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Yorke Dance Project celebrates 20th anniversary with TWENTY

Published: 21 February 2019
Reporter: Vera Liber

Yorke Dance Project celebrates its 20th anniversary with TWENTY, new works by Robert Cohan, Sophia Stoller and Yolande Yorke-Edgell and the first restaging of Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Playground.

Yolande Yorke-Edgell first set up her contemporary ballet company in Los Angeles in 1999, relaunching it when she returned to London 2009. For TWENTY, she has curated a celebratory programme that features new works by Robert Cohan CBE, LA-based choreographer Sophia Stoller and Yorke-Edgell herself alongside the first restaging of Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Playground since its Edinburgh Festival première by Sadler’s Wells Ballet in 1979.

Playground is performed to music by Gordon Crosse with Yolanda Sonnabend’s original set and costume design re-imagined by MacMillan’s daughter, Charlotte MacMillan. Original cast members Susie Crow and Stephen Wicks are working on the recreation.

As Robert Cohan approaches his 94th birthday in March 2019, he is creating his sixth work for Yorke Dance Project, his first for a large ensemble for 20 years. Communion is set to music by Nils Frahm and designed by Cohan’s former London Contemporary Dance Theatre collaborator John B Read.

Between and Within is a new work by emerging LA-based choreographer Sophia Stoller with original music by Long Beach-based composer Justin Scheid, which began during the Cohan Collective residency in LA in January 2017. Four dancers play out the complex dynamics of a relationship between two people. Two of them face off, journeying from resentment and anger to resolution and acceptance, while the other two play out the characters’ inner dialogues and internal conflicts.

Yorke-Edgell’s latest work Imprint pays tribute to the three choreographers who have been most important and influential throughout her career as a dancer: Richard Alston, for whom she danced at both Rambert and his own company, Bella Lewitzky, whose LA company she joined in 1994, and Robert Cohan, with whom she has worked closely over the past few years.

Yorke Dance Project’s dancers are Abigail Attard Montalto, Jordi Calpe Serrats, Ellie Ferguson (apprentice), Dane Hurst, Freya Jeffs, Edd Mitton, Ben Warbis and Yolande Yorke-Edgell.

During the tour the company will be joined by guest artists Jonathan Goddard, Oxana Panchenko, Romany Pajdak (First Artist with The Royal Ballet) and Laurel Dalley Smith from the Martha Graham Company for whom Cohan is creating a new solo for Communion to be performed at the Royal Opera House Clore Studio Upstairs only.

Opening at Pavilion Dance South West, Bournemouth late January, it will tour to Theatre Royal Winchester, OSO, Barnes, Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre, Leeds, Merlin Theatre, Frome, The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury, Salisbury Arts Centre, Swindon Dance, and the Clore Studio Upstairs, ROH, London.