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AS A CHILD, the profession of choreographer was on Miriam Mahdaviani's short list of careers. Dancer was not. But this choreographer--the only woman making a ballet for this year's New York City Ballet Diamond Project--was a dancer in the company before becoming a dancemaker for it.

Mahdaviani entered the School of American Ballet in 1968 and danced with the City Ballet from 1979 to 1993. At that point, she said, "I was at the peak of my dancing and was having a blast. I was dancing Balanchine ballets like Jewels, Serenade, Concerto Barocco and La Valse every night." Since then, she has given birth to two children and about ten ballets.

She was creating ballets well before the first Diamond Project in 1992. Now in its fourth installment (it only happens every two years), the project includes a fourth work by Mahdaviani. (Also scheduled are premieres by Christopher d'Amboise, Christopher Wheeldon, Helgi Tomasson, Peter Martins and Kevin O'Day, and a special collaboration between Robert La Fosse and Robert Garland incorporating dancers from Dance Theatre of Harlem, in tribute to DTH's thirtieth anniversary.)

For the new ballet, Mahdaviani is using six songs from the best-selling CD Appalachia Waltz by fiddler Mark O'Connor, bassist Edgar Meyer and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. O'Connor has been hailed as a brilliant musician who weaves together classical, jazz and folk music. The songs, described by Mahdaviani as "Baroque-influenced with a twang," will be played live on stage. She feels that this music leads her into a bit of a story, or line of action, that departs from the plotless works she usually choreographs. She wants this ballet, with six couples in the cast, to reflect the life cycles in a changing Appalachia.

"I don't enjoying doing modern dance, but I love watching it," Mahdaviani, a frequent patron of the Joyce Theater, says. Some of her favorites are Garth Fagan, Elisa Monte, Alonzo King and Merce Cunningham. She also favors Eliot Feld, William Forsythe and Nacho Duato for their inventiveness.

Mahdaviani has also made works for Pacific Northwest Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Ballet Pacifica and the Purchase Dance Corps. But, she says, her favorite company is her own. "I like being in programs with Balanchine and Robbins pieces. These people were my family. I feel at home here." Her new work premieres at the New York State Theater June 20.
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Title Annotation:ballet by Miriam Mahdaviani set to 'Appalachia Waltz' for the New York City Ballet Diamond Project
Author:Perron, Wendy
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2000

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