Justin Peck's choreography is entitled 'In the Countenance of Kings'
Orchestrated by Michael P. Atkinson

  • 2(2pic).2.2(Ebcl,bcl).2/4.2(pictpt).2+btbn.1/timp.2perc.dmkit/pf(cel).hp/str
  • 40 min
    • 2nd July 2024, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC, United States of America
    • 3rd July 2024, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC, United States of America
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Programme Note

Stevens has referred to his score, The BQE, as “a cinematic suite inspired by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Hula-Hoop.” The ballet’s name is taken from one of the movements of The BQE. Dance writer Carla Escoda explains, “The title can perhaps be understood not as a reference to aristocracy but as a play on (the now ultra-hip) Kings County — as the English renamed the towns it wrested from the Dutch settlers of ‘Breuckelen’ in the seventeenth century.” Peck has even given his dancers character names à la Bunyan’s allegory The Pilgrims Progress: The Protagonist, Botanica, Quantus, and Electress, for example.

Collaboration with youthful contemporaries is important to Peck: “My intention is to make sure that the new work being created for the ballet world is relevant. I think it’s really important to keep working with artists of this generation, whether they be visual artists, or designers, or composers.” These words echo the sentiments of Jerome Robbins, who once said in an interview, “Why can’t we dance about American subjects? Why can’t we talk about the way we dance today and how we are now?”

— courtesy of Pacific Northwest Ballet

Ballet sections
Prelude: On the Esplanade — Introductory Fanfare
I: In the Countenance of Kings
II: Sleeping Invader
III: Linear Tableau with Intersecting Surprise
IV: Traffic Shock
V: Self-Organizing Emergent Patterns
Interlude II: Subi Power Waltz — Interlude III: Invisible Accidents
VI: Isorhythmic Night Dance with Interchanges
VII (Finale): The Emperor of Centrifuge

Arrangements from BQE concept album

Ballet premiere
San Francisco Ballet 7 April 2016 with the title In the Countenance of Kings

Related works
   The BQE (album)
   The BQE (ballet)


In the Countenance of Kings is Justin Peck's choreography to The BQE
Stevens, Bryce Dessner & Nico Muhly discuss their collaboration for the 'Planetarium' album