Le Bal NYC
The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF)
in partnership with Omnivore
Le Bal NYC
A Free Dance and Picnic Party to Launch Crossing the Line 2009
Featuring leading choreographers and master chefs from New York and France
Saturday, September 12, 2009, 2-6pm
Central Park’s East Meadow
This fall, today’s groundbreaking choreographers and chefs will rendez-vous for Le Bal NYC, a meeting of the dance and culinary worlds in Central Park’s East Meadow. Le Bal NYC is presented by the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) in partnership with Omnivore, to launch FIAF’s Crossing the Line 2009 festival celebrating French and American artists working to transform cultural practices on both sides of the Atlantic.
Le Bal NYC represents a rare chance to dance alongside France’s acclaimed choreographers – and to break bread with top chefs from some of the most wildly popular restaurants in New York and France.
An inventive new twist on the bal populaire, this dance party in the Park unites established and emerging choreographers from France to demystify contemporary dance for picnickers of every age. For Le Bal NYC, each choreographer has been commissioned to create short dances to be taught, section by section, to all in attendance, blurring the line between dancer and choreographer, public and performer. Choreographers include Germaine Acogny, Odile Duboc, Latifa Laâbissi, and Olivier Dubois.
The idea of the pique-nique will also enjoy a delectable new spin, as Omnivore New York’s brigade of top chefs from France and New York join forces to stir up a sampling of innovative picnic fare, packaged in special Crossing the Line Bento Boxes. Participating master chefs include France’s Inaki Aizpitarte, Pascal Barbot, Alexandre Gauthier, and Michel Bras, and New York’s David Chang, and Wylie Dufresne. In addition, a sampling of fare from local farms and producers will punctuate the event.
“Our goal is to make this the most inclusive dance premiere in the city,” said Lili Chopra, Artistic Director of FIAF. “In Le Bal everyone is both audience and performer, and maybe even part choreographer too,” added Simon Dove, Crossing the Line co-curator.
For this free, family-friendly afternoon in Central Park, the public is encouraged to bring picnic baskets and blankets, and settle in with mothers, fathers, kids, and grandparents to sample the latest in the worlds of food and dance.
What to expect…
2-2:45pm – Nora Chipaumire presents choreographer Germaine Acogny’s newly commissioned work to the crowd
2:45-3pm – Free dancing and sampling of local artisan cheeses selected by Anne Saxelby of Saxelby Cheeses, served with bread from Bruno Dinel, award-winning French baker
3-3:45pm – Choreographer Latifa Laâbissi leads the crowd while they learn a newly commissioned work
3:45-4pm – Free dancing and food sampling
4-4:45pm – Choreographer Odile Duboc leads the crowd while they learn a newly commissioned work
4:45-5pm – Distribution of Crossing the Line Bento Boxes prepared by the Omnivore New York brigade
5-5:45pm – Choreographer Olivier Dubois leads the crowd while they learn a newly commissioned work
MORE INFO AFTER THE JUMP
Immersed in classical dance from the age of 4, Odile Duboc became autodidact in various forms of dance and in the 1970s founded her own school, the Ateliers de la Danse in Aix-en-Provence. In 1980, after a long period of teaching, she decided to devote her time more fully to choreography. In 1983, Odile Duboc and Françoise Michel founded a company together which they baptized Contre Jour, a playful wink at their own collaboration – that of a choreographer and a lighting designer. In 1990, following Insurrection, an enormous public success, she appointed director of the Centre Chorégraphique National de Franche-Comté in Belfort, a position she held until December 2008, and during her tenure there she created numerous performance works, most notably Projet de la matière, Trois Boléros, Comédie, and à la suite, among others. She and Contre Jour were most recently appeared at FIAF in October 2006 for performances in as part of FIAF’s collaboration with the Fall for Dance Festival.
Born in Colmar in 1972, Olivier Dubois first undertook university training in foreign languages, before encountering the world of dance at a later stage and embarking on a rich and atypical career, one that has led him from Karine Saporta to the Cirque du Soleil, found him collaborating with such choreographers as Angelin Preljocaj, Andy Degroat, Nasser Martin-Gousset, and participating in Le lion et le rat by Dominique Boivin as part of the Fables à la fontaine. At present, he collaborates essentially with Jan Fabre, both in creations and performances. He has also designed the solo work Pour tout l’or du monde for the Festival d’Avignon 2006 and the duo Féroces with Christine Corday for the Esplanade in Saint-Etienne. Olivier Dubois also teaches and directs a number of workshops within dance companies and schools outside France. A comedian as well as a dancer, he has taken part in numerous plays and short films. In 2007 he was awarded the jury’s special prize by France’s union of art critics (theatre, music and dance) for his creation and interpretation of Pour tout l’or du monde.
Germaine Acogny is a dancer, choreographer and teacher. Senegalese and French, she founded her first dance studio in Dakar in 1968. Influenced by the dances of her grandmother, a Yoruba priest, and her studies of traditional African and classical and modern Occidental dances in Paris and New York, she created her own modern African dance technique and is considered the “mother of Contemporary African dance.” Between 1977 and 1982 she was artistic director of Mudra Afrique (Dakar), created by Maurice Béjart and the Senegalese president and poet Léopold Sédar Senghor. She has worked throughout the world as an emissary of African dance and culture. In 1985, she and her husband, Helmut Vogt, established the Studio-Ecole-Ballet-Théâtre du 3ème Monde in Toulouse, France. She also founded L’Ecole des Sables in Senegal, a professional school and meeting place for dancers from throughout Africa. From 1997-2000 she was Artistic Director of the dance section of Afrique en Creations in Paris. She is founder and artistic director of Compagnie Jant-Bi and has received many honors including the 1991 London Contemporary Dance and Performance Award and a 2007 Bessie Award (with Kota Yamazaki). The African magazine “Jeune Afrique” named her one of the 100 personalities who “make” Africa. She has been decorated many times by both the Senegalese and French governments. For Le Bal NYC, her choreography will be presented by New York-based Nora Chipaumire, who will bring the work directly from Senegal.
Latifa Laâbissi lives and works in Rennes. After completing her studies at the Merce Cunningham Studio in New York, Latifa Laâbissi went on to collaborate with Jean-Claude Gallotta, Loïc Touzé, Georges Appaix, Jennifer Lacey, Nadia Lauro, Frans Poelstra and Robert Stern, Boris Charmatz and Emmanuelle Huynh, with whom she has worked on several research projects. She successively created L’âme et le corps duo, Phasmes, I Love Like Animals, Love, Habiter, Distraction, self portrait camouflage. Her interest in teaching led her to work in various settings, such as universities, art schools, and centers of choreography. In Rennes, she co-directs 391 together with Loïc Touzé, and she is part of the collective Aéroport International, developing a new space for dance. In addition to her choreography and performances, she collaborates with other artists to research performance methodologies, and has participated at Polaroïde with the Collectif du 22 mai, in Hourvari (Centre Pompidou) with Emmanuelle Huynh, Edelweiss (CCN Montpellier) and Ligne d’Arrivée (Chamarande), and Bonbonnière (Scène Nationale de Chalon-sur-Saône et CCN Montpellier) with Jennifer Lacey.
Inaki Aizpitarte (from the Basque Country), the embodiment of Nouvelle Cuisine, knows how to prepare dishes that expertly combine simplicity and taste. At his Paris restaurant Le Chateaubriand, which has become one of the sexiest spots to eat in the city, he never forgets the importance of taste, and focuses his work on two or three central elements. Blood sausage and mashed potatoes, for example become a must-have, while olive and chocolate, combine for pure sweetness. These are but two examples of Aizpitarte’s unexpected culinary pairings. Not surprisingly, after three years Le Chateaubriand has become the “place to be” for French celebrities from the music, and fashion and design worlds, as well as for other star chefs. All go there to find a certain ambiance, a groove, and a sort of nonchalance associated with top-level cooking and professionalism. And of course there is the food, in total harmony with Inaki Aizpitarte’s personality: curious, tasteful and a little twisted.
Pascal Barbot opened the doors of L’Astrance, situated on Rue Beethoven in Paris, in the fall of 2000. L’Astrance is a real house, with a soul, a spirit, a signature stamp, and people who inhabit it. All these elements were already present at the opening; they have just grown and developed over the years, making the restaurant more confident and giving Pascal Barbot and Christophe Brohat a natural authority that allows them to impose their ideas of dining on their guests. This has led, most notably, to their menu-less dining experience. The initiative is exciting both for the cook and for the guest, who unite in a kind of culinary mystery, the former not knowing what he will prepare, the latter accepting his or her passive status of willing guinea pig. In the end, you might get the lobster in a broth of bee balm and coriander, or the grand version of a pizza topped with warm sardines and lime, or the pigeon in berries, basil and licorice.
For over twenty years, Michel Bras has been defining contemporary cuisine, anticipating its lightness, determining its structure, and creating some of the best dishes around, with hardly a peer in the same class. The work of this modest master of modern cuisine conveys incredible emotion as long as you set your nose, mouth, tongue, and palate free to sense the inexpressible. His creativity is featured in a menu designed with his son and based only on the herbs that Michel grows in his garden and gathers twice a day, bringing their freshness and emotion to the table. In all of Michel Bras’ dishes, you will encounter a multiplicity of feelings and a unique culinary experience. Some have described his cuisine as druidic and mystical, as it is the liveliest and brightest product possible from the earth, some as the attainment of pure knowledge.
David Chang’s Momofuku, or the story of how a shabby place serving Korean noodles turned into a mini fusion empire in three years… Choosing between the Momofuku Noodle Bar, the headquarters, and the last-born Ko (utter haute cuisine for twelve people: a single menu and reservations exclusively online), you may end up at Momofuku-Ssam Bar. This is the ultimate ethnic table, mixing unique, joyful, trendy, tasteful, fine dining with Asian street food, the best of East and West. Spices, spot-on flavors (thanks to the Kimchi, the fermented eggplant!), and a fantastic atmosphere abound. Dave Chang belongs to the upper-pantheon of chefs.
Wylie Dufresne is a pioneer. There is no other restaurant like WD 50 in New York or even in the U.S. An eatery, as well as a place of high culinary research, the chef proposes a cuisine which uses the latest scientific breakthroughs (jellied drops of foie gras, for example) to enhance traditional all-American dishes. Leave it to Dufresne: eel with black radishes, gingerbread/Campari or frogs’ legs, petals of roses and green peas with black butter, all seduce and surprise.
Alexandre Gauthier has been the chef at La Grenouillère – the family restaurant – since 2003. Located in Montreuil-sur-Mer (mentioned in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables), the restaurant is in the little known region of Pas-de-Calais. Gauthier worked with chefs Régis Marcon (Au Clos des Cimes), Grégory Coutanceau (Les Flots) and Michel Roth (Lasserre), before taking over La Grenouillère. Alain Ducasse recognized Gauthier’s talent early, and invited him to the Plaza Athénée, to make two of his dishes, including an appetizer of soft and hard shell clams, mango, and pomegranate. Gauthier defines his food as cuisine délurée, witty, smart and playful. His favorite ingredient varies with the seasons and his desires. He is also a devoted sportsman and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 2005.
For the last five years, Omnivore has been revolutionizing cooking by producing magazines, gastronomic guides (the Omnivore “Carnets” published by Hachette Pratique), and special publications. The annual Omnivore Food Festival gathers 5,000 food professionals in Deauville, Normandy.
About Crossing the Line
Crossing the Line is FIAF’s fall festival, conceived as a platform to present vibrant new works by a diverse range of transdisciplinary artists working in France and New York City. Initiated, conceived, and produced by FIAF in partnership with leading New York cultural institutions, the third annual edition of this inter-disciplinary contemporary arts festival further develops its focus on artists who are transforming cultural practices on both sides of the Atlantic. Over three intensive weeks this fall—whether by performing shopping, watching sounds, composing films, or reading movements—audiences will join in exploring and tasting a unique collection of outstanding new works and experiences, and discovering new revelations from each of these extraordinary artists.
The third edition of Crossing the Line is co-curated by Lili Chopra (Artistic Director at FIAF) and Simon Dove (Director, School of Dance at Arizona State University), and runs from September 12 through October 3, 2009. A number of the programs and events will utilize FIAF’s own spaces, including Florence Gould Hall, the FIAF Gallery, Tinker Auditorium, and Le Skyroom. Established partners in New York City will also host events, including Cabinet, CPR–Center for Performance Research, Dance Theater Workshop (DTW), Danspace Project, Luxe Gallery, Macy’s, the New Museum, and Performance Space 122 (P.S. 122). Additional partners for Crossing the Line 2009 include Anthology Film Archives, the Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC), Omnivore New York, and the Whitney Museum.