Good versus evil: Dance Salon to express age-old conflict

Sarah Hayes Watson and Anna Gerberich pose for a portrait. Photo by Demetrius Freeman.

Taylor Rogers | Staff Writer

North Carolina Dance Theatre in residence with Chautauqua Dance will confront a notorious conflict in its first performance: good versus evil.

The annual Dance Salon, held at 8:15 p.m. tonight at the Amphitheater, will include five dances. It’s a chance for the audience to see a performance with more challenging and abstract works, said Mark Diamond, associate artistic director of Chautauqua Dance.

With only nine dancers, the salon evening is often viewed as a more personal experience.

The first piece, titled “Zokusuru,” is set to traditional Japanese drumming. The dance tells the story of a woman who is married very young, Diamond said. Two spirits, represented by two dancers, symbolize her duty to her marriage versus her desire for free will.

“They whisper in her ear,” Diamond said. “And it’s just something in her mind.”

Sasha Janes, rehearsal director and guest choreographer, then will present his original piece, “Last Lost Chance.” This 16-minute dance is performed only with soft shoe, though Janes said he normally choreographs on pointe.

“It’s a lot more contemporary than what I’m used to doing,” he said.

Janes, who has been coming to Chautauqua for 10 years, said this will be the first season in which he does not perform with NCDT. He said he’d like to focus more on his other responsibilities, including choreographing.

Following Janes’ piece, the dancers will perform “Sunset Road,” a pas de deux, or partnering, and “The Advocate.”

In “Sunset Road,” a woman comes to a preacher for help.  Young dancers will represent a gospel choir during the piece.

“They will be in the back doing a kind of countermovement to what they (the woman and preacher) are doing,” Diamond said.

“The Advocate” perhaps most literally demonstrates the struggle between good and evil.  Four dancers will tell the story of an exorcist who goes to combat the demons in others’ personalities. Diamond said this piece will be set to organ music, though it is pre-recorded, unlike in past performances.

The last dance will be Diamond’s original choreography. Appropriately titled “Good and Evil,” it deals with human interaction and is set to a Vivaldi concerto.

“It’s very, very abstract,” Diamond said. “It’s about the way people treat each other and manipulate each other and the way they help each other.”

Prior to the salon, the Chautauqua Dance Circle will host its first pre-performance lecture at 7 p.m. today in the Hall of Philosophy. Both Diamond and Janes will speak about the evening’s dances.

Karen Dakin, media communications director for the CDC, said the idea of the lecture is not only to introduce the dances but to also help the audience better understand and appreciate the choreography.