"James Kudelka, hailed as “ballet’s most original choreographer” by the New York Times, has been designing a new dance with 11 members of Butler Ballet in the University’s Jordan College of Fine Arts. Following Kudelka’s two-and-half-week visiting artist residency, Butler professor Derek Reid will continue rehearsing the dancers. Kudelka will return to Butler for the work’s premiere at the Midwinter Dance Festival, Feb. 21-25.

“I haven’t done this kind of residency before, it’s an experiment for me,” explained Kudelka, who last year ended his nine-year tenure as artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada.

“I was immediately impressed with [Butler Ballet’s] students and the strength of the program. I’m giving [the new work] a lot more space in this university setting than I would in a company. I brought Biber’s The Guardian Angel Sonata with me and was pleased to find they can handle this sophisticated piece of music.”

“The students are getting so much from him,” stated Michelle Jarvis, head of Butler’s Dance Department. “It’s been a dream of mine to do exactly this kind of work. I see him open to them, very much working with them in the process of a company.”

Jarvis acknowledged that this “invaluable experience” includes harsh reality. According to Kudelka, dance as an artform in a concert hall is experiencing a downturn. “It’s a different time” from when he trained as a classical dancer at the National Ballet School in Toronto and graduated in 1972, at age 17, to join the National Ballet of Canada, quickly garnering acclaim as a soloist and choreographer.

“It’s currently a rough time getting a job in a career that doesn’t last long.” Kudelka doesn’t see the audience growing to include “new and young.” “When it’s young people dancing for old people it’s very expensive to keep it running. It’s hard to make dance part of the everyday world.”

Tharp/Kudelka and More, Butler Ballet’s Midwinter Dance Festival, will be performed in Lilly Hall Studio Theatre 310 Wednesday-Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 6 and 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 and 4 p.m. Tickets are $10, $5 for students and seniors, free for children ages 5 and under. For reservations, call 317-940-6465.

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