DANCE: Daniil Simkin Reveals Four New High Tech Ballets at Jacob’s Pillow [Berkshire on Stage]
By Larry Murray
I caught up with Daniil Simkin a couple of months ago as he was finishing up his promotional duties for the Rick Burns American Masters documentary about American Ballet Theatre, which recently aired on PBS-TV. He was also carefully monitoring the progress of the four choreographers who were creating new works for his program, Intensio, which has its premiere tonight (Wednesday, July 22) at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket. Simkin is more than just one of the best dancers of his generation, he is also an impresario, an entrepreneur of dance, and – what many people don’t know – an almost geekish lover of multimedia technology. In short, a Renaissance man bridging the classical and modern ages of old school ballet and the latest theatrical technology.
When we spoke, Intensio was already well on its way with the choreographers hard at work on their new pieces. “We’re all getting together for two weeks before arriving at the Pillow and doing the final work before the performances. We plan to allow a full week each for rehearsals and for the multi-media elements before arriving in Becket to put Intensio on stage again,” said Simkin. Intensio is a major life-long Simkin family project and was done – in an entirely different form – in December 2009 at the Palace Theater in Athens, Greece.
“We need to tech this properly because it is not just sets on a bare stage with music. It’s much more than that. We are trying to create media effects that include real-time figure projection. We’ve been pre-teching it, which has been a way of trying stuff out, making decisions as to what enhances each piece, and what doesn’t. We have not done projections before on the scale we are doing them now,” he explained. The dancers are ready. The performances begin tonight (Wednesday, July 22). The pressure is on.