Street Artist, JR, Tries Hand at Choreography with New York City Ballet

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
(Paul Kolnik)

(Paul Kolnik)

Artists and architects often work in dance, designing sets, projections, costumes, and environments. Not often, however, does that artist actually get to choreograph. Here, JR, an artist who works in the public realm creating photo murals that are often a participatory experience with a community, such as a favela in Rio, or a slum in Delhi, has been given the opportunity to make his figures move.

(Paul Kolnik)

(Paul Kolnik)

The specially-commissioned, 8-minute-long dance called Les Bosquets was inspired by JR’s 2004 street installation, Portrait of a Generation, which was set in a Paris housing project that became the backdrop of the 2004 riots. In the performance, the large corps of dancers, some 40 strong, dynamically dances, marches, and thrusts across the stage to a musical score by French musician Woodkid played by an ensemble of 80 musicians.

JR’s signature Ben-Day dots in variegated patterns appear on full body stockings like a living newsprint, and a moving mound of shadows are thrust behind the dancers. A ballerina—the artist—is coupled with jookin’ street dancer Lil Buck—the journalist. The entire performance, which wrapped up last week, was an interesting experiment that makes one wonder what would happen if architects were given a chance to choreograph dance, extending their direction of our movements through their buildings on the stage set of our daily lives.

(Paul Kolnik)

(Paul Kolnik)

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