John M. Castagna was born in Brooklyn, New York and is actively choreographing in Los Angeles, California. Mr. Castagna is a resident choreography for Ballet Collective/LA since 2001. He has created several works for the company including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Rite of Spring Suite, Black & Fuscia, Violetta and Alfredo (La Traviata), and a two-act version of Die Fledermaus entitled Sweet Revenge. Castagna won a Los Angeles area Emmy Award for a television special entitled Peace by Piece, a collaboration with choreographer Lori DuPeron and composer Mark Governor. Dance Magazine nominated his work Joy for Video of the Month and Castagna’s The Golden Slave won Pointe Magazine’s Video of the Month. Since 2008 he has been posting his choreography online. Kimono, his latest video work, was his first as both director and choreographer.
Mr. Castagna’s oeuvre includes several works for Ballet Guatemala and the Staten Island Ballet. Interested in collaboration, his most recent ballet UpDown (commissioned by Hamilton College) was created with composer Thomas Schoenberger and costumer Anda Bernovska. Castagna has also collaborated twice with composer Mark Mercury and designer Benovska on Dawn to Dusk, a contemporary love triangle, and the abstract ballet en pointe, Spaces Between.
Mr. Castagna’s work has been funded by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, MiMoDa, the Unknown Theatre, Los Angeles Theatre Center and private donors. His choreography has been presented at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, El Portal Theatre, Ivar Theater, The Unknown Theatre, MiMoDa Studio Theatre in Mexico, California State University Los Angeles and University of California Los Angeles. His worked has been included numerous times in the Kaleidoscope Dance Festival, Mix-Match Dance and Pasadena Dance Festival.
Mr. Castagna is a former member of the Rudy Perez Performance Ensemble and The IT Squad. He holds a Master’s Degree in Choreography from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and a degree in Fine Arts. Maestro Stefan Wenta is Mr. Castagna’s mentor.
”Choreographers Lori DuPeron and John Castagna envisioned the end of social hostilities and the start of communal solidarity in “Peace by Piece” for the IT Squad. A propulsive Mark Governor score and periodic spoken maxims helped unify a collage of gesture, pedestrian motion, social dancing and gymnastics suggesting various facets of the dying power structure.” – Lewis Segal, Los Angeles Times
Selected Listing of Castagna’s Contemporary Ballet Choreography
Joy – Debussy “L’isle joyeuse” – 6 dancers
Black and Fuscia – Ginastera – trio
The Golden Slave – Rimsky-Korsakov – grande pas de deux
Rite of Spring Suite – Stravinsky – quartet
Spaces Between – Mark Mercury (collaboration) – quartet
Dawn to Dusk – Mark Mercury (collaboration) – septet
Midsummer Night’s Dream – Mendelssohn – 10 dancers
Violetta & Alfredo (La Traviata) –Verdi – grande pas de deux
Sweet Revenge (Die Fledermaus) – Johan Strauss II – 10 dancers, in 2 acts
La Forza del Destino – Verdi – grande pas de deux
Women of the Sea – “Arlisenne” Bizet – female trio
The 4 Seasons – Vivaldi – 13 dancers
The Young Tchaikovsky – Tchaikovsky “Symphony #5” – 9 dancers
The Blue Pearl – Bizet – 7 dancers
Sublime Song…” – Chopin – three pas de deuxes
Backstage: 1934 – “Jazz Band Suite” Shostakovich – sextet
Waltz of the Snowflakes –Tchaikovsky – 5 dancers
Bianca’s Dilemma –Mozart – 6 dancers
de Maria Callas – Verdi, Donezzeti – grande pas de deux
Loss – “Prayer Cycle” Alanis Morissett – female solo with chorus
Piece by Peace – Lori DuPeron/Mark Governor (collaboration) – sextet
The Beat Box – The Art of Noise – sextet
Rubrica – “Eisenstein on the Beach” Philip Glass – quartet
Territories – “Dissonance” Glenn Branca – male solo