It's ballet as you've never seen it before.
On March 26 at the Lucas Theatre, the Savannah Music Festival will host the Southern debut of BalletCollective's "What Comes Next." Three ballets by acclaimed choreographer Troy Schumacher will be presented, with live music from Hotel Elefant.
"I'm a Georgia boy," Schumacher says. "I grew up in Stone Mountain.
"This is the first time I've been able to share my work in Georgia," he says. "It's a short enough drive from Atlanta that I'm hoping some of my teachers will make it."
BalletCollective is made up of Schumacher and other dancers from the New York City Ballet.
A nonprofit arts collective based in New York City, it was founded by Schumacher in 2010, and has since produced collaborative work of more than 30 artists from different genres. In creating works, BalletCollective brings together artists, poets, composers, choreographers and designers to collaborate as equals and exchange ideas throughout the creation of their works.
Each artist is asked to contribute to the work of the others and share, both physically and digitally, sketches, concepts, writings, ideas, movements or measures of music. Eventually, the work is presented to audiences, and re-conceived continually as long as the work continues to be performed.
These artists gather ideas that are important to them as a group. They are encouraged to think outside of what they usually do - for example, a composer considers graphic art, a choreographer the structure of a poem, a photographer the rhythm of a piece of music.
The program presented at the music festival will incorporate contributions from architects James Ramsey and Carlos Arnaiz, indie classical composers Ellis Ludwig-Leone and Judd Greenstein, and photographer Paul Maffi.
"We're performing three ballets that were all created in BalletCollective's unique process," Schumacher says. "The whole concept is about the way that different genres are able to communicate with one another and how current concepts that one artist, say an architect, make you think about your own work.
"We also have to answer the question, 'What is this we're going to make?'" he says. "I don't know what the other person is talking about, so we talk about where we're going from there."
The first ballet focuses on Ramsey's development of the world's first underground park, the Lowline, in New York's Lower East Side. The Lowline is expected to open in 2020.
"We're going into this whole process thinking about architecture and lines and drawings," Schumacher says. "When we started talking to both architects who are contributing to this program, we recognized the state they came from when creating work.
"We didn't focus on buildings, we focused on elements. This is a 25-minute work in which we look at a bunch of sketches James gave us. We noticed common threads and took it from there.
"A lot of James' work is about taking former useful spaces and injecting life into them," Schumacher says. "We found the concept to be so poignant. We have created a semi-abstract ballet based off these elements."
The second ballet is a duet inspired by Arnaiz's architectural analyzation of a classic basketball shot by Allen Iverson, the former NBA star.
"When you go into collaboration with an architect, you don't necessarily think you're going to end up creating a ballet based on a sketch of basketball legend Allen Iverson," Schumacher says. "This architect wrote an essay trying to find new pathways to create new arc and used Allen Iverson.
"It's out of nowhere and in ways is extremely unconventional," he says. "It's a pathway to invention. It's a short, technical duet for two dancers."
The final ballet, "Invisible Divide," premiered in 2015. It features singer Vanessa Upson, who performs as Violetness.
"The photographer created a series of lonely but beautiful photographs of a young man," Schumacher says. "We were looking at them, and the composer had all these images, and he wrote a series of seven songs and three interludes based on these images.
"It's a more emotional work than the other two. It's about what life is like in New York City where you are surrounded by people.
"It follows the journey of this young man," he says. "I suggested the program of three ballets that all come from very different places."
The ballet's appearance in Savannah came about through a local resident.
"It's our Southern debut," Schumacher says. "BalletCollective has an annual residency in Telluride, Colo.
"There are a few people there who have homes in Savannah. A member of the Savannah community saw us and got to know us and sent my name and the company's name to Rob Gibson," who is the Savannah Music Festival executive and artistic director.
"He had heard of us and came to our season to see us," Schumacher says. "He asked us to come down and show Savannah what we've been working on all these years."
Coming with Schumacher are seven dancers from BalletCollective and nine musicians who comprise the musical ensemble Hotel Elefant.
"I think what we're doing is a little intricate to explain, but at the same time, the works should be enjoyable," Schumacher says. "All the concept information goes into it so we can create these interesting, accessible ballets.
"I don't think Savannah has seen ballet like this before. You can dive in as you'd like.
"On face value, the audience is going to see some amazing dancers dancing to amazing and interesting music," he says. "It's definitely not 'Swan Lake.'"
BALLETCOLLECTIVE: WHAT COMES NEXT
When: 2 p.m. March 26
Where: Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.