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UB Commissions Ballet with ABT Studio Company

Release Date: January 12, 2007

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Center for the Moving Image (CMI) at the University at Buffalo has commissioned a ballet by noted choreographer Brian Reeder that will premiere in Buffalo with the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company and, during the company's performance there in March, be presented to the City of New Orleans as a gift from the City of Buffalo.

For future research and study, the process of creation and performance will be documented using advanced digital technology by Emmy Award-winning artist and filmmaker Elliot Caplan, UB professor of media study and director of the CMI, an interdisciplinary initiative of UB's College of Arts and Sciences and Department of Media Study.

The public premiere of the dance will take place at 8 p.m. Feb. 3 in the UB Center for the Arts in a program that will feature additional works from the ABT Studio Company repertoire.

Tickets will be $22 (general public), $15 (UB faculty and staff) and $10 (students). They may be purchased at the UB Center for the Arts, North (Amherst) Campus, at Ticketmaster outlets or Ticketmaster online at http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/. Tickets may be charged by telephone by calling 852-5000. Additional information about the performance is available on the center's Web site at http://www.ubcfa.org, click on "Special Events." A portion of all ticket revenue will go to the ABT to support its performances in New Orleans.

In addition, a generous gift from UB alumnus Robert G. Morris and his wife, Carol L. Morris, will fund a matinee performance that will include the ballet at 11 a.m. Jan. 29 in Shea's Performing Arts Center for an audience of 3,000 Buffalo Public Schools students. The performance will be followed by a question-and-answer session with members of the ABT Studio Company. Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown will participate in the question-and-answer session.

"This performance, and the innovative documentary that Professor Caplan is creating, will provide an exceptional opportunity for the university to share a truly world-class arts experience with the broader community," said UB President John B. Simpson.

"The performance is sure to be an unforgettable experience for the Buffalo Public Schools students who witness it, and I'm very grateful to Bob and Carol Morris for their generosity in helping to make this opportunity possible.  Hosting the premiere of this unique performance will be every bit as memorable for our entire UB community, and the chance to learn first-hand from members of this distinguished company will be an invaluable opportunity for our performing-arts students and the regional arts community."

Mayor Brown added, "This is truly a unique and exciting event for the City of Buffalo and our region. With a vibrant and diverse cultural community, the City of Buffalo will again be placed among leading contemporary artists and performers through the efforts of Elliot Caplan of the University at Buffalo's Center for the Moving Image and the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company with this specially commissioned ballet. 

"More importantly," Brown added, "students from throughout Buffalo's public school system will have an opportunity to see a special performance of the new dance at the city's historic Shea's Center for the Performing Arts and then, following its premier at the university, the City of Buffalo will present this performance as gift to the citizens of the City of New Orleans. I thank all of the partners who have come together in this very worthy and creative undertaking."

The ballet for six dancers commissioned by UB is the fourth ABT Studio Company commission for Reeder, who ABT Artistic Director Kirk Peterson calls "one of the most interesting choreographers working today." The ballet will be set to "Music for the Theater" by Aaron Copland, with costumes by Reeder.

The overall project is funded by the CMI, the UB Center for the Arts and the UB Humanities Institute.

Peterson said the company is "thrilled to be collaborating with Elliot Caplan on this fascinating project. The combination of our very talented Studio Company dancers, Brian Reeder and Elliot Caplan is a dream project for us. Documenting the process of creation and the evolution of movement ideas in dance has been a much-neglected area of preservation, particularly in the ballet world. We all look forward to our participation in this noble effort."

Caplan says, "This is a wonderful opportunity for UB, Buffalo and the dance field. The ballet will become a part of the ABT Studio Company repertoire and performed throughout the country. Wherever it is performed, UB and Buffalo will be cited in the program.

"The mission of the CMI," Caplan explains, "is to create unique programs like this one that integrate traditional performing arts such as music, dance and theater into the syntaxes of emerging media technologies, including film, video and digital to promote and preserve the performing arts in the U.S. and abroad."

The company will be in residence at UB from Jan. 27 through Feb. 4. During that time, it will offer master classes and company classes for UB students of theater and dance, lectures, demonstrations, a choreographic exchange with UB's Zodiaque Dance Company, and a master class for area dance teachers.

The ABT Studio Company, now in its 11th season, is a classical company of 12 young dancers of outstanding potential selected from around the world by the artistic staff of ABT and trained in preparation for entry into it and other international companies.

Caplan's work as a producer, video maker, filmmaker, theater designer and cinematographer is internationally recognized and held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), France's National Museum of Modern Art, Cinémathèque Francaise and museums in Taiwan, Germany, Israel and Brazil. Current projects include "Hidden Thing: A Children's Story," a feature documentary film funded in part by the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture; "UTango," a performance film now screening throughout the U.S. and Europe, and "Steel Work," an experimental visual symphony on DVD with music by Philip Glass, David Bowie and Brian Eno.

His documentary work and art films featuring such artists as Naim June Paik, Merce Cunningham, John Cage and Bruce Baillie have been celebrated with more than a dozen major awards in the U.S. and across Europe, including a 1999 Emmy for "Outstanding Cultural Programming," two "Grand Prix Internationals" for dance video, the Czech Republic's "Golden Prague" award and similar distinctions in France, Germany and Sweden.

Reeder studied at the School of American Ballet and danced with the New York City Ballet, William Forsythe's Ballet Frankfurt and American Ballet Theatre.

As a choreographer, he has created works for the Midsummer Arts Festival at Chateau du Courances, France; the Vermont Dance Festival and St. Barth's Music Festival, as well as the ABT Studio Company. Reeder was recognized by Time Out New York as one of its "10 best" in dance for 2002, and in 2005 was selected by Dance Magazine as one of "25 to watch." In 2006, the New York Choreographic Institute awarded him a fellowship with the Washington Ballet.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York.

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