Dance in America: NY Export: Opus Jazz
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A “ballet in sneakers” choreographed by the legendary Jerome Robbins in 1958, NY Export: Opus Jazz was a breakout success in its day, complete with a world tour and a broadcast on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Set to an evocative jazz score by Robert Prince with original abstract urban sets designed by Ben Shahn, the five movements blend ballet, jazz and ballroom with Latin, African and American rhythms to create a style that remains expressive, sensual and contemporary. Yet Opus Jazz has been infrequently performed by ballet companies since it debut, and never adapted for film. Co-conceived and produced by New York City Ballet principal dancers Ellen Bar and Sean Suozzi, this new film production takes the overlooked Robbins’ masterpiece off the stage and places it into the landscapes that inspired it, filmed on locations all over the five boroughs of New York City. The 16 emblematic characters are city kids drawn together by their youth, their energy and their hunger for life, but this Opus Jazz takes them out of the 50s and into today; although fashions and skylines change, the experience of being young in New York belongs to every generation. Completing the program will be background material on the original Robbins production, as well as interviews with the cast and creators on the process of recreating the work for a new era.