Molly Lynch Brings Renowned National Choreographers Initiative to Irvine Barclay Theatre
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Less than a week remains before showtime for a small contingent of choreographers and dancers who have been practicing nearly every day at the William J. Gillespie Performance Studios at UC Irvine as part of the National Choreographers Initiative — a program Molly Lynch has helmed since 2004.
The program, which invites four choreographers and 16 dancers annually, started as an idea incubator for choreographers working in ballet to develop new work without having to face the pressure of an imminent premiere.
Lynch, a professor of dance at the university who served as the artistic director for Ballet Pacifica from 1988 to 2003, said she was working with South Coast Repertory at the time and that the company had something that they called “NewSCRipts.”
“It’s a play reading,” Lynch said. “When a play is in processing and development, their scripts can be read on stage and the audience can hear it without it being fully produced, and give comments. I thought, ‘Well, why can’t we have something like this with dance as well where it’s more of a developmental process rather than having to do a premiere?’
“That’s where the concept started. The idea was to bring together choreographers and dancers because for playwrights, they can sit down with a pen, but choreographers need to be in the studio. They can put their concepts and ideas together outside of it, but they need to be in a studio with dancers.”
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Corona del Mar resident Molly Lynch has been a dancer, teacher, choreographer, and Artistic Director for Ballet Pacifica from 1988 to 2003. She’s currently Professor and Chair of the Dance Department at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at UC Irvine. In 2017 she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for Arts Visionary by Arts Orange County.
But Lynch’s most well-known accomplishment may be the creation of the National Choreographers Initiative, which she founded in 2004. Designed to promote professional dance and to support the national dance community, NCI invites four choreographers of note to participate in this creative project while the community can see contemporary ballets performed for the first time.
For 2023, the choreographers selected to create and debut new works at NCI are Kristopher Estes-Brown, Ye Li, Ian Schwaner, and Carrie Ruth Trumbo.
“I am excited to return to the Barclay with NCI and present this group of incredibly talented choreographers and dancers,” said Lynch. “This is a laboratory for the choreographers to develop their movement and thematic ideas. It’s an intense creative effort that is both fun and rewarding, and I look forward to working with them.”
Along with the choreographers, Lynch also invites 16 professional dancers from ballet companies around the country to participate in NCI.
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