Herman Cornejo, Principal Dancer of the American Ballet Theatre, partners up with the visionary genius of photo-artist, director, and documentarian Steven Sebring, to launch his newly created dance company, D A N C E L I V E, featuring some of NYC’s most talented performers. An innovative and epiphanic concept that transfers and transforms the ballet art form into a digital, live and hyper-realistic immersive experience.
We sat down with Herman Cornejo for an exclusive interview on the eve of D A N C E L I V E first show: “New York Alive”. The Virtual World Premiere will be up this Saturday, January 30, 2021, 3:00 pm EST. Streaming on @veeps.
By Tommaso Cartia
N E W Y O R K C I T Y I S D E A D
But is it really?
This is an example, of one of the many, scary headlines we have been bombarded with since the beginning of the pandemic, slowly pulverizing our hopes and dreams to go back to the so-called “normal”. N O R M A L again, a kind of ordinary word, suddenly turned into a headline. The COVID-19’s narrative is a sort of “normalized” “all is lost” narrative, which is the stage, in the traditional hero’s journey – from Homer to Star Wars – where the protagonist shifts their pursuit of what they want to the realization of what they need. It can stop them dead in their tracks, but it’s also the point of the story which is instrumental to the triumphant return, the victory, and the final apotheosis of the hero. The artists have always been, throughout history, our heroes, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, envisioning our next steps into the future of our evolution. So yes, in this “all is lost” phase that we are living, we want to go back to New York’s theaters, but what we need is to never stop dreaming, while we get back there.
Herman Cornejo and the Sebring Revolution multi-dimensional media company of Steven Sebring are going beyond “normal”, into the territory of the extraordinary. With the D A N C E L I V E company they are already making brand-new headlines and building brand-new narratives promising to nurture that need to attune ourselves to those dreamlike frequencies of the soul, only transcendental forms of art can activate. Their first installment, “New York Alive”, is indeed that headline we all needed to read. The immersive dancing experience features, alongside Herman Cornejo, ballet sensation Skylar Brandt in new works by choreographer Josh Beamish, and will be streamed this Saturday, January 30th, 2021 at 3:00 pm EST on the @veeps platform. Tickets available here https://sebringrevolution.veeps.com
Dive into the D A N C E L I V E company with our exclusive conversation with Herman Cornejo, and “welcome to the future of ballet”.
When and how did you come up with the Dance Live concept?
I started writing about this project in 2018. I wanted to create a live reality show about the dance world. I have been thinking for a long time that many people may be interested in the real-life and the work process of dancers: from class to rehearsal, to actual creation, that would be streamed live, meaning with no cuts, recording everything that is happening with no additional editing. I thought it was possible to do something artful and entertaining at the same time. Now, with the pandemic and all performing activity stopping, it was the perfect momentum to pursue it. I contacted Steven Sebring and shared my idea with him, since he is a genius of the visual arts, and I was thinking of something very innovative. His perspective gave me a whole new scope in terms of the technology we could have used to channel it.
This project promises to be visually groundbreaking, something totally new for ballet. What can you tell us about its uniqueness?
The visual uniqueness of this project resides in the system Steven Sebring created to record movement in 360, which allows us to capture and transmit any dance through virtual and augmented reality. In that sense, we will not only have a video as we all know it, we will also have many other interesting media products coming out of the production, which take advantage of the latest visual technologies through which we can show the dancers’ work.
Tell us about your artistic collaboration with visual artist and director Steven Sebring?
Just to clarify, I am the director and creator of the project D A N C E L I V E project. I contacted Steven to present this idea to him to see if he wanted to collaborate with me on this project. Steven leads Sebring Revolution, and he is directing all of the films and how the visual material should be presented. I am in charge of organizing the part related to dance: from dancers and choreographers to the music, costumes, and the whole dance show. Steven brings the technology and the visuals into play to interact with my ballet and dance art form.
What about the other members of the company? Tell us about the extraordinary ballet talents involved in the project.
The talent will always be different as this company, for now, will work “project to project”. For “New York Alive”, I invited Skylar Brandt to be my partner and Joshua Beamish to be the choreographer. I am beyond happy I chose them. They deployed not only their amazing talent as artists, but they also showed amazing support towards this project. They are amazing people.
How will the world be able to enjoy Dance Live? On which platforms will it be available?
We are working to have our own platform at the Sebring House, which is a totally virtual gallery/theater where the user will navigate as if you were in a video game. Right now, we organized one first show to be broadcasted on the platform VEEPS. It will take place on January 30, 3 pm ET. Tickets are available at this link https://sebringrevolution.veeps.com. More info about the project and this show is available at this link https://sebringrevolution.com/dancelive
For Herman Cornejo, what will be the future of ballet after the containment of the COVID-19?
I believe the arts will go back to theatres and museums, but there are going to be so many new tools. My company will be another option to enjoy dance in a virtual way. Also, the choreographies created for D A N C E L I V E will be able to be performed in a theater, live, in front of an audience as well as they have been set into a virtual environment. There is that sort of versatility attached to the project. Also, everything recorded for D A N C E L I V E will be an educational asset. The 360 images can be very helpful for students and teachers to analyze dance steps in an interactive 360 imagery.
To know more about Herman Cornejo and his 20th anniversary with The American Ballet Theatre, listen to our podcast interview here:
Watch Herman Cornejo’s contribution to our #CreativityWillSaveUs Series: