Kyle Abraham is an award-winning American choreographer, dancer and Artistic Director of A.I.M (Abraham In Motion). His awards include the 2018 Princess Grace Statue Award recipient and Lincoln Center Education Artist in Residence, a 2013 MacArthur Fellow and the 2016 Doris Duke recipient, to name just a few. Abraham has choreographed works for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance Company, a solo work for American Ballet Theatre’s Misty Copeland (ABT), and a work titled Runaway for New York City Ballet in 2018.

It was while creating Runaway that Abraham first met soloist Taylor Stanley, who trained, among other places, at the School of American Ballet, the official school of New York City Ballet. Mr. Stanley became an apprentice with NYCB in 2009 and joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet in September 2010. He was promoted to soloist in February 2013 and to principal dancer in May 2016.

When Stanley made his debut in Balanchine’s Apollo last year, it was clear to many that he was headed for ballet stardom. “But, from his first motion, strumming his lyre with Pete Townshend-style arm-circling, Mr. Stanley was elegantly forceful. He was calm, confident, divinely cool. He gave the sense, fitting for a god, of already knowing what he was doing even as he was learning how to do it. This was a thrillingly authoritative debut”.  NY Times Jan. 23, 2019 by Brian Seibert

The New York City Ballet and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts have just released a beautiful short dance film titled Ces noms que nous portons (These names we bear) choreographed by Abraham and performed exquisitely by Stanley.  The film was shot on June 30 on the Josie Robertson Plaza, lit in celebration of Pride with the LGBTQ rainbow colors. The work was choreographed and performed to Erik Satie’s lonely and haunting Gnossienne No. 3.

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Taylor Stanley in "Ces noms que nous portons" Choreography by Kyle Abraham - Photo by Zach Stolzfus

Stanley demonstrated in Ces noms que nous portons that his body was not trained, or designed, to dance solely (or soulfully) ballet. His attention to detail of movement in no way hinders Abraham’s vision or message honoring “the lives of those who we have lost due to the color of their skin or their identity”.

Abraham and Stanley have included a written message at the end of the film that reads in part: “This collaboration aims to celebrate our queerness and our color in a way that hopefully stresses its importance, its fragility, and its strength. We dance, and create dances for those who have yet to see themselves on a stage. We dance, and create dances for our community and beyond. We dance, and create dances to nourish our souls. We make dances to reflect, to ask, to heal.” They end their message with “For the both of us, we commemorate our history….in PRIDE.”

They urge viewers to consider supporting Black Lives Matter, the LGBTQ Freedom Fund, and The Okra Project. The A.I.M. website has provided a page, A.I.M. for Change, which lists donation sites in support of All Back Lives.

Ces noms que nous portons was made possible in part by Jody and John Arnhold and the Arnhold Dance Innovation Fund. The Director of Photography was Zach Stoltzfus; Co-Produced by NYC Ballet and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; and Edited by Courtney Garboski for NYC Ballet. Satie’s Gnossienne No. 3 was performed by Alessandro Simonetto.

To view this beautiful and moving film, click HERE.

To visit the Abraham In Motion (A.I.M). website, click HERE.

To learn more about A.I.M for Change, click HERE.

Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.

Featured image: Taylor Stanley in Ces noms que nous portons Choreography by Kyle Abraham – Photo by Zach Stolzfus