Dancers meditate on ‘captivity and redemption’

 Brian Smith | Staff Photographer North Carolina Dance Theatre dancers Jordan Leeper, originally of Jamestown, N.Y., and Gregory DeArmond, of Orange County, Calif., play an Iraqi solider and an integrator in “The Chair,” which will be performed during tonight’s dance salon.

Brian Smith | Staff Photographer

Frederick Leo Walker II and Melissa Anduiza portray Jesus and Mary Magdalene in the North Carolina Dance Theatre production “Resurrection,” choreographed by Sasha Janes. The piece will be featured in the Chautauqua Dance Salon at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater.

Imagine dancing in front of a sold-out crowd after losing both your ability to hear and to see.

Anna Gerberich, a North Carolina Dance Theatre dancer, is attempting to channel such a performance.

While Gerberich possesses all of her own senses, she will take on the role of Helen Keller in a new piece choreographed by Mark Diamond, Chautauqua Dance’s associate artistic director. The soft-shoe piece, titled “See No Evil, Hear No Evil,” is one of six works to be performed at the annual Chautauqua Dance Salon at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater.

Choreographed as a duet, “See No Evil, Hear No Evil” also features NCDT dancer Jamie Dee. She dances the part of Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller’s persistent teacher who was able to successfully teach Keller to communicate with sign language.

Chautauqua Dance Salon

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Amphitheater, 8:15 pm

Captivity and Redemption

North Carolina Dance Theatre

Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Artistic Director

Patricia McBride, Associate Artistic Director

Sasha Janes, Associate Artistic Director

Mark Diamond

Dance Salon Program Director &

Associate Artistic Director of Chautauqua Ballet

Resurrection

Choreography: Sasha Janes

Music: Peter Gabriel

Melissa Anduiza, Frederick (Pete) Leo Walker II

See No Evil, Hear No Evil…

Choreography: Mark Diamond

Music: Aphex Twin, S/F, Philip Glass

Anna Gerberich, Jamie Dee

Battle Mind

Choreography: Sasha Janes

Music: Robert Schumann

Gregory DeArmond, Brooks Landegger*

*Chautauqua Workshop Dancer

Utopia

Choreography: Sasha Janes

Music: The Platters, Link Wary, Patience & Prudence, The Teddy Bears

Wife:  Anna Gerberich                Secretary:  Jamie Dee

Husband:  Frederick (Pete) Leo Walker II          Psychiatrist:  Lucas Bilbro

— Intermission —

The Chair

Choreography: Mark Diamond

Music: Claude Debussy, Dr. Nachstrom, Radiohead, Miguel Kertsman, Gustav Mahler

Soldier: Jordan Leeper        Interrogator: Gregory DeArmond

Sirenes: Anna Gerberich, Jamie Dee, Amanda Smith

Inspirations

Choreography: Mark Diamond

Music: Kirk Franklin, James Brown

Frederick (Pete) Leo Walker II, Melissa Anduiza

Jamie Dee, Anna Gerberich, Amanda Smith

Lucas Bilbro, Gregory DeArmond, Jordan Leeper

Production & Artistic Staff

A. Christina Giannini, Costume Designer

John P. Woodey, Lighting Designer

James Ogden II, Stage Manager

Mary Jane Day, Paige Jones, Janice Lovercheck, Wardrobe Assistants

Arlene Lyon, Costume Mistress

Bridget Moriarty, Administrative Assistant

Janice Wells, Managing Director

Pianists: Kazuko Adachi, David Morse, Nataliya Pinelis

Special thanks to Chautauqua Opera

This evening’s performance is funded in part by the Boyle Family Fund for Performing Arts.

The piece begins with resistance and frustration between the pair, Dee said, but it unfolds into an understanding and even an excitement that they are able to communicate.

With Dee as her partner, the piece allows Gerberich to focus less on technique and more on pure emotion. Embodying a deaf and blind character is an opportunity for her to explore a whole new lifestyle that she said is almost “unfathomable.”

“It’s one of those [pieces] where after you’re done doing it, you feel a little different,” Gerberich said.

In order to not lose the authenticity of the emotions, Diamond never had the pair rehearse the dance twice in a row. Each performance should be a very genuine and authentic experience, Dee said.

“It’s definitely been the most interesting and challenging piece of the program for me,” Gerberich said.

The theme of tonight’s salon is “Captivity and Redemption.” In the case of Helen Keller, she was held captive by her deafness and blindness, Diamond said.

“The Chair,” also choreographed by Diamond, is a piece revived from six years ago. Adhering to the theme of captivity, a cast of five portray torture in the military. A distressed soldier, danced by Jordan Leeper, has images going through his mind of everything from his family to explosions. Finally, the soldier, who has been tortured mentally and physically by his interrogator, realizes that the entire experience has existed only in his head.

“Battlemind,” a restaged piece by NCDT rehearsal director Sasha Janes, also focuses on the military. This solo, danced by Gregory DeArmond, portrays a soldier returning home from war and experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.

Janes said his inspiration came from reading newspaper articles about men coming home from war who could not adjust back into society. Sometimes, these men would hurt their families or hurt themselves, he said.

Remarking on the theme of “Captivity and Redemption,” dancer DeArmond said that he thinks the theme represents universal experiences that all humans go through at some point in different situations.

“That universal feeling can resonate within the art form within a specific piece,” he said.

“Utopia,” choreographed by Janes, is a new ballet set in the 1950s. Janes said the music is light and fun, but what the dancers are communicating in the piece should be “quite dark.”

The captivity in this piece is in the roles women were restricted to during the mid-20th century. The oppressed housewife, played by Anna Gerberich, sees a psychiatrist for her troubles. The woman’s husband, played by Pete Walker, is cheating on her with his secretary.

“I’m caught in this monotonous cycle of being unhappy … and you keep trying to get out of it and you can’t,” Gerberich said of her role.

“Resurrection,” Janes’ final piece in the salon, exhibits the redemption indicated in the theme. The piece is a pas de deux between Walker and Melissa Anduiza.

Anduiza plays the part of Mary Magdalene, and Walker plays the part of Jesus Christ. In this piece, Jesus has been crucified and has risen from the dead but has not yet ascended into heaven. When Magdalene visits the tomb, she is in disbelief to discover that he is alive again.

“Because of his miracles and because of who she believes he was, she still trusts him,” Anduiza said.

Anduiza said the show is a special opportunity to merge her spiritual life and career.

“I’ve never done anything like it,” Walker said of the new piece.

“Inspirations” is the final piece of the program, choreographed by Diamond for the full cast of eight dancers.

Consisting of three parts, the soulful soft-shoe ballet features music by American gospel musician Kirk Franklin. The first part of the piece is called “Chains,” with solos by Walker and Anduiza.

“I try to think in the present,” Anduiza said about the emotional piece.

She asks herself right before she begins dancing, “How am I feeling right now? What’s bothering me right now?”

As artists, the dancers must dig into a place that is broken and experiment with those emotions and feelings, she said. As the piece goes on, it transforms into relying on whatever it is that one believes in to overcome hardships and find hope, she said.

“Everyday that we run it, it’ll be different,” Anduiza said.

The second part of “Inspirations,” “More Than I Can Bear,” is performed by a quartet of cast members, including first-year company members Lucas Bilbro and Amanda Smith.

“You have the weight of the world on your shoulders,” Smith said about “More Than I Can Bear.”

The full cast comes together to perform the last section of “Inspirations,” a series of hip-hop improvisations. The spirited dancers let loose and have fun, Smith said, often feeding off the onstage energy of the entire cast.

With a little more than two weeks to prepare for the salon, Gerberich believes that the Institution is a fantastic place to feel motivated.

“There is no place else in the United States that I know of that encompasses all types of art,” she said.

Gerberich explained that one of the many reasons she loves the Institution is the community of art on the grounds. It inspires her to go to the opera, walk through an art gallery or watch a play.

“You can take stuff from all areas and apply it to your own skill,” Gerberich said. “I always feel like I get the most improvement here.”

Gerberich also does not take a wonderful audience for granted.

“There is nothing like the Chautauqua audience,” Gerberich said. “I’ve never found an audience as connected and wanting to be there.”