Classical Music is Dead*

The Nouveau Classical Project

We had a great time at The New Music Bake Sale yesterday! We were there to spread the word about Potential Energies, our new modern ballet AND the biggest project we’ve ever pursued. It’s inspired by the Millennial Generation’s balancing act of hope & survival. We created a display of flowers and brown paper bags full of goodies alongside our trailer looped on an iPad.

Instead of charging cash money for our goods, we accepted only social currency, as in, tags for bags. In exchange for answering and sharing our Potential Energies-inspired fill in the blank cards on social media, participants received an NCP Swag Bag that contained veggie sticks, a tea cookie, a brownie, a sticker, postcard, and lovely waxflowers.

Did you miss the bake sale? No worries! Head on over to our Facebook page where we’ll be posting more fill in the blank fun over the next couple of weeks. And don’t forget to check out our trailer!

12 Things I Love About You


The artists of Potential Energies talk about what they love most about the project. After reading this, watch our trailer on Kickstarter and please consider making a pledge!

Because of PE, I wake up every morning excited and energized. I get to work with an amazing group of people, to whom I am grateful for stepping up to this challenge. While we’re addressing bigger themes, we’re also using personal experiences to develop the work; what we’re doing is so sincere. Lastly, one of the best things about the process is the true spirit of collaboration: musicians contribute movement ideas, dancers’ ideas inform the composition, Barbie, Trevor, and I listen to each other and the artists as well. We have a great working dynamic and our collective priority is to make something beautiful together. I couldn’t ask for a better team. -Sugar Vendil, Director, Potential Energies; Artistic Director & Pianist, The Nouveau Classical Project.

Having Trevor and the musicians in rehearsals tempers my intuitive habits and calls me to consider how the body changes when an instrument is involved, and it has made me treasure accuracy. Its rare to have hard work and inspiration in equal measure, but when the musicians are present, I’m fed a constant stream of ideas about movement , space and structure that wouldn’t exist if I were working with a music recording. Its been a kind of creative rewiring of circuits for me. -Barbie Diewald, Choreographer, TrioDance Collective

Potential Energies has become the part of my life where I get to return to my roots - usually between the hours of 6 and 9pm! I grew up on classical and modern music and this has been my chance to rekindle that fire. It’s a very similar story to what we are trying to tell with this modern ballet and I think it’s something the creative team and performers can all identify with. This is our chance to do something. -Trevor Gureckis, Composer

I have really enjoyed being able to collaborate with musicians. Having such a different energy in the rehearsal room and a different outlook on composition and artistry has been inspiring to me. It had been a welcome challenge communicating with both the language of dancers and the language of musicians. I feel like the work has really benefited from having so many creative voices having a say in the project. -Allison Beler, TrioDance Collective

PE means it’s cuddle time with Allison! Oh, Kivie. -
Kivie Cahn-Lipman, Cellist, The Nouveau Classical Project

PE gives me an excuse to be focused with my own movement as a musician and as a body. The amount of planning that comes from our creative leaders enmeshed with their energy and the energy of all the performers makes Tuesday and Thursday morning feel hyper-caffeinated! -Laura Cocks, Flutist, The Nouveau Classical Project

My favorite thing about working on PE is the project’s spirit of collaboration. We’re constantly trying things out, throwing around new ideas, and giving each other feedback. This kind of group workshopping is something that dancers do all the time, but classical musicians rarely get the opportunity to influence the generation of new material in the same way.-Marina Kifferstein, violinist, The Nouveau Classical Project

So often we dance to music or music makes us want to dance; PE creates a beautiful circle between the two. Rarely are performances a true collaboration of art forms where neither form dominates the drive or intention; this collaboration feels intrinsically meshed and it’s hard to separate the piece from this intermingling. In developing the choreography for the first section of the piece we started with the musicians’ movements and paired one dancer with each musician. Barbie and the dancers then developed this material to base their choreography off of these gestures. I loved seeing how Barbie and the dancers transformed these restricted everyday actions into expressive movement.-Mara Mayer, Clarinetist, The Nouveau Classical Project

Once we were partnered up with our musicians, we had individual meetings with just the pairs to get to know each other and share our stories about our development and life as an artist. From young hopefulness to financial struggles, it was comforting to hear the commonalities and be reminded that there were other people fighting for, and not giving up on this crazy dream of following dreams. Nothing but greatness and truth could come out of putting these people together. -Cara McGaughey, TrioDance Collective

As one of the dancers, one of my favorite things about the rehearsal process is the thrill of seeing and listening to the musicians play their instruments. Our crafts are so different, but we all attack them with such passion. PE will enrich one’s life by absorbing you into it’s world and leaving lasting impressions on your mind, ears and soul. -Susan Philipp, TrioDance Collective

I love how we all are inspired by each other. In dance there’s always the question of which comes first the music or the dance and in our case it truly is both. We’ve observed one another to create the score of the music as well as the score of the choreography. We’ve created something that is so tactile and true to what our generation, not just artists but all of us, are going through and what we face today. -Christina Soto, TrioDance Collective

Last night, we had a ‘Potential Energies’ work in progress presentation at BAM Fisher. It was a wonderful experience, and we are excited about working on the rest of it! We were so honored to have such a formidable group of mentors, friends, and collaborators as our audience, including Philip Glass, Kevin Puts, Birgitta Trommler, and so many more. As dancers, TrioDance workshops and presents informal showings on a regular basis, but this was a new experience for us as a group. It’s the first work of this scale that we have undertaken in the history of NCP. Because of the nature of this particular collaboration, we have had the unique opportunity to experience a free flow of ideas between musicians and dancers, which has resulted in some pretty wonderful things. It was exciting to see how the work we had created together translated in performance.

We presented about half of the work, which is a little over 25 minutes: the entire Act I and two-thirds of Act II. The final piece will be comprised of three acts, each containing three movements. At the start of the feedback session, our Artistic Director Sugar Vendil asked the audience to “be brutal.” We received positive reinforcement that validated what we are pursuing with PE (breaking barriers between music and movement) as well as candid, valuable constructive criticism. The major points that we gleaned from our feedback session are that 1) clarity is of utmost importance and 2) the most compelling parts of PE are the moments when there is a strong interaction between the dancers and musicians. Philip Glass also posed an interesting question for us that we are all mulling over: “What does a dancer sound like, and how does a musician move?” He noted that this project is above all else an exchange of languages, and we couldn’t agree more.

Our PE presentation was an invaluable experience for us, and we are grateful to our mentors and colleagues for offering their insight. We can’t wait to perform it for everyone on May 29 at BAM Fisher! In the meantime, we invite you to watch our trailer, and please consider making a pledge to our Kickstarter campaign!

Trailer & Kickstarter Campaign:

-by Marina Kifferstein & Sugar Vendil
All photos by ReadArt:


light and air, kate elson in junya watanabe fall/winter 2000-01 photographed by lars botten
purple fashion no. 6, winter ‘00-01


light and air, kate elson in junya watanabe fall/winter 2000-01 photographed by lars botten

purple fashion no. 6, winter ‘00-01

(via erithemermaid)

I don’t understand the business of trying to be accessible. When I write a piece, I write a piece that I like and I want to hear, and that I think will be fun to listen to and fun to play. That’s all you have to think about.

—George Perle

'Potential Energies,' is a modern ballet that breaks barriers between music & movement, inspired by the Millennial Generation’s balancing act of hope & survival. Read the full (short) story and see the trailer video here:

Everything one needs to finish a grant: coffee, guac, bagels, & sugar cane lime cookies #getterdone #powpowpowermeal

Everything one needs to finish a grant: coffee, guac, bagels, & sugar cane lime cookies #getterdone #powpowpowermeal