FJK Dance’s performance at Symphony Space on Nov. 17 will have a definite fashion overture thanks to costumes designed by Hervé Pierre.
Amy Fine Collins introduced him to the three-year-old contemporary multicultural dance company that was started by Fadi J. Khoury and Sevin Ceviker. This week’s 11-person troupe includes guest performer Sofia Bogdanova, a Latin-American ballroom champion who will do a tango with point shoes. FJK Dance relies on a company devised of all different ethnicities who blend modern, jazz, classical ballet and traditional folkloric.
Through its performances, FJK supports cross-cultural dialogue, infusing its works with positive images from many dance traditions.
While many know Pierre as Carolina Herrera’s former creative director (a post he exited in February), Collins had firsthand knowledge of his costume design experience. Early on in his career Pierre suited up dancers at the Paris Opera Garnier, the New York City Ballet, the Berlin State Opera and the Sydney Opera. Collins merely had to look around her apartment for a candidate. A collage of images inspired by a La Traviata-inspired fantasy costume he created with Herrera years ago hangs in her bedroom. “So the idea of Herve as a costume designer [is something I know well]. I kind of have a daily reminder of what he can do in certain settings,” Collins said.
Pierre was easily swayed after watching a dance rehearsal and being “mesmerized by the choreography and the choreographer,” she said. The international scope of FJK’s ethos appealed to Pierre who earned his U.S. citizenship two months ago. During a break from jury duty Tuesday, he e-mailed, “I like the mix of tango with the Middle East culture. It’s very new and to mix all these cultures with a French designer (now American!) made sense. It’s very New York! the idea was to work with light fabrics like organza and cut them like handkerchiefs. It has a tango feeling as well as the scarf is important in the Middle East culture.”
To whittle down operating costs, Khoury has been responsible for making the costumes for his dancers, and he collaborated with Pierre for this specific project. Tony-winning costume designer William Ivey Long also pitched in by offering “spare bits and pieces from his Broadway workshop” for Pierre, Collins said. And stylist Freddie Leiba lined up the actual workshop that produced Pierre’s designs.
In this it-takes-a-village effort, it was Collins’ Pilates instructor Felipe Escalante, a dancer with FJK, who first put her on to the troupe. She in turn, brought her philanthropist friend Joanna Fisher, who later lined up a pianist, and a former child prodigy pianist to accompany the dancers. Referring to how so many different nationalities and religious beliefs are united through the production, Collins said, “I mean this would not happen at the U.N.”
In January, FJK Dance will perform at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn where Julian Niccolini will oversee a Fours Seasons pop-up restaurant with profits hopefully helping to offset the cost of the production. “It’s coming together because of all the work and the generosity of so many people. Everybody is doing this pro bono,” Collins said.