Axelrod Contemporary Ballet to present ‘Architects of Dance’

HOLMDEL — Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater (AXCBT), the Jersey Shore’s professional ballet company, will present a one-night-only special event, “Architects of Dance,” featuring the Company in choreography by some of the greatest modern dancers of our time who will also perform on the program, Thursday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m., in the Atrium at Bell Works Studio in Holmdel.

The evening will include a pre-performance reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by a private VIP tour of Bell Works led by Lead Designer and Creative Designer Paola Zamudio beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the performance are $25 general admission or $75 for the VIP experience, including the performance, tour and reception.

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Tickets are available at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center Online Box Office.

Inspired by the Bauhaus architectural movement, AXCBT Artistic Director Gabriel Chajnik conceived of “Architects of Dance” to illustrate how choreography and architecture can influence each other. The program will feature works by Andrea Weber, formerly of Merce Cunningham Dance Company; Blakely White-McGuire, formerly of Martha Graham Dance Company; Daniel Fetecua, formerly of Jose Limon Dance Company; Michael Trusnovec, formerly of Paul Taylor Dance Company; and Mr. Chajnik, formerly of American Repertory Ballet.

“Choreographers move bodies on stage with a determined purpose,” said Mr. Chajnik, “the way architects lead people through their creations. ‘Architects of Dance’ will engage the senses through imagery and mesmerizing choreography. These artists have collaborated to create a new and groundbreaking movement platform, crossing disciplines and experiences, and sharing practices. The tour of the Bell Works grounds is a crucial part of this dance experience. Walking through the vast building is a sensorial process – a dance in itself – that will fill audience members with energy and inspiration.”

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“As the Creative Director and Lead Designer of Bell Works, my vision is to bring art and culture through design to this architectural masterpiece. Working with Gabriel Chajnik and his talented team at AXCBT has been a magical experience, especially when collaborating on the “Architects of Dance” performance series,” said Zamudio. “Architects of Dance” is a celebration of the Bauhaus style and overall movement, which has been the root of my creative direction here at Bell Works. What better place to host this event than at the former Bell Labs building, designed by the iconic Eero Saarinen? We can’t wait for the community to experience it all at Bell Works.”

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Michael Trusnovec will perform a dynamic series of falls and weight shifts in a solo from Merce Cunningham’s Variations V from 1965, originally danced by Albert Reid. Simultaneously, Andrea Weber will perform a solo from Cunningham’s Fractions from 1978. Originally danced by Lisa Fox and Karole Armitage, this solo is a virtuosic evolution of a single phrase. The two solos will be performed to a recording of John King’s “100tonecandles.” Mr. Trusnovec and Ms. Weber have collaborated on several projects since meeting in 2019 at the famed American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina.

Trusnovec’s Minimal Complex is set to music by Johann Sebastian Bach’s Preludes from “The Well-Tempered Clavier.”

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“Bauhaus artist Paul Klee transformed Bach’s music structure into two-dimensional graphic visualizations,” Trusnovec said. “Minimal Complex explores and interprets an abstracted, four-hand version of three movements from ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier.’ With a focus on the architectural genius, harmonies, counterpoints, and pure simplicity of the music, four dancers become a physical layer of geometric patterns, movement, and breath.”

Weber’s Arbol is set to “Six Little Piano Pieces” by Arnold Schoenberg. The dance explores structures, foundational support, and how we are all interconnected.

“In considering the Bauhaus movement of architecture and design,” said Weber, “I began to see similar imagery in nature. The cross-section between the two became the inspiration for the movement.”

Blakeley White-McGuire will perform alongside Daniel Fetecua in works choreographed by the pair. Their In a language other than English was commissioned by Buglisi Dance Theater; Structures of Liberty from 2022 was also commissioned in part by Buglisi Dance Theater. In this work-in-process, the artists seek to interrogate the imposition of ideas, language, and the phenomenon of the matrix of power wherein individuals perform a perceived entitlement to speak about realities outside of their personal experience.

White-McGuire’s Apertura is set to Maurice Ravel’s “Miroirs” and “Nature Boy” by Chris Whitely.

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“Apertura brings focus and perspective on new possibilities for intimate transactions in common spaces,” said White-McGuire. “What might happen if we bring the full range of our emotional and physical intellect into the communal common space? How do particular compositions ignite conversation and exchange?”

Gabriel Chajnik’s series of dance vignettes, Komposition, is set to music by Erik Satie and inspired by the paintings of Wassily Kandinsky, a faculty member of the Bauhaus School from 1922 to 1933.

“Kandinsky’s works are a great combination of art and science,” said Chajnik. “This dance is inspired by the Bauhaus concept Gesamtkunstwerk, which roughly translates to ‘total work of art,’ and strives to make use of many art forms within a single comprehensive artwork. Throughout the piece, the lines and shapes within Kandinsky’s paintings interact with the dancers, sparking geometrical, physical, aesthetic, and spiritual reactions.”

The VIP event will begin at 5:30 p.m. with cocktails and food at Bar Bella and continues at 6:30 p.m. with a meet-and-greet with the dancers and choreographers and a tour of Bell Works by Paola Zamudio.

Zamudio is Founder and Head Designer at npz studio+, a full-service creative agency engaging in creative direction, branding, art direction, graphic design, social media and event planning.

She will guide VIP guests through the transformation of the iconic Bell Laboratories, designed by world-renowned architect Eero Saarinen, into Bell Works, and discuss the thought behind their design updates, the Bauhaus art references found throughout the building, and the design elements that make Bell Works what it is today.

Tickets for the performance are $25, or $75 for the performance, tour and reception at the Bell Market in the main atrium.

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Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater (AXCBT) strives to cultivate an environment rooted in diversity, inspiration, encouragement, and equality where all are welcome and heard. Listening and learning are at the heart of our commitments to change policies, attitudes, and habits that do not align with our core values.

Gabriel Chajnik has assembled a community of skilled artists, each unique and necessary to the growth of AXCBT and its audience. AXCBT prides itself on its perseverance through the challenges of the COVID pandemic and the company’s continuation of dance education.

Chajnik and his dancers aim to expand creativity and appreciation for the arts throughout New Jersey, inviting patrons, students, and artists to join them on this gratifying endeavor.

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AXCBT Artistic Director Gabriel Chajnik received undergraduate dance training at The Juilliard School, studying under legendary instructor, mentor, and Juilliard faculty

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emeritus Maestro Héctor Zaraspe. Mr. Chajnik’s work has been featured at the Juilliard School, the Manhattan School of Music, the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C., Alice Tully Hall, the Clark Theatre at Lincoln Center, the Manhattan Movement, and Arts Center, and the Lambs Theatre. As an educator, he has taught various dance technique classes to notable dance schools such as Brooklyn Music School (NY), Princeton Ballet School (NJ), the Academy of Dance Arts (NJ), and Gotta Dance (NJ). Mr. Chajnik merged his two passions of choreography and education by establishing the Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theatre (AXCBT), the first professional dance company in the Monmouth County area, and the Axelrod Performing Arts Academy (APAA), both with the help of Axelrod Performing Arts Center’s President Elise Feldman. Mr. Chajnik has been honored by the Jewish Federation of Somerset, Hunterdon, & Warren Counties. In September 2021, Monmouth Arts honored Gabriel for his work in the community during the pandemic.

Originally designed in 1962 by world-renowned modernist architect Eero Saarinen, Bell Works is revered for its role in spurring the development of some of the world’s foremost inventions and research concepts.

Today, the Bell Works “metroburb”— a metropolis in suburbia— encapsulates the liveliness of a city amidst the tranquility of the suburbs. Offering a variety of workspace options, Bell Works office community is home to a diverse array of businesses that include Fortune 500 companies and early-stage startups alike.

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