Thursday, January 14, 2010

Stephen Petronio Dance Co takes on a Tempest with Nico Mulhy score

Barrington Hinds by Sarah Silver

The innovative Stephen Petronio Company will bring its visceral and exciting I Drink the Air Before Me to MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center in North Adams on Friday, April 9 and Saturday, April 10, at 8pm. It is a joint production of Mass MoCA and Jacob's Pillow which collaborate to present one dance event at the renowned art center each year. Petronio is acclaimed for his lush, sweeping performance landscapes enriched by artful pairings of contemporary music and movement.

Comments the Pillow's executive director, Ella Baff: ”Stephen Petronio is well recognized in the U.S. and abroad as a bold, leading choreographer of his generation. He also collaborates with some of the most important contemporary artists in music, fashion, and the visual arts such as Laurie Anderson, Rufus Wainwright, Anish Kapoor, and a great painter who is especially familiar to us in the Berkshires, Steve Hannock.”

The composer Nico Muhly (L) and choreographer Stephen Petronio. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris.

The work features an original score by contemporary Nico Muhly, a composer whose work has been performed by the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Orchestra, the Boston Pops, and the Chicago Symphony. Although in the original presentation it was played live complete with a chorus that was scattered throughout the audience, at MoCA the music will be recorded, not live.

A Trio of Petronio dancers in photo by Steven Schreiber.

Petronio's new work is titled after a quote from William Shakespeare’s The Tempest from the moment in which the sprite Ariel rushes away on Prospero’s errand: “I drink the air before me, and return / Or ere your pulse twice beat.” Moved by the character’s willingness to throw himself in the path of a raging storm, Petronio combines inspiration from forces of nature, both environmental and human. The work portrays both the calm and anger of storms, while a sailor (performed by Petronio himself) rides along.

Petronio created I Drink the Air Before Me in celebration of this year’s 25th anniversary of the company. He comments, “Instead of looking back on our achievements like photographs of old friends, I have chosen to look to the future with a new work. I wanted to give a dance that spoke of riding the awesome and unpredictable forces of now, and I hope you will receive our presentation in that spirit of adventure and pleasure.”

The performance will be followed by a post-show talk with Ella Baff and Stephen Petronio.

Amanda Wells in a photo by Sarah Silver.

Tickets in the orchestra section of the theater are $38, mezzanine tickets are $32, and student and children’s tickets are $20.
The MASS MoCA Box Office hours are Wednesday through Monday, 11am – 5pm. To purchase by phone: call the Box Office at 413.662.2111. To order online: The Hunter Center and Box Office are located at 87 Marshall Street in North Adams, MA, 01247. MASS MoCA theaters are handicapped-accessible.

For additional information on Jacob’s Pillow or the 2010 Festival, visit

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