March 2 & 3: Spectacular Dance By Stephen Petronio Company

March 2 & 3: Spectacular Dance By Stephen Petronio Company

New Orleans Ballet Association and The NOCCA Institute present
March 2 (8pm) and March 3 (2pm & 8pm) at NOCCA, 2800 Chartres Street 

“[Petronio] has a knack for pairing his virtuosic movement with the hottest musicians and fashion designers of the moment.” — The New York Times


The New Orleans Ballet Association (NOBA) and The NOCCA Institute present the fast-paced, edgy, and exciting Stephen Petronio Company for three performances at NOCCA’s Freda Lupin Memorial Hall on March 2 and 3! Acclaimed by critics as one of the most innovative choreographers of his generation, Petronio is known for his instantly recognizable style of fiercely kinetic and emotional dances.

For 25 years, Petronio’s collaborations with provocative luminaries of music, art and fashion, from Anish Kapoor and Cindy Sherman to Rufus Wainwright and Lou Reed, have led to global success. He has been commissioned by the world’s most prestigious companies, such as Frankfurt Ballet, The Scottish Ballet, and the Lyon Opera Ballet and has received honors that include a Guggenheim Fellowship and a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award.

At NOCCA, Stephen Petronio Company’s 11 intrepid dancers will bring a program of two groundbreaking works, featuring soundtracks by iconic music collaborators: Underland, set to music by Australian rocker Nick Cave; and City of Twist, set to an original score by performance legend Laurie Anderson.

Underland, originally choreographed for the Sydney Dance Company in 2003, is set to the dark, bittersweet songs of Nick Cave, who gave Petronio unprecedented access to his entire music catalogue, including rough tracks that were used to build songs. In partnership with Cave’s long-time producer Tony Cohen, Petronio created the arrangement that includes “The Mercy Seat”, “The Ship Song”, “Death Is Not The End”, and “The Weeping Song”.

The commission by SDC was an unparalleled opportunity for Petronio to create a monumental work. “I felt I wouldn’t have made this piece at home,” says Petronio. “Going to Australia, I was so far away and anything was possible. The combination of the skill of the company and the music of Nick Cave just really opened me up.” The dance is a journey through a subterranean, post-apocalyptic place that is hidden away and tucked underneath what was there before.

“The beautiful, dangerous Underland progresses toward a more hopeful conclusion… Although black hearts still flourish underground, art, perhaps, offers redemption.” — The Village Voice

The companion work on the program is City of Twist (2002) and Petronio’s love letter to New York. He began the piece right before 9-11 and was influenced by the aftermath and profound effect of that day on the city, the nation, and the world. City of Twistpaints a series of archetypal portraits in an emotional and changing landscape inspired by life in New York City. “I wanted to give a sense of New York at this point in time,” says Petronio. “An upside-down, tumultuous place where there’s a lot of sadness, but where it’s wacky and funny as well. Petronio commissioned legendary performance artist Laurie Anderson to create a lush score for viola, cello, bass guitar, keyboards and percussion.

“[City of Twist] honors the individuality of the heroic dancers….they fall into embraces, assist one another, make gestures that hint at emotions. But always they dance, as if their lives depended on it.” — The Village Voice

The program also highlights the striking environments created by Resident Lighting Designer Ken Tabachnick and the unique costumes by fashion designer Tara Subkoff of Imitation of Christ. Performances are:

  • Friday, March 2 at 8pm
  • Saturday, March 3 at 2pm
  • Saturday, March 3 at 8pm

Single tickets are $40. Students with a valid ID can purchase tickets for $25. Tickets may be purchased by calling the New Orleans Ballet Association Box Office at 504-522-0996 or online at


In addition to the performances, the company will conduct a master class on Thursday March 1st for NOCCA students and on Saturday March 3rd for NORDC/NOBA Center For Dance students. There will be a free pre-performance talk with Artistic Director Stephen Petronio from 7 to 7:30pm in Lupin Hall before the Friday and Saturday evening performances.

Underland is funded in part by the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts. NDP is supported by lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, with additional funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Community Connections Fund of the MetLife Foundation, and the Boeing Company Charitable Trust. American Airlines is the official airline of the NOBA, and the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel is the official hotel.

About Stephen Petronio, Artistic Director/Choreographer
Stephen Petronio was born in Newark, New Jersey, and received a BA from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he began dancing in 1974. Initially inspired by the dancing of Rudolf Nureyev and Steve Paxton, Petronio was the first male dancer of the Trisha Brown Company (1979 to 1986). He has gone on to build a unique and powerful language of movement in a career that spans over 25 years. He has received numerous accolades, including a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as awards from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, an American Choreographer Award, and a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award.

Petronio has built a body of work with some of the most talented and provocative artists in the world, including composers Nico Muhly, Fischerspooner, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, Son Lux, James Lavelle, Michael Nyman, Sheila Chandra, Diamanda Galás, Andy Teirstein, Wire, Peter Gordon, Lenny Pickett and David Linton; visual artists Cindy Sherman, Anish Kapoor, Donald Baechler, Stephen Hannock, Tal Yarden, Arnaldo Ferrara, and Justin Terzi III; fashion designers Jillian Lewis, Adam Kimmel, Benjamin Cho, Michael Angel, Tony Cohen, Rachel Roy, Tara Subkoff /Imitation of Christ, Tanya Sarne/Ghost, Leigh Bowery, Paul Compitus, Manolo, Yonson Pak and H. Petal; and Resident Lighting Designer Ken Tabachnick.

Petronio has created over 35 works for his company and has been commissioned by some of the world’s most prestigious modern and ballet companies, including William Forsythe’s Frankfurt Ballet, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Lyon Opera Ballet, Maggio Danza Florence, Sydney Dance Company, Norrdans, the Washington Ballet, and The Scottish Ballet. His company repertory works have been set on The Scottish Ballet, Norrdans in Sweden, Dance Works Rotterdam, National Dance Company of Wales, X Factor Dance Company in Edinburgh, Ballet National de Marseille, Ballet-de-Lorraine, and London Contemporary Dance Theater.

Last spring, Petronio completed an evening-length work for 30 dancers in collaboration with composer Ryan Lott (aka SON LUX) for Ballet-de-Lorraine. The dance, Tragic/Love, premiered in Montpellier, France, in 2009. He most recently completed another new work with Ryan Lott titled By Singing Light for the National Dance Company of Wales that premiered in Cardiff in October 2010. New projects include a 2011 commission for Other Shore Dance Company in New York that premiered at the historic Asolo Theatre in Sarasota, Florida, and Prometheus Bound, a musical for the American Repertory Theater, in collaboration with director Diane Paulus (HAIR), writer and lyricist Steven Sater (Tony award, Spring Awakening) and composer Serj Tankian.

About Stephen Petronio Company
Founded in 1984, Stephen Petronio Company has performed in 26 countries throughout the world, including over 35 New York City engagements with fifteen seasons at The Joyce Theater. The company has been commissioned by Dance Umbrella Festival/London, Hebbel Theater/Berlin, Theater Scene National de Sceaux/France, Festival d’Automne a Paris, CNDC Angers/France, The Holland Festival, Festival International Montpellier-Danse, Danceworks UK Ltd, International Cannes Danse Festival, and in the US by San Francisco Performances, The Joyce Theater, UCSB Arts & Lectures, Wexner Center for the Arts, Walker Art Center, and White Bird, among others. The company most recently performed at the Barbican Centre in London, England and the Milano Oltre Festival in Milan, Italy.

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which believes that a great nation deserves great art; a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council as administered by the Arts Council of New Orleans (ACNO); a Community Arts Grant made possible through the City of New Orleans as administered by ACNO; a grant from the Louisiana State Arts Council through the Louisiana Division of the Arts and the NEA.