For Charlotte Ballet’s Artistic Director Hope Muir, creating a space in which young choreographers and artists can develop their craft and have a platform to exhibit their talents is one of the most important pieces of the company’s work.
Charlotte Ballet will present “Made in Charlotte” — a testament to the work of the young performers and choreographers who have come through the company’s program — at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, in the Amphitheater. The opening piece of the performance is a pas de deux from Charlotte Ballet company dancer Juwan Alston titled “Huracán.”
Alston is one of many young performers who have come through the choreographic group Muir started. Through the group, young choreographers within Charlotte Ballet work on small commissions and are mentored by both artistic staff and visiting choreographers. The culmination of this group’s work was presented in Charlotte in November 2017 to a sold-out audience.
“Mentoring young choreographic talent is high on my list of priorities for Charlotte Ballet,” Muir said. “And to be able to support and present (Alston’s) work here in Chautauqua makes me very proud of the creative and nurturing environment that we have achieved in such a short amount of time.”
Muir said she tries to encourage creativity and urges her choreographers to pursue the style of work that inspire them.
“Juwan is a very exciting and impressive young choreographer,” she said. “His interest and passion lies in Classicism, and I am very encouraged by the body of work he has created in Charlotte thus far.”
The second piece of the performance, “When Breath Becomes Air,” debuted in Charlotte in April and was choreographed by Charlotte Ballet alumnus Bryan Arias. Arias has choreographed in Europe and across the United States, and he was awarded the Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship Award in 2017, after being nominated by Muir.
“When Breath Becomes Air” and the third piece of the performance, “To Clear,” have a few similarities. Both pieces will be performed in flats and were both choreographed by a Princess Grace Fellowship Award recipient.
Robyn Mineko Williams, the choreographer of “To Clear,” is a three-time recipient of the award. The piece premiered in January to a commissioned score by Robert F. Haynes and Tony Lazzara. Muir and Williams first met as dancers in 2004 at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.
“(Williams’) work has a quiet and authentic tone that connects the dancers through her attention to detail and wonderful physicality,” Muir said. “I am thrilled that Robyn was able to create a work in my inaugural year and the process was so creatively satisfying for our dancers.”
Williams’ commission of “To Clear” was honored with an invitation for Charlotte Ballet to perform last June at the National Choreographic Festival in Salt Lake City.
The final piece of the performance, “Redbird,” is the first commissioned work of Myles Thatcher, a choreographer from Atlanta and a current dancer with the San Francisco Ballet. Thatcher has created work for the New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and The Joffrey Ballet.
“Redbird” debuted in January, and Muir said it was well-received by audiences.
Muir said that the work Thatcher has done with the Charlotte Ballet dancers has been a significant learning experience for everyone involved.
“I was immediately struck by his use of the group and his sensitive musicality. For such a young artist, Myles’ choreography has a maturity and sophistication beyond his years,” Muir said. “I knew I wanted him to work with my dancers and to introduce him to Charlotte audiences. It was an incredible creative process, and we all felt a natural fit together.”
Muir said tonight’s show will be a beautiful mixture of new, exciting voices and dancers, as well as some old Chautauqua favorites.
“It’s an opportunity to see different work and see the dancers they love kind of speak in a different language,” Muir said.
Muir will deliver a pre-performance lecture, sponsored by the Chautauqua Dance Circle, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, in Smith Wilkes Hall.