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Monday August 15th

Carolina Performing Arts gets $750,000 for ballet project

Two years might seem a long way away, but when it comes to centennial anniversaries, it’s never too early to start preparing.

On Wednesday, Carolina Performing Arts announced it had received a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation worth $750,000.

The money will fund 12 commissions inspired by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky’s ballet “The Rite of Spring,” which celebrates its 100th birthday in 2013.

“The Rite of Spring at 100” series will be presented throughout the 2012-13 CPA season to celebrate the controversial ballet.

Emil Kang, the University’s executive director for the arts, said the grant allows CPA to begin taking more concrete steps to making the project a reality.

“The main thing the grant does for us is allow us to pay some of these artists,” Kang said, adding that the centennial celebration has been in the works since 2008. The project already features a list of distinguished performers, including cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

The century-old ballet was the most controversial of its time. Its heavy use of dissonance and themes of fertility and sacrifice incited riots during its world premiere, said Reed Colver, director of campus and community engagement.

“It premiered on a level that was unheard of,” Colver said. “How often have you heard of a ballet that caused riots?”

Kang said the University was one of three schools with performing arts organizations to receive grants from the Mellon Foundation for classical music projects, the other two being the University of Texas and Penn State University. CPA received the largest grant of the three schools, he said.

But CPA still has its work cut out for it, Kang said.

“The budget is going to be a little over 2 million (dollars), the rest of which we need raise ourselves,” he said.

Colver said the commissions will be made by 20 artists. While they have some time, it’s not as large of a window as one would expect, Colver said.

“Anything like this needs lead time to prepare,” she said. “It will be a significant portion of our season.”

Each team of artists will be taking part in a residency of its own, with commissions featuring new musical scores and visual performances, Kang said.

“They all have their own processes, and you have to let those all mature in their own way,” Kang said. “You have to know when to let things progress naturally and when to push.”

The Mellon Foundation grant is the second Carolina Performing Arts has received in conjunction with the project.

In the spring, Carolina Performing Arts received a smaller grant of $45,000 from the foundation in order to support an exploratory residency for the commission by world-renowned artists Anne Bogart and Bill T. Jones, who took part in a ‘concept to curtain’ talk on campus in April.

Bogart and Jones said they are looking to bring their companies together in the coming months to begin obtaining a vision for their eventual project. They will return for another residency in the fall, Colver said.

“Working with Bill so far has been nothing less than miraculous,” said Bogart, artistic director of New York-based SITI Company. “We listen to one another and then each of us makes bold suggestions.”

Contact the Arts Editor at arts@dailytarheel.com.

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