Dance with Bach (2019)

Dance with Bach – The Sebastians

Friday, May 20, 7:30pm
Saturday, May 21, 2pm
Saturday, May 21, 7:30pm

Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church
152 West 66th Street

In 2019, I was commissioned by The Sebastians—a jewel of New York’s growing baroque music scene and one of the finest baroque chamber ensembles anywhere—to create three new ballets all set to major scores by the band’s namesake composer, J. S. Bach. Performances were scheduled to crown the ensemble’s annual New York City concert series in May–June 2020. What a thrill! What an honor! What a challenge! What an opportunity! And what a disappointment to my dancers and me when rehearsals came to dead halt on Friday, March 13, 2020, as NYC careened into lockdown.

We are so fortunate that The Sebastians have recommissioned the program and rescheduled it for May 20–21, 2022. Starting up again has meant reimagining the dances and rediscovering the music. And what music!

In my life as a choreographer, I have usually avoided well-known masterpieces in favor of lesser-known works, thinking that I serve our audience better as an advocate for music and composers that I think deserve a wider hearing. But this project compels me to confront Bach’s genius head-on. All three of the scores chosen by The Sebastians richly deserve their fame: the Suite no. 6 for Solo Cello (BWV 1012), the “English” Suite no. 5 (BWV 810), and the Orchestral Suite in B minor (BWV 1067). I am the kind of listener for whom Bach’s secular music, and his solo chamber scores in particular, feel like his holiest work, and I have loved the cello suites and all the solo keyboard music since I was a teenager. And almost everyone knows the Orchestral Suite, which includes one of Bach’s most popular tunes of all time. Yet choreographing the music now leads me deep inside in a way that nothing else could.

The Sebastians’ purpose in devising this program is to explore how Bach reimagined the conventions of the French baroque dance suite—which was invented by the composers at the French court for actual dancing—in his own terms. Although Bach never intended any of his suites to be danced, in rhythmical and dramatic terms, they are all entirely danceable. I treat each score as its own realm, but imagine that all three are connected as if by secret tunnels that allow dancers from one ballet to visit the others. The cello suite is a seriously playful dance for one man and two women—will he choose one or the other? The English suite I set as an intimate duet for two men—in which the women from the first ballet make a surprise appearance. And the Orchestral suite features one couple framed by seven wonderful student dancers from one of New York’s finest ballet schools, the school of New York Theatre Ballet—who help me bring out both the score’s insouciant lightheartedness and its gravity.

Seating for these performances is on all four sides of the space, evoking early French court dance.

Dance with Bach is available from the Sebastians as a digital concert for $20 HERE; a downloadable concert program is also available for free.

Pictured: Dancers Michael Bishop, Elisa Toro Franky, Genaro Freire, Jeremy Kyle, Leigh Schanfein, and Michelle Vargo

with dancers from the New York Theatre Ballet School
Charlotte Anub, Audrey Cen, Josephine Ernst, Madeline Goodwin, Clara Rodrigues-Cheung, Emely Leon Rivas, Eva Sgorbati

listen out loud / move to keep things whole (2019)

With students from New York Theatre Ballet School and guest artists The Bang Group

Pictured: Dancers Mayu Oguri, Silken Kelly, Jacob Taylor / Photo: Whitney Browne

Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
334 Amsterdam Ave. at 76th Street

Saturday, May 18, 8:00pm
Thursday, May 23, 8:00pm
Saturday, June 1, 8:00pm

Advance sales:$35 premium seating; $25 general; $20 students with ID/children
At the door:$40 premium seating; $30 general; $25 students with ID/children

My new ballet,listen out loud / move to keep things whole celebrates the women in my company (and one terrific guy), together with outstanding young dancers, seven girls aged 10–11, from one of New York City’s finest ballet schools. Together we explore themes of girlhood aspiring to womanhood; blindness and insight; women’s intimacies and solitude. I seek to highlight the dancers’ power, their brave vulnerability, their everyday heroism—how, in words by the poet Mark Strand that inspired one of the ballet’s musical scores, dancers always “move to keep things whole.” The ballet includes two scores byPauline Oliveros, a gentle matriarch of American experimental music: one of her Sonic Meditations (performed by the dancers), and herTuning Meditation(sung by the audience), in which the composer urges us to “listen out loud.” A commissioned score, Four Sonnets, by Alison Taylor Cheeseman, sets poems from across five centuries by and about women; while three chamber works by composerPaul Kerekesshowcase his signature juxtaposition of fiercely syncopated rhythms with pools of suspended tranquility.

The program also includes a guest appearance byThe Bang Group, in a New York premiere by David Parker, a recent revival by James Waring, and a new duet byAmber Sloanwith dancer Joshua Tuason. Looking forward to my company’s twentieth anniversary next year, I’ve been looking back too. David Parker and I got a start as choreographers on Dance Theater Workshop’s Fresh Tracks series in 1992 and have been friends and colleagues ever since. I’m delighted to share the stage with him again. It’s wonderful too that Phil Sandstrom, who designed lighting for us back in ’92, joins us for this project.

I hope to see you in the theater—and at our kosher wine bar before or after the show!

Glimpsed Through Birches (2018)

Christopher Caines Dance is thrilled to have been invited to headline the Camerata New York’s inaugural Holiday Dance Festival under the baton of this superb orchestra’s distinguished conductor and musical director Richard Owen. The venue is a beautiful and intimate jewel-box theatre with superb acoustics located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side:

Friday, January 5 at 7:30pm
Saturday, January 6 at 7:30pm
Sunday, January 7 at 2:00pm
at the
Theatre at St. Jean’s
76th Street at Lexington Avenue (enter downstairs)

We will premiere Glimpsed Through Birches, a sextet set to ravishing and rarely heard scores for string orchestra by Edvard Grieg. (For a sneak “ear peek” at some of the music, check out these YouTube links to the composer’s opus 63 and 34.) Starring dancers Michelle Vargo,Mayu Oguri,Silken Kelly,Elisa Toro Franky, andJacob Taylor. Costumes by two-time Tony Award nominee Gregory Gale.

The outstanding artists sharing the program include Pedro Ruiz, Leyland Simmons, and advanced students from the Harlem School of the Arts under the direction of Aubrey Lynch. Tickets: $20–25. Limited seating: Advance purchase highly recommended.
Tickets are on sale now HERE; or call 212-288-5082; or email

Please join us in the theater to kick off 2018 in style!

Pictured: Silken Kelly in costume for the new ballet. Photo by Steven Pisano.

four→ONE (2016)

Please join us for our fast-approaching New York Season, November 18–20

92Y Harkness Dance Center

Christopher Caines Dance

with composer Paul Kerekes, pianist Marija Ili?, and musical soloists from Contemporaneous in


a new site-inspired 2-act ballet
in Buttenwieser Hall, 92Y, Lexington Avenue at 92nd Street, New York City

Friday, November 18, 8:00pm
Saturday, November 19, 4:00 p.m. & 8:00pm
Sunday, November 20, 4:00pm

The program runs 80 minutes including one intermission.

Very limited seating: advance purchase strongly recommended.
Advance purchase $27; $32 at the door.

Purchase your tickets HERE or call 212.415.5500.

Christopher Caines Dance premieres four→ONE, a new two-act ballet fusing bold spatial and musical experiments inspired by the architecture of 92Y’s Buttenwieser Hall and fueled by the questions How do we choose what to see? And how does that make us listen?

Absinthe (2008)

Erik Satie (1866?1925) — Trois morceaux en forme de poire (1903)
Maniere de commencement — Prolongation du meme — I Lentement — II Enleve — III Brutal — En plus — Redite

Jamy Hsu, Justin Wingenroth, Ensemble

Cognac (2008)

Music: Gabriel Faur? (1845?1924)
"Soir" (1894); "Clair de lune" (1887); "Apr?s un r?ve" (c. 1878); "Arp?ge" (1897); "En sourdine" (1891); "Aurore" (1884)

Lauren Engleman, Andrew Griffin, Jacqueline McConnell, Edgar Peterson

Exquisite Hour (2008)

Reynaldo Hahn (1875-1947) — "L'Heure Exquise" (c.1890);
Gabriel Faure (1845-1924) — "Soir" (1894); "Clair de Lune" (1887);
"Apres un Reve" (1878); "Arpege"(1897); "En Sourdine" (1891); "Aurore" (1884)

Lauren Engleman, Andrew Griffin, Jackie McConnell, Edgar Peterson

Slivovice (2008)

Bohuslav Martinů (1890?1959) — Three Madrigals (1947)
I Poco allegro — II Poco andante — III Allegro

Ivanova Aguilar, Cornelius Brown, Andrew Griffin, Gisella Quinteros

Water and Salt (2008)

Meredith Monk (b. 1942)
"Lonely Spirit" (1991); "Waltz in 5's" (1996); "Prayer 2" (1996); "Gotham Lullaby" (1974)

Michelle Vargo, Rika Burham, Ammon Dennis, Amelia Pinney, Olivia Pinney, Ensemble

Water of Life (2008)

Traditional Scots Gaelic, arr. C. Caines
"Fraoch a Ronaigh"; "A chuachag nam beann"/"A nighean nan geug"; "Bheir mo shoraidh thar Ghunnaidh"

Michelle Vargo, Rika Burnham, Ammon Dennis, Jamy Hsu, Cornelius Brown, Andrew Griffin, Edgar Peterson

Champagne (2007)

Nicholas Stoia (b. 1976) — Prelude and Waltz (2007)

Keelin Ryan & Royce Zackery, Jacqueline McConnell & Andrew Griffin, Lauren Englemen & Cornelius Brown, Jamy Hsu & Justin Wingenroth, Ivanova Iquilar & Edgar Peterson, Gisela Quinteros & Ammon Dennis

Sardana (2006)

3 dancers, 'cello; 18 minutes

Gaspar Cassado — Suite for Solo 'Cello

Seven Preludes and a Fugue (2006)

9 dancers, 4 singers SATB, piano (with string quartet, optional); 25 minutes

J.S. Bach — Six Little Preludes
Glenn Gould — "So you want to write a fugue?"

Skittle Alley (2006)

9 dancers; piano, clarinet, viola or 'cello; 25 minutes

W.A. Mozart — Piano Trio in E-flat, K. 498, "Kegelstatt"

Spoken Music (2006)

9 dancers, 8 singers SATB (with 2 percussionists, optional); 12 minutes

Ernst Toch — Spoken Music (including "The Geographical Fugue"), Valse

Can't Sleep (2005)

8 dancers, 1 or 2 singers, piano; 40 minutes

William Bolcom — Cabaret Songs

Tenebrae (2005)

9 dancers, 40-voice choir; 30 minutes

An ensemble of forty voices and ten dancers will bring to life Tenebrae, a new work that celebrates the 500th anniversary of the birth of composer Thomas Tallis, in the exquisite sacred setting of St. Mark's Church. Tallis' fervent music, composed during a time of religious turmoil, terror, and war, inspires an experiment in complex choreographic counterpoint by Artistic Director Christopher Caines. The composer's unforgettable "Spem in alium" and two other masterpieces, The Lamentations of Jeremiah and the gemlike motet "If ye love me," comprise the score for Tenebrae, which will be conducted by Kristina Boerger, Artistic Director of the Cerddorion Vocal Ensemble.

The program also highlights the music of contemporary American composer William Bolcom. Can't Sleep, a work for nine dancers, explores the shifting moods of selections from Bolcom's four books of Cabaret Songs (1977?1996), set to the sly, witty lyrics of New York poet Arnold Weinstein. Like the songs, the dance evokes an insomniac world of sins longed for, found, lost-and sometimes forgiven. The music will be performed by soprano Silvie Jensen and baritone Alan Reinhardt, accompanied by pianist Marija Ilic.

Lighting Design: Carol Mullins, Susan Hamburger
Costume Design: Ingrid Maurer, Beatrice Fairfax
Choral Contractor: Robb Moss

Thomas Tallis — "Spem in alium," Lamentations I, etc.

Ruth Arena, Christopher Caines, Rachel Frank, Val Loukiano, Edgar Peterson, Adam MacLean, Carmen Nicole, Claire Willy, Christopher Woodrell, and Luna Montano.

Silvie Jensen, soprano
Alan Reinhardt, baritone
Marija Ilic and Christopher Bruckman, piano
40-voice choir conducted by Kristina Boerger

Italian Suite (2003)

20 min.
4 dancers; piano, violin

Igor Stravinsky — Suite Italienne (1933)

Nocturne (2002)

25 min.
5 dancers; piano, violin, clarinet, baritone saxophone

Anton Webern — Children's Piece for Piano (1924); Variations for Piano, op. 27 (1935-36); Piano Piece, op. post. (1925); Four Pieces for Violin and Piano, op. 7 (1910); Quartet, op. 22 (1929-30)

Snow (2002)

20 min.
4 dancers; piano

Leos Janacek — In the Mists (1912)

Chanson Perpetuelle (2001)

12 min.
3 dancers; piano, string quartet, mezzo-soprano

Ernest Chausson — Quartet in A major, op. 30, mvt. 3 op. post.; Chanson Perp?tuelle, op. 37 (1898)

Daphne Variations (2000)

11 min.
1 dancer

Louise Schulman — Daphne Variations (2000)

Dark Drop (2000)

16 min.
3 dancers; string quartet, mezzo-soprano

Paul Hindemith — Viola Sonata, op. 25, no. 1, mvt. 4 (1922); Melancholie, op. 13 [four-song cycle with texts by poet Christian Morgenstern];

Irving Berlin — "Let Yourself Go" (1936)

"Christopher Caines.... draws on his solid Cecchetti ballet training and his grasp of European history. He's a maximilist.... he offers expansive, expressive movement. His dramatic and musical extravaganzas, as redolent of human passion and tragedy as the poetry of Wilfred Owen and A. E. Housman."
— Elizabeth Zimmer, The Village Voice

Arias (1999)

90 min. with 1 intermission
7 dancers; piano, mezzo-soprano

Songs by Anon., A. Scarlatti, Caccini, Caldara, Parisotti, Giordani, Faur?, Schoenberg, Gershwin, Handel

Project Archive

See archived projects below: