LA Dance Project's Benjamin Millepied performs at MOCA in July with… (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles…)
Part of what drew choreographer Benjamin Millepied to Los Angeles -- in addition to his wife, Natalie Portman --– was the creative electricity and pioneering spirit of the city.
One goal of his L.A. Dance Project, formed earlier this year, is to present dance outside of the traditional confines of theater walls. L.A., Millepied said, is the perfect place to execute this.
"The light, the architecture, hanging out with visual artists -- there was so much discovery every time I came here,” he said by phone from London. "My company -- the goal more and more is to be tied to projects that feel very much now, of our time."
Millepied's vision came to life this July with L.A. Dance Project's "Framework" at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Millepied collaborated with L.A. artist Mark Bradford in two 30-minute site-specific duets held in the museum’s galleries. Millepied danced with L.A. Dance Project member Amanda Wells, as Bradford narrated. The performance was part of MOCA's "The Painting Factory: Abstraction after Warhol," which included two large Bradford paintings.
MOCA on Wednesday released a video from the show on MOCAtv, the museum’s YouTube channel that launched in October. The 7 1/2-minute video weaves excerpts from "Framework" and new interviews with Millepied and Bradford.
"There's some beautifully shot footage," Millepied said. "And I like how it moves back and forth between the crowds and paintings and the subtle images of Mark in the studio. There's a nice looseness that gives the feeling of what it was like -- spontaneity. The performance was different every time."
In the video, Millepied talks about what drew him to dance as a kid growing up in France. It was simple and primal, "... an exhilaration in moving to music," he says in the video.
Bradford talks about a lifelong fascination with "structures and what holds things together."
"I think it’s interesting to push the history of painting further," Bradford says in the video. "And to do it with means that aren’t as traditional, but to still demand that you’re taken as seriously ...”
That sense of disciplined experimentation is part of what drew Millepied to Bradford in the first place.
“There’s a sense that Mark has completely assimilated and absorbed his city -- there’s an architectural sense to his work,” Millepied says. “His paintings are abstract but also really crafted. You can tell it’s a long process and there’s depth to them. You just know when you see good art.”