State Theatre and Mason Gross School of the Arts host Black Grace Master Classes
Posted on 06/01/2017
On April 21, 2017, State Theatre New Jersey presented Black Grace, one of New Zealand’s leading contemporary dance companies, in a striking collection of short and full-length works choreographed by Founding Artistic Director Neil Ieremia. Prior to the performance, which received great audience acclaim, State Theatre and Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts partnered with Black Grace on hosting two master classes.
The master class participants included middle school students from Greater Brunswick Charter School and Rutgers BFA dance majors. "Bringing Black Grace to Rutgers to work with the BFA dance majors was part of the Mason Gross initiative to introduce young professionals to choreographers and repertory from around the world," said Julia Ritter, Chair, Artistic Director, and Associate Professor of the Dance Department for Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
Lian Farrer, State Theatre New Jersey’s Vice President for Eductation & Outreach, said these kinds of programs are a vital part of the theater’s mission. “The performers who appear on our stage are a tremendous resource that we are thrilled to share with our community. Through our partnerships with Rutgers and other schools, we give students the rare opportunity to learn from some of the world’s greatest artists.”
The work performed by Black Grace is highly physical, rich in the storytelling traditions of the South Pacific, and expressed with raw finesse, unique beauty, and power. Touring internationally to Europe, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Australia, and New Caledonia, Black Grace made its U.S. debut in 2004 performing a sold-out season at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.
“Choreographer Neil Ieremia's repertory features a fascinating fusion of dances from the Samoan and Māori cultures in New Zealand with contemporary dance, which provide the dancers with an opportunity to learn new movement vocabularies,” said Ritter.
“I think it’s really important for BFAs to take classes with groups like Black Grace because it opens you up to so many different possibilities within the dance world, outside the U.S.” said Jackie Carelli, Senior BFA student at Rutgers. (At left, the BFA students with members of Black Grace after the mainstage performance at State Theatre New Jersey.)