Artist Spotlight: Avant Chamber Ballet


We have an incredible lineup of collaborating artists and organizations this season. Check out our previous post on another pivotal collaborator, Stephen Zhang.

In thumbnail and this photo, dancer Emily Dixon Alba plays the Little Match Girl Photography: Will Graham

In thumbnail and this photo, dancer Emily Dixon Alba plays the Little Match Girl
Photography: Will Graham

Several Saturdays ago we met with Katie Cooper, artistic director of Avant Chamber Ballet, to hammer out final details for our collaboration on The Little Match Girl Passion. She showed us some footage from their latest rehearsal, and I felt chills anticipating singing the piece with the Katie’s haunting original choreography. This is the first time a contemporary choral work will be staged with ballet in Dallas, and it is not to be missed.

Avant Chamber Ballet, like Verdigris, grew out of a feeling that something was missing in their artistic field in Dallas. They saw a need for ballet that performed classical, contemporary, and newly commissioned work with live music. Katie Cooper’s husband, David Cooper, an accomplished french horn player and Avant’s co-artistic director, uses his connections to the classical musician network in the city to help furnish Avant with elite chamber ensembles.

Both Katie and David are artists at the top of their fields. David regularly performs with the world’s leading orchestras, and Katie, before becoming a prolific choreographer, had an accomplished dancing career. Besides being incredibly energetic, inspiring people, they bring a spirit of openness and creativity to their work.

Committed to innovation in their field grow and flourish, Avant regularly performs newly commissioned music and choreography. They have featured a series of commissions by women composers, committed to seeing emerging female voices gain prominence in the field of dance. Not only are they regularly commissioning new choreography, Katie frequently commissions local and nationally recognized composers to bring new music to the dance stage. They run a Saturday subscription series of hour-long, “no-shush” concerts oriented towards families and children that helps them connect with younger audiences through concerts that are accessible, engaging, and welcoming. Check out their current season and be inspired to see a group that can execute the classics with panache and while pushing the boundaries of new music and dance with creativity and artistic depth.

The dancers have been working for several weeks now, and tonight Verdigris singers begin rehearsals for The Little Match Girl Passion by David Lang. Singers have been marking their scores and practicing the driving rhythms of this minimalist piece. This collaboration has been a bright spot in our year as planning conversations leave us energized and inspired. In them, we feel like we’ve found kindreds spirits. Both Avant and Verdigris are looking for more: more creativity, younger audiences, greater relevance, deeper artistic merit.

Learn more about Avant, and buy your tickets for this groundbreaking collaboration.

Erinn Sensenig