Opus N°17 After Eden

It was in 1966 that Lone Isaksen and Lawrence Rhodes of the Harkness Ballet interpreted “After Eden”, to the choreography of John Butler and the music of Lee Hoiby. This is the most famous ballet by this choreographer who combines classical with modern dance. Eve, just expelled from Paradise, expresses shame, despair and a sensual modesty in her embrace with Adam. In this analysis of the human condition, the couple expresses a metaphor of particular resonance in a very physical movement.

Lone Isaksen (1941-2010), of Danish origin, arrived in New York in 1962 where she married her partner Lawrence Rhodes in 1970, four years after the creation of the ballet prescient of their mutual attachment. He became director of the Harkness Ballet in 1968 and in 1970 they both joined the Dutch National Ballet. Later he taught in Canada and at the moment, is director of the Dance Academy of the Juilliard School in New York.

It is in this intimate and internalized “pas de deux” that Adam and Eve hide their shame, expressing their love and their despair in which Ghiorgo Zafiropulo immortalized them in 1967, shortly after the creation of this ballet. The position represented is a fleeting moment when Lone Isaksen rests her left foot on the hand of her partner to be raised in a spectacular lift. It comes from the repertoire of modern dance very innovative at the time especially to describe these feelings. The smooth working of the statue allows us to focus on the intimacy; the faces are hidden to enhance this perception. The theme of this work “After Eden” which is repeated in “Paradis Perdu” and also “L`Homme et son Ame”, was the inspiration to combine mystical and aesthetic concerns of the sculptor. They allow, in addition to artistic expression of a beautiful dance movement, the expression of the psyche through the body.

Testimony of Lawrence Rhodes

"In 1965, Lone Isaksen and I started to work with a famous choreographer, John Butler on a pas de deux that came to be named After Eden before its premiere in Cannes, France in 1966. It had a commissioned score by Lee Hoiby and was presented by the Harkness Ballet.

When one is in the process of creation of any kind, it is worthwhile noting that no one is ever sure how it will turn out. Little did we know that After Eden would be a great success for us and the Harkness Ballet. It was a pas de deux that stayed in the repertoire for many years and was performed in every major European capital as well as New York in 1967. We also performed this duet on extensive tours of the United States.

This pas de deux also has the distinction of influencing many other dancers as it was staged in various companies around the world. In addition, After Eden stimulated various photographers, choreographers, and painters. I was recently happily surprised to find out that After Eden was an inspiration for Ghiorgo Zafiropulo as well, who has created a very beautiful statue representing a moment from that duet."                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                   Lawrence Rhodes

                                                                                                                           Artistic Director, Dance Division, Julliard Academy