My own choreographic plunge

Attempting to conjure up my own choreographic concepts has been something on my mind for several years now. Often times, while listening to music, I would find myself visualizing dance movement inspired by that music. I have finally taken the plunge and have made my first real ballet that will premiere tonight as part of the Columbia Ballet Collaborative at the Miller Theatre (116th and Broadway). It’s just a short pas de deux—barely anything, really—a dance for two of my closest friends who have generously donated their time and energy towards making my ideas a reality (which I am eternally grateful for). 

The music I chose to use is an interesting work for a string section, composed by Joby Talbot and inspired by the music of Jack White of the White Stripes. I felt that this would be a good musical selection given the college audience. Hopefully many of them will recognize and relate to the subtleties of White’s music intertwined in Talbot’s string arrangement. So my intentions for the pas de deux was to make something inspired by the intensity and distortion of the music. I wanted to, above anything else, maintain my respects to the classical dance line & technique, while interjecting my own style of movement into the mix. In the end, the piece became a 5-minute sprint towards a non-existent finish line, a competition between two dancers with limbs for days.

Whether the piece is actually bad or good is another story; what’s of value to me is that I took the plunge and created my first ballet work.

Teresa Reichlen and Russell Janzen (photo by Gwyneth Muller)

Teresa Reichlen and Russell Janzen (photo by Gwyneth Muller)

Columbia Ballet Collaborative – Broadway at 116th St. 212-854-7799. April 3-4 at 8:00 pm


  1. Philip

    Damn! I wish I could be there. When I first saw Russell I thought he and Teresa would look really good dancing together. And I like Joby Talbot’s music.

    I hope it’s a success and leads to more choreographic ideas and opportunities for you, Justin.

    And what a nice photo from Ms. Muller!

    Apr 03, 2009 @ 19:15

  2. bill

    Amen - good luck with the piece, Justin, and props to Gwen for the photo.

    Apr 03, 2009 @ 19:24

  3. Evan

    An excellent plunge to take. Merde to you and the dancers!

    Apr 03, 2009 @ 19:25

  4. erico montes

    hello! hp the show went well!
    being a choreographer myself I identified with the feelings you described!!! scary but very exciting at the same time!
    may i ask what particular piece of music you used, and how you got it?
    i love joby talbot’s work and would like to discover some more of his music!
    best wishes


    Apr 03, 2009 @ 23:04

  5. brian

    dont be scared and good luck:)


    Apr 06, 2009 @ 23:04

  6. Jeanette C. Rigopoulos

    Hi, Justin.

    I haven’t had the pleasure of knowing you, but I know your mother a little. She and I had a conversation some years ago about you, just when you had gone to NY to pursue your dance career. She expressed her pride in your work and I told her how much I love dance.

    From time to time, like today, she sends blurbs about your progress/work. Today’s news is very exciting, and I can only imagine the thrill you felt to see your original choreography performed. My warmest congratulations, Justin. It’s a wonderful step you have taken, and one of courage, I suppose, in the dance world. The first step is the hardest. Now you have discovered what you can do and you will continue to grow in your craft.

    In Greek we say, Kai se anotera, or here’s to even more progress.


    Apr 08, 2009 @ 00:30



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