New York City Ballet's 2012 Spring Gala tonight, May 10 will feature a one-time-only salute to France titled À La Française, and will feature two World Premiere ballets, one by NYCB's Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins to a score by the French composer Marc-André Dalbavie; and one by French-born choreographer and former NYCB Principal Dancer Benjamin Millepied to a commissioned score by Nico Muhly. The evening will also include a major revival of George Balanchine's Symphony in C, which was created for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1947 to a score by the French composer Georges Bizet.
Natalie Portman will serve as the Honorary Chairman for the gala evening, with Emily and Len Blavatnik, Charlotte Moss and Barry Friedberg, and Marie-Nugent Head and James C. Marlas as the gala's Chairmen. The entire evening, which will take place at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, is sponsored by Christian Dior and Swarovski.
The new work by Benjamin Millepied will be set to a commissioned score by the contemporary classical composer Nico Muhly. A graduate of Columbia University and the Juilliard School of Music, Muhly is currently one of the music world's most sought-after young composers, and has written numerous orchestral and choral works, as well as scores for dance, opera, and film. His opera Two Boys, a collaboration with playwright Craig Lucas and director Bartlett Sher premiered last year at the English National Opera and is scheduled to makes its Metropolitan Opera debut during the 2013/14 season. Muhly has also collaborated on numerous works outside of the classical-music world, including projects with Björk, Antony and The Johnsons, and the Brooklyn-based indie folk rock band Grizzly Bear.
A former dancer with New York City Ballet, Millepied joined NYCB in 1995 and was promoted to Principal Dancer in 2002. Before retiring from dancing with NYCB last year, Millepied danced a wide variety of works in the NYCB repertory and originated roles in ballets by Jerome Robbins, Peter Martins, Alexei Ratmansky, Christopher Wheeldon, and Mauro Bigonzetti, among others. As a choreographer, Millepied has created three previous works for New York City Ballet – Quasi Una Fantasia (2009), Why am I not where you are? (2010), and Plainspoken (2010).
This will be the fourth time that Muhly and Millepied have collaborated on a ballet, following previous works for American Ballet Theatre in 2007 (From Here on Out), the Paris Opera Ballet in 2009 (Triade), and the Dutch National Ballet in 2010 (One Thing Leads to Another). Millepied has also created works for numerous other companies around the world including the Metropolitan Opera, the Maryinsky Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet and Ballet Genève, as well as for Mikhail Baryshnikov. In 2010 Millepied choreographed and appeared in Darren Aronofsky's Academy Award-winning feature film BLACK SWAN.
The costumes for the new Muhly/Millepied work will be designed by Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte. Kate and Laura have previously designed and created the ballet costumes for BLACK SWAN, which were sponsored by Swarovski, as well as collaborated with Benjamin Millepied and Nico Muhly on One Thing Leads to Another for the Dutch National Ballet. They are currently collaborating with Frank Gehry on a new production of Don Giovanni for the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Rodarte's design and costume work has also been featured in solo exhibitions at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (2010) and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2011), and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2011). Their work is also included in the Permanent Collections of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Boston Museum of Fine Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Museum at FIT in New York.
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