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Jupiter Ascending is getting a new life in ballet

2015’s Jupiter Ascending remains one of the most divisive Wachowski movies, and likely will for some time. But the infamous flop — or cult classic, depending on who you ask — is getting new life in a different medium: dance.

The Pacific Northwest Ballet’s A Dark and Lonely Space is a ballet choreographed by dancer Kyle Davis to Michael Giacchino’s Jupiter Ascending score.

Both composer and choreographer have spoken to WBUR’s Here & Now about how it came to be. Giacchino — who has scored for Star Trek, Star Wars, and multiple Pixar films, winning an Academy Award and Grammy for Up — is one of Davis’ favorite composers. The dancer reached out to Giacchino to ask if he had any short concert works he would make available for choreography.

The first time he listened to Giacchino’s Jupiter Ascending compositions, Davis told Here & Now, “movement started showing up in my head immediately.”

A Dark and Lonely Space is a ballet in five movements, in which 26 dancers represent planets, celestial bodies and forces of physics. Davis told Here & Now that the production is meant to be an “anthropomorphization of the birth of a planetary system.”

“So,” he added, “it’s definitely sci-fi.”

Unlike most film scores, which are composed based on a rough or nearly-complete cut of the film, the Wachowskis offered Giacchino the choice to begin work based on the shooting script and pre-production designs of the sets, costumes and characters of Jupiter Ascending. Giacchino told Here & Now that this gave him a greatly expanded timeline to prepare the score, and he was able to more fully develop his musical ideas.

“Essentially,” he said, “what we decided to do was write a symphony about Jupiter,” and that’s exactly what he sent Davis: the 40-minute Jupiter Ascending symphony that had eventually become the film’s soundtrack.

A Dark and Lonely Space is currently being performed by the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle.


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