Kensico Cemetery Valhalla, Westchester County, New York, USA, Plot Actors' Fund Lot 439
A dancer with American Ballet Theatre (1987-93) and Dance Theatre of
Harlem (1980-87), Carld Jonassaint (c. 1962, Port-de-Paix, Haiti - 28
February 1997, New York City, age 35) was also a choreographer who, in
the last few years of his life, produced several promising works. Three
of these were performed by Ballet Inc., a company directed by Charles
David Anderson, a former member of New York City Ballet. Jack Anderson's
review in the New York Times includes several paragraphs on Jonaissant's
work: "The most effective creation was Mr. Jonassaint's audacious
'Serenade for Dead Men,' to the same Tchaikovsky score that accompanies
'Serenade,' George Balanchine's bittersweet masterpiece of 1934,"
Anderson wrote. "As in the older work, groups crystallized and dissolved
and soloists darted in and out. But whereas Balanchine emphasized women,
this was a ballet for an all-male cast. Its mood was elegiac, its
patterns were attractive and its only heavy-handed moment came when an
allegorical Christ figure welcomed men who supposedly represented the
spirits of great choreographers and dancers.
"In Mr. Jonassaint's mysterious 'Inner Voice,' Peter Lentz, of Ballet Theater, portrayed a brooding model in a painter's studio. This character encountered Melissa Lentz, the dancer's sister, who wore an elegant gown that made her resemble a goddess in one of Jean Cocteau's chic updatings of Greek mythology. As she moved, Ms. Lentz, a mezzo-soprano with the Metropolitan Opera Company, sang Villa-Lobos's haunting 'Bachiana Brasileira No. 5,' to the ugitar accompaniment of Derek Kudrow, and she seemed to be an artist's muse.
"Mr. Jonassaint also contributed 'Full Moon Over Central Park,' a not entirely convincing study of sexual violence, to a new score by Robert Ruggieri."
Bringing together his work as a choreographer, poet, composer and costume designer, Jonassaint created a multimedia dance/theater piece, Poetry in the Life of A.I.D.S. (1995), featuring thirty dancers, actors, singers and musicians. According to the press release, the piece focussed on "the spiritual and positive effects of the HIV/AIDS crisis, especially as is effects [sic] the gay and lesbian community, as well as other minority groups." The piece was performed at the Triangle Theater, on the campus of Long Island University. At the time of his death, according to dance critic and editor Elizabeth Zimmer, Jonassaint was attempting to have the work produced on film. Jonassaint died from AIDS-related causes.
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