July 5, 1942|
Brooklyn, New York
High School of Performing Arts|
School of American Ballet
|Occupation||ballet choreographer, performer, teacher, and director|
American Ballet Company|
New Ballet School
New York Public School for Dance
|Parent(s)||Benjamin Noah Feld and Alice (née Posner)|
|Awards||Guggenheim Fellowship, 1969|
Eliot Feld (born July 5, 1942) is an American modern ballet choreographer, performer, teacher, and director. Feld works in an atmosphere between modern dance and classical ballet. His company and schools, including the Feld Ballet and Ballet Tech, are deeply committed to dance and dance education in New York City.
Feld has choreographed nearly 150 ballets since 1967, with his work being performed by such companies as American Ballet Theatre, the Joffrey Ballet, the Juilliard School, New York City Ballet, the New York City Opera, and Mikhail Baryshnikov, among many others.
Life and career
Feld was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Alice (née Posner), a travel agent, and Benjamin Noah Feld, an attorney. Feld attended the High School of Performing Arts in New York, and studied at the School of American Ballet and the New Dance Group, as well as with Richard Thomas and Donald McKayle.
He performed as a child in George Balanchine's original production of The Nutcracker as the Nutcracker Prince; and later with the companies of Mary Anthony, Pearl Lang, and Sophie Maslow. At sixteen he appeared on Broadway in West Side Story and was cast as Baby John in the movie version of the musical; during the filming of "Cool" (one of the hardest dances in the film), Feld was sick with pneumonia. His other Broadway credits from this period include I Can Get It for You Wholesale and Fiddler on the Roof.
Later, Feld joined American Ballet Theatre, leaving at age 25 to form his own company.
In the early 1980s, with Cora Cahan, Feld founded the Joyce Theater as a home for the Feld Ballet. Feld was also instrumental in the creation of the Lawrence A. Wien Center for Dance & Theater at 890 Broadway in New York.
Feld's companies and schools
In 1967, at the age of twenty-five, Feld broke away from the American Ballet Theatre to form his own company, the American Ballet Company. Feld used his new company, later known simply as Feld Ballet, to explore a variety of dance genres.
In 1978, Feld began a ballet school, the New Ballet School. Feld believed that all children should have the opportunity to learn dance, regardless of their family income. In keeping with that philosophy, and in partnership with the New York City Board of Education, he auditioned more than 1,500 children at eight New York City public schools; almost 150 students were then enrolled, tuition-free, to a 17-week course at the New Ballet School. Additional dancers at the school were drawn from other troupes and academies. Since its 1978 founding, Feld's school has auditioned 827,655 New York City public school students, and provided classes for 20,976 children. In 1996 the school changed its name to the New York City Public School for Dance.
In 1997, Feld merged his school and the Feld Ballet into Ballet Tech, providing a unified organization, and establishing a professional performing outlet for the school's graduates. In 2003, Feld disbanded the Feld Ballet to focus on his schools. Today, Ballet Tech’s activities include the tuition-free New York City Public School for Dance, and Kids Dance, a pre-professional children’s group.
Feld has choreographed 147 ballets since 1967, with his work being performed by the American Ballet Company, American Ballet Theatre, the Atlanta Ballet, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Feld Ballets/NY & Ballet Tech & Kids Dance, the Boston Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, the John Curry Skating Company, the Juilliard School, the London Festival Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, the New York City Ballet, the New York City Opera, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Richmond Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, the Royal Swedish Ballet, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and the San Francisco Ballet, among others.
Feld’s choreography also appeared in the revival of the Broadway musical On the Town (2001), performed in Central Park. In place of the company’s usual summer engagement at the Joyce Theater, Feld included several of his own dancers of the Ballet Tech company.
Feld uses aspects from ballet and modern dance and fuses them together in his work. "The down of one, the up of the other — both beauties attracted me, I think I've spent my choreographic life trying in some way to reconcile, cope, deal with these two elements." He claims to have always "loved the pointe shoe."
Feld's works are varied and contain anything from off-beat music to aerobic exercises, including somersaults, push-ups, sprints, leaps, and calisthenics. His choreography was inspired by Jewish material, along with the influence of Martha Graham.
A Yankee Doodle, Feld's most recent ballet, premiered in New York on June 11, 2015; it was choreographed for 13 kids from the Ballet Tech school, to American fife & drum music.
Selected choreographic works
- 1967: Harbinger (May 1967; American Ballet Theatre, New York State Theater)
- 1967: At Midnight (ABT) — set to Gustav Mahler
- 1969: Intermezzo #1 — set to Brahms' waltzes
- 1974: Tzaddik
- 1974: Sephardic Song
- 1977: A Footstep of Air (Eliot Feld Ballet, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts) — set to Beethoven
- 1978: La Vida (April 1978, Eliot Feld Ballet, Plymouth Theatre) — set to music by Aaron Copland
- 1978: Santa Fe Saga (April 1978; Feld Ballet, Plymouth Theatre) — set to music by Morton Gould, featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov
- 1978: Half Time
- 1979: Danzon Cuban — set to music by Copland
- 1979: Papillon
- 1982: Anatomic Balm (Feld Ballet, Joyce Theater) — set to ragtime
- 1982: Play Bach (Feld Ballet, Joyce Theater) — set to Bach
- 1982: Straw Hearts (October 1982, Feld Ballet, Joyce Theater)
- 1984: Adieu (Feld Ballet, Joyce Theater) — dedicated to Feld's late teacher Richard Thomas
- 1984: The Jig Is Up
- 1985: Against the Sky
- 1985: Grand Canon (Feld Ballet, Joyce Theater) — set to music by Steve Reich
- 1985: Intermezzo No. 2
- 1988: The Unanswered Question: Some Intimations of the American Composer Charles Ives (April 1988, New York City Ballet, New York State Theatre) — set to Charles Ives' The Unanswered Question
- 1992: Hello Fancy
- 1993: The Relative Disposition of the Parts (March 1993, Feld Ballets/NY, Joyce Theater) — set to Bach's orchestral suites
- 2004: Backchat (April 2004; Ballet Tech, Joyce Theater) — set to "Idle Chatter Junior" by Paul Lansky
- 2008: Dotty Polkas — set to music by Johann Strauss II and Josef Strauss
- 2008: Quickstep — set to music by Steve Martland
- 2013: Upside Dance — set to Scandinavian folk music
- 2015: A Yankee Doodle (June 2015, Kids Dance/Ballet Tech, Joyce Theater)
- Percival, John. Modern Ballet. New York: Harmony Books, 1980.
- Chase's Calendar of Events 2007. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007.
- Kourlas, Gia. "A School for Young Dancers Grows Up: Eliot Feld’s Ballet Tech Program Is Expanding," New York Times (JUNE 12, 2013).
- Block, Maxine; Anna Herthe Rothe; Charles Moritz (1971). Current Biography Yearbook. H.W. Wilson Company. p. 126.
- Polner, Murray (1982). American Jewish Biographies. Facts on File, inc. p. 105. ISBN 0871964627.
- Kisselgoff, Anna (1981-07-26). "Creating A Theater Just for Dance". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-04.
- Anderson, Jack. "DANCE VIEW; THE FELD CHRISTENS ITS NEW HOME," New York Times (May 30, 1982).
- Reynolds, Nancy; Malcolm McCormick (2003). No Fixed Points Dance in the Twentieth Century. p. 472.
- Dunning, Jennifer. "A Romp Relived, 86 Ballets Later," New York Times (August 8, 1995).
- Smith, Sid. "Eliot Feld Storms Back-- Ballet`s Bad Boy Has Grown Up," Chicago Tribune (January 06, 1985).
- Kriegsman, Alan M. "Feld's 'Danzon'," Washington Post (August 12, 1978).
- Kriegsman, Alan M. "Eliot Feld Ballet's Impeccable Program At Wolf Trap: 'A Footstep of Air,' 'A Soldier's Tale' And 'The Real McCoy'," Washington Post (July 25, 1977).
- "Eliot Feld Ballet Set For a Broadway Season," New York Times (MARCH 27, 1978).
- Kriegsman, Alan M. "Eliot Feld: Wised-Up Wunderkind," Washington Post (December 23, 1979).
- Kiseelgoff, Anna. "FELD BALLET 'STRAW HEARTS,' A NEW SUITE," New York Times (October 12, 1982).
- Anderson, Jack. "DANCE: PREMIERE OF ELIOT FELD'S 'ADIEU'," New York Times (April 16, 1984).
- Kisselgoff, Anna. "DANCE: ELIOT FELD BALLET," New York Times (April 11, 1984).
- Dunning, Jennifer. "THE DANCE: FELD BALLET WITH 'AGAINST THE SKY'," New York Times (April 4, 1985).
- Kisselgoff, Anna. "DANCE: THE FELD BALLET PERFORMS 'GRAND CANON,'" New York Times (April 13, 1985).
- Kisselgoff, Anna. "Review/Dance; The Feld Shows Off Its Young Pupils With a Gala," New York Times (March 6, 1993).