Chautauqua Dance looks forward to season of energy, education

Christopher Record Photography
Pete Leo Walker and Melissa Anduiza, dancers for the Charlotte
Ballet, perform “Forgotten Land” by Jiri Kilian.

For those who love the art of dance, the Chautauqua Dance program offers this summer everything from performances by dancers in-residence to lectures on various topics in the world of dance.

The Charlotte Ballet, known formerly as the North Carolina Dance Theatre, will be in residence for the first seven weeks of the Chautauqua season, under the artistic direction of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux.

The company is scheduled for five performances throughout the summer and will twice be accompanied by the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra. The Chautauqua School of Dance also selects 12 students for the Company Apprentice Program who will practice and perform twice alongside the Charlotte Ballet and twice at student galas.

Aside from the Apprentice dancers, the Chautauqua School of Dance also hosts Festival and Workshop student dancers who will perform periodically throughout the summer.

It is the arrival of these students that Chris Anderson, communications director of the Chautauqua Dance Circle, looks forward to each year. According to Anderson, the students bring a dynamism to Chautauqua that makes the dance community come alive.

“When the students arrive, the energy level around here escalates exponentially,” Anderson said.

The Festival dancers — older and more advanced students — will dance at two student galas, one choreographic workshop and an evening performance in the Amphitheater. Workshop dancers — the younger students — are divided into two groups that perform separately. Workshop I dancers will be showcased at the Carnahan-Jackson Dance Studios in July, and Workshop II dancers will be showcased once in July and once in August at afternoon performances in the Amphitheater.

If watching dance just isn’t enough, the Chautauqua Dance Circle puts on 10 lectures throughout the season that are open to the public. Five of these are pre-performance lectures which aim to increase audience insight and understanding of the evening recitals. The other five address a variety of dance-related themes and incorporate talks from Chautauqua Dance program staff members, guest speakers, dancing demonstrations and even a film later in the summer.

“We’re looking forward to educating the public about dance in a positive way,” said Karen Dakin, president of the Chautauqua Dance Circle. “We really want to enhance the enjoyment of dance in Chautauqua.”

The 2014 dance season kicks off on Thursday, June 26, with an 8:15 p.m. Chautauqua Dance Salon performance in the Amphitheater. The recital will be preceded by a 7 p.m. Chautauqua Dance Circle pre-performance lecture.