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Mellon Foundation Grant to Fund Yearlong Celebration of Landmark Ballet Score
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Photo: Lois Greenfield.

CHAPEL HILL, NC.- Creating and presenting new works by and for internationally renowned artists – including Bill T. Jones, Anne Bogart, Magdalena Kožená, Yefim Bronfman and Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble – will be part of Carolina Performing Arts’ (CPA) 2012-13 celebration of a landmark ballet.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York has awarded CPA, the performing arts presenter at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a $750,000 grant for the classical music portion of “The Rite of Spring at 100,” a project marking the centennial of the 1913 Paris premiere of Russian composer Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.”

CPA has asked artists to re-imagine “The Rite of Spring” and commissioned 12 new works by 20 choreographers, composers, directors and visual artists, many in collaboration. Their own companies and ensembles will premiere the new works as part of CPA’s 2012-2013 season.

“‘The Rite of Spring at 100’ has great potential to transform the role of the performing arts on our campus and beyond,” Chancellor Holden Thorp said. “We’re grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for this wonderful opportunity, as well as the continued support of Carolina.”

Curricular enrichment, student engagement, academic conferences that stimulate new scholarship on “The Rite of Spring,” artist residencies and faculty fellowships also will be part of the overall project.

UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences and Institute for the Arts and Humanities will collaborate on “Rite 100.” Proceedings of the conferences will be published in a book edited by UNC’s Brigid Cohen, assistant professor of music, and Severine Neff, Eugene Falk Distinguished Professor of Music.

Jones, co-founder and artistic director of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in New York, and Bogart, co-founder and artistic director of the SITI Company, a theater company in New York, already have begun work on their commission. The two companies will perform the resulting work together.

“I am honored to collaborate with Anne, and I believe this is a wonderful opportunity to enrich and inform each other’s processes,” Jones said. “Our joint residencies at UNC-Chapel Hill will provide crucial time to develop our new work.”

Uzbek composer Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky will write a new work with visual artists and choreographers for The Silk Road Ensemble; French composer Marc-André Dalbavie will create a work for mezzo-soprano Kožená and pianist Bronfman.

Tribal rhythms and dissonant music accompanied a young girl dancing inside a circle of elders until her death in the 1913 “Rite” ballet. The elders offered her as a sacrifice to the god of spring. Fist fights broke out in the audience between supporters and opponents of the piece, who eventually moved outside and rioted.

“The role of ‘The Rite of Spring’ in the evolution of the modernist aesthetic and its place in the political and social upheaval of the early 20th century are evident in artistic works in every medium,” said Emil Kang, UNC’s executive director for the arts and CPA director. “Modernism saw traditional forms and social arrangements as hindering progress and therefore re-cast the artist as a revolutionary – overthrowing rather than enlightening.”

The Mellon Foundation supports higher education and scholarship, scholarly communications and information technology, museums and art conservation, performing arts and conservation and the environment. Institutions and programs receiving support often are leaders in their fields, promising newcomers or entities that demonstrate new ways of overcoming obstacles to achieve goals.

The foundation’s grant-making philosophy is to build, strengthen and sustain institutions and their capacities rather than support narrowly defined projects. Thereby the foundation develops thoughtful, long-term collaborations with grant recipients and invests sufficient funds for extended periods to achieve meaningful results.

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