Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project
MARCH 31, APRIL 1, APRIL 2
IN OUR DARKEST TIMES, IT IS HOPE THAT PUSHES US FORWARD
Illuminated through the powerful story of Holocaust survivor Naomi Warren (1920-2016), Stephen Mills’ Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project takes the audience on a journey that shares Naomi’s story while making relevant connections to the present, told through the lens of dance. This full-length contemporary dance work follows Naomi’s path from a beautiful family with a rich culture and traditions, to utter dehumanization…and all along the way, we feel Naomi’s courage, resilience, and hope. Read More
Choreographed and designed by Stephen Mills, Light has been a project of his for the past 20 years. The production has toured both nationally and internationally, featuring both the 84-minute dance and community-wide discussions focused on the protection of human rights against bigotry and hate. The music is composed of works by a number of notable contemporary writers. The décor and dress is of today, and spare. The story of “never again” is a warning of which we must always be mindful and diligent concerning the protection of human rights against bigotry and hatred.
CONCEPT & CHOREOGRAPHY: Stephen Mills
MUSIC: Steve Reich, Evelyn Glennie, Michael Gordon, Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass
RUNTIME: 84 minutes with no intermission
- Friday, March 31, 2023, at 8 p.m.
- Saturday, April 1, 2023, at 8 p.m.
- Sunday, April 2, 2023, at 3 p.m.
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Steve Reich (Tehillim, Track #1)
Life begins with man and woman, Adam and Eve. Civilization develops; families and cultures evolve to include a pattern of daily life and valued traditions, a wedding. As this section ends, change is imminent.
Evelyn Glennie (Greatest Hits, Rhythm Song)
Those deemed “different” become exploited. What is familiar slowly disappears. People retreat from one another, beginning to socially isolate; to hide in hopes of survival.
Michael Gordon (Weather Track #3)
No longer seen as individuals, life or death is determined by powers outside of their control. People are treated as property and transported to camps. Many do not survive the trip.
Arvo Pärt (Tabula Rasa)
How do relationships develop within confinement? The circle of life is complex with acts of kindness, rescue, survival, frustration and anger. We enter and leave alone.
Philip Glass (Movement 2, Tyrol Concerto, performed by Dennis Russell Davies)
The final section represents the power of the human spirit to cling to hope. Survivors create new relationships; build families and careers, and productive lives.
Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project, made its world premiere in Austin in April of 2005, and in 2006 received the Anti-Defamation League’s Audrey & Raymond Maislin Humanitarian Award. Since that time, 8 other cities across the US and around the world hosted Stephen Mills’ dance work and the accompanying collaborative community dialogue focused on the protection of human rights against bigotry and hatred. In the fall of 2013, Light made its international debut during a three-city tour across Israel. In 2014 Stephen and Naomi were invited to speak about Light at the United Nations, New York City. While we lost Naomi on October 2, 2016 at 96 years old, this work in her honor continues to share her message of hope.
Click to enlarge photos.
FINDING LIGHT is a multi-faceted film, which at its core seeks to use dance as a convener of conversation around issues related to the protection of human rights against bigotry and hate. The film explores how the events of 9/11 led a dance choreographer to seek deeper meaning in his work. Illuminated through the story of Holocaust survivor Naomi Warren, the film takes the audience on a journey that is simultaneously situated in the past while making relevant connections to the present told through the lens of dance.
Official Selections & Accolades
Voices on Anti-Semitism Podcast from The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
In 2013, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) invites Stephen Mills to speak as part of the Voices On Anti-Semitism—U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Podcast Series. The USHMMA is a living memorial to the Holocaust and inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide and promote human dignity.
United Nations Radio Interview
In May of 2014, Stephen Mills is invited to participate in a discussion with the United Nations on the topic of how to communicate about the Holocaust through art.
TEDxSMU – Stephen Mills – Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project
In November 2010, Stephen Mills is invited to record a TEDx Talk on his journey to create Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project.
WE COMMIT TO WORK AS A COMMUNITY TO EXPLORE ANSWERS TO THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:
- How are the issues of the Holocaust relevant in our community today?
- What is our responsibility when confronted by acts of bigotry and hate?
- What actions can we take to promote tolerance in our community?
COMMUNITY DIALOGUE EVENTS
PROTECTING HUMAN RIGHTS AGAINST BIGOTRY AND HATE
As part of Stephen Mills’ “Light / The Holocaust Humanity Project,” Ballet Austin will host a panel discussion about antisemitism and the role of disinformation and propaganda in dividing communities.
Moderated by Mark Updegrove, president and CEO of the LBJ Foundation, with introduction by Austin Mayor Kirk Watson. Hear from national leaders including:
- Oren Segal, vice president of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism
- Oni Blair, executive director of ACLU Texas
- Stephen Mills, Creator/Choreographer of “Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project”
Watch the replay of the livestream below
SUGGESTED MATERIALS, READINGS AND RESOURCES
Click to enlarge and view the full list
Naomi Warren serves as the inspiration behind the story of survival and triumph of the human spirit in Ballet Austin’s Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project.
Naomi Warren grew up in Wolkowysk, a small city in Eastern Poland. In 1939, the war broke out and by the summer of 1941, the Nazi army invaded Poland. The Nazis very quickly began systematically isolating, interning and murdering the Jewish population. Naomi and many family members were rounded up and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau in January of 1942. Arriving at the camp, Naomi was torn from her family. Her mother was selected for immediate liquidation. During her time in the death camp, she lost her husband, sister-in-law, and others. Naomi survived three years at Auschwitz, was transferred to Ravensbruck and was eventually liberated from Bergen-Belsen.
At the end of the war, Naomi settled in Houston, Texas, where she remarried and built a successful import business. She served on the boards of Holocaust Museum Houston, the Jewish Federation and the Southwest Region of the Anti-Defamation League. Among her many honors are awards from the Jewish-American Committee, Holocaust Museum Houston and the Government of Denmark. In honor of Naomi’s 80th birthday, her family established the Warren Fellowship for Future Teachers at Holocaust Museum Houston.
Courtesy of the Holocaust Museum Houston | Photo by Hannah Neal
Videos by Paul Michael Bloodgood
Photography by Tony Spielberg
MEET THE ARTISTS
Known for his innovative and collaborative choreographic projects, Stephen Mills has works in the repertoires of dance companies across the United States and around the world.
His international career began in 1998 after being chosen Prix d’Auteur at les Rencontres Chorégraphiques Internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis in Paris. In his inaugural season as Artistic Director of Ballet Austin in 2000, Mills attracted national attention with Hamlet, hailed by Dance Magazine as “…sleek and sophisticated.”
Mills’ works showcased at The Kennedy Center include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, and performances at the Ballet Across America Festival in collaboration with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet.
In 2005 Mills developed a community-wide human rights collaborative dialogue culminating in his signature work Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project for which he received the Audrey and Raymond Maislin Humanitarian Award from The Anti-Defamation League. Mills contributed a podcast about Light to the Voices on Anti-Semitism series at The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and was invited to speak about the work at The United Nations in 2014. Light has been performed in five U.S. cities, in three cities in Israel, and was recently featured in an Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary, Sharing Light.
Steve Reich is an American composer best known for his contribution to the development of minimalist music in the mid to late 1960s. Reich’s work is marked by its use of repetitive figures, slow harmonic rhythm, and canons. His style of composition has influenced many contemporary composers and groups, especially in the United States. Writing in The Guardian, music critic Andrew Clements suggested that Reich is one of “a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history”. Born in New York and raised there and in California, Reich graduated with honors in philosophy from Cornell University in 1957. For the next two years, he studied composition with Hall Overton, and from 1958 to 1961 he studied at the Juilliard School of Music with William Bergsma and Vincent Persichetti. Reich received his M.A. in Music from Mills College in 1963, where he worked with Luciano Berio and Darius Milhaud. Several noted choreographers have created dances to Steve Reich’s music, including Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Jirí Kylían, Jerome Robbins for the New York City Ballet, and Laura Dean. Dean’s work, titled “Impact,” premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, and earned Reich and Dean a Bessie Award in 1986. Other major choreographers using Mr. Reich’s music include Alvin Ailey, Maurice Bejart, and Lucinda Childs.
Dame Evelyn Glennie is the first person in history to create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist, performing worldwide with the greatest orchestras and artists. Evelyn paved the way for orchestras globally to feature percussion concerti when she played the first percussion concerto in the history of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in 1992.
A leading commissioner of new works, Evelyn has commissioned over 200 works from many of the world’s most eminent composers. “It’s important that I continue to commission and collaborate with a diverse range of composers whilst recognising the young talent coming through”. Evelyn composes music for film, television, theatre and music library companies. She is a double GRAMMY award winner and BAFTA nominee. She regularly provides masterclasses and consultations to inspire the next generation of musicians, and runs Dame Evelyn Glennie experience sessions. The film Touch the Sound, TED Talk and her book Listen World! are key testimonies to her unique and innovative approach to sound-creation.
Leading 1000 drummers, Evelyn had a prominent role in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games which also featured a new instrument, the Glennie Concert Aluphone.
“Playing at an event like that was proof that music really affects all of us, connecting us in ways that the spoken word cannot”. Evelyn’s solo recordings currently exceed 40 CDs. These range from original improvisations, collaborations, percussion concerti and ground-breaking modern solo percussion projects.
Evelyn was awarded an OBE in 1993 and now has over 100 international awards to date, including the Polar Music Prize and the Companion of Honour. She was recently appointed the first female President of Help Musicians, only the third person to hold the title since Sir Edward Elgar and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Since 2021 she has been Chancellor of Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland.
The Evelyn Glennie Podcast was launched in 2020 featuring popular personalities from the world of music, sport, television and academia. Evelyn is curator of The Evelyn Glennie Collection which includes in excess of 3500 percussion instruments. Through her mission to Teach the World to Listen she aims to improve communication and social cohesion by encouraging everyone to discover new ways of listening in order to inspire, to create, to engage and to empower.
Biography courtesy of evelyn.co.uk/about/biography/
Michael Gordon’s music merges subtle rhythmic invention with incredible power embodying, in the words of The New Yorker‘s Alex Ross, “the fury of punk rock, the nervous brilliance of free jazz and the intransigence of classical modernism.”
Over the past 30 years, Gordon has produced a strikingly diverse body of work, ranging from large-scale pieces for high-energy ensembles to major orchestral commissions to works conceived specifically for the recording studio. Transcending categorization, this music represents the collision of mysterious introspection and brutal directness.
Deeply passionate about the sonic potential of the traditional orchestra, Gordon’s orchestral works include: Natural History, a work written for Crater Lake in Oregon and the 100th Annivesary of the United States’ National Parks; Observations on Air, a concerto for bassoon for soloist Peter Whelan, commissioned by the British ensemble The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightment; and The Unchanging Sea, a piano concerto for Tomoko Mukaiyama with a new film by Bill Morrison. Beijing Harmony, commissioned by the Beijing National Centre for the Performing Arts, a work that projects the kaleidoscopic, perpetual sound of the orchestra to form a sonic architecture; Rewriting Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, a radical reworking of the original, commissioned by the 2006 Beethoven Festival in Bonn and premiered by Jonathon Nott and the Bamberger Symphony; and Sunshine of your Love, written for over 100 instruments divided into four microtonally tuned groups. Under the baton of composer/conductor John Adams, The Ensemble Modern Orchestra toured Sunshine of your Love to seven European capitals in 1999. Gordon’s string orchestra piece Weather was commissioned by the Siemens Foundation Kultur Program, and after its tour was recorded and released on Nonesuch to great critical and popular success.
His interest in exploring various sound textures has led him to create chamber works that distort traditional classical instruments with electronic effects and guitar pedals, including Potassium for the Kronos Quartet and Industry for cellist Maya Beiser. Also for Kronos, The Sad Park, written in 2006, uses the voices of child witnesses to September 11th as its subject. Gordon’s monumental, 52-minute Trance, originally written for the UK-based group Icebreaker, was debuted in 1997 and recently performed twice in New York City by the ensemble Signal.
Michael Gordon’s special interest in adding dimensionality to the traditional concert experience has led to numerous collaborations with artists in other media, most frequently with filmmaker Bill Morrison and Ridge Theater. In Decasia, a commission from Europaischer Musikmonat for the Basel Sinfonietta, the audience is encircled by the orchestra and large projections. A large-scale, single-movement, relentlessly monumental work about decay — the decay of melody, tuning, and classical music itself — Decasia has become a cult favorite since its premiere in 2001, frequently performed at music festivals, art museums and film festivals around the world. Gordon and Morrison’s works together also include film symphonies centered on cities: Dystopia (about Los Angeles) in 2008 for David Robertson and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Gotham (about New York City) in 2004 for the American Composers Orchestra. Gordon and Morrison were reunited in 2015 season for the premiere of a third installment of their city pieces, El Sol Caliente (about Miami), commissioned by the New World Symphony.
Works for theater and opera include What To Wear, a collaboration with director Richard Foreman, which premiered at the REDCAT Theater in Los Angeles; Acquanetta, about the 1940s B-Movie starlet for Oper Aachen; Lost Objects, an oratorio for baroque orchestra in collaboration with David Lang, Julia Wolfe and director Francois Girard, which was seen at the 2004 Next Wave Festival at BAM; and Van Gogh, vocal settings from the letters of Vincent Van Gogh, recorded by Alarm Will Sound. Most recently, Gordon again collaborated with Ridge Theater on the multi-performer song cycle lightning at our feet, co-commissioned by Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston and the Brooklyn Academy of Music for the 2008 Next Wave Festival. lightning at our feet straddles arts media, giving Dickinson’s poetry mobility in music while encompassing her words in a world of visual imagery.
Gordon’s music has been featured prominently in the dance works of Emio Greco | PC, Wayne McGregor (for Stuttgart Ballet, Random Dance), Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal, Heinz Spoerli (for Zürich Ballet), Ashley Page (for The Royal Ballet and The Scottish Ballet) and Club Guy & Roni, who co-commissioned Gordon’s percussion sextet Timber, along with the percussion ensembles Slagwerk Den Haag and Mantra Percussion. This work, an evening-length tour de force for six 2x4s, toured with dance throughout 2009/2010 and was premiered in its concert-version in June 2011. The full percussion sextet was released on Cantaloupe Records in 2011.
Gordon has been commissioned by The New World Symphony, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Stuttgart Ballet, the New World Symphony, the National Centre for the Performing Arts Beijing, the BBC Proms, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Settembre Musica, the Holland Music Festival, the Dresden Festival and the Sydney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival, among others. His music has been performed at the Kennedy Center, Theatre De La Ville, Barbican Centre, Oper Bonn, Kölner Philharmonie and the Southbank Centre. The recipient of multiple awards and grants, Gordon has been honored by the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His recordings include 8(Cantaloupe), The Unchanging Sea (Cantaloupe), Clouded Yellow (Cantaloupe), Sonatra (Cantaloupe), Natural History (Cantaloupe), Timber Remixed (Cantaloupe), Dystopia (Cantaloupe), Rushes (Cantaloupe), Timber(Cantaloupe), Weather (Nonesuch), Light is Calling (Nonesuch), Decasia (Cantaloupe), (purgatorio) POPOPERA (Cantaloupe), Van Gogh (Cantaloupe), Trance (Argo/Cantaloupe), and Big Noise from Nicaragua (CRI). Formed in 1983 as The Michael Gordon Philharmonic and renamed The Michael Gordon Band in 2000, Gordon’s own ensemble performed across Europe and the United States at venues as diverse as Alice Tully Hall and the punk mecca CBGB, on the Contemporary Music Network Tour and at the Almeida Festival in London.
Born in Miami Beach in 1956, Gordon holds a Bachelor of Arts from New York University and a Masters of Music from the Yale School of Music. He is co-founder and co-artistic director of New York’s legendary music collective Bang on a Can.
His music is published by Red Poppy Music and G. Ricordi & Co., New York (ASCAP) and is is distributed worldwide by the Universal Music Publishing Group.
Biography courtesy of michaelgordonmusic.com
Arvo Pärt, (born September 11, 1935, Paide, Estonia), Estonian composer who developed a style based on the slow modulation of sounds such as those produced by bells and pure voice tones, a technique reminiscent of the medieval Notre-Dame school and the sacred music of Eastern Orthodoxy; Pärt was a devout Orthodox Christian. His major works include the violin concerto Tabula Rasa(1977), Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten(1977), Magnificat-Antiphones (1988), The Beatitudes (1991), and Lamentate (first performed 2003). His medieval liturgical sound won him a wide audience in the West during the late 1990s.
Pärt showed an early interest in music. In 1958, after finishing requisite military service, he enrolled at the music conservatory in Tallinn, Estonia. From 1958 to 1967 he worked for the music division of Estonian Radio. He won recognition in eastern Europe by taking first place in the All-Union Young Composers’ Competition for an early popular work, Meie aed (1959; “Our Garden”), a cantata for children’s choir and orchestra, and also for the oratorio Maailma samm (1960; “The World’s Stride”).
Developing an interest in the contemporary 12-tone system (an early 20th-century composing method generally credited to Arnold Schoenberg), he experimented with it in his own striking composition Nekrolog (1960), the first 12-tone piece written in Estonia. Pärt graduated from the conservatory in 1963. Soon afterward he composed his Symphony No. 1 (1964) and Symphony No. 2 (1966), the latter including quotations from the music of other composers. He also used this collage technique in Credo (1968), a work for piano, mixed chorus, and orchestra. Banned in the Soviet Union because of its religious text, Credo signaled the end of Pärt’s experimentation with the 12-tone system.
Eight years of intensive music study followed. Pärt composed little but film scores during this time, immersing himself in the examination of such forms as the Gregorian chant and Orthodox liturgical music. The first sign of his new musical direction was his Symphony No. 3 (1971), one of the few works he produced during his “years of silence.” But it was with the release of his works for strings during the late 1970s—especially Fratres (1977)—that his compositions began to take on a distinctly Pärtian sound.
Pärt’s first work written in this new, austere style was a piano piece titled Für Alina(1976), the work in which he discovered the triad series, which he made his “simple, little guiding rule.” Describing the sound of the triad as like that of pealing bells, he called his new method of composition “tintinnabuli style.” With it he produced a simple, intense, and ravishing sound that seemed to communicate directly to a new generation in search of spiritual connection. It did not, however, win the approval of the authorities, and in 1980 Pärt moved with his family to Vienna; later he settled in West Berlin.
Pärt’s style was described as “holy minimalism” by one reviewer and as neo-Baroque by others. In 1995 the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, on their first North American tour, featured Pärt’s works in concert. Their program’s particular draw was Pärt’s Te Deum, which they had recorded (1993) on the ECM label and which had topped the classical music charts.
In 1996 Pärt was elected a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He continued to write orchestral and choral works, many of which were recorded. The music of his later period was characterized by slow tempi, long stretches of silence, medieval tonal and rhythmic devices, and the controlled use of dissonance, among other features. In 2009 his fourth symphony, Los Angeles, premiered, and the following year the Arvo Pärt Centre, home to the composer’s archives, was established in Harjumaa, Estonia. A new building opened in 2018, expanding the centre’s programming to include concerts and educational activities. In 2014 Pärt received the Japan Art Association’s Praemium Imperiale prize for music.
Biography courtesy of Britannica.com
Musician Philip Glass, born on January 31, 1937, in Baltimore, went on to study with Nadia Boulanger and Ravi Shankar, later forming the Philip Glass Ensemble. He received accolades for his debut opera, Einstein on the Beach, and eventually earned Oscar nominations for scoring the films Kundun, The Hours and Notes on a Scandal. Known for his distinctive contemporary minimalism, Glass has worked with artists from a variety of disciplines.
Background and Education
Philip Glass was born on January 31, 1937, in Baltimore. He took up the violin and flute and began performing before reaching his teens. Glass took classes at the Peabody Institute’s conservatory and later studied at the University of Chicago and The Juilliard School.
Studies With Ravi Shankar
Glass eventually decided to travel to Europe, studying under conductor Nadia Boulanger and sitar musician Ravi Shankar, whom Glass cited as a major influence on his craft.
Glass adopted an approach to musical composition that relied on repetitive, sometimes subtly nuanced musical structures that would be seen as a cornerstone of contemporary minimalism. (The composer later saw the term “minimalism” as an outdated way of describing his work and the varying sounds of up-and-coming artists.) He formed the electric Philip Glass Ensemble in 1967, an avant-garde group that would continue to earn buzz over the years, if not universal acclaim.
Biography courtesy of biography.com
Grace Morton (Mar 31, Apr 2) / Katherine Deuitch (Apr 1)
Lexi Eicher (Mar 31, Apr 2) / Meg Kataoka (Apr 1), Vivien Farrell, Courtney Holland, Isabella Phillips Lynch, Alyssa Manguiat,
Sahel Flora Pascual, Elise Pekarek, Chelsea Marie Renner, Dianetzy Rojas, Isabella Salas
Ian J. Bethany, Andrew Buckley, Colin Canavan, Edward Carr, James Fuller,
Arnaldo Hernandez, Paul Martin, Morgan Stillman, Julius Taiber (Mar 31, Apr 2) / Rhys Hudson (Apr 1), Leighton Taylor
Casting is subject to change
What People are Saying...
“…A powerful, emotional experience that doesn’t let go when you leave the theater.”
“The abstract scene with its single spotlight could represent a church in Rwanda, a labor camp in Cambodia or a gas chamber in Europe.”
“A frenzied flurry of hands and lights opens a ballet scene…to promote tolerance, fight bigotry and hate.”
“A passionate plea for human rights.”
“…romantic…expression of tender sentiment…”
“…A masterful exposition on one of history’s darkest episodes. Visually and emotionally gripping…”
“This is a way to build on our past and create a new future…”
“[Mills’] creative imagery was surprisingly concise and his choreography, with its endlessly original movement and partnering, was distinctive and powerful.”
“…beautiful storytelling has, perhaps, never been so dramatically felt.”