One of four choreographers commissioned to create original works for Juilliard's New Dances 2009 (December 9-13 in New York City), French choreographer Fabien Prioville worked with the second year dance students to construct a moving new piece, Un Dernier Verre.
Prioville, a member of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch from 1999-2006, has found recent success as a freelance performer and choreographer in Europe. Full of fluid floor work, intricate partnering and emotionally charged solos, Prioville's piece pushed the class of 2012 to their limits.
Dance Teacher caught up with Prioville during the second rehearsal:
Dance Teacher: What is Un Dernier Verre about?
Fabien Prioville: "Un Dernier Verre" means "The Last Drink," and it's set during a birthday party. Beginning with a birthday cake and a happy mood, the piece morphs into something more personal, and darker stories arise. I was inspired by a 1983 movie by Ettore Scola called "The Ball." It's a dance theater piece about relationships within a social dance setting.
DT: How is it working with college dancers?
FP: This was my first time choreographing in the States, so I was a bit nervous. When I stepped into the studio for the first time, I was very careful. I didn't know how the students would tackle work coming from Europe. I wanted them to really understand the theme and the things I wanted them to do, and so far, it's going great.
DT: Are you using any of Pina Bausch's choreographic methods?
FP: Yes, I am. When I do my own work, I don't usually use the process that Pina used, but I think for students, it's a process that's very useful and necessary to go through. We are using improvisation and I'm coaching the students to explore their own creativity and movement. The piece is not very long, but I've managed to sneak in some little things here and there, and the students have even done some of the choreography themselves. I've learned a lot from Pina, and, through her, I've learned a lot about myself.
-Photo of Un Dernier Verre by Nan Melville, courtesy The Juilliard School