When “Falls the Shadow,” a new dance production commissioned by Works & Process and created by American Ballet Theatre principal Daniil Simkin, debuts in the famous rotunda of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York on Sept. 4, the dancers will be wearing costumes specially designed for the performance by Maria Grazia Chiuri of Dior.
To some extent, the rotunda is where the design process began, nearly a year prior, when Chiuri cochaired the Guggenheim International Gala, hosted by Dior. “Basically, we approached Maria Grazia at the gala,” said Simkin. “Obviously Dior was the primary fashion house we wanted to work with.”
The choreography and staging required special considerations, as “Falls the Shadow” will be performed in the rotunda with the audience standing on the ramps surrounding it for an aerial view. Additionally, the dancers’ movements will be captured in real-time by motion sensors, generating 3-D, mapped projections on the rotunda to connect technology, music, fashion and dance.
Chiuri attended a rehearsal in New York and Simkin and the production team sent her videos of the choreography and 3-D mapping to give her an idea of what the costumes would require. “What’s special about the piece is that it’s going to be viewed from above,” said Simkin. “Therefore, there’s a lot of floor work and we are getting slid around a lot, so, for example, we couldn’t have anything hanging from the costumes or anything super mobile.”
The resulting costumes are sleek, sporty yet elegant, stretchy silver pieces traced in the Christian Dior J’ADior logo.
“I imagined the costumes beginning with the body’s expressive role in dance: They’re skintight and above all support the subtle gestures, flexible poses and sinuous movements,” said Chiuri. “I was also thinking of shadows and how they’re an integral component in architecture, especially at the Guggenheim: A flat, reflective, seemingly passive surface can actually have its own contrasting identity.
“I think the costumes contribute to the architecture of the performance and are tools to define the body, together immersing and isolating it from the projections on the rotunda. In that sense, they are part of the performers’ experience, who feel them on their bodies, but also of the audience, who are participating in such a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
There will be four performances, two on Sept. 4 and two on Sept. 5, of the 30-minute production, which requires the audience to stand for the duration of the program. Other dancers in the production include ABT soloist Cassandra Trenary, Brett Conway and Hubbard Street dancer Ana Lopez. Alejandro Cerrudo choreographed.
Works & Process is a performing arts series sponsored by the Guggenheim which commissions new works across various disciplines to be performed at the museum.