The NYC Debut of Avi Scher & Dancers

March 29, 2010

Dancer and choreographer Avi Scher turns 26 at the end of March–just a few days before his company, Avi Scher & Dancers, has its first NYC season. A birthday and a debut would be reason enough to celebrate. But Scher, who trained at the School of American Ballet and danced professionally, is also working with some of ballet’s brightest stars, including New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns and
Avi Scher
American Ballet Theatre principal Marcelo Gomes. DS spoke with Scher about his work as a young choreographer.

Dance Spirit: Your NYC run will feature some big names in the ballet world. How do you get to work with such amazing dancers?

Avi Scher: Sara Mearns and I were at the School of American Ballet together. When I started my company [in 2008], I hoped there would be an opportunity for me to work with her. And when I was 18, I choreographed for the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company. I remember, at the time, Marcelo Gomes told me he liked the piece, so I felt comfortable going back to him. It’s nice to have their support.

DS: Do you ever worry that working with such big-name dancers might overshadow your choreography?

AS: I don’t worry about it too much because I’m young and I want to have these people around to help bring awareness to what I’m doing. And the better the dancers are, the better the choreography looks. I’m more confident about what people will see.

: Do you have a permanent company, or does the roster change?

AS: It changes. I like to mix it up, but I do try to stay loyal to the dancers I started with. Every dancer moves differently and brings something different to the table. So when I get in the studio with a new dancer, I’m inspired to go in new directions when I see what he or she looks like.

DS: You’re only 25, but you’ve been choreographing since you were 18. How has your artistic approach changed?

AS: When I first started choreographing, I was a student at SAB, so I was completely influenced by [George] Balanchine and [Jerome] Robbins. As my career has taken off, I’ve developed a more contemporary sensibility. For example, I’ve experimented with different uses of port de bras and changing something minor, like the fingers, to make it different. I play with musicality and group structure. I’ve become more open-minded and pull from multiple influences.


DS: You’ve accomplished a lot at a young age. What are some of your as-yet-unfulfilled goals?

AS: I want to continue what I’m doing now, but on a bigger scale. I would like to do a show with other choreographers involved, to share the environment that I’ve created for myself, which is good for developing work. I’d like to do a full-evening story ballet. I’d also like to be doing commissions with other companies. I want a permanent company, but not now. Right now it’s best for me to get the best people for each show.

DS: What advice do you have for aspiring young choreographers?

AS: Choreographers don’t have a clear path. You have to really take your aspirations into your own hands. Find any way you can to do a piece and tell people about it.


Check out this behind the scenes video of Scher in the studio with Marcelo Gomes and Sara Mearns.


And don’t forget to catch Avi Scher & Dancers at the Ailey Citigroup Theater in NYC April 3-5.


Photo of Avi Scher rehearsing with ABT principal Veronika Part by Matthew Murphy