Led by artistic director and choreographer Stephen Mills, Ballet Austin is Austin’s most adventurous and nationally-recognized classical performing arts institution. 2008’s “Cult of Color”, a three-way collaboration between Mills, visual artist Trenton Doyle Hancock, and Reynolds, remains one of Graham’s all-time favourite projects. A year and a half later Graham worked with Stephen again, this time deconstructing and reconstructing Bach for a piece called “Bounce”. The next part of that series premieres this fall with variations on Mozart scored for amplified and effected cello and violin.
2016-2017 “Belle Redux”
2011 “Though the Earth Gives Way”
2010 “Truth and Beauty”
2008 “Cult of Color: Call to Color”
Ballet Austin’s “Exit Wounds”
When loss rips through you—and when life takes from you—transcendence requires courage. In this most personal of works, Stephen Mills explored what it is to acknowledge human fear, yet ultimately choose courage. Exit Wounds is a work portrayed in three chapters that explored situations in Mills’ life in which he witnessed acts of courage that altered his personal perspective. The work also explored the impact fear of loss can have on our lives and the options we have to face it, understand it, and ultimately, grow beyond it by choosing courage above all else.
Exit Wounds celebrated its world premiere in April 2018, and featured three one-act contemporary ballets choreographed by Stephen Mills and original music by Graham Reynolds for Chapter 1: Fields. Experience this emotionally provoking and inspirational score designed to move your heart and mind while encouraging us all to find a way forward. Preview and purchase digitally on Bandcamp.
Seven Daughters of Eve – An NYC Collaboration
The fourth production of the 7 Daughters of Eve Thtr. & Perf. Co. will be staged in 2017, at New York Live Arts and Abrons Arts Center, jointly. It is a two-pronged project, consisting of an experimental play with songs entitled THE SECURELY CONFERRED, VOUCHSAFED KEEPSAKES OF MAERY S., and a series of performance rituals called SASQUATCH RITUALS. Both are written and directed by Sibyl Kempson. The play will premiere in Fall 2017 at New York Live Arts and the RITUALS will take place from Fall 2016 starting at Mt. Tremper Arts in Ulster County to Winter 2017 in non-traditional spaces at Abrons, as well as at the Whitney Museum, Gibney Dance, and at other site-specific locations outside of NYC, for large and small audiences. The two pieces are co-created – two different manifestations of the same project.
THE SECURELY CONFERRED, VOUCHSAFED KEEPSAKES OF MAERY S. combines literary and dramatic narrative with eye-witness accounts of Sasquatch encounters from the internet. It spans several time periods and geographies.
Songs by Austin-based composer Graham Reynolds, after Johannes Brahms and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, with lyrics by Kempson, under the musical direction of the legendary Chris Giarmo, who will also perform. Alexandra Dewez will design set and costumes, Eva von Schweinitz will design video.
MAERY S. was originally created by ‘frankensteining’ together the excesses of writing and research from Kempson’s recent collaborations FONDLY, COLLETTE RICHLAND (with Elevator Repair Service) with that of FROM THE PIG PILE: THE REQUISITE GESTURE(S) OF NARROW APPROACH in Austin, TX (with Mr. Reynolds, Rude Mechs and Salvage Vanguard Theater). It was developed further at the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis for a 2013-14 McKnight National Residency and Commission and in the PlayTime laboratory residency at New Dramatists this November 2015.
The SASQUATCH RITUALS will accompany the theatrical production of MAERY S. – a separate but connected cycle of site-specific, live ritual performance installations that expand on the themes, research, and questions raised in MAERY S. The RITUALS are performed by a rotation of six women with movement choreographed by Linda Mancini and songs by Julie LaMendola formerly of Nature Theater of Oklahoma.
Forklift Danceworks’ Served @ Williams College
Forklift Danceworks’ Served is a dance for campus employees, created through a multi-visit residency at a host college or university. Featuring an original score by Graham Reynolds, the dance is the skilled movement of a distinct group of employees, such as dishwashers, custodians, physical plant staff, or maintenance crews, the dance will highlight the virtuosic work life of staff as performed by the employees themselves. Broadening awareness of the contributions of employees to campus life, Served aims to create a greater sense of community by allowing students, staff, and faculty to address equity and build connection through a community-based dance-making process.
Served will premiere at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, in February 2018. Following the premiere, Forklift Danceworks will tour the Served process to create new works at partnering universities such as Wake Forest University and the University of Houston.
My Park, My Pool, My City
Graham Reynolds and Forklift Danceworks collaborate on another civic project — My Park, My Pool, My City.
Centered around one of Austin’s greatest treasures — our public pools — this project will feature the dedicated Aquatics lifeguards and staff who keep Austin swimming. Austin is facing an infrastructure crisis with our city pool system, as many of our pools are leaking and desperately need upgrading. Knowing this, My Park, My Pool, My City has been designed to build appreciation for the folks who steward our Aquatics system and create deeper understanding and connection between city staff, neighborhood residents and citizens from all around Austin who now must address one of the most complex issues facing our city—how to solve our city pool crisis.
Each year for three years, Forklift will be focusing on one East Austin neighborhood and bringing residents and city employees together to tell the story of these vital community gathering places. 3 years, 3 pools, 3 dances. They are beginning this year at Bartholomew Pool, premiering the first of the three dances July 21-22 & 28-29 of 2017.
The dances are accompanied by original music composed and directed by Graham Reynolds, and production and lighting design by Stephen Pruitt.
“My Park, My Pool, My City presents an extraordinary opportunity for residents, artists, and civic and community leaders to work together to explore and address equity and access issues facing Austin’s Eastern Crescent.” —Austin Mayor Steve Adler
For more information, please visit this page.
When asked how creating music for a ballet was different than some of the film scores he has written, Reynolds responded, “Every time the process is a little bit different. Also, as technology evolves, the tools are different too. One of the goals of this was supposed to be innovation as part of the 3M commission. I tried to use all of these tools in my toolbox and dig around.” He continued, “…instead of a handful of music cues spread throughout this larger piece of art, there is music in a ballet, of course, the whole time. The entire sonic audio world is being told by the score, rather than by dialogue, and sound effects, and music, etc.”
“Reynolds’ captivating score — a multi-layered edgy gem of pre-recorded finesse — contrasted electronically ethereal sounds with blasting moments of percussive earthiness. A poignant romantic melody laced throughout, emerging with particularly heart feltness in a string quartet midway through.” -Austin American Statesman
Though the Earth Gives Way
Ballet Suite for Electrified Cello and Violin premiered on April 1st, 2016 at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, Austin, TX
Graham Reynolds gives a nod to Mozart during the creative process but assures you won’t hear any 18th century motifs in the piece. Though the Earth Gives Way features violin and cello with real-time processing accompanied by pre-rendered percussion tracks. There were nine movements, each of which came in at around two or three minutes. Says Reynolds, “I took fragments directly out of the piano concerto score (some very small, some eight bars long) and created my music with them. In most tracks it’s very hard to hear the Mozart, but in one or two it’s a little more overt.” The piece began with a percussion line run through some delay and reverb to create a quasi-ambient bed for the main theme of the work. Most of the movements involved one part wandering line, two parts reverb/delay, and one part percussion loop (accompanied by the occasional tap on the acoustic instruments) so ultimately the piece was held together musically by texture and rhythm, and visually by the dance and the staging.
The Geometry of Proximity
The Geometry of Proximity, premiering in 2012, is a multi-media dance theatre work about human transformation and awakening. Created and performed by Andrea Ariel and Steve Ochoa in a first-time duet dance concert. The earth becomes an additional key performance element with integrated video design from Colin Lowry. An original score by Graham Reynolds for piano, cello and percussion weaves pulsating, rhythmic compositions with tender, beautiful melodies and compositions using water and air. Lighting design by Jason Amato.
Choreography by Nathan Powell
Music by Graham Reynolds
Performed by Ballet Idaho at the Morrison Center Nov 2, 2012
“Timepiece” is the story of Dmitri and orphan picked up off the streets by bank-robbing gangsters, though he doesn’t fit in well with the rest of the Club… all he wants to do is dance with his dream girl who just happens to be the Boss’s girl.
After a successful bank robbery, due in no part to Dmitri who, for the most part just got in the way, found himself in possession of a pocket watch. He soon finds out it is no ordinary pocket watch, but a magical one which has the power to slow down time temporarily. Then rest of the members of the Club find out about his magical accessory and quickly give it over to the Boss.
Now that the Club has a very useful device they quickly go off to rob another bank. Bereft and deflated Dmitri wallows in his pity but is surprised by Adeline who daringly steals the pocket watch from the Boss and invites Dmitri to a long-awaited dance. Sadly the dance lasts too long and the magic has worn off, the police are coming and Dmitri finds he must sacrifice himself to save Adeline from a life in prison.
(2012) Inspired by the virtuosic movement of symphonic conducting, Solo Symphony features Austin Symphony Conductor Peter Bay performing a dance created in collaboration with Allison Orr, for Forklift Danceworks.
Accompanied by 13 musicians and an original score by Graham Reynolds, the dance at times features Bay actually conducting while at other times showed Bay performing movements based abstractly on his conducting gestures. The piece also includes text taken from Orr’s interviews with Bay and is a memoir-style look into Bay’s love of music and passion for conducting. Solo Symphony highlights Bay’s tremendously skilled and unique conducting style, his passion and deep love for music, and the artistry and grace with which he performs his job.
The Traffic Maven by Forklift Danceworks, is a solo performed by Austin Police Sergeant Melissa McGrath. The dance is inspired by McGrath’s movement directing traffic, and shows movement clearly derived from directing traffic and more abstracted, theatrical choreography. Allison observed Melissa at work, and through this and many weeks of interviewing Melissa, gained insights into her life as a police officer. Video artist and collaborator Travis Been created a film score that accompanied the dance and served as a set for the dance. Graham Reynolds created an original score for piano. Performed February 12-21st, 2010 at The Off Center.
T is For: Two Hundred Two-Steppers on the Steps of the Texas State Capitol
Serving as the kick-off event for the 2010 Fusebox Festival, Forklift Dancework’s T is for… featured hundreds of two-steppers on the steps of the Texas Capitol. What might have been the grandest of all two-steps, this free performance celebrated the two-step’s rich cultural history while showcasing local dancers who love and live for the dance. Including 300+ dancers in the final grand all-step, T is for… featured a live Texas swing Orchestra directed by Graham Reynolds and fronted by Austin favourite Dale Watson.
Truth & Beauty
(2010) Utilising music both composed and inspired by famed composer J.S. Bach, Stephen Mills’ Truth & Beauty / The Bach Project showcases Ballet Austin‘s classically innovative style at its best. Featuring three distinctive dance works—Truth & Beauty, Angel of My Nature and Bounce—this production incorporates a variety of choreographic styles and interactive media. Austin-based music maker Graham Reynolds joins the line-up of prolific composers for this delightful intersection of movement and sound.
As long-time collaborators, Ballet Austin’s Steven Mills and Graham Reynolds Reynolds know how to bring out the best in each other. Through The Graham Reynolds Project, these artists synthesized their classically innovative styles in an incredible marriage of movement and music. This latest collaboration features a first for Reynolds-an original, 22-minute composition performed by a 25-piece orchestra. While he still features the cello prominently, Reynolds brings a more symphonic sound to Once Belonging. His musical inspiration for this new work is an interesting mash-up: the Sibelius Violin Concerto, Syzmanoski’s Myths, and drum line music. In terms of movement style, Once Belonging is a tribute to classical form expressed through a contemporary lens while thematic phrases tell a story of community and devotion. With tender romanticism in one moment and passionate athleticism the next, Once Belonging is full of humanity, something Mills and Reynolds explore and celebrate in every dance concert they bring to the stage. Bounce features jazzy interludes, pounding percussion and out-of-the-ordinary instrumentation. Gathered in a tight circle of energetic “bounce,” eight dancers build a pulsing momentum that explodes across the stage. The fast-paced, driving movement creates a force you can feel, guaranteed to have you bobbing in your set. Reynolds’ re-imagined Bach’s Suite in A minor serves as the musical foundation for this rambunctious romp of a contemporary ballet.
Premiered on February 12th, 2010, at the Long Center for Performing Arts, Austin, TX / Commissioned by Ballet Austin & Choreography by Stephen Mills
The Trash Project
Directed by choreographer Allison Orr with an original score by Graham Reynolds, The Trash Project demonstrated a unique partnership between an Austin arts organization and a City of Austin department, featuring 24 employees and 16 large sanitation vehicles from Austin’s Solid Waste Services Department (now called Austin Resource Recovery). Explains Director Bob Gedert, “The Trash Project showcased our employees in a way that had never been done before. “[It] helped boost employee pride and morale and garnered lots of positive media attention for the department.” Austin City Council Member Laura Morrison writes, “The Trash Project is one of the most unique and inspirational productions I have seen. Allison Orr, with Forklift Danceworks, produced a creative ballet on a grand scale that introduced the audience to the real beauty in the work of our Solid Waste Services employees.”
Cult of Color
Soundtrack to the ballet Cult of Color refuses to sit obediently in any single genre, instead straddling several over the course of 55 minutes. Traces of jazz, rock and industrial music are discernible alongside soundtrack styles and a gothic, theatrical streak runs through this music too. The liner notes describe the ballet as a mythic, tribal world where colour is dreamt of, then discovered in a subterranean world. Reynolds’ compositions are, appropriately enough, a mixture of starkly rendered monochrome and more subtly coloured music. A World Without Color begins in commanding style with brutally methodical percussion and braying saxophone. The music then continues without pause into the echoing, gentler sound world of Sesom’s Dream, shaded with marimba and vibes. Betto’s Lament could be mistaken for a Tom Waits instrumental, made up of twanging guitar, plangent strings, heartbeat percussion and kalimba. Elsewhere, The Darkness Babies is pleasingly strident, drums are beaten mercilessly and Paul Klemperer’s saxophone rages and snorts into darkness. The Golden Arm Trio belies its name by comprising 17 musicians, a little under half of which are string players. Their presence, although integral, mostly comes second place to the prominent rhythm section. When heard on their own, halfway through Sesom And His Disciples, they emphasise an anxious, forbidding strain to the proceedings.
A Ballet Austin Production in Association with Arthouse / Story and Visual Concept by Trenton Doyle Hancock • Choreography by Stephen Mills / Premiered April, 2008 at AustinVentures Studio Theatre, Austin, Texas
Gyre (2007) deals with the trash we create inside and out, and explores transforming it into something new. This unique collaboration portrays the tale of four people, who in simultaneous catastrophic moments of their life, find themselves at the North Pacific Gyre on an island formed of plastic bags and other discarded debris. Their search to find a way out forces them to see truths they don’t want to confront and reconcile the damage they find.
Graham Reynolds’ and Peter Stopschinski’s score layers deeply beautiful piano and string pieces with rich melodic compositions that add horns, vibraphone and guitar. Driving percussion sections boldly cut into haunting soundscapes. Lush solos and duets intermingle with larger dances by the six-member chorus. As the unseen forces of nature, the chorus moves with driving sharpness; to free-flowing abandon; to stillness, like the watchful earth. Video designs illuminate the characters’ inner lives and the outer world of the Gyre. Hard-edged & poignant, silly and serious, with surprises along the way.
Detour (2005) mines the penetrating and farcical stories of three characters whose lives converge when they encounter a life-altering detour. The piece careens through an unexpected blitz of compelling monologues, athletic dance, poignant images and humorous scenes. Ariel and Walker head up the cast alongside Austin’s celebrated actor, Martin Burke (recipient of multiple Critics Table and Payne Awards). The cast also hails three talents new to Austin: actor, Rosaruby Glaberman and dancers, Steve Ochoa and Rebecca Borden. An original score by Graham Reynolds, (Golden Arm Trio), and Peter Stopschinski, (Brown Hornet) moves from electrifying to pulsating to sublime. Reynolds and Stopschinski perform live with a quartet. Video Designers Colin Lowry and Nicholas Keene add stunning palettes of video imagery. Lighting Design is by Fallon Lindsey.
Sonambulo (2003) is truly a dance and multi-media collaboration performance that is made to peek inside the male perspective of love and relationships, designed by a woman and created for everyone in collaboration with composer Graham Reynolds and poet Ricardo Acevedo, portions of Sonambulo invited to perform in Houston, Texas.
2003, With Sharir-Bustamente Danceworks