State of Darkness

Music: Igor Stravinsky (Le Sacre du Printemps [The Rite of Spring], 1911–1913)
Choreography: Molissa Fenley
Duration: 36 minutes
Premiere: June 23, 1988; American Dance Festival (Durham, North Carolina)
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: May 31, 2007

The 2007 Pacific Northwest Ballet premiere of Molissa Fenley’s State of Darkness was generously underwritten by Lyndall Boal.

Jonathan Porretta in State of Darkness.
Photo © Angela Sterling

Choreographer and performer Molissa Fenley grew up in Nigeria, lived in Spain, and returned to the U.S. where she received a degree in dance from Mills College in 1975. She moved to New York City that year and formed Molissa Fenley and Dancers in 1977. Her 27-year career of choreographing and presenting her work has developed in cycles. During her first ten years (1977–1987) she focused on presenting group works, performed by herself and an ensemble of dancers. In the second ten years (1987–1997) her work shifted to solo performances created in collaboration with contemporary visual artists and composers. Now, in a third cycle, she is once again exploring the dynamics of ensemble work.

Her intensely dynamic solo, State of Darkness, is set to Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Commissioned by the American Dance Festival, State of Darkness was first performed by Fenley herself, who received a Bessie Choreography award for her work. Peter Boal received a Bessie Performance award for his revival performance of State of Darkness in 2000.

Recommended Listening:
Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring; Symphony in Three Movements, New York Philharmonic/Zubin Mehta, Teldec


Notes by Doug Fullington.

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