Bach Times Two

Frequently two different choreographers use the same piece of music. But what happens when one choreographer makes two works to the same score? We'll find out later this month, when Emery LeCrone premieres both a classical and a contemporary interpretation of Bach's Partita No. 2 in C Minor, created for the Guggenheim's Works & Process series. The work's March 23, 7:30 pm performance will be livestreamed here. Pointe talked to LeCrone about the project's unusual challenges.

How did this idea come together?
I choreographed the first movement of this partita for the Youth America Grand Prix gala last year--it was a pas de deux for New York City Ballet's Teresa Reichlen and Tyler Angle. The Works & Process directors saw the performance, and out of that came the idea to choreograph not only the whole score, but the whole score, twice. I loved that angle, because I really love this piece of music.

Who are your dancers?

Tess and Tyler responded so well to the music that I knew I wanted them in the expanded piece, and my other classical dancers are Stella Abrera and Alexandre Hammoudi from American Ballet Theatre. For the contemporary group, I chose a group of freelance dancers. They all have different backgrounds, but I've been working with them pretty regularly since 2008, so I know them well.

What was your process like with each group?
 
The classical dancers can do brilliantly articulate, technical footwork, and I had fun exploring that in their piece--lightning-speed clarity. In the contemporary work, I had to get away from my first response to the music. Because the partita is classical, I frequently found myself defaulting to classical movements. So I decided to use a more improvisational format. We developed movement first and then tried to fit it into the score.

What has the project taught you about yourself as a choreographer?

When you're creating a lot, you get to a certain point where you discover your ingrained preferences. You find that you naturally gravitate toward a certain step, or even a certain dancer. This process forced me to reevaluate all that. Doing one piece and then turning around and making something completely different gave me a fresh look at my vocabulary--at what I think is classical, and what I think is contemporary, and how both factor into my voice.