In an exclusive engagement, independent contemporary ballet duo Jacoby & Pronk will perform at Jacob's Pillow with four other international dance stars, July 21-25 in the Doris Duke Theatre. Drew Jacoby and Rubinald Pronk performed with leading contemporary ballet companies before eschewing the typical dancer's career path to become freelance artists, touring as an independent duo and appearing as guest artists with companies such as the Dutch National Ballet and Morphoses. The duo will perform an excerpt of Christopher Wheeldon's Rhapsody Fantaisie, three world premieres by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Leo Mujic, and Lauri Stallings, and a pas de deux by Hans van Manen. Jacoby and Pronk are joined in this engagement by fellow international dance stars David Hallberg of American Ballet Theatre; former member of Nederlands Dans Theatre Shirley Esseboom; dancer/choreographer Leo Mujic (Béjart Ballet Lausannet, Ballett Frankfurt, Paris Opera Ballet); and Victor Mateos Arellano of Dresden SemperOper Ballett. Short films directed by noted photographer and filmmaker Alvin Booth, starring Jacoby and Pronk, serve as interludes between works.
Ella Baff, Executive Director of Jacob's Pillow, comments "The Pillow is committed to giving dancers and choreographers new opportunities and to sharing their extraordinary talent with the public. I invited these stunning dancers, Drew and Rubinald, to create a special program for the Pillow. They have certainly succeeded. This is the only place where audiences will see this particular constellation of gifted dancers, and three world premieres by uniquely creative choreographers."
A former dancer with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch" in 2007, choreographer Lauri Stallings has been commissioned by American Ballet Theatre, the Juilliard School, and the Vail International Dance Festival, among others. For this engagement, Drew Jacoby and American Ballet Theatre superstar David Hallberg perform Two, a world premiere duet created for them by Stallings, danced to "Falling Shadows (3)" by Max Richter.
Among the first works created for Jacoby & Pronk, One, by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, is a "steely" vehicle for "Jacoby and Pronk's knife-edged limbs, razor-sharp technique, and sensual chemistry" (Nancy Wozny, Dance Magazine) set to an original electronic score by Dutch composer Jacob Ter Veldhuis. Tension builds throughout the work with increasingly quick, sharp movements inspired by William Forsythe, whose early use of formal ballet steps in innovative variations earned him the title of "ballet's reigning indie choreographer" (Claudia La Rocco, The New York Times). Ochoa recreated this work as a quartet and that quartet will premiere at the Pillow.
In Rhapsody Fantaisie, Christopher Wheeldon "knits classical steps with silky changes of weight that shift in tone between limpid duets and more robust, folk-tinged ensemble numbers" (Gia Kourlas, The New York Times). Originally created for a larger ensemble, Rhapsody Fantaisie will be presented as an excerpt performed by Jacoby and Pronk and set to "Tears" by Sergei Rachmaninoff.
Hans van Manen's Déjà vu, set to "Fratres" by Arvo Pärt, will be performed by Victor Mateos Arellano and Shirley Esseboom. "Fratres," originally composed for strings and winds, consists of a set of nine chord sequences, interspersed with a recurrent percussive theme. The chord sequences were generated using a simple mathematical formula and follow a clear pattern that ventures into rich harmonic space.
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's second contribution to the program, L'effleuré, is a powerful solo set to Antonio Vivaldi's "Stabat Mater". L'effleuré (French for ‘the slightly touched one' or ‘the hyper sensitive one') premiered earlier this year on Rubinald Pronk and will be performed alternately by Pronk and Victor Mateos Arellano.
Leo Mujic's Change Me is a world premiere trio for Jacoby, Pronk, and the choreographer himself set to "Sonata for Violin and Piano" by Johann Sebastian Bach. Mujic has worked with Mats Ek, William Forsythe, Ji?í Kylián, Maurice Béjart, Nacho Duato, and Ohad Naharin. In their August 2009 cover story for Dance Magazine, Jacoby and Pronk praised Mujic, who choreographed a "demanding and provocative" (Dallas Dance Examiner) duet for them earlier in 2009 called B Sonata, saying "he really pushed us beyond what we thought we could do."
Drew Jacoby and Rubinald Pronk began to freelance together while both were dancing with Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson's Complexions Contemporary Ballet. They made their debut as Jacoby & Pronk in 2008. As described by Kina Poon of Dance Magazine, "Jacoby's steely strength and Pronk's fluid hyper-flexibility defy the usual gender norms of a ballet partnership. They possess a brimming, almost menacing, energy, and the sense that they are daring each other is palpable." They have premiered the work of choreographers such as Mia Michaels, Paul Lightfoot, Adam Hougland, and Peter Leung, and both dancers have been frequent guest artists with the Dutch National Ballet and performed several seasons with Morphoses. Jacoby and Pronk use their classical ballet technique to perform contemporary work with artistry, fluidity, grace, and extreme flexibility: "Rubinald Rofino Pronk...has one of those bodies; think da Vinci's model, elongate, add hyper-flexibility, fab feet and tensile strength...he has found a soulmate of matching physical splendor in Drew Jacoby, who displays feline grace on girders of steel." (Dance Europe)