Throughout the long history of ballet, there have always been contemporary choreographers who have left their own imprint on the art form. “A contemporary ballet choreographer is one who honors and understands the history of ballet while finding ways to innovate and make relevant what is happening in the present,” said the Dean of the École de danse de l ‘UNCSA, Endalyn Taylor. “Sometimes choreographers tell stories about what’s going on in the dance world, and sometimes they create work that deals with external topics of global importance,” Taylor adds.
It is important that the students of the Dance School experience different styles of choreography. “Being a multiple dancer is a huge asset,” says Taylor. “It not only shapes you and makes you more viable in the field, but it also makes you a different kind of thinker. Working with a variety of choreographers from different backgrounds and perspectives offers dancers “an opportunity to broaden their outlook on life and the arts.”
In this list, Taylor walks us through ten contemporary ballet choreographers who she says are to do important works that reflect all the things that are happening in our world right now.
The choreographers on Taylor’s List are listed alphabetically by last name:
While this artistic director and founder of Kyle Abraham’s AIM isn’t necessarily known to be a contemporary ballet choreographer, Taylor includes him in this list because he created three works for the New York City Ballet that she describes. like “classical ballet companies moving to a more contemporary space. Recipient of the 2018 Princess Grace Statue Award and a 2013 MacArthur Fellow, Taylor defines him as a choreographer “whose cultural references are so authentic and nostalgic that they truly transcend anyone in the audience.” Abraham has choreographed works for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and a solo work for American Ballet Theater principal dancer Misty Copeland.
Currently resident choreographer of the Dance Theater of Harlem, Robert Garland is another choreographer “steeped in the history and tradition of classical ballet, who creates works that beautifully and intricately balance the vocabulary of classical and more contemporary movement.” A former principal dancer of the Dance Theater of Harlem, Garland has created works for the New York City Ballet and the Royal Ballet in the United Kingdom, as well as more commercial works for various advertisements and awards.
A relatively recent choreographer, Amy Hall Garner was one of the first recipients of the Joffrey Ballet Choreography of Color Award (now titled Winning Works). Taylor adds it to the list, saying that “Garner’s choreography has a really clean, classic look and a romantic feel to the way it formulates the movement.” Taylor adds that she looks forward to seeing the development of Garner’s choreographic career.
Recently appointed artistic director of Ailey II, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s second company, Taylor includes Francesca Harper as “a well-known and very versatile artist with a background in classical, contemporary and broadway dance.” Taylor appreciates Harper’s work because it gives male and female dancers a space to experience and indulge in the strength and athleticism of ballet, which is often underestimated. Throughout her career, Harper has choreographed pieces for Tanz Graz, Hubbard Street II, Dallas Black Dance Theater and her own company, The Francesca Harper Project, which she founded in 2005.
International choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa is known for creating ballets that explore the traditional narrative side of classical ballet in a very new way. Taylor first discovered Lopez Ochoa’s work while watching his play “Red Riding Hood”, performed by the British company Ballet Black. Taylor calls Lopez Ochoa’s work “visually beautiful and complex,” adding that she choreographs well for groups, solos and duets. Lopez Ochoa has worked with 68 dance companies around the world, including the Dutch National Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal and Joffrey Ballet.
Taylor describes Darrell Grand Moultrie as an extremely versatile choreographer with experience in creating work for ballet, contemporary dance, Broadway and even “Mrs. Carter ”Around the world. “Moultrie is a nuanced choreographer who appreciates subtlety,” says Taylor, adding that his works “explore what modern, jazzy and cultural movements can look like in pointe shoes.” Moultrie is a recipient of the Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship Award and has worked with a wide range of ballet companies including the American Ballet Theater, the Atlanta Ballet, the BalletMet, the Dance Theater of Harlem and the Juilliard School.
A graduate of the UNCSA High School Program, choreographer Katy Pyle is the founder of Ballez, a ballet company that describes itself as “lesbians doing ballet” and “not just lesbians, but all the queers ballet has.” left out ”. Taylor includes Pyle on his list as a choreographer who “brilliantly asks and demands that we watch and rethink who and what should be on stage.” Thanks to Ballez, Pyle has reinvented several classic works such as “The Firebird” and “Sleeping Beauty” into pieces that also tell the story of important cultural movements.
Listen to Katy Pyle featured on the Kenan Institute’s ArtsRestart podcast:
Taylor adds Claudia Schreier to her list as a choreographer who delves into works of the black experience and describes her as an artist who can “refer to an idea without fussing over you. As an example, Taylor recalls a play created by Schreier for the Dance Theater of Harlem, titled “Passage,” which dealt abstractly with the subject of the slave trade and which Taylor describes as “of a bewitching beauty ”. Schreier was the 2020 choreographer in residence at the Atlanta Ballet and received both the 2018 NEFA National Dance Project Award and the 2017 Lotos Foundation Award for Dance.
Micaela Taylor is another choreographer who merges ballet and contemporary dance. Artistic director and founder of the dance company The TL Collective, she is the recipient of the Inaugural Springboard EMERGE choreographic award. Taylor describes Micaela Taylor’s choreography as very physical, with a lot of emphasis on facial expressions, while also incorporating a hip hop cultural influence into her movement. Micaela Taylor has choreographed and taught for BODYTRAFFIC, Springboard Danse Montreal and Cleo Parker Robinson Dance.
Taylor describes Christopher Wheeldon as “a very busy and established choreographer” who is a true craftsman of ballet form. The current artistic associate of the Royal Ballet in the UK, Wheeldon is a former soloist with the New York City Ballet, which became the company’s first resident choreographer in 2001. Taylor says Wheeldon is “truly a great example of someone.” one who understands the history of ballet, but finds ways to combine traditional styles with new ideas and new ways to weave movement together.