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By Candice Thompson
The former ballet master is now artistic director of Cedar Lake.
Cedar Lake in Crystal Pite’s Grace Engine. Photo by Julieta Cervantes, Courtesy BAM.
When Benoit-Swan Pouffer resigned as artistic director of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in May 2013, ballet master Alexandra Damiani filled his spot in the interim. This April, in the midst of the company’s 10th-anniversary season, Damiani officially took the reins of the company.
As the new director, Damiani intends to keep Cedar Lake’s current repertory blueprint, but plans on developing stronger ties to choreographers. Crystal Pite, for example, has been named an associate choreographer and will create two new works over the next three years. “The first 10 years were about defining our place in the dance community as a strong, versatile rep company,” Damiani says. “This will provide a deeper exploration for the choreographer and the dancers: Time and a safe place for choreographers to work with dancers who know their language are necessary resources to delve into the process.” She is also interested in the dancers developing their own voices through a recently established choreographic laboratory, which allows them to create works on each other.
Above: Damiani in rehearsal. Photo by Renata Braga de Almeida, Courtesy Cedar Lake.
As for the company’s structure, Damiani plans to keep the current roster of dancers at 16, though she is interested in creating apprentice positions. Her first season as AD includes an expanded tour: The company will visit Australia and New Zealand for the first time. Mostly, she says the process of shaping Cedar Lake under her own vision will be slow going. “You have to trust time,” she says. “This transition is about finding the balance of honoring the past and building the future on a solid foundation.”
Cedar Lake’s 10th-Anniversary Home Season
Brooklyn Academy of Music, Howard Gilman Opera House, June 11–14
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s evening-length Orbo Novo, plus two mixed bills featuring Hofesh Shechter’s Violet Kid, Alexander Ekman’s Tuplet, Jo Strømgren’s Necessity, Again and Crystal Pite’s Grace Engine