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Buglisi Dance Theatre Presents "Requiem" and "Letters of Love on Ripped Paper", a World Premiere, at the Joyce Theater
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Buglisi Dance Theatre Presents "Requiem" and "Letters of Love on Ripped Paper", a World Premiere, at the Joyce Theater

- Onstage with the Dancers

Buglisi Dance Theatre
(Buglisi Dance Website)
Presented at the Joyce Theater

Artistic Director and Choreographer: Jacqulyn Buglisi
Executive Director: Suzanne Konowitz
Associate Founders: Terese Capucilli and Christine Dakin

The Company : Terese Capucilli, Christine Dakin, Kevin Predmore,
Virginie Mécène, Helen Hansen French, Rika Okamoto, Junichi Fukuda, Jeanene Winston, Jason Jordan, So Young An, Alexander Brady, Kurt Douglas, Lauren Jaeger, Ninia Agustin, Catherine Correa

Guest Artist: Martine van Hamel

Composer/Pianist: Daniel Brewbaker
Live Narration: Clifford David, Christine Dakin
Production Stage Manager: Jim French
Lighting Design: Jack Mehler, Clifton Taylor
Set Design: Jack Mehler, Debora Maché
Costume Design: A. Christina Giannini


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 16, 2011

Quotes from Terese Capucilli, Associate Founder of Buglisi Dance Theatre:

I suppose working with Jacqulyn can be likened to the very tedious work of tearing apart the perfectly beautiful, tiny seeds of a pomegranate and at the same time the absolute sensual delight in experiencing their exquisite flavor. The process of creating a work like “Requiem” or “Letters of Love on Ripped Paper” is a deeply passionate journey with many months of being satiated with the imagery that is at the core of all of Jacque’s work. In “Requiem”, it was Italian painter, Artemesia Gentileschi, and alchemic colors surrounded us in the studio. During the rehearsal process, 9/11 came upon us, and the work took on a deeply compassionate meaning very close to home.

After many months of compiling love letters through the ages, Letters of Love on Ripped Paper had its birth in Jacque’s living room with just myself, composer Daniel Brewbaker, and actor, Clifford David working with the written dialogue of Victor Hugo to Adele Foucher and Napoleon to Josephine. There is something so very intriguing about listening into that personal world of love, and Jacque explored all aspects of it from collecting letters of refugees to their homelands, Civil War wives to their husbands, to the deeply passionate letters of Napoleon, and of Zelda Fitzgerald. The letter of a son to his mother was from Jacque’s own son, my godchild, written to her years ago. With sensitivity seemingly disappearing from our culture, as technology increases, working in this way to bring these very real and humanistic sensibilities to the stage is triumphantly fulfilling to me as an artist and of dire necessity. In starting a work with Jacque, I put tremendous trust in her vision and have the deepest admiration for her capacity to remind us of the sensitivity and passion of the human condition.

Requiem (2001): Dedicated to friend and colleague, Denise Jefferson, photojournalist Bill Biggart, and victims of war. Choreography by Jacqulyn Buglisi, Music by Gabriel Fauré, Lighting Design by Clifton Taylor, Set Design by Deborah Maché and Sergio Savarese, Costume Design by Jacqulyn Buglisi and A. Christina Giannini, Performed by Terese Capucilli, Rika Okamoto, Jeanene Winston, Lauren Jaeger, and So Young An.

Jacqulyn Buglisi has created a genre, as a disciple of Martha Graham, that transports the viewer into a higher realm of beauty. In Requiem, the minute the stage-lights appeared, I was drawn in, with five sumptuously costumed women seated in still fashion on cubes, and everywhere flowed shadowy silk. Her dancers are women, of mature depth and sentiment, and it’s that exact psychic advantage that makes the Buglisi works so distinctive and peerless, grabbing the imagination. Terese Capucilli, a co-founder of this Company, as well as Buglisi’s colleague from the Graham years, is spotlighted with her angular shoulders and back to the audience. At one point, she extends an arm, with important dramatic effect. Rika Okamoto, Jeanene Winston, Lauren Jaeger, and So Young An have joined Ms. Capucilli in this sophisticated tribute to those we have lost, and, in particular, to those lost in New York in 2001. The Italian Baroque painter, Artemesia Gentileschi, who suffered oppression and attack, initially inspired this work.

There is a decidedly European ambiance to the costumes and choreography, as the women slowly rise from their seated, rear-facing positions, and move with muscular ripples, as they remove long capes. They are divergent in nature, all barefoot, but their raw emotions seep through their gestures and movement. Strength seems to come from the shoulder, then the hips, then the back. Graham’s pelvic contractions are expanded here with classical imagery and searing charisma. These women are elegant, eloquent, and exquisite, with the deep colorations of the silken folds enveloping the stage. Clifton Taylor’s lighting is warm, inviting, and personal to each performer. The costumes, designed by Ms. Buglisi and A. Christina Giannini, are evocative of castle balls and romantic salons. In fact, Gabriel Fauré’s embracing score, with its subtlety and rhythmic echoes, exemplified the yearning of Artemisia. The set design was hypnotic and gorgeous. Ms. Buglisi created more than a dance. Requiem was an experience.

Letters of Love on Ripped Paper (World Premiere): Choreography by Jacqulyn Buglisi, Composer/Pianist: Daniel Brewbaker, Live Narrations by Clifford David, Christine Dakin, and Jason Jordan, Lighting/Projection Design by Jack Mehler, Costumes by A. Christina Giannini, Performed by the Company, Recorded Narrations by Jacqulyn Buglisi, Diana de Vegh, Richard Ferrone, Jeffrey Hover, Jose DeGuzman, Carol Mondo, Marcus Naylor, Graciano Nunez, SJ van Heerden.

There are those of us who used to write letters on thick, pastel blue stationary, with fountain pens dipped in ink, embossed and sealed with gold, melted wax and ribbon. In return, we received similar inked letters, unheard of in these technical times. Jacqulyn Buglisi’s Letters of Love on Ripped Paper, in its world premiere, evoked just those memories, that sense of branding our legacies in time-sealed envelopes. There was romance, humor, theatrics, and classicism in this dance, performed by the Company and male narrator. In addition, recorded narrations read the letters that were projected on a rear backdrop. Ms. Capucilli danced once again, accompanied by Virginie Mécène of the Graham School, also a former Graham Company colleague, as well as Martine van Hamel, a former principal with American Ballet Theatre, and now on the faculty of ABT.

Other members of Buglisi Dance Theatre onstage again ranged from the highly seasoned to young artists on the rise. This time, there were men onboard, who enacted the role of the lovers in the letters. Women strolled in wide retro hats and ribbons, and men were authentically attired for a Sunday in the Park, à la Seurat. Daniel Brewbaker composed the score, which he performed on solo piano. Everything about this work was distinguished and luxurious. Jack Mehler’s lighting was dim with soft spotlights, in order to view the projected love scripts without glare. Ms. Giannini’s costumes were inventive and stylish.

But it was the essence of the letters and their inherent inspiration in the choreography that propelled this contemporary ballet. Hints of Graham were apparent in pelvic lunges, angular positions, and shoulders that lead the body. The mood kept shifting, as the transcribed messages revealed pathos, passion, loss, longing, joy, grief, requited love, and unrequited love. The writers and recipients of these letters ranged from George Bernard Shaw, to Zelda Fitzgerald, to Abigail Adams, to a Cuban refugee. Kudos to Jacqulyn Buglisi, and kudos to the Company.

Terese Capucilli in
Jacqulyn Buglisi's "Requiem"
Courtesy of Kristin Lodoen Linder

Rika Okamoto in
Jacqulyn Buglisi's "Requiem"
Courtesy of Kristin Lodoen Linder

Terese Capucilli and Company
in Jacqulyn Buglisi's "Letters of Love on Ripped Paper"
Courtesy of Kristin Lodoen Linder

Junichi Fukuda and Jeanene Winston
in Jacqulyn Buglisi's "Letters of Love on Ripped Paper"
Courtesy of Kristin Lodoen Linder

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at