Caplan Film Developed at UB, to Debut at Lincoln Center Oct. 22

Documents ballet made as gift from the City of Buffalo to the people of New Orleans

Release Date: October 13, 2009 This content is archived.


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The work of UB filmmaker Elliot Caplan documents the making of a ballet that was a gift to the people of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A film by Emmy-award winning artist and filmmaker Elliot Caplan, "15 Days of Dance: The Making of 'Ghost Light,'" produced and developed at the University at Buffalo, will receive its premiere screening this month at Lincoln Center.

Caplan is professor of media study and director of the Center for the Moving Image (CMI), an interdisciplinary initiative of UB's College of Arts and Sciences and Department of Media Study.

In 2007, the CMI commissioned "Ghost Light," a ballet choreographed by Brian Reeder for dancers from the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, as a gift from the City of Buffalo to the people of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

Caplan made an 18-hour film,"15 Days of Dance," to document the creative evolution of the ballet. Excerpts from the film will be presented Oct. 22 at 6 p.m. in the Bruno Walter Auditorium, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

Caplan, Reeder and ABT dancers will be present to discuss the excerpts.

This will be the first of four programs in which different segments of the film will be screened. Other segments will be presented Dec. 17, Feb. 11 and March 8, all with the principals in attendance.

All programs will take place in the Bruno Walter Auditorium. Admission to the NYPL Performing Arts Programs is free and generally first-come, first-served, although tickets are occasionally required. For information, please call (212) 642-0142 or e-mail The Web site for presentations by NYPL Performing Arts Programs at Lincoln Center is

"15 Days of Dance," which has 19 segments (any of which can stand alone as an independent film), will be "in residence" at Lincoln Center Arts Library through March and possibly beyond. During this period, visitors can check out any or all of the film's segments and study them in the library's individual film viewing booths.

The UB commission called for Reeder to create a ballet with dancers from the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company -- its name has since been changed to "ABT II" -- set to "Music for the Theater" by Aaron Copland, with costumes by Reeder. The public premiere of the dance was presented in Buffalo in 2007.

Caplan documented the process of the creation and performance of "Ghost Light" using advanced digital technology to make it available for future research and study. The project was funded by the CMI through the Robert and Carol Morris Artistic Expression and the Performing Arts in the Office of the Dean of the UB College of Arts and Sciences, and the UB Humanities Institute.

"The goal of the CMI," said Caplan, "is to create unique programs like this one that integrate traditional performing arts -- in this case, dance -- into the syntax of emerging media technologies so as to promote and preserve these traditional art forms in the U.S. and abroad."

With his long-time collaborator, choreographer Merce Cunningham, Caplan became a leader in applying new technologies to the arts. He now is working with the UB Center for Computational Research to develop a computer program through which dancers' movements can be tracked to produce new models for digitalized dance documentation.

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.

In 1998, he founded Picture Start Films to produce artistic and commercial media projects. 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 currently 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.

This month Albany Records released the DVD "Shamayim," a work for solo bass voice and eight channels of electronic sound made or modeled upon bass singer's Nicholas Isherwood's vocal instrument. The music is by noted composer David Felder, Birge-Cary Chair in music at UB. The video was created by Caplan.

His additional documentary work and art films featuring such artists as Cunningham, Nam June Paik, 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.

Brian Reeder is an emerging choreographer who has created works for several companies including the ABT, Washington Ballet and the Pacific Northwest Ballet. He 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.

Now in its 14th season, ABT II, is a small 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.

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