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Leaping beauty: Tale of pretty boy uses ballet, opera, and art

Dance, O Muse!: The show “Echo & Narcissus,” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Sept. 14 and 15, combines ballet, opera, and visual art.
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Call it a mythed media production.

A wide variety of artists have teamed up to bring the mythical tale “Echo & Narcissus” to the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Sept. 14 and 15. The show combines dance, visual art, and music to filter the tragic story through many creative layers, said its director.

“It’s a lot of moving parts, and putting them together can be quite extraordinary, quite prismatic,” said Philip Stoddard, who lives in Manhattan. “It’s really an experience. By looking through it, you see many parts at the same time — that’s really the beauty of collaborating with my fellow artists.”

The Satellite Collective production incorporates an opera written by Stoddard, a ballet, an original score performed live by a seven-piece chamber ensemble, and multimedia images projected onto screens. The various elements work together to update the 4,000-year-old Greek myth to New York City in 1971, casting self-involved Narcissus as a rebellious outsider and Echo, the nymph who pines away for him, as a socialite. Together the two commit a crime that ends in tragedy.

The show gives Echo more space than the original myth to explore her own personhood, said Stoddard.

“We turned inside out what it means to actually deal with the consequences of our actions,” he said. “Echo finds her voice and realizes what she’s done — and without giving too much away, [we show] how people move on with their lives,”

The classic story of Narcissus — a man who falls in love with his own reflection — made the show’s production staff consider how that character’s flaw plays out in today’s age of selfies and social media, said Stoddard.

“What is a narcissist? And what is a narcissist in today’s society? Are we all just narcissists, and are we complicit in our own demise?” he asked. “All those questions become sometimes really clear and sometimes really murky when dealing with the human condition.”

The most compelling aspect of “Echo & Narcissus” is how all of its parts come together to create one powerful show, he said.

“I think there’s something incredibly unique about what all of these artists are bringing in — a deftness, virtuosity, in their own discipline but a really unique collaborative spirit when we become a team,” Stoddard said. “It’s not just a play, not an opera, not a ballet — it’s all of them, multiple disciplines, experiences, first and foremost grounded in a story and fueled by imagination and skill.”

“Echo & Narcissus” at BAM Fisher [321 Ashland Pl. between Lafayette Avenue and Hanson Place in Fort Greene, (718) 636–4100, www.bam.org]. Sept. 14 at 8 pm; Sept. 15 at 7:30 pm. $25.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Posted 12:00 am, September 12, 2018
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