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'Genesis' Competition Features Three World Premiere Ballet Performances

Later this week, three world premiere ballet performances will debut on the stage of Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater. The Genesis performances are the results of a competition for choreographers on the rise.

Choreographers submitted samples of their work, and Michael Pink, the Milwaukee Ballet’s artistic director, chose three finalists, who each have three weeks to create a new work for Milwaukee Ballet’s dancers whose names have been chosen at random.

It’s an intense process, and the finalists it elicited - British choreographer George Williamson, American Mariana Oliviera, and Italian Enrico Morelli - say it challenged them to choreograph in ways they weren't used to. 

"It felt like I didn't worry as much beforehand. So I just chose my music and thought, 'This is what I want to use,' but I didn't necessarily plan as much as I usually do. Normally I like to plan a sort of structure, never the steps, but just the outline," says Williamson. 

All of the choreographers are new to this type of competition. But all of them agree the process has felt less competitive and more collaborative, as the choreographers spend a lot of their time together, talking about the rehearsal process. 

"To me it doesn't feel like a competition at all, and I wouldn't want it to feel like a competition," says Oliviera. "I'm already next to talented choreographers, I'm able to produce a work which is already very challenging and something that doesn't happen that often. So I already feel like a winner."

"Yes," agrees Morelli. "For me it's a challenge, not for the prize, but just to make something interesting." 

The world premiere of Genesis is Thursday, February 16 and runs through Sunday, February 19. 

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Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.