North Carolina Dance Theater has made a rare switch to change its name to Charlotte Ballet, the largest city in the state of North Carolina. Right now the name may not be familiar to resident Chautauquans. But artistic director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, the staff and the dancers by and large remain the same. They were on view recently at the grand old Amphitheater. Click on Charlotte for the article and photos in The Chautauquan Daily.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre added an outdoor performance at Chautauqua Institution to its annual opener at Hartwood Acres, which you can read about in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The dancers looked happy to be back and the four new ones (adding two artists to the roster total) looked happy to be there.
So was I, as well as friend and colleague, ©Martha Rial, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, who also happens to love dance. Enjoy her unique perspective on the Chautauquan experience at a new Pittsburgh entertainment site called Entertainment Central Pittsburgh by clicking on the link.
Chautauqua Institution finished off its dance season with North Carolina Dance Theatre’s finale, which included the last in an impressive series of premieres by Sasha Janes, along with pieces by Mark Diamond and George Balanchine’s semi-wild Western Symphony.
So the professionals finished up on Saturday night, but the students still had to strut their stuff for parents and friends at the Amphitheater on Sunday afternoon. Maris Battaglia, director of the School of Dance, always comes up with some delicious nuggets. In addition to her Dance For Six, which meant lovely preteen ballerinas with a poise beyond their years, she brought an equally lovely variation on Swan Lake and restaged Michael Vernon’s Susan B. Anthony.
Yes, you read it right, a feminist ballet for 20 young and impressionable ballerinas. The taller girls were the men, dressed in suits and fedoras, accompanied by shorter “spouses,” in long beige dresses with slumped shoulders. They were met by a confident young young woman in bright yellow (Celeste Borman) who inspired them to follow a similar path of independence.
It was met with rousing applause, probably led by their mothers.
Also on the program were Mark’s Water Music, Sasha Janes’ Tango Forte, some modern dance (Jon Lehrer), hip hop (Rachael Humphrey) and the ballet of the summer, the first movement of George Balanchine’s Western Symphony.
It was staged with the passion and verve that Patricia McBride always brought to her roles at New York City Ballet and the students, as always, greatly benefitted from it.
North Carolina Dance Theatre is creating its own signature with an array of in-house choreographers — Mark Diamond, Sasha Janes and Dwight Rhoden. Read about the Dance Innovations program by clicking on NCDT.
It’s a small world. While at Chautauqua to view North Carolina Dance Theatre, I met renowned Canadian author, the marvelous Margaret Atwood. Topped by a halo of gray curls, she is blessed with a radiant skin and a knowing clarity in her eyes.
No wonder she has won so many awards — the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, the Prince of Asurias award for Literature and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for The Handmaid’s Tale, among them. And the last turned out to be a new discovery.
Her book, written in 1985, is a futuristic novel that has been called both science fiction and speculative fiction, where a totalitarian Christian theocracy overthrows the United States government and subjugates women.
Just a little research peaked my interest. The result: it seemed that Handmaid’s Tale still retains its relevance today. So, despite being a latecomer, I bought her book. As it turns out, Handmaid’s Tale is being made into a ballet. Canadian, of course. But former Paul Taylor dancer Lila York, considered one of the most successful choreographic alumnae of the company, has pursued this ballet for eight years.
It will finally be completed Oct. 16-20 at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Manitoba. And if that is ringing a bell, consider that Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre has produced two ballets by Jordan Morris, yes, of RWB (Peter Pan and Moulin Rouge – The Ballet).
It certainly is a small world and one that I will embrace. More on Margaret (and Handmaid’s Tale) later.
North Carolina Dance Theatre presented its annual Evening of Pas de Deux at Chautauqua Institution, with some excitement. Click on Chautauqua Daily to read the article. CI is trying something new — a Romeo & Juliet Project, which will involve the symphony, opera program and theater in a full-length program that explores various interpretations of Shakespeare’s classic story. NCDT principals Anna Gerberich and Pete Walker will be among 150 artists in this first-ever Chautauqua collaboration. Click on the link below to see a sneak preview of their duet.
Another season at Chautauqua began anew this week as the North Carolina Dance Theater paired with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra for a program that began with a homespun Appalachian Suite and ended on the classical stages of Russian ballet in Paquita. Read my views in the Chautauquan Daily.