altmarius

cultură şi spiritualitate

1954-2005

Choreographer, dancer, master teacher

Spears, Warren, photograph. Courtesy www.warrenspears.com. Reproduced by permission.

A highly regarded dancer, choreographer, and teacher, Warren Spears created a variety of modern ballets. After spending his early years with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Spears went on to dance and choreograph for numerous companies in the United States and Europe. He settled in Copenhagen where he helped establish the New Danish Dance Theatre (NDDT), introducing modern dance to the people of Denmark. As a dancer he was strong and athletic with a soft and pliable technique. Real people, including artists, writers, and his grandfather, often served as the theme from which his ballets evolved. Audiences and critics loved his fast-paced and imaginative staging and use of space. He choreographed to music ranging from that of Henry Purcell and J. S. Bach to Igor Stravinsky, John Adams, Philip Glass, Keith Jarrett, Steve Reich, and contemporary jazz and rock.

Began Dancing as a Teenager

Born on May 2, 1954, Warren Spears grew up in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Walter and Theresa Wilma (Davis) Spears. No one in his family was inclined toward music or dance and as a teenager Spears planned to become an architect. However he took up dance after being mesmerized during a matinee performance by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Spears's first teacher had danced with Isadora Duncan and his second teacher was a member of the Katherine Dunham Dance Company. While still in high school Spears began dancing with a small professional group, the Clifford Fears Dance Company, and choreographing for the Michigan Opera Company.

In 1972 Spears moved to New York City with a full scholarship to study in the Dance Division of the Juilliard School. Working with some of the greatest dancers of the day, Spears studied modern, classical, and contemporary dance, composition and choreography, music, and dance and music history. On evenings and weekends he explored the dance studios of New York. At the Clark Center for the Performing Arts, Spears studied the Lester Horton technique with Thelma Hill. At the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, Spears studied jazz forms with Fred Benjamin. He spent his summers at the American Dance Festival in New London, Connecticut, working with Louis Falco and Walter Nicks.

Choreographer Joyce Trisler urged Spears to audition for Alvin Ailey. When he was invited to join Ailey's company in 1974, Spears had to call his mother first, since he had promised her that he would graduate from Juilliard. For the next four years he performed and toured the world with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Spears left Alvin Ailey in 1978 to devote more time to choreography and to dance with other companies. He choreographed for the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble—the junior Ailey troupe—and, between 1972 and 1982, he choreographed 15 ballets for his own dance company, the Spears Collection. Between 1978 and 1981 Spears danced with the Joyce Trisler Dance Company, the Pearl Lang Dance Company, the Kazuko Hirabayashi Dance Theater, and the Walter Nicks Dance Company, among others. He also performed in the musical films The Wiz and Hair.

Brought Modern Dance to Denmark

Spears was with Joyce Trisler's company when she died in 1979. The following year he traveled to Copenhagen to perform as a soloist in her "Dance for Six," on Denmark's national television. Spears moved to Denmark in 1984, along with other dancers and choreographers who were set on introducing the country to modern dance. In 1987 he created "Rowing in Eden" for the Royal Danish Ballet, with music by John Adams and stage design by Spears's frequent collaborator, Danish artist Lin Utzon, a designer for Royal Copenhagen porcelain.

Spears served as artistic director and resident choreographer at the NDDT from 1987 until 1999, choreographing more than 20 ballets for the company. Some were longer abstract pieces whereas others were one-act themed ballets. However he was best known for his full-evening themed productions. The NDDT grew into the largest and most international of Denmark's modern dance companies. Spears led the NDDT through twice-yearly Copenhagen premieres, tours of Denmark, and guest performances throughout Europe and Australia.

In 1989 Spears created "Black." On a summer's night in Detroit in 1968, with the sounds of rioting in the streets, three men and three women move around each other in a party room. Although rock music takes over for a while, the gunshots and sirens return. It was performed by the nationally acclaimed Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC) at the Joyce Theater in New York in 2000. Critic Jennifer Dunning of the New York Times wrote that "the greatest fascination of 'Black' is the ways he [Spears] uses cliches of recent modern dance by black American choreographers with a knowing affection and respect that makes them fresh."

Critics and Audiences Praised his
Ballets

"Skagen," first performed in 1990, became one of Spears's most popular works, with subsequent performances in Denmark, Norway, Germany, and Spain. Named for a cape at the northern tip of Denmark, it focused on the painter P.S. Krøyer and Danish impressionistic paintings of the late nineteenth century. The figures in the paintings danced out of their frames to the music of Puccini.



Read more: Warren Spears Biography - Began Dancing as a Teenager, Brought Mode... http://biography.jrank.org/pages/2772/Spears-Warren.html#ixzz1AR8tUQH3

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Creat de altmariusclassic Sep 13, 2013 at 11:02am. Actualizat ultima dată de altmariusclassic Sep 13, 2013.

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