By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.
What happens when you bring together ballet stars of New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, a choreographer who promotes the joy and fun of dance, original music by up-and-coming composers, and an organization that aims to help dancers find their way after their performing career? You get a full package of music and dance: Some Dance Company – Encore!.
On Monday, April 28 at New York City’s Florence Gould Hall, David Fernandez, artistic director of Some Dance Company, and Ask La Cour, principal dancer with NYCB, will present Encore!, a performance to benefit Career Transition for Dancers. Some Dance Company is Fernandez’s collective of dancers, whom he calls “friends,” including stars from top ballet companies and dancers from the NYC freelance community. This year, NYCB’s Ashley Bouder, Joaquin De Luz, Chase Finlay, Ask La Cour, Amar Ramasar and Savannah Lowery, as well as ABT’s Nicole Graniero and Luciana Paris, and more, will donate their time and talent to Fernandez’s choreographic vision, Encore!.
“A long time ago, I dreamed of choreographing on the best dancers in the world,” Fernandez says. “But having them help me do an event is a feeling that I can’t describe and is an honor. As a dancer, I know the heavy work we have, and any free time we have we use to rest, but every dancer involved in this event has generously given me that time to create for them.”
La Cour, the event’s co-producer, has known Fernandez for about nine years on both a dancer-choreographer level and also as a friend. He says that Fernandez’s positive attitude in the studio and about dance in general make it a pleasure for any dancer to work with him.
“He can work with anyone and will do anything to make you feel comfortable in his choreography,” La Cour says. “He has a good eye to see what works for people, and he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He loves when people are having a good time.”
For Encore!, Fernandez and La Cour didn’t hesitate to recognize and benefit Career Transition for Dancers.
“A lot of dancers live paycheck to paycheck doing what they love, but what are we supposed to do when the body or the world says, ‘No more’?” La Cour explains. “Career Transition for Dancers is basically filling a gap that very few other people have thought about, and I know a lot of people who are forever grateful to them for their organization and guidance. I know I’m going to be on the other side one day, and hopefully through them and others, find my way into my next life on or off the stage.”
Fernandez adds, “Career Transition for Dancers has been instrumental in assisting many friends of mine with their post-dance journeys, and we are happy to pay it forward.”
Fernandez brought together a similar line-up of dancers in 2012. After that Some Dance Company performance, Fernandez says many people approached him about doing another show but he was hesitant. The requests continued to pour in, however, so Fernandez became confident and knew he had tremendous support behind him for “round two.”
Any performance of Some Dance Company, including this year’s Encore!, shares the same philosophy: artists, dancers and musicians are coming together to share what they love to do with the audience.
“The show is choreographed to highlight the dancers’ individual strengths,” Fernandez explains. “We want to have fun, do what we love in rehearsals and on stage, and share our enthusiasm with our audience. That’s the foundation of Some Dance Company – to enjoy ourselves and to share that joy with our audience. There is no dense subtext to interpret in the pieces and no need to impress people. We just want to get back to the basics when it comes to dance, to hear music and respond to the way it makes us feel.”
The repertory for Encore! will include the premiere of A Constant Fretful of Stamping Hooves, with original music by up-and-coming composer Ian Ng, and a work that will feature Fernandez’s dancer “friends” of the NYC freelance community. His Cotton Candy Tumbleweed, with original music by Craig Chesler, will be cameo after cameo of some of ballet’s top stars. The evening will also include Vitruvian Man, a dynamic piece for three men, NYCB’s La Cour, Chase Finlay and Amar Ramasar. Fernandez will also premiere a duet for NYCB’s Ashley Bouder and Joaquin De Luz, and La Cour will also dance a piece with contemporary flamenco dancer Selene Muños of Denmark.
Fernandez, also an enthusiastic ballet teacher, will bring some of his talented young students to be a part of the show, which will offer them a chance to perform on the same stage as professionals.
All in all, Fernandez and La Cour hope Some Dance Company – Encore! will simply be a lot of fun.
“I hope that people will be entertained,” La Cour says. “I hope for a performance of excitement, tears and laughter. We’ll show some great talents from near and far and hopefully raise some money for a good cause. It will be a feast for everyone who wants to play along. Join our family!”
“For those who saw the first event,” Fernandez concludes, “expect to re-visit your first time with a little twist, and for those who are going to experience this event for the first time, let us entertain you with what we do best – DANCE!”
Some Dance Company – Encore! needs your help to fully bring this vision to the stage. Please support and share the company’s Kickstarter campaign.
Tickets to the performance are available on Ticketmaster and also through the French Institute’s Florence Gould Hall.
Photo (top): New York City Ballet Principal Dancers Amar Ramasar, Ask La Cour (also the event’s co-producer) and Chase Finlay will perform at Some Dance Company – Encore!. Photo by Brian Mengini.