Today’s “10 Questions With…” features Avichai Scher…dancer and choreographer…
1. Can you tell me about how you came to be a choreographer?
I was always choreographing and making little dances in my living room. At age 16 I got my first chance to make a short piece for the SAB choreography workshop, and I was hooked, I knew I had to continue.
2. Would you comment on the process? How do you come up with the movements you create?
I am inspired by music and dancers. So, I’ll be grabbed by a piece of music and then a specific dancer will appear in my head and I’ll imagine how that dancer would move to the music. When I get in to the studio, I have an outline of the piece, but the movements tend to come to me on the spot and I develop it with who’s in front of me, hopefully that same dancer I originally imagined.
3. What are some of your “career highlights” thus far?
A big highlight was working with ABT Studio Company when I was 18. That was a major learning experience and a big honor for me at a young age. Recently, working with Marcelo Gomes for the debut season of my company was a dream come true.
4. You still dance as well as choreograph. How is the feeling different when you perform someone else’s work?
Dancing in works by other choreographers is a great learning experience for my own choreography. I get to physicalize and internalize different points of view and (good or bad) they filter into my own work.
5. When you were chosen by DANCE Magazine as on of the “Top 25 To Watch” in choreography—what was your reaction?
I was shocked and ecstatic, to put it mildly. I had felt like I would be a good candidate for that, choreographing at such a young age, but didn’t actually think it would actually happen anytime soon.
6. What are some of the things that inform and inspire your work?
I go to see A LOT of dance. I take full advantage of what there is to see in NYC. It always surprises me what sticks in my head, sometimes I hated a whole show but there was one gesture that stayed with me forever.
7. What other choreographers do you especially admire and why?
Of course Balanchine and Robbins are my biggest influences as I grew up at SAB, I’ve seen basically all of their works several times. For new works, I’ve been inspired lately by Alexei Ratmansky’s large scale classicism and Anabelle Lopez Ochoa’s dance-theater style.
8. Is there a piece of music that you just find completely compelling?
I like many different types of music so it’s hard to choose just one piece. Right now I’m hooked on the music of Elena Kats-Chernin, a contemporary composer who’s music I hope to use soon.
9. Do you have any advice for up-and-coming choreographers?
My advice to an up and coming choreographer is to be pro-active about your career. You have to find and create opportunities all the time and you have to be your own biggest fan to keep the motivation.
10. What is next for you?
My company is performing at Jacob’s Pillow July 23, I’m creating a new work for Ballet West and Ballet West II, and another Avi Scher & Dancers NYC season is in the works.
Bio: Avichai Scher, 26, was born in NYC and raised in Israel. He returned to New York to study on scholarship at the School of American Ballet for eight years. There he had the opportunity to perform Fritz and the Nutcracker Prince with New York City Ballet in The Nutcracker for four seasons. A desire to work with many different companies and choreographers took him on a journey, dancing with ten different companies in six years: Sacramento Ballet, Washington Ballet, Ballet San Jose, Joffrey Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, European Ballet, Ballet British Columbia, Carolina Ballet and Ballet X. Some standout roles have included: Puck in Ashton’s The Dream, working with Sir Anthony Dowell, “Red-Man” in Elemental Brubeck, choreographed and staged by Lar Lubovitch, Mark Morris’s A Garden, Michael Smuin’s Shinju, Matthew Neenan’s Steelworks, and Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs. Scher always had the desire to be a choreographer and his first professional commissions came at age 18, creating Jouons for American Ballet Theater Studio Company and The Perilous Night for Miami City Ballet. Since then his work has works at: Miami City Ballet School and San Francisco Ballet School’s annual showcases, Usdan Center for the Arts, Washington Ballet Studio Company, Harvard University, Festival Ballet Providence, Manhattan Youth Ballet, West Wave Dance Festival, Ballet Builders, Sacramento Ballet, and Shut Up & Dance: Dancers of Pennsylvania Ballet. Dance Magazine recognized his choreography by naming him one of the “Top 25 To Watch,” and he is the recipient of the Strassler excellence Award from Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. In 2009 his company Avi Scher & Dancers debuted at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and danced its first NYC season at the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater in April 2010. He has created 6 works for the company and the performances have included several guest principal dancers from New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater and Boston Ballet.