Venue Details

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Irvine Barclay Theatre
4242 Campus Drive Irvine, CA 92612
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Quotes & Highlights

Watch a preview video of Empty Moves at YouTube.


Part of Irvine Barclay Theatre’s Contemporary Dance Series.


Empty Moves_ riffs on the title of the soundtrack accompanying the dance, namely, John Cage’s Empty Words, a live recording made at a 1977 performance in Milan, in which John Cage reads from Henry David Thoreau, distorting the sounds in Thoreau’s words. Boos and jeers from the audience spring from the soundtrack, yet the dancers move with concentrated grace and form – a Preljocaj trademark – mirroring the unwavering calm of Cage’s voice. Bursts of sarcastic applause are heard, shouts, whistling, the Milan crowd is raucous, hostile, yet the dancers, undeterred, keep on dancing, their movement wound up like clockwork, forming different configurations, one abstract pattern flowing effortlessly into the next. 

“The notion of the alienation effect, of the disintegration of the movement and of a new manner of choreographic phrasing takes precedence over the meaning and the essence of movement. In this way, this dance work connects with the text by Henry David Thoreau which was John Cage’s starting point, and attempts to reach the unflappable pugnacity of the mastermind behind that evening in Milan.”


Angelin Preljocaj* was born in the Paris region of France, and began studying classical ballet before turning to contemporary dance, which he studied with Karin Waehner.

In 1980, he went to New York to work with Zena Rommett and Merce Cunningham, after which he resumed his studies in France, where his teachers included the American choreographer Viola Farber and Quentin Rouillier. After that he joined Dominique Bagouet before founding his own company in December 1984.

Angelin Preljocaj works regularly with other artists including Enki Bilal (Roméo et Juliette, 1990), Goran Vejvoda (Paysage après la bataille, 1997), Air (Near Life Experience, 2003), Granular Synthesis (“N,” 2004), Fabrice Hyber (Les 4 saisons…, 2005), Karlheinz Stockhausen (Eldorado – Sonntags Abschied, 2007), Jean Paul Gaultier (Blanche Neige, 2008).

His productions have become part of the repertoire of many companies which also offer him commissions, notably the Paris Opera Ballet, La Scala of Milan and the New York City Ballet. He has made short films (Le postier, Idées noires in 1991) and several full-length films, notably Un trait d’union and Annonciation (1992 and 2003) and for which he was awarded the “Grand Prix du Film d’Art” in 2003, the “Vidéo-Danse” First Prize in 1992 and the Prague Video Festival Prize in 1993.

He has also collaborated on several films presenting his own choreographic work: Les Raboteurs with Cyril Collard after the painting by Gustave Caillebotte in 1988; Pavillon Noir with Pierre Coulibeuf in 2006; and Eldorado/Preljocaj with Olivier Assayas in 2007. Several books have been written about his work, notably Angelin Preljocaj in 2003, Pavillon Noir in 2006 and Angelin Preljocaj, Topologie de l’invisible in 2008.

In the course of his career, Angelin Preljocaj has received a number of awards, including the “Grand Prix National de la Danse” awarded by the French Ministry of Culture in 1992, the “Benois de la danse” for Le Parc in 1995, the “Bessie Award” for Annonciation in 1997, “Les Victoires de la musique” for Roméo et Juliette in 1997, the “Globe de Cristal” for Snow White in 2009. He is an “Officier des Arts et des Lettres,” a “Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur,” and he was appointed an “Officier de l’ordre du Mérite” in May 2006.

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