Choreographer and Commuter Stephen Petronio Makes a Move

"Vintage Petronio" is how Stephen Petronio describes the program he brings to the Joyce this spring, closing out his 20th anniversary year. "I've never done this before, it's a little unnerving," says the 49-year-old choreographer. "Everyone wants the next new thing."

His newest thing at the moment is a house in the Putnam County town of Carmel, New York. "My partner and I are super-creative and successful, and we wanted more than a one-bedroom apartment with no light." They moved from Avenue A to Brooklyn to save money, and then began searching for property. "A garden was a big deal for both of us. We found this 1790s house, 3,000 square feet, in really good shape on two acres in the snowbelt. Now we're commuters, country gentlemen," he says, "with an hour and 10 minutes for my iPod or the newspaper."

New in his upcoming season is a duet, bud, to music by Rufus Wainwright; next season will see a longer work, BLOOM, resulting from his collaboration with the young balladeer. He's revisiting the 1990 MiddleSexGorge, to music by Wire, "which has lots of sexual subtext about power and control. I think it's one of my best. I was getting arrested a lot with ACT UP in those days; it's about how one person moves a group, or three or four people move one. A weird, sexy game of Twister." Lareigne, from the mid '90s, "is really about the architecture of the space." And Prelude, to music by David Bowie, is "a contraption, a gestural, sensual study."

Group hug: Stephen Petronio Company
photo: Christian Witkin
Group hug: Stephen Petronio Company

"History seems disposable to my generation," says Petronio. "It's important to let people look back at things."

 
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