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Ballet Director Reflects on Father-Son Relationships, and His Own Dance Journey

New York Theatre Ballet Artistic Director Steven Melendez
Rachel Neville
New York Theatre Ballet Artistic Director Steven Melendez

A Tempo Saturday (9/23) featured a conversation with New York Theatre Ballet Artistic Director Steven Melendez and composer David K. Israel about Melendez's "Letters to My Father" series, and about a new documentary following Melendez's path from homeless shelter to professional ballet.

As New York Theatre Ballet Artistic Director Steven Melendez listened to a work composed by David K. Israel a while back, his mind filled with nostalgic, childhood images of father-son experiences - only, they were not his. Raised by a single mother, Melendez hardly knew his father, and his introduction to ballet came through a NYTB outreach program that worked with some of the children at the homeless shelter where they lived. Hearing Israel's piece, he began to think about father-son relationships, and commissioned the composer, as well as other choreographer-composer teams, to create a series of works exploring that relationship called "Letters to My Father." Melendez's segment, with Israel's music, will premiere Oct. 6 at the company's season opener, and A Tempo this week features host Rachel Katz's conversation with both the choreographer and composer about the work. The discussion also touches on the new documentary "Lift," which follows Melendez's path from homelessness to professional ballet, and his start with the company he now directs.

Composer David K. Israel
Sam Zauscher
Composer David K. Israel

Rachel Katz is the host of A Tempo which airs Saturdays at 7 pm.