When Jennifer Homans published Apollo’s Angels in 2010, she didn’t sound too hopeful about the future of ballet. “Ballet is dying,” she wrote in the book’s final pages, convinced that the artform had become too elite, too inaccessible, too boring and too safe. Now, four years later, the former Pacific Northwest Ballet dancer is actively involved in reversing the trend: In September, Homans founded New York University’s Center for Ballet and the Arts to support the study and creation of ballet.
Thanks to funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Center hosts seven fellows this fall, including former New York City Ballet principal Heather Watts—who has spent a semester analyzing George Balanchine’s ballets in the context of the time and culture when they were made—and documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, who is working with choreographer James Sewell to create a dance based on one of his films.
Public events are also scheduled: conversations (the first was with American Ballet Theatre choreographer in residence Alexei Ratmansky at the New York Public Library), seminars, lectures and master classes.
Photo by Mathieu Asselin, courtesy of NYU Photo Bureau