Manuel Vignoulle

Manuel Vignoulle's "In a Box" at Chicago Repertory Ballet

Chicago Repertory Ballet's Spring Summer Performance

Chicago Repertory Ballet's Spring / Summer Performance is exactly the kind of concert that Artistic Director Wade Schaaf was talking about, right after founding the new Chicago based Company in 2012, when he described what the Company intended to do. Schaaf told aotpr.com that the Company's concerts would combine the individual voices of talented independent choreographers (that's the Repertory part) with a new approach to storytelling in dance (that's the Ballet part). Their Spring / Summer Performance at the Vittum Theater in Chicago will feature the Premiere of Schaaf's own one-act work The Rites of Spring, a re-imagined interpretation of Stravinsky's famous score on its one-hundredth anniversary, along with four works by a group of inventive independent choreographers: Jacqueline Stewart, Jessica Miller Tomlinson, Monique Haley and French choreographer Manuel Vignoulle.

New Choreography, New Dance Company: Manuel Vignoulle and the World Debut of Randy James' 10 Hairy Legs

Manuel Vignoulle (Photo by Shawn Koppenhoefer)

Manuel Vignoulle definitely knows how to start something new. A new company, a new country, new choreography or new possibilities, it doesn't matter; like a gifted dancer starting a new phrase, he can keep moving through every new beginning. Vignoulle studied dance in his native Paris, and after graduating from the prestigious Conservatoire National Supérieur de Danse de Paris, he went on to dance with several European Companies, including Les Ballets Redha from 1997 to 2001 and the Ballet du Grand Théatre de Genève from 2003 to 2008. The following year, he left a successful career in Europe to start a new one in the United States, performing with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet until 2011. Along the way, he'd performed for television, videos, fashion shows, operas and musical theater, so by the time he decided to begin focusing all of his time on his career as a choreographer, he was already an old hand at starting something new. That's why it's more than appropriate that Vignoulle's newest work, "Together We Stand", will be one of the works performed by Randy James' brand new repertory company 10 Hairy Legs at their World Premiere in New Jersey on November 25.

It's a significant event for many reasons, not the least of which is simply that 10 Hairy Legs is a repertory company. In an excellent article about the new Company in The Star-Ledger, Robert Johnson observes that "repertory companies are still the exception in modern dance, where most troupes exist to serve an individual artist's vision". That alone would make Randy James' new Company something new, but James, whose own artist-directed company Randy James Dance Works enjoyed sixteen seasons of continuous performances, has built his new company on an even more original concept. James' 10 Hairy Legs is an all-male ensemble, and an essential part of the Company's vision is "to celebrate and exploit the tremendous technical and emotional range of today's male dancer in modern dance".

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