Chautauqua Dance previews summer of variety, diversity


The dance programs scheduled for Chautauqua’s 2018 season were curated with a special interest in diversity, inclusion and exposure. This season, the dance program coordinators have moved away from having a resident ballet company, which was routine in the past, to having several in-residence groups that stay on the grounds and perform for a shorter period of time, ranging from one or two days to three weeks.

Deborah Sunya Moore, Chautauqua’s vice president of performing and visual arts, said this decision was a strategic move intended to expand the type of performances, the diversity of the dancers and the themes presented throughout the shows.

“We are coming from a place where, for many years, we had the Charlotte Ballet for the entire season, and we don’t want to eliminate that, we want to build on that,” she said.

The Charlotte Ballet has held the longest residency position at Chautauqua and is held in high regard on the grounds. Although the group will not remain for the entire season, it will be in-residence for the first three weeks of the season, performing and hosting workshops for Chautauqua School of Dance students.

Charlotte Ballet dancers Sarah Hayes Harkins and Josh Hall perform “Dominant Curves” July 6, 2017 in the Amp. Both the Festival Dancers and the Charlotte Ballet are part of Chautauqua Dance’s 2018 line-up.

The Charlotte Ballet will perform one show at 8:15 p.m. each week, including a 7 p.m. pre-show lecture by the artistic directors and performers. It will open the season of performances Wednesday with a show titled “International Series.” The following performance, a combined piece with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, will be held Thursday. The Charlotte Ballet will close its three weeks at Chautauqua with a performance of a piece titled “Made in Charlotte” on July 11.

The following week, the School of Dance will host its first gala in the Amphitheater July 15, and the next in-residence dance company, Pilobolus, will perform its first of two pieces, “Pilobolus Maximus,” July 17. Its second and final performance, “Come to Your Senses,” will be performed July 19.

In addition to the Pilobolus performances, the community will be given a chance to work directly with the dancers in several classes through Special Studies courses, including an adult master class, an all-ages master class and a class for the regional dance students. The company will also be holding open performances, a lecture and a performance on Bestor Plaza.

Moore expressed the importance of exposing the entire community to dance and including a wide variety of visitors to its performances.

“We are trying to inspire Chautauqua through dance in new, exciting places,” she said.

By offering classes to the public, holding surprise performances around the grounds and hosting open rehearsals, she hopes to open up the art to the entire community, not just those who regularly attend dance performances.

“This type of thing adds to community life, which is a big part of what makes Chautauqua special,” Moore said. “And we are just trying to bring even more of it.”

After the week that Pilobolus will spend in-residence, the Chautauqua Festival Dancers and the Music School Festival Orchestra will perform together under the direction of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux July 23. On July 29, there will be a Special Inter-arts Matinee at 2:30 p.m. with the CSO, featuring dancers Anna Gerberich and Pete Leo Walker from the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. There will also be an Alumni Dance Gala during Week Six on Aug. 1.

The Nashville Ballet will also be making an appearance on the grounds, performing on the evening of Aug. 11 with the CSO. On Aug. 12, there will be the second and final Chautauqua School of Dance Student Gala of the season. The Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet, under the instruction of Monika Alch, will perform as part of the Family Entertainment Series during Week Eight, as well as Aug. 14 in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall.

To wrap up the season, Chautauqua will be visited by dancer Griset Damas-Roche of the Flamenco Company of Columbus, who will be performing with the CSO Aug. 21 in a piece titled “Season Finale: Viva Espana.”

Based on feedback from the 2017 season, Moore believes the community is “thrilled” by the integration of a variety of dance and diversification of performances.

“Many of the residents were glad that we kept the Charlotte Ballet but also celebrated the variety of experiences this season

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The author Lexie Erdos

Lexie Erdos is a rising senior at Wagner College, where she is pursuing a degree in English literature. Erdos will be covering the dance programs, the CPOA, the board of trustees and arts administration for the Daily. She is the current editor-in-chief of her college newspaper, The Wagnerian. She is an avid lover of animals, yoga and gardening. Upon graduation, she intends to continue her education in veterinary medicine.