Pharrell To Compose For Hair-Raising Guggenheim Dance Performance
This coming Halloween, NYC’s Guggenheim will stage “Rules of the Game,” a multidisciplinary production scored by Pharrell Williams and based off of a little-known absurdist play. Mixing dance, music, and visual art, the piece is part of the Guggenheim’s Works & Process series, where acclaimed artists come together to perform in the intimate Peter B. Lewis Theater.
Despite Pharrell’s “Happy” hit, don’t expect much jubilation onstage. The production’s inspiration, Luigi Pirandello’s 1918 play, The Rules of the Game, concerns itself with infidelity and the compartmentalization of grief and revenge. Daniel Arsham, whose visual majesty accompanies the piece, described the music as identifiably Pharrell, but “very different from pop music.” The music is further abstracted, fed through the bows and strings of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
As one might expect, a collaborative piece as Frankensteinian and ambitious as this one takes some time to settle. Over two years, choreographer Jonah Bokaer, visual artist Arsham, and man-of-many-tall-hats Pharrell Williams took turns adapting their styles for one another.
However, the artists’ cross-disciplinary experience made the process natural, if tedious. As you’re likely aware, Pharrell has worked as a musician, solo and in the legendary beatmaking duo The Neptunes, as well as a visual artist and curator, collaborating with renowned artists such as Ryan McGinley and Takashi Murakami. Arsham, meanwhile, has juggled his own personal works, a running film series of avant-garde, James Franco-blessed futurism, a series of t-shirts (amongst other projects) for MADE Fashion Week, and various architecture and visual projects through his Snarkitecture design firm. Jonah Bokaer, meanwhile, has staged a number of collaborative dance pieces, most recently “ECLIPSE,” a ballet-like performance performed around an installation by luminary artist Anthony McCall.
The ambition may be overwhelming (and, if the early chattering is to be believe, the piece), but at least “Rules of the Game” is taken on by a cast comfortable with multi-multi-tasking. You can catch a peek for yourself on October 31st, at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Peter B. Lewis Theater. Check out the Works & Progress brochure here, which includes an operatic interpretation of Lars Von Trier‘s Breaking the Waves, as well as new compositions from art jazz legend John Zorn.
Catch Rules of the Game on October 31st at the Guggenheim NYC.
Stay tuned for Milk for more marvelous multimedia collaborations.
Cover Image by James Law for Forbes. Additional images from “Rules of the Game,”via the Guggenheim.