“Can you believe it?” asked Ms. Li, 53. “Imagine: 20 years in a house of dance with never a woman choreographer. This is so crazy.”
In “Goddesses & Demonesses,” which opens on Thursday at City Center, Ms. Li creates a mythological landscape that pays homage to womankind. The extravagant production starts out in black and white and gradually saturates the stage with color. And the dresses dance, too.
In quick flashes, there are references to the work of female choreographers like Martha Graham, Isadora Duncan, Loie Fuller and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, but this is Ms. Li’s brand of spectacle. Wearing costumes by some of her friends — along with Mr. Alaïa and Ms. McCartney, there is an impressive array of haute couture by Jean-Paul Gaultier and Sophie Theallet — the dancers undergo transformations, both physical and emotional.
“I like to play very much with opposites in the show,” Ms. Li said. “If we are in black, we may feel white; and if we are in white, we may feel black. I don’t really tell a story — it’s more about feelings.”
The costumes are an important element. “In this show, the whole aspect of how we project emotion has a lot to do with how we are dressed,” said Ms. Li, who in a solo wears a bountiful red dress by Mr. Alaïa. “It’s very heavy,” she continued. “From the first moment I started the choreography, I had the dress with me. With this dress, I can transform myself inside into multiple personalities. I constantly transform and the dress transforms with me.”