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Hardness 10

Hardness 10--Choreographer Stephen Petronio and Composer Nico Muhly’s third collaboration exploring complex formal structures.

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Upcoming Performances of Hardness 10!

Posted on June 6, 2018 by Stephen Petronio Company

Days after its world premiere, Hardness 10 made its west coast premiere at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts in Olympia, WA, and is now scheduled to be presented at Hudson Hall in Hudson, NY July 6-8, coinciding with the inaugural season of activities at the Petronio Residency Center also upstate.  

Read more here.

Photo by Robert Altman of Stephen Petronio Company in Hardness 10 (2018)

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World Premiere of Hardness 10 at The Joyce Theater March 20-25, 2018!

Posted on May 30, 2018 by Stephen Petronio Company

“Diamonds can scratch a hard substance like glass, but there’s no conflict in Hardness 10 between walking and the more complex activities. Each has its own facets, its own ways of shining.” – Deborah Jowitt, DanceBeat

This past spring at The Joyce Theater, Stephen Petronio Company presented the world premiere of Hardness 10 for its 34th year of existence, and 24th season at The Joyce.  The third collaboration between choreographer Stephen Petronio and composer Nico Muhly, Hardness 10 emerged from a unified point of exploration: “multifacetedness” – whether that be the brilliant complexity of a diamond for Petronio or the fractal images of a medieval painting for Muhly. This work came to life with costumes created by Patricia Field ARTFASHION hand-painted by These Pink Lips, worn by Petronio’s seven dancers, and the live score performed by Liam Byrne – on viola de gamba and digital equipment. 

The Joyce season met widespread critical and audience acclaim for its variety and intensity. Hardness 10 shared the program with a revival of an excerpt of Petronio’s 2003 work, Underland, as well as the reconstruction of Merce Cunningham’s Signals (1970) for the fourth season of Bloodlines, honoring postmodern masters who influenced Petronio. The program as a whole distilled Petronio’s recent journey through Bloodlines, and showed his “inventiveness that grows out of his commitment and knowledge of what and who came before him” (Henning Rübsam, Dance Enthusiast).  

Photo by Yi-Chun Wu of Ernesto Breton, Elijah Laurant, and Bria Bacon in Petronio’s Hardness 10 (2018)


Hardness 10—the third collaboration between choreographer Stephen Petronio and composer Nico Muhly—will premiere March 20-25, 2018 during Stephen Petronio Company’s 24th season at The Joyce Theater. This original 20-minute dance work by Petronio, for his full Company, will be set to a previously unreleased score by Muhly titled “Long Phrases for the Wilton Diptych.” The work will also integrate the contributions of Petronio’s Company of seven dancers, designer Patricia Field ARTFASHION (costumes), and Resident Lighting Designer Ken Tabachnick. Muhly and Petronio are in discussion about a remastering of the score that allows for inclusion of 1-2 live musicians in performance.

Petronio’s departure point for Hardness 10 is the nature of the diamond—a dense stone, forged under pressure into an object of brilliance and clarity. Muhly’s score was originally created in response to the “fractal images and gestures” of the Wilton Diptych, a medieval painting, circa 1393, by an unknown English or French painter. Both the dance work and the score explore “multifacetedness”—tracking a progression of roughness to preciousness, simplicity to complexity.

This past summer, Petronio began creating Hardness 10 with five of his dancers during a Skidmore College residency. Together they generated intricate movement phrases inspired by the glimmer and glint of the diamond as well as simple walking patterns attending to a precise geometric structure. This fall, as two new dancers were incorporated into the work, the piece has dispersed into new energies and formations. In Hardness 10, “multifacetedness” is revealed through a constant flow of assembling and disassembling bodies punctuated by uniquely sharp, electrified and torqueing gestures, and elaborate and expansive partnering and group work.

Muhly’s score uncovers similar complexity within a precisely designed structure. Petronio, who asked Muhly to “free him from the trap of melody,” refers to the score as a “river of sound giving way to melodic events.” Drone-like, it layers multiple viola de gamba tracks with slight variations to result in a slow, long meditation. As Muhly explains: “The piece asks you to spend the time to deepen your relationship with it.” He chose this work to offer Petronio in response to the early investigations of the choreographic work.

Petronio and Muhly’s collaborations span a decade. In 2008, Muhly was one of three composers for the five-part This is the Story of a Girl in a World. In 2009, for a Joyce premiere, Petronio and Muhly collaborated on the hour-long I Drink the Air Before Me, for eleven dancers, featuring a live performance by Muhly and the Young People’s Chorus of NYC, as well as costumes by Adam Kimmel and Cindy Sherman. The piece was Muhly’s first evening-length dance score.

Following the Joyce premiere, Hardness 10 will tour, with two potential bookings on the west coast, at White Bird in Portland, Oregon and The Washington Center in Olympia, Washington, plus an additional engagement in Washington, DC.

Start and End Dates



New York, New York

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Last update on June 6, 2018

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Acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, Petronio is widely regarded as one of the leading dance-makers of his generation. New music, visual art, and fashion collide in his dances, producing powerfully modern landscapes for the senses. He has built a body of work with some of the most talented and provocative artists in the world,…

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