Nicholas Leichter Dance presents the world premiere of "Spanish Wells"

CHARMAINE PATRICIA WARREN | 4/12/2011, 4:34 p.m.

Nicholas Leichter of Nicholas Leichter Dance has been making big orchestral dances lately! There were two commissions by the Brooklyn Philharmonic: First, there was "Carmina Burana" set to Carl Orff's exploration into hedonistic pagan ritual, then came the classic Igor Stravinsky score "Rite of Spring" where Leichter was the first choreographer chosen by the Brooklyn Philharmonic's commissioning series, " add another level of adventurous programming," says Leichter. Although there are many, many versions of "Rite of Spring"-Pina Baush, Paul Taylor and Maurice Bejart, to name a few-Leichter didn't necessarily feel the pressure that sometimes comes with making another. He says, "Everyone else was saying that...but I had never done a "Rite of Spring"...this was a new opportunity for me. I was open to something different." Leichter's "Rite of Spring" premiered in 2007 and was hailed by The New York Times as "...a rebellious and optimistic dance whose athletic and sensual Afro-Cuban-influenced moves spoke about finding strength in community."

This season, June 25-29 at Dance Theater Workshop, Nicholas Leichter Dance will give an encore performance of "Rite of Spring" along with the premiere of "Spanish Wells" to alternating sections of Claude Debussy's "La Mer" and songs by Amy Winehouse. This work grew from a special place and from a special time, notes Leichter. "After 'Rite of Spring,' I was in such a different place. ...we had some tragic loss within our community. ...and it made me reevaluate what I was doing...I wasn't sure that I wanted to keep doing this." An opportunity to make this new work via a curator was tempting because there was talk about "...a new and funky version of 'La Mer.'" Plus, adds Leichter, " own being was changing and I was racking my head to see how I can get the feeling that I was having about the loss, into some creative format." He developed a relationship with Debussy's score, Debussy's inspiration from the ocean and from other cultures. "I felt there's a happy relationship there because I'm influenced by all these things. ...I make this hybrid work that is not easily classifiable. But, there was something missing. needed something contemporary that was a throwback, some soul, something kind of nasty, kind of wicked but with humor...[in 'Spanish Wells']...all these things pop! I'm a little more aggressive about my stylistic approach. I chose to ride the Caribbean theme for example, where we're very much invested in allowing the hips to speak, and there is the flamenco theme, which was very important to the Debussy creation." In "Spanish Wells," Leichter wants his audience to see the history that he is tracing, for example. "I'm interested in looking at where the 'blackness' is in classical music. I think the thing that was very important for me in making 'Spanish Wells' was finding the soul." The evening will feature company members Lauren Bascok, Wendell Cooper, Aaron Draper, Mathew Heggem, Dawn Robinson, Naima Bigby Sullivan and Leichter. For more information go to or call (212) 924-0777