Choreographer Miro Magloire announces that his new, 9-minute dance film Soon, set to traditional spirituals and starring dancer Adji Cissoko, is available for streaming on YouTube. The film, which features traditional spirituals “There's a Man Going 'Roun Taking Names” and “Soon-ah-Will Be Done” sung by mezzo-soprano Lucia Bradford with pianist James Davis Jr., is a co-production of New Chamber Ballet and Courtney’s Stars of Tomorrow.
Choreographer Magloire and Cissoko, both native of Munich, Germany, and now based in the US, previously collaborated in 2018 on a ballet set to traditional Senegalese music. For their new project they turned to traditional African-American spirituals.
In a statement, Magloire explained his inspiration for creating Soon:
“In 1990, on my first adult trip to New York City, I proudly acquired a copy of James Weldon Johnson & J. Rosamond Johnson’s Books of American Negro Spirituals. My love affair with spirituals had begun earlier, at a time when I was trying to understand the maddeningly complex emotional history of slavery. But while my Haitian ancestors, after winning their freedom, retained their connection to Africa through fiery melodies in vodou ceremonies, I was drawn to spirituals for their stirring mix of despair, solace, and rebellion, expressed in tonalities that transcended the repressive society they were created in. At the time I was still a composer, and armed with Johnson's & Johnson's anthology, I planned to write a musical response.
I never did.
Instead, after discovering Alvin Ailey's ballet Revelations on German television, I packed my bags and moved to NYC to study at his school. My artistic life has since taken me in many directions, but never back to the music that once sparked my imagination. Until a few weeks ago music impresario Courtney Carey approached me to propose a collaboration.
The resulting Soon - A Dance Film is many things: a love letter to spirituals, and to the breathtaking artistry of mezzo-soprano Lucia Bradford; a nod to Mr. Ailey, a giant on whose shoulders I would not dare to climb; a tribute to the movement magic of dancer Adji Cissoko, who joined me for the project; and if you look closely, you'll notice I'm still grappling with my ancestors' history.”
Commenting on the film’s structure, Magloire added: “This year we've talked a lot about dance film vs. filmed dance. In Soon, my goal was to organically blend the two: the first part is choreographed specifically for the camera; the second part could easily be performed onstage. On the screen, the two approaches complement each other seamlessly. It will be an interesting challenge, someday, to perform it live.”
Due to pandemic restrictions, New-York-based Magloire created the choreography via video call, and Cissoko then filmed it in San Francisco (camera: Madeline DeVries.).
Soon will remain available for streaming on YouTube indefinitely at: https://youtu.be/UPUmhphst6I
MIRO MAGLOIRE is the founder and artistic director of New Chamber Ballet, for which he has created over 80 ballets since the Company's debut in 2004. Born in Munich, Germany, Magloire started his career as a composer, studying with Mauricio Kagel at the Musikhochschule in Cologne. Switching his interest to dance, he moved to New York to pursue his dance training, naming Kazuko Hirabayashi, Peff Modelski, and Wilhelm Burmann as his most influential teachers. New Chamber Ballet presents approximately four regular seasons annually in New York City, has toured to Europe, and has participated in numerous festivals, including a highly praised music and dance tribute to composer Ursula Mamlok.
ADJI CISSOKO was born and grew up in Munich, Germany where she trained at the Ballet Academy Munich and graduated with a diploma in dance. Cissoko attended the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre in New York City on full scholarship, before joining the National Ballet of Canada in 2010. In 2012 she was awarded the Patron Award of Merit by the Patrons’ Council Committee of The National Ballet of Canada. Cissoko joined LINES Ballet in San Francisco in 2014. Since then she’s originated many central roles and guested for galas worldwide. Cissoko has given multiple masterclasses and taught classes around the world as part of the LINES’ outreach program.
LUCIA BRADFORD, mezzo-soprano is a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. Ms. Bradford has performed a number of operatic roles including Carmen in Bizet’s La Tragedie de Carmen, Zita in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, La Principessa in Puccini’s Suor Angelica, among many others, and has sung in Russia with the Krasnoyarsk Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra and the Radio Orpheus Symphony Orchestra in Siberia, Dubna and Moscow. She has also toured in parts of Spain, the Caribbean and throughout the United States. In addition to opera, she enjoys performing in concert and recital settings, including performing at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia with Maestro Christoph Eschenbach at the piano. Ms. Bradford also enjoys singing other genres such as gospel and jazz. She is a member of Opera Noire of New York City and the American Spirituals Ensemble under the direction of Doctor Everett McCorvey.
JAMES DAVIS, JR., pianist, is one of the most recognized emerging music directors. Well-versed in classical, jazz, and contemporary music alike, James has supervised musical productions at Radio City Music Hall, Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Apollo Theater. Davis also served as the Director of Music Ministries & Fine Arts at the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City and as Associate Music Director for Opera Ebony of New York. He is the founder and President of JDJ Music, Inc., and has produced and arranged music for both film and television. Throughout his career, James has collaborated with a myriad of artists across all genres, including Ashford & Simpson, Alicia Keys, Jessye Norman, John Legend, Lyle Lovett, Richard Smallwood and Wynton Marsalis. A native of Winstonville, Mississippi, James is a 2004 cum laude graduate of Morehouse College (Atlanta, GA).
MADELINE DEVRIES grew up in Southern California studying at the Santa Clarita Ballet Academy. She continued her training at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School, apprenticed with the Semperoper Ballet in Dresden, Germany, and danced with the Seattle based contemporary companies Whim W’Him and Coriolis, before joining LINES Ballet in San Francisco in 2014. She also works as a photographer and videographer.´
COURTNEY’S STARS OF TOMORROW is an arts conduit committed to promoting and presenting classical musicians of the highest calibre and is a vehicle to feature them in concert, recital, and opera. Additionally, Courtney's Stars of Tomorrow targets a multi-generational, ethnically diverse audience of both classical music lovers and those who have never been exposed to the medium.