You’re really on the move. You’re steadily getting solid commissions, with consistently good reviews, and a higher profile...

© Matthew Murphy
© Matthew Murphy
 

This year has been great. I’m on a little break right now, coming off the Guggenheim program, and I was able to work with Ballet Academy East. It was a great experience. I had twenty-three girls and one boy. The level of the talent there is impressive.

What influences are important to you and your choreography?

These days it’s mostly the dancers that I’m working with. Their personalities and their artistic strengths really have a huge impact on the work I am making. I try to capture through dance what is unique about each of them. The dancers I am working with currently are very intelligent, mature, and have complex personalities. I’m in a new process, to give them some freedom and let them influence the choreography. It is very inspiring to share the craft with them.

What (if anything) do you want audiences to take away from your choreography?

To be totally honest, while I’m in the creative process, I try not to think about the purpose I’m serving for the audience but rather the purpose I’m serving for the work itself. Whether I’m exploring a group dynamic or a solo, I think that that is my focus in the studio. Later on I hope that that skill comes across to the audience. I haven’t to date done a story ballet, so all my ballets are abstract. But there’s always a theme and there are always ideas and things I’m thinking about. I like to leave it open to interpretation.

Is there a piece of your choreography that you are most satisfied with? Why?

I loved the work I did just recently (Symphonic Études) with Ballet Academy East. It’s always interesting, with a work I’ve made recently, to go and think back on it in months or even in a year. It’s the largest ballet work I’ve made so far and I was pretty happy with it. As far as smaller works are concerned, there’s a piece in my rep – with my own dancers– called Untitled, which I made last year with three really special dancers that I’ve worked with and that I’ve known since 2008. That piece is something that I keep wanting to come back to. I’m planning a program for Jacob’s Pillow and I have to go through my work and select pieces I want to show again. It’s the same night as Ballet 2014 but it’s on the Inside/Out stage. It’s hard because I have to pick four or five works that can go together and I’m picking things from different years. There are some pieces that you think are great when you first make them and then you never want to do them again.

How important is your relationship with the dancers you’re working with?

It’s the most important thing. Because I freelance a lot I go to different companies and it’s always a challenge because you’re not part of the organization and sometimes they’re a lot older or younger than you and there’s all different levels of experience. I love doing it because l learn a lot and I have to adjust. Both how I’m speaking and how I'm working. In my own work with my own dancers I really do think a lot about that relationship and I try to have it be as positive as I can. To me, choreography and dancers is about relations. I’m not the type of person who wants to dictate at the front of the room. I want personality and feedback from the dancers.

When you’re creating a new piece, how and where do you begin? What do you enjoy most about the process?

I love just being in the studio at the beginning of the process. It feels very open to me. Generally, I like to have a couple pieces of music picked out. When I’m making a pas de deux, I’ll have a few pieces of music I’m interested in and I’ll make some movements to each piece and see how the dancers respond and then make the right choice for the three of us. I also work straight from the music if that’s pre-determined. For my first Guggenheim commission, they gave us the score in advance. It was an Elliot Carter compilation and they imposed the order on us. So I knew way before I even saw a dancer what the structure of the music was going to be.

How is making dance works changing?

I think that, in general, dance is becoming more mainstream in that there are more dance television shows and also more commercials featuring dancers. There’s been an explosion with classical ballet, specifically. There’s a more general awareness of classical dance right now, and so there have been more collaborations, musicians working with dancers, video artists wanting to have projections of dance, and I think that’s a good thing. For me personally, how it’s changing is right now... I guess I'm going through a phase, in my career, because I want to do these larger pieces. It’s getting more challenging because everything is sort of instantaneous with the availability of dancers. A lot of them are working for a full time company, or they’re doing these commercials that shoot for a day, so it’s harder to organize a project on a larger scale.

Bonus Q: Who are you looking to work with that you haven’t yet?

A lot of places. Some smaller companies like Miami City Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet... I like working with medium to smaller size companies because I feel I get a better opportunity to get know the dancers. I worked with Saint Louis Ballet last year and I think they have twelve full time company members ... it was great. Everybody was in the room and involved in the process. I’m going back there again in February. I would love to work with more companies like that. On the contemporary side, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet is great and they do a lot of new works. They bring in a lot of emerging choreographers. There is also Hubbard Street... and Europe too... I haven’t gone down that route at all yet.

© Rosalie O'Conner
© Rosalie O'Conner

About Emery LeCrone:

Emery LeCrone's is a name on everyone’s lips when talking about the next generation of choreographers. The North Carolina native is gaining consistently positive critical recognition along with steadily higher profile commissions. Her latest major piece is a pas de deux for New York City Ballet dancers Russell Janzen and Emily Kitka set to the Rachmaninoff's Sonata for Cello and Piano. This work premiered  on July 16th,  Ballet 2014, at Jacob’s Pillow.

LeCrone’s choreography is not fixed in one idiom. She does neo-classical ballets and contemporary dance works with equal fluency. Since the premiere of her first ballet in 2006, she has created more than fifty works. Her most recents commissions were for the Works & Process series at the Guggenheim (NY) and Ballet Academy East (NY). Past commissions have included St. Louis Ballet, The Juilliard School for New Dance, NYCB's New York Choreographic Institute, Oregon Ballet, Minnesota Dance Theatre, North Carolina Dance Theatre and Colorado Ballet among others. She seems poised now for a breakthrough, and has the sort of positive, dynamic personality that is required to survive and thrive as a freelance choreographer.