Spring 2013 Project: Reggie Wilson and Akram Khan


Yale Dance Theater’s

Spring 2013 project:

Reggie Wilson & Akram Khan

Carrying forward with the enthusiasm generated by Yale Dance Theater’s 2012 project on the legacy of Merce Cunningham, YDT’s spring 2013 project shifted our attention to cutting-edge contemporary dance artists working today. The project differs from past years in focusing on two artists, living on separate continents, both under the age of forty-five.

The two artists – Reggie Wilson and Akram Khan – share an interest in fusing contemporary and traditional dance forms, toward renewed cultural and political relevance. Based in Brooklyn, Reggie Wilson and his company Fist and Heel Performance Group synthesize American postmodern choreographic strategies with dances of the African diaspora. British Bangladeshi choreographer Akram Khan thinks cross-culturally, cross-disciplinarily, and transnationally through a movement style that fuses European contemporary dance with the classical Indian dance form khathak. Through their choreography, Khan and Wilson are redefining the meaning of “diaspora” in the 21st century.

The project occurred in two phases. From January through March, YDT worked with Reggie Wilson and the dancers of Fist and Heel Performance Group on choreographic excerpts from his twenty-year plus career, including material from his newest work, scheduled for a New York premiere in the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival in 2013. In April, two dancers from the Akram Khan Company — Eulalia Ayguade Farro of Spain and Young Jin Kim of South Korea — visited Yale for a three-week residency, during which they staged excerpts of Khan’s KAASH (2002), BAHOK (2008), and VERTICAL ROAD (2010). Both phases culminated in public lecture demonstrations.

In launching a study of artists working across national and cultural boundaries, Yale Dance Theater supports Yale’s mission to internationalize the university in all realms of campus and educational life.

Sponsored by the Arts Discretionary Fund in Yale College and the Lionel F. Conacher and Joan T. Dea Fund in cooperation with the dance studies curriculum, Theater Studies, and Alliance for Dance at Yale.


About the artists

Akram Khan is one of the most acclaimed choreographers of his generation working in Britain today. Born in London into a family of Bangladeshi origin, he began dancing at seven and studied with the renowned kathak dancer and teacher Sri Pratap Pawar.
 Khan began presenting solo performances of his work in the late 1990s, maintaining his commitment to classical kathak as well as developing modern work. Khan is currently an Associate Artist of MC2: Grenoble and Sadler’s Wells, London in a special international co-operation.

Khan’s notable company works are bahok (2008), originally produced in collaboration with National Ballet of China; Variations (2006), a production with London Sinfonietta in celebration of Steve Reich’s 70th birthday; ma (2004), with text by Hanif Kureishi; Kaash (2002), a collaboration with artist Anish Kapoor and composer Nitin Sawhney.
Besides his company work, Khan also created duets: In-I (2008) with Oscar-winning actress Juliette Binoche, Sacred Monsters (2006) with internationally acclaimed dancer Sylvie Guillem, and award-winning zero degrees (2005) with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui in collaboration with Antony Gormley and Nitin Sawhney.

 DESH (2011), Khan’s first full-length contemporary solo is a part-autobiographical work which is at once intimate yet epic. Khan’s latest contemporary ensemble work Vertical Road (2010) and recent creation Gnosis (2009), where he combined his classical Indian and contemporary dance roots, received critical acclaim and continue to tour worldwide.

 He recently choreographed a section of the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Khan has been the recipient of numerous awards throughout his career including the Laurence Olivier Award, the prestigious ISPA (International Society for the Performing Arts) Distinguished Artist Award, South Bank Sky Arts Award, UK Critics’ Circle National Dance Award and The Age Critics’ Award (Australia).

Khan was awarded an MBE for services to dance in 2005. He is also an Honorary Graduate of Roehampton and De Montfort Universities, and an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Laban.

Reggie Wilson founded his company, Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group, in 1989.  He draws from the movement languages of the blues, slave and spiritual cultures of Africans in the Americas and combines them with post-modern elements and his own personal movement style to create what he calls “post-African/Neo-HooDoo Modern dances.” 
His work has been presented nationally and internationally in the United States Europe, and Africa.

Wilson has traveled extensively: to the Mississippi Delta to research secular and religious aspects of life there; to Trinidad and Tobago to research the Spiritual Baptists and the Shangoists; and also to the Southern, Central, West and East of Africa to work with dance and performance groups as well as various religious communities.
 He is a graduate of New York University, Tisch School of the Arts (1988, Larry Rhodes, Chair).

Wilson was the recipient of the 2000-01 Minnesota Dance Alliance’s McKnight National Fellowship. Wilson is also a 2002 BESSIE-New York Dance and Performance Award recipient for his work The Tie-tongued Goat and the Lightning Bug Who Tried to Put Her Foot Down and a 2002 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow. Most recently, in recognition of his creative contributions to the field, Wilson was named a 2009 United States Artists Prudential Fellow and is also the 2009 recipient of the Herb Alpert Award in Dance.
 His evening-length work, The Good Dance – dakar/brooklyn had its world premiere at the Walker Art Center in November 2009 and NY premiere on the Brooklyn Academy of Music 2009 Next Wave Festival followed by a ten city US tour.

In 2012 New York Live Arts presented Wilson’s theRevisitaton, a concert of works, to strong critical acclaim. Most recently, Wilson received the 2012 Joyce Foundation Award for his new work (project) Moseses Project, premiering 2013 as well as being an inaugural Doris Duke Artist.


YDT Faculty director: Emily Coates

YDT student coordinators: Elena Light & Aren Vastola

Producers: Laurel Durning-Hammond & Gabriel Greenspan

 2012-2013 YDT COMPANY

Caroline Andersson is a sophomore in Morse College. She originally studied ballet, but has branched into modern dance. She is also on the Yale Step Team and sings with the a cappella group Proof of the Pudding. She is very excited for this year’s Yale Dance Theater experience!

Amymarie K. Bartholomew is a senior chemistry major at Yale. She’s trained with the New Haven Ballet and the Lenihan School of Irish Dance. A member of Groove Dance Company and the Yale Ballet Company, she has studied post-modern dance and performed Twyla Tharp’s Torelli and Yvonne Rainer’s Trio A with Advanced Dance Repertory, a Yale dance studies course. She also participated in Yale Dance Theater’s Pilot Project during spring 2011.

Nathalie Batraville hails from Montreal and is a third year graduate student in French literature. She studies Haitian culture and society from 1960 to 1979, more specifically isolation and social exclusion, and does so primarily through close readings of poetry and other artistic forms. She is also teaching Elementary French at Yale this year. Before finally discovering modern dance, she trained in ballet, tap and jazz. She is continuously overjoyed and humbled by her experiences with YDT.

Lauren Dawson’s dance background has been focused in the genre of musical theater. Her performances included jazz, swing, and modern styles of dance. She is currently a member of the Sabrosura latin dance team as well as a participant in Danceworks. Since her appearance at Yale she has tried her hand at ballet, hip-hop, and belly dance. She hopes that this time will strengthen and broaden her knowledge of movement. Her excitement for the upcoming project is unparalleled.

Derek DiMartini is a Theater Studies major, class of 2013.  Although he did not start dancing until his senior year of high school, he quickly fell in love with dance’s expressivity.  He is currently a member of A Different Drum Dance Company at Yale and is an avid choreographer.

Lila Ann Dodge African Studies MA ‘14.

Hannah Dreitcer is a second year MDiv at Yale Divinity School, where she is preparing for ordination and indulging in her fascination with the human phenomenon of religion.  A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, she began ballet in kindergarten and has been unable to stop dancing since.   

Laura Fridman Born in Paris, I took my first ballet class at the age 3 and danced ever since. First training in ballet in several small dance schools in Paris, it was at the age of 11 when I decided to audition for a professional ballet program. I trained at a French private ballet school, then in England and finally at the Paris regional conservatory, dedicating most of my childhood to the world of dance. Today, I am so excited to be able to continue dancing with YD and YUBC. And also looking forward to starting an exciting semester with Yale Dance Theater!

Molly Haig is a junior psychology major in Davenport College at Yale. She trained for twelve years at CAS Ballet Theatre School in her hometown, Ann Arbor Michigan. This is her second year in Yale Dance Theater. She also dances at New Haven Ballet and is in A Different Drum Dance Company. When she’s not dancing or studying, she enjoys drawing, playing clarinet in the Yale Concert Band and climbing trees.

Indrani Krishnan-Lukomski, May 6th 1993. I spent my first seven years in Singapore and then moved to the South of France. I was thus exposed to different dancing traditions, although it really became a component of my life in high school. I am a sophomore in Jonathan-Edwards hoping to major in the Humanities.

Karlanna Lewis, whose dreams include becoming a bird, is in her first year at the Yale Law School and also dances with the Yale Ballet Company. Ms. Lewis earned an honors B.A. in Russian and Creative Writing from Florida State University in 2011, with an honors thesis in poetry and minor in computer science. At Florida State Ms. Lewis was selected as an Outstanding Senior Scholar, and as a graduate student was a 2011-12 Rhodes Scholar Finalist. A native of Tallahassee, Florida, she was a principal dancer for the Pas de Vie Ballet from 2007 through 2011 and led an honors service project teaching dance to local schoolchildren. She has trained in classical ballet at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet, Miami City Ballet and Joffrey Ballet schools. Uniting her passions for the arts and the environment, in 2011 Ms. Lewis founded the non-profit Dancearth, an arts for social change initiative celebrating movement and the earth in which we move. She hopes to eventually become a university professor and continue dancing as long as possible.

Elena Light is a senior at Yale double majoring in French and Art History. She trained in classical ballet and modern dance at Oakley Ballet Center and attended intensive summer programs at the Oregon Ballet Theater and The Boston Conservatory. She is currently a member of Yaledancers and a student coordinator for Yale Dance Theater. She participated in Yale Dance Theater’s Pilot Project during spring 2011.

Clarissa Marzán started dancing at age 7 by studying Spanish dance at a private studio and classical ballet at various studios in New York City and Long Island. In high school, she began studying jazz, modern and contemporary dance. At Yale, she dances with A Different Drum Dance Company and Yale Undergraduate Ballet Company. She is honored to be a part of YDT, where she can branch out further and continue exploring.

Elizabeth Quander (SY ’15) is from Chicago, Illinois and graduated from Whitney M. Young Magnet High School. She studied ballet at The School of Ballet Chicago and was a member of the Studio Company. She also attended summer intensives at the School of American Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet.
Zoe Reich-Aviles (DC ’15) comes from the booming metropolis of Arlington, MA. She started dancing at age four and has since fallen in love with dance many times over. After taking classes in ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, and “funky jazz,” she studied modern with Richard Colton, who she thanks for introducing her to dance as a true form of art and self-expression. Since then, she has continued to explore the wonders of dance with A Different Drum Dance Company. She looks forward to this new adventure with YDT!
Aren Vastola (BK 2014) is a Theater Studies major with a special interest in dance studies. He is thrilled to be participating in Yale Dance Theater for a third time, as a dancer and student coordinator. Aren studied ballet and modern dance in his hometown of Sitka, Alaska, and at summer intensives. Aren thanks Yale Dance Theater for broadening and diversifying his dance experience and understanding.
Cecillia Xie is a senior at Yale (Trumbull College) majoring in Economics. She began dancing with California High School’s Varsity Song (Dance) Team, competing yearly as finalists in the categories of pom and jazz at Universal Dance Association’s National Dance Team Championship in Orlando, Florida. She has also trained in ballet, modern, and hip-hop, and is currently a member of Groove Dance Company.