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Performance Club: Morphoses' Lourdes Lopez

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lourdes Lopez, the executive director of Morphoses, laughed last week when I reminded her of that old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times."

"Now you tell me!" she said. Lopez certainly couldn’t have imagined that the contemporary ballet company she created three years ago with Christopher Wheeldon would end with his abruptly resigning amid a he said-she said.

You can find some of my thoughts on this here. Below are a few of her thoughts as the company attempts to move forward with a rotating curatorial model instead of finding a new permanent artistic director. Let's wish her well. New York has no established contemporary troupe dedicated to pointe work, and could benefit from one. As Lopez, 54, quipped, "I go to the ballet and everyone next to me is either my age or dead!"

Q: Why a curatorial model?

A: We’ve been working off this model anyway. Morphoses was started as a platform for lesser-known and well-known choreographers. It just seems like a natural evolution, in many ways a little bit more focused on the myriad of artists out there. These dancers who are the core of Morphoses every year would have someone new and exciting and hopefully talented who they would be experiencing. There's a part of me that feels also that maybe this whole single choreographer model is just not viable anymore.

Q: Will you keep going after stars (Wendy Whelan, for example) to augment the core group?

A: We’ll probably try to keep doing that. I just think it works. Last year the core had 21 weeks of work that they were guaranteed. Moving forward, the idea would be a short span like through the fall season, through December. It would be very interesting to do smaller or shorter performances across the city in venues where really young people can go, that are not $125 a seat. Morphoses could do that with our ten dancers, and some kind of creative programming, maybe something then at Cedar Lake, just a little bit more organic for lack of a better word.

Q: What about the gigs you had prior to Wheeldon leaving?

A: Those will not be happening.

Q: Will you be working with him in the future?

A: That would be great. We talked about maybe him coming in to curate a season if he had time.

Q: Can you give us an idea of what you’re looking for in a curator?

A: If this has a future and has legs, it would be very exciting to have a lighting designer, say Jennifer Tipton, to say, "These are the ballets I've lit that I think an audience should see back to back." I think initially, just because it's a transitional year for this company, I'd want a choreographer or artistic director. I'd love a sculptor, but I think that person would probably have to have some knowledge of dance. Film directors have come to mind, composers as well. Visual artists can come in, or designers. We would still be commissioning; if a visual artist comes in and says, "I would like to work with this choreographer," then we commission that choreographer.

Q: What is your timetable, looking ahead?

A: Short term, I would love to get the dancers on stage as some kind of community if I can, maybe in the spring. But moving forward I'd like to keep the fall schedule.

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Comments [2]

Claudia La Rocco

I keep thinking if somehow Morphoses could become a Lyon Opera Ballet of sorts ...Lopez has $1.3 million in the bank, let's see what happens...

Mar. 12 2010 11:19 PM
jolene

Hi Claudia - thanks for posting. I've been so fascinated with this little company for a while, and I was thrilled when I saw their West Coast tour mere weeks ago. The tour shows sold out most of the nights they were here.

I also agree that their previous model only worked, because they augmented their repertoire with other choreographers including Wheeldon.They're a company with an amazing repertoire - I loved Rhapsody Fantaisie in the photo that you posted above, as well as Ratmansky's Bolero that they performed. I agree that there's an audience for a company like this, but I wonder how economically savvy their company will be, esp in this economic environment. Will they still pull in funds without Wheeldon's name attached to it? Who knows, but I'm hoping to see this company thrive.

Mar. 11 2010 04:07 PM

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Open to everyone, the Performance Club is a freewheeling conversation about New York performance of all kinds, from experimental theater to gallery installations to contemporary dance. We go, we talk (online and at bars and cafes, with artists and amongst ourselves), we disagree and, sometimes, we change each other’s minds.

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