Fans of Charlotte Ballet will rejoice at the company’s return, but should also be prepared for a few surprises as the company expands itself in diverse and innovative ways.
The Charlotte Ballet will have its debut performance of the season at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, June 27 in the Amphitheater with a three-piece, mixed repertoire show titled “International Series.”
The show will feature the pieces “Tsukiyo,” choreographed by Helen Pickett, “Stepping Over” by Filipe Portugal and “Minus 16” by Ohad Naharin. The show will mark the first performance of one of Portugal’s pieces in North America.
“Tsukiyo” debuted with the Boston Ballet in 2009, and “Minus 16” has been performed widely and by many acclaimed dance companies including Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, Atlanta Ballet and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Charlotte Ballet’s Artistic Director Hope Muir performed “Minus” with HSDC. Muir said that each of the pieces were chosen to reflect the growth of the program, to challenge the dancers and to engage the audience.
“Stylistically all three pieces are very different,” Muir said. “The first two are minimalistic and more contemporary. The last one is definitely the crowd pleaser.”
In choosing the choreographers and pieces, Muir said she wanted to create a balance between the pieces within this show as well as a balance between the three shows Charlotte Ballet will perform at Chautauqua this season.
“The work came before the theme with this performance,” Muir said. “I was looking at the work I wanted to introduce and tried to find well-balanced programs that represents the repertoire we produce, how we’re pushing boundaries and how we’re changing.”
The dancers performing in “Tsukiyo” and “Stepping Over” will be en pointe, while those in “Minus” will be in dance sneakers and bare feet. The music of the pieces varies drastically: “Minus” has a wide range of music, including Dean Martin and the Passover Hagga-dah; “Tsukiyo” uses “Spiegel im Spiegel” by Arvo Part; and for “Stepping Over,” Portugal chose music by Philip Glass.
During her career at Charlotte Ballet, Muir brought in eight new choreographers, five of whom will have pieces performed at Chautauqua this season. In bringing the choreographers on, Muir said that she was particularly interested in introducing a variety of pieces and themes.
“I want to bring work and artists that will really inspire and challenge in people’s perceptions of what we do,” she said.”So far, the piece has been hugely successful, and the dancers love working with the variety of people.”
At 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 27 directly before the performance, Muir will be holding a Views on Pointe lecture in the Smith Wilkes Hall to give the audience a glimpse into the creative process that comes with curating performance pieces. The lecture is part of a pre-performance lecture series sponsored by the Chautauqua Dance Circle.
“I want people to be really open and excited to see some new choreographic voices,” Muir said, “Come out, support our dancers and see how they’ve developed throughout these different experiences.”
–Hope Muir, Artistic Director, Charlotte Ballet