Thursday, October 8, 2009

Music of African American Composer Ed Bland Used In Ballets of 'Company Stefanie Batten Bland'

(Choreographer Stefanie Batten Bland instructs a student Friday in Dillingham Center. Bland’s dance company will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday in Dillingham Center’s Hoerner Theatre. Abra Furgerson/The ithacan)

African American composer Ed Bland writes and records jazz and classical music. His daughter Stefanie Batten Bland is featured in this article:
New ballet professor adds European style to class
By Mary Apesos Contributing Writer | October 8th, 2009
“In Dillingham Center’s Studio 3, austere ballerinas stand in first position with their hair slicked back into tight buns. Suddenly, they fall to the floor, curl their spines upward and lift their bodies into a kneel, facing away from the barre. With arms extended, they push against the wall with controlled force into a standing position. Stefanie Batten Bland teaches this and other untraditional ballet moves in her innovative Ballet III class at Ithaca College. As a choreographer with a background in contemporary, jazz, ballet and musical theater, she has worked with established choreographers around the world. Presently, she is filling in for the college’s ballet instructor for the theater arts program, Amy O’Brien, who is on an eight-week maternity leave.”

Bland grew up in Soho, a Manhattan neighborhood, with her mother, a white French-speaking writer, and her father, a black composer of jazz and classical music. She said she felt pressured into dancing for companies like Alvin Ailey that emphasize African-American heritage but was turned off by the idea. 'Everyone told me since I was black — or half-black, or a little bit different from white — that I needed to go to [Alvin] Ailey,' she said. 'I knew I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to explore what this body could do, and I didn’t want to be put in a box.'”

Last year, she founded her own dance company in France, 'Company Stefanie Batten Bland.' She calls her group a 'flock of funky people.' With a mixture of Americans and Parisians, the group represents a diverse body of dancers. She said the Americans provide speed to routines, while Europeans add rich detail. 'The Americans pep up the French; the French ground the Americans,' she said. 'We’re just a goofy group.'”

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