Led by a young woman in the process of transforming her life’s work into a business, the Emery LeCrone Dance company is a place where artistic development and collaboration are encouraged. There are many sides to Emery LeCrone the person, as we learned while capturing her and two of the dancers in her company, Shane Ohmer and Izabela Szylinska, right before the frenzy of ballet season’s start. Professional dancer for the Metropolitan Opera, choreographer, artistic director, leader, self-motivator, careful strategist—and she embodies them all with the grace of a classically trained ballerina and the audacity of an artist seeking her place in a competitive landscape.
LeCrone founded her dance company two years ago, with the goal of providing a home for the creation of innovative new dance pieces in an environment that also preserves classic dance repertoire. She often brings in the complimentary elements of fashion design and live music to her performances. “I love having these extra layers and seeing all the small details come together to create a larger experience,” says Emery. “The lights, costumes, and musicians are all very carefully crafted. They become a part of the choreographed work and offer the audience further insight into the piece.”
It’s these considerations, that make the company’s performances, like Ritornare (rehearsed on set at our shoot and performed over the summer at The Joyce Theater) stand out. “I am fascinated by the way the body moves,” Emery says. “Individuals translate emotion differently with various movements and energy. People come to see a live performance because they want to connect to something real.” Ritornare is a subtle, simple piece that makes you feel like you’re part of it. The duet between dancers Shane Ohmer and Izabela Szylinska—they could be you. “The way that Shane and Izabela listen and respond to each other in Ritornare, it’s very sensitive and honest. They each carry a responsibility to support each other in the relationship. When they are performing it’s almost like you are constantly waiting for what will happen next,” says Emery of the duo she brought together.
Wearing the Ann Demeulemeester Fall ’15 collection, the dancers embody the moody and muted tones, powerful clean lines, and technically advanced fabrications—including stretch leather pants that fit like second skin and allow for movement ranging from delicate to gymnastic, set to composer Ludovico Einaudi’s pensive piano meditation.
Choreographer and artistic director of Emery LeCrone Dance
“Working as a professional dancer is challenging. There is always the responsibility to maintain your facility and to keep training. Ballet class, conditioning, physical therapy, massage, and other upkeep is important in being able to perform and demonstrate at a top level. The main challenge for me right now as a choreographer is continuing to receive commissions for my work and create opportunities for the talented dancers in my company.”
“To be commissioned for American Ballet Theater or New York City Ballet has always been a dream of mine. Working with a visionary composer on an original piece, and fashion designers who want to collaborate on future projects…The list is long. To get to see these dancers continue to develop and to influence and inform my work is a gift. The art form is very fragile and fleeting, so I would be lucky if I am still able to be dancing, choreographing, and creating new work as much as I am right now in 10 years or more.”
“I had originally performed Ritornare with Shane, but I couldn’t articulate the dance vocabulary the same way I choreographed it in my mind. Hiring dancers, you can step outside your head and see the vision come to life more clearly sometimes. For me, Shane has been a great partner to dance with for years. He’s grounded, yet has an ease about him. Izabela is better suited for Ritornare than I am. She’s lyrical and birdlike, like an otherworldly creature with an endless extension of line.”
Dancer, choreographer, educator
“There have been moments when I’ve dealt with having a lot of ‘good problems,’ filled with opportunities, too many choices in career paths. I’ve also had dryer moments filled with less to no work and wondering if I’ll make it or when the next break will come. This is all shadowed by passion, gratitude, and love for what’s been my life in dance. I’ve enjoyed working hard and finding new avenues for performance.”
“A successful live performance is achieved when you feel you’ve given your best and allowed yourself to really become the piece. Each time is always different. It’s in staying open, honest, and attentive to who you are with the work as it unfolds.”
“Emery and I began building the Ritornare piece together. The base came from the movement language connection that Emery and I shared in the studio—the two of us made for an easy flow of choreography. Once Emery was able to step out of the duet and replaced herself with Izabela, the layering process began and hyper details became apparent.”
“I felt sexy in the Ann Demeulemeester collection. The clothes fit in a way that accentuated my body and dressed facets of myself that felt good. The pieces brought out familiar and different types of movement from me.”
“My mom was a soloist with the Polish National Ballet, and after finishing her professional career as a dancer, she became a successful choreographer. To be able to spend more time together, she would take me to her rehearsals at the theater right after I was done with school. It quickly became my favorite part of the day. I spent hours doing my homework while keeping one eye on the flawless ballerinas in beautiful costumes. My mother’s friends became my dance ‘aunts’ and ‘uncles,’ and I enjoyed hearing all of their stories about the theater. However, they advised me at my young age not to go to ballet school because it’s a very hard career—a beautiful one, but challenging. You have to decide early on if you want a career in ballet. It’s a choice of passion and an exercise in youthful intuition.”
“Since the beginning, I treated my education very seriously. The Polish National Ballet School in Warsaw is demanding—you need to pass plenty of dance tests after every year, and it takes nine years to graduate. I was very aware of what I learned from my mom and her friends, so I knew that once I joined the school I had chosen my career.”
“Ritornare is one of my favorite pieces I’ve danced in. I love Emery‘s choreography, her movement is very connected to the music. As dancers, we give something to other people. We perform for the audience so we’re giving them our emotions, we share how we feel. Each performance brings the opportunity to do even better than the one before. Dance has no limits and that’s what keeps me going.”