Seeking to further its mission to collaborate with Dallas/Fort Worth-based dancers, artists, and musicians, Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet has asked Jordan Kuspa, whose music has been praised in the New York Times as "consistently alive and inspired," to write a 50-minute ballet score on the story of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death”. In addition, DNCB will entrust Internationally renowned artists, Gregory Ruppe and Jeff Gibbons, with the visual direction of the ballet. See artist bios below.
The ballet will premiere at The Majestic Theatre in Downtown Dallas, April 7 2016.
Poe’s suspense-filled and enigmatic story seems particularly appropriate for today’s societal climate. Says Kuspa, “Prince Prospero sought to shut out the problems of the world and distract himself and his guests from the real and pervasive suffering of his own people. In the end, distraction and apathy inevitably lead to tragedy for those who are so nearsighted. No matter how isolated we may think we are, no matter how sheltered from suffering, ultimately we are all connected.”
In addition to this stellar team of artists, Kuspa has asked Matt Albert, former violinist of Eighth Blackbird, to direct his SMU new music ensemble, SYZYGY, in the performance of the new score.
Between the musicians of SYZYGY, the dancers of DNCB, and the artistic team in place, our production will involve dozens of DFW artists and performers. Masque of the Red Death will be the fifth major production by DNCB, and the first to feature both an original score and live musicians. DNCB Artistic Director, Emilie Skinner, has this to say about the importance of the project: "The conceptual aspects of this project directly aligns with DNCB's mission of creating innovative performances by collaborating with Dallas-based artists and musicians, and will be essential to our growth as artists and as a company. Masque of the Red Death will be unlike any ballet performance Dallas has seen in many years. We hope to draw in audience members of all backgrounds by offering something unique to dance, art, and music enthusiasts of the community. We also hope that this ballet will serve as an example of what DNCB will have in store for the years to come."
Jordan Kuspa's music has been praised in the New York Times as “animated and melodically opulent” and “consistently alive and inspired.” His compositions have been performed by ensembles as diverse as the Pittsburgh Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Ensemble SurPlus, 21st Century Consort, Tetra String Quartet, and the Yale Camerata, in venues such as Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. He has been a fellow at the Aspen Music Festival and a Resident Artist of the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Jordan was the winner of the 2014 Lake George Music Festival Composition Competition, the 2010 ISCM–League of Composers Competition, and was selected to take part in the 2011 American Composers Orchestra Underwood New Music Readings. Jordan was homeschooled his entire life before entering Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. He holds both the M.M. and M.M.A. degrees from the Yale School of Music, where he is now pursuing his doctorate. Jordan currently teaches at Richland College in Dallas, and serves as the Composer-in-Residence with the Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet.
Jeff Gibbons (b. Detroit, 1982) received his MFA in Intermedia at the University of Texas at Arlington in 2013. Selected exhibitions in Dallas, Texas include Oliver Francis Gallery, CentralTrak Gallery, The McKinney Ave Contemporary, The Goss-Michael Foundation, Conduit Gallery; The Texas Biennial, The Dallas Biennial, and Red Arrow Contemporary. International exhibitions include KoncertKirken, Denmark; The Berlin Becher Triennial, German; Réunion Gallery, Zürich, Switzerland, and Hiroshima Art Center, Hiroshima, Japan. He recently received the Dallas Observer 2015 Mastermind Award and the Dallas Museum of Art: Art Ball Prize, exhibited at the Dallas Art Fair, and co-created the 2013-2014 exhibition series Deep Ellum Windows with artist Justin Ginsberg. He has been an artist in residence at CentralTrak, and The Goss-Michael Foundation in Dallas, Texas.
Gregory Ruppe (b. Houston, 1979) holds an MFA from Texas Christian University and currently lives and works in Dallas, Texas. He co-founded the experimental artist collective Homecoming! Committee (2011-2014), has worked as a writer and educator of art and has been an invited artist-in-resident at CentralTrak, Dallas, Texas; ConceptOK, Tulsa, Oklahoma; and TCC South Camps, Fort Worth, Texas. Selected exhibitions include Réunion Gallery, Zürich, Switzerland; Hiroshima Art Center, Hiroshima, Japan; The Glasgow International at The Modern Institute, Glasgow, UK; The Calder at Hepworth-Wakefield, West Yorkshire, UK; The Berlin Becher Triennial, Berlin, Germany; The Texas Biennial, San Antonio, Texas; galleryHOMELAND, Houston, Texas; Deep Ellum Windows, Dallas, Texas; The Dallas Museum of Art, and The Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, Texas.