In conjunction with the exhibition Poussin and the Dance, on view February 15–May 8, 2022, Getty commissioned Los Angeles-based dance companies to create works in dialogue with the French artist’s paintings. Poussin’s scenes feature intricate compositions of bodies in motion, at times in celebration or despair. Each commissioned work responds to elements of Poussin’s powerful depictions.
hbny (pronounced eh-boh-nee) by Chris Emile for Poussin and the Dance
hbny (pronounced eh-boh-nee) is a dance film by Chris Emile. Here a new narrative is imagined for the mythic tribe of the Sabines, of whom little is known outside of their victimization by Roman conquerors, famously depicted in Poussin’s masterwork The Abduction of the Sabine Women. Filmed in the urban wasteland of L.A.’s Devil’s Gate, Emile’s Sabines inhabit a landscape that appears ancient and contemporary at once, in which they interact with fierceness, tenderness, shared sorrow, and unbridled joy, exuding a sense of freedom and agency over their own bodies and minds.
Run time: 17:29
Credits: Directed, Produced, Choreographed, Written, and Edited by Chris Emile
PORTRAIT by Micaela Taylor for Poussin and the Dance
PORTRAIT is a dance film by Micaela Taylor, founding artistic director of The TL Collective, commissioned by the Getty Museum. Emphasizing her signature glitch-like movements and extreme facial expressions, Taylor deconstructs Poussin’s elaborate scenes to isolate and investigate the internal struggle depicted on individual faces. Staged within the mathematical grids and textured stones of the Getty Center’s architecture, the dancers blur lines and forms taken from classical dance into their otherwise freeform movements and unsettling smiles appear on their faces aimed right at the camera. This slipstream between the classical and the unconventional, the joyful and the disturbing, echo the disarming way Poussin creates ravishing beauty out of moments of chaos and violence.
Run time: 15:08
Credits: Choreographed and Edited by Micaela Taylor. Directed by Silvia Grav.
CAÑA by Ana María Alvarez for Poussin and the Dance
CAÑA is a dance film by Ana María Alvarez, founding artistic director of CONTRA-TIEMPO Activist Dance Theater. In Poussin, Alvarez saw an investigation of movement within a natural landscape, of rich textures and textiles in motion, and of the mystery of ritual. Included in the exhibition is Poussin’s epic painting Dance in Honor of Priapus, which provides a window into a private ritual being performed by a group of women dancing in a ring. Alvarez’s film also draws us into a private world of a group of women, dancing together unselfconsciously among natural landscapes and dressed in lusciously colored textiles. Throughout the film, sugar cane is ripped, bitten, and swung about as a meditation on this indulgent substance—echoing themes of vice and virtue, and the pitfalls of bacchanalia that were investigated by Poussin.
Run time: 13:37
Credits: Direction and Choreographic Vision: Ana María Alvarez
Poussin and Dance Today
Facts about Poussin’s artistic process, subject matter, and patrons offer us one means of understanding the dancing pictures. But lived experiences of dance today provide another. In this short video, Los Angeles–based dancers and choreographers discuss Poussin’s work in relation to their own.
Run time: 3:38
Credits: In order of appearance: Ana María Alvarez, Gianna Todisco, Micaela Taylor, Chris Emile, Marcella Lewis, Dr. Shamell Bell