Norwegian Dance Company with French Name and Belgian Director Makes U.S. Debut at Jacob’s Pillow with Israeli Choreography

Carte Blanche in Killer Pig (photo Erik Berg)

Carte Blanche dancers in Sharon Eyal's 'Killer Pig' (photo Erik Berg)

(BECKET, Mass.) – Underlining the growing internationalism of the contemporary dance world,  Carte Blanche, Norway’s award-winning National Company of Contemporary Dance, makes its U.S. full company debut in a program of compelling works by Batsheva Dance Company house choreographer Sharon Eyal of Israel at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival on June 29-July 3. The U.S. premiere of Killer Pig presents a hypnotic, sensual look at femininity, while Love is a testimony to the ensemble’s strength in handling complex and layered choreographic material. The combination of Eyal’s unconventional choreography and Carte Blanche’s distinguished technical abilities delivers performances of artistic intensity, described as “top notch of imaginative, precise, and powerful dance art” (Oberösterreichische Nachrichten, Austria.)

“Carte Blanche is a stunning company,” comments Ella Baff, executive and artistic director of Jacob’s Pillow. “They have it all: superb dancers and powerful and smart choreography by one of the important choreographers of the new generation, Sharon Eyal. This company will be talked about and they promise to make a big impression in the dance world.”

Carte Blanche dancers (photo Thor Brødreskift)

Carte Blanche dancers (photo Thor Brødreskift)

Carte Blanche, established in 1989, is a contemporary ensemble comprised of a wealth of international talent. The company’s 14 dancers are classically trained while also possessing versatility in experimental modern forms. Based in Bergen, the second largest city in Norway, they regularly work with some of the world’s most celebrated Norwegian and international choreographers. As a company renowned for its powerful stage presence and eclectic repertoire, they often commission work by emerging contemporary choreographers. Artistic director Bruno Heynderickx strives to position the company at the forefront of the creation and advancement of contemporary dance both in Norway and abroad. While members of Carte Blanche performed as part of Houston’s Dance Salad Festival in 2009, this six-performance Jacob’s Pillow engagement marks the U.S. debut of the full company.

Sharon Eyal’s Love was originally choreographed for Batsheva Dance Company, which presented the work’s U.S. premiere at the Pillow in 2004. Twelve dancers are accompanied by a ballad by Lisa Germano, an artist with a hushed vocal style and emotional lyrics, blended with an atmospheric soundscape with techno beats. Numerous movement sections overlap one another as dancers transition in and out of duets, trios, and ensemble phrases. Love’s rhythmic style results in “pure dance, singing the praise of the human body’s gift” (Ha’aretz, Israel).

Guro Nagelhus Schia of Carte Blanche in 'Killer Pig' (photo Erik Berg)

Guro Nagelhus Schia of Carte Blanche in 'Killer Pig' (photo Erik Berg)

The U.S. premiere of Killer Pig, commissioned by Carte Blanche for six female dancers in their company, is a convergence of sensuality and physical prowess. Dressed in white, quilted two-piece costumes, the dancers combine extreme balletic technique with uncanny flexibility and mysteriously stripped-down performance qualities. Sharon Eyal is often lauded for her work with female dancers; dance critic Gaby Aldor comments, “the clarity of movement in Eyal’s dances is such that feminine splendor becomes magnificence greater than life, worthy of goddesses. Her approach is a fresh reminder of an alternative femininity, maybe similar to that of Madonna who fearlessly re-invents herself every day.”

Carte Blanche and Eyal’s collaboration is highly anticipated after recent performances in Finland and Norway. One article described a recent show: “Standing ovations for 15 minutes and sold out [houses]. Carte Blanche’s performance of Killer Pig…thrilled the Germans tremendously” (Nordwest Zeitung, Germany).

Sharon Eyal has been House Choreographer for Batsheva Dance Company since 2005. Born in Israel in 1971, she danced with the Batsheva Dance Company from 1990 until 2008. From September 2003 to December 2004 she served as Batsheva’s associate artistic director, under Ohad Naharin. As a choreographer Eyal is known for her rare and personal movement language that often incorporates sensuality; she has been called “a worthy heiress to the renowned Naharin” (Arts de la scéne).  Her creations for Batsheva Dance Company and the Batsheva Ensemble include You Got to Live, Pan (2001), Ink (2002), Static (2002), After Love (2003), Love (2003), Quiet Village (2004), Part II (2005), Bertolina (2006) and Makarova Kabisa (2008). She has received numerous honors, including the Ministry of Culture Award for young dance creators, and in 2008 she was named a Chosen Artist of the Israel Cultural Excellence Foundation.

A PillowTalk will be held on Saturday, July 2 at 4 to explore the collaboration between Norway’s Carte Blanche, their Belgian director Bruno Heynderickx, and Israeli choreographer Sharon Eyal, an example of the ever-increasing internationalism in dance today. PillowTalks are free and open to the public, and offer interaction with artists and experts in the field with in-depth discussions, moderated interviews, film screenings, and book signings.

Performance and Ticket Information

Ted Shawn Theatre
Wednesday, June 29 through Saturday, July 2 at 8
Saturday, July 2 and Sunday, July 3 at 2
413.243.0745 or in person at the Jacob’s Pillow Box Office.

Jacob’s Pillow is located at 358 George Carter Road in Becket, Mass. (10 minutes east on Route 20 from Mass Pike Exit 2). The Jacob’s Pillow campus and theaters are handicapped-accessible.


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