Press Release

New Contemporary Dance Tree of Codes Makes U.S. Premiere

Event Date: 
14 September 2015
New York, NY
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Multidisciplinary commission directed and choreographed by Wayne McGregor features site-specific environment by Olafur Eliasson, score by Jamie xx, and performances by members of Paris Opera Ballet and Company Wayne McGregor.

A major new multidisciplinary performance—collaboratively imagined by choreographer Wayne McGregor, visual artist Olafur Eliasson, and award-winning producer/composer Jamie xx—makes its U.S. premiere at Park Avenue Armory this September. Inspired by Jonathan Safran Foer’s enigmatic and eponymous novel, Tree of Codes distorts conventional perceptions of space and time, through manipulation of light, reflection, sound, and movement. The work is performed by a company of soloists and dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet and Company Wayne McGregor. 

“At the Armory, we are always encouraging artists to push the limits of their specific disciplines. Wayne McGregor, Olafur Eliasson, and Jaime xx are each pioneers in their respective fields, and their collective vision for Tree of Codes asks us to bend our pre-conceived notions of traditional ballet and also the world around us,” said Rebecca Robertson, President and Executive Producer of Park Avenue Armory. “We are thrilled to once again animate the drill hall with the intense beauty of dance, and to offer our audiences the opportunity to connect with the art form in new and exciting ways.” 

Fusing storytelling and sculpture, and blurring definitions of time and space, Jonathan Safran Foer’s original work is at once a novel and a piece of art, created by carving words and phrases from Bruno Schulz’s collection of short stories, The Street of Crocodiles, to arrive at a new narrative that explores a person’s last day of life. Utilizing this imagery and Foer’s merging of genres as a point of departure, Tree of Codes features a site-specific environment by Olafur Eliasson that employs refracted light to warp audience perception from the moment they enter the drill hall. Layering classical and contemporary styles, Wayne McGregor’s choreography features fifteen dancers performing to an original electronic score by Jamie xx, and interacting with and responding to the  set and visual design by Eliasson that contort the dancers’ movements through use of reflection, color, and prisms of light. Further echoing and enhancing the themes of space and time, the audience is at once intimately engaged with the dancers and immersed in the historic drill hall. 

The Armory’s 2015 season encompasses site-specific installations, commissions, and cross-disciplinary collaborations across a range of art forms. Forthcoming programs in the Armory’s soaring Wade Thompson Drill Hall include a commission of performance art by Laurie Anderson; and an immersive interpretation of J. S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations by pianist Igor Levit and performance artist Marina Abramović.  

Tree of Codes is the Armory’s second dance premiere of the 2015 season following the March opening of FLEXN—an evolution of the Brooklyn-born street dance flex co-directed by Peter Sellars and dance pioneer Reggie (Regg Roc) Gray. Previous dance engagements include the final performances of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Trisha Brown Dance Company’s iconic Astral Converted, the world premiere of Shen Wei Dance Arts’ Undivided Divided, and Streb Extreme Action’s Kiss the Air!


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'Tree of Codes' in performance. Photo by Stephanie Berger.

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