“Pathways to Dance” means a path to the Catskill Mountains and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center for renowned choreographer Twyla Tharp.
The dance initiative, announced Tuesday at the University at Albany, has landed Tharp’s company a six-week residency at the Catskill Mountain Foundation. Tharp will use the time to choreograph work that will have a world premiere at SPAC on June 30, part of the venue’s 50th anniversary season.
Tharp appeared at a press conference, along with Pathways architects Philip Morris, CEO of Proctors in Schenectady; Marcia J. White, SPAC’s president and executive director; and Pam Weisberg, director of programming for the Catskill Mountain Foundation.
Tharp, based in New York City, has worked upstate before. In 1969, she spent time in Chenango County, near New Berlin, where she choreographed “The 100s.”
In the Catskills, Tharp will marry the past with the present.
“I find myself now in the strange position of every time I do something new, there’s also something old back there,” she said.
The old will be represented as Tharp remounts “Country Dances” from 1976 and “Brahms Paganini” from 1980. She will also rehearse a new octet set to Beethoven’s Opus 133.
“About that one,” Tharp said of the Opus, “at this point in time, about all I can say is ‘Time will tell.’ It’s one of Beethoven’s very, very last works, and it had a huge impact on 20th century art. Obviously, this is why we all work, because we want to make a difference in peoples’ lives and in our art form.”
Tharp is the big name attached to “Pathways,” a project devoted to dance creation and presentation that involves eight counties and 10 venues. It is driven by a $90,000 grant received from the New York State Regional Economic Development Council.
Morris said Proctors “convened” the project.
“I called all my friends who knew dance and said, ‘What if we did something together?’ and they all went, ‘Like what?’ Morris said. “I said, ‘I don’t know, let’s get on a conference call.’ We got on a conference call and decided if we did something together, we would probably grow visibility of dance. There’s no reason not do something together, because we’re very different from one another.”
In addition to Proctors, SPAC and the Catskill Mountain Foundation, “Pathways” partners include Manhattan’s Joyce Theater; The Egg; the University at Albany Performing Arts Center; Basilica Hudson in Columbia, Troy Savings Bank Music Hall; National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs and Hubbard Hall in Cambridge.
Morris is not concerned the project’s inaugural programming does not benefit Proctors.
“But it might have worked out differently,” he said. “We’ll do something like this again and it might work out differently and maybe it will benefit us. It was so obvious this should happen at SPAC.
“When we first talked about it,” Morris adedd, “we thought it might be a performance at SPAC and Proctors, but this was too special, it’s a special year at SPAC, it was just too obvious that that’s what should happen and that was fine. We stepped back, as we would hope on some special moment, somebody else would step back.”
White said the June 30 world premiere will be called “An Evening With Twyla Tharp: Pathways to Dance.”
“The company came to the Little Theater in 1989 and it’s really a celebration to have them come as part of our 50th anniversary on the main stage,” White said. “Twyla is a trailblazer, she’s a woman who is passionate about modern dance and is a perfect example on the kind of art that is important to present. It’s something that the whole family can come to. It stimulates the way we think, the way we feel, and I just think its the perfect partnership for our 50th anniversary celebration.”
A sneak preview is also in the works: The work in progress will be presented April 16 at the Orpheum Film and Performing Arts CEnter in Tannersville, the largest performance venue owned by the Catskill Mountain Foundation.
Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124, [email protected] or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter.
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