s co-founder, Lourdes Lopez, and an administrator, he was trying to raise $US5 million to secure Morphoses’s future.

“I can’t say honestly we’re absolutely on track”, Wheeldon admitted.

“But the important thing is, even if the finances don’t place us in a luxurious position, that we grow artistically. I think our hopes were far greater than our gains as far as money from foundations is concerned”, he said, but Morphoses will remain New York-based, as New York is “a very wealthy city and there’s a great understanding of philanthropy and the arts”.

Today, the memory of 2008 sends shivers down the spine.

In the same month as Wheeldon conceded that the going was tough, the collapse of Lehman Brothers marked the beginning of the global financial crisis. From that point on, money for Morphoses was hardly top of mind for anyone with any money left.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the critics sniped and grumbled about Morphoses’s repertoire, especially in London and Wheeldon finally quit the company in 2010.

I had all but forgotten about Morphoses until last week, when I heard from Lourdes Lopez with news of its comeback in New York this week with a premiere at the Joyce Theatre.

In a six day season, tickets are going on sale for as little as $10 and the Thursday night performances will be live streamed to two venues in New York.

The new work for 11 dancers is based on Euripides’ Bacchae and choreographed by the Italian, Luca Veggetti.

In a new model for Morphoses, the company will have a resident artistic director each year, with next year’s being the Swedish choreographer and filmmaker, Pontus Lidberg.

In 2007, Lidberg created a work for Morphoses at the Vail International Dance Festival, on the invitation of Wheeldon.

His dance film, Rain, released in 2007, received many international awards. (see video below).

Last year, he was artist in residence at Joyce, SoHo and the Baryshnikov Arts Centre in New York, working on his latest dance film, Labyrinth Within, featuring the New York City Ballet principal dancer, Wendy Whelan and a score by composer, David Lang.

Labyrinth Within, filmed in a Swedish castle, was directed by Lidberg who also dances in it.

On the website, Oberon’s Grove, is a fascinating blog about the film, with photos by Adrian Danchig-Waring, a soloist with New York City Ballet, who is also dancing in this week’s season of Bacchae.

For Morphoses next year, Lidberg is choreographing a dance work that expands the elements of the film, which tells the story of a married couple, the husband’s fears that his wife is having an affair and the unpredictable world that surrounds the husband in his search for the elusive lover.

The one hour dance work will be followed by a screening of the film.

The Rain – dir Pontus Lidberg – 28 minutes Sweden 2006 from Dancefilm on Vimeo.

One Comment

  1. Lee Christofis
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Valerie, I could watch this Rain clip over and over – so simple and human and making strong points plainly but with visible impulses. It’s come at the end my a systematic viewing of your last 4 posts all of which have stimulated me to move in my chair! Hallberg is a glorious dancer and unlike most he makes one believe everything one sees him do he was born for. And Ivan Vassilief has great genetic heritage and looks he can’t go wrong. Still Russian taste leaves a lot of questions floating around, and several other Russian videos in the suite looked decidedly old hat. Thank you again for posting this last clip.

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Frances Chiaverini in Bacchae, Morphoses, photo © Kyle Froman

Frances Chiaverini in Bacchae, Morphoses, photo © Kyle Froman

Frances Chiaverini in Bacchae, Morphoses, photo © Kyle Froman

Frances Chiaverini in Bacchae, Morphoses, photo © Kyle Froman

Wendy Whelan in Labyrinth Within, photo © Adrian Danchig-Waring

Wendy Whelan in Labyrinth Within, photo © Adrian Danchig-Waring

Labyrinth Within, photo © Adrian Danchig-Waring

Labyrinth Within, photo © Adrian Danchig-Waring