Chautauqua dance looks forward to season of performances and lectures

Anna Gerberich and Jordan Leeper, dancers with the Charlotte Ballet, perform in Dwight Rhoden’s “Peace Piece.”

From lectures to performances, both classical and contemporary, Chautauqua Institution and its dance program provides something for dance lovers of every kind this season.

The Charlotte Ballet, under artistic direction of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, will be in residence for the first seven weeks of the season. Their stay will be jam-packed with five performances, including the annual “Evening of Pas de Deux” and “Dance Innovations” and performances with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra — including the 2015 inter-arts collaboration of Carmina Burana, to be performed on July 25 and Aug. 15.

Mark Diamond, associate artistic director of the School of Dance, said the season gets extremely busy with a different show almost every week; however, he enjoys being able to present both classical and contemporary work, some of which has never been seen by an audience before.

Chautauqua School of Dance offers a variety of programs for students of all ages interested in furthering their dance studies.

The youngest are the Workshop I dancers, ages 11 to 12, who will be on the grounds from June 28 to July 11. At the end of their program, the students will hold a studio performance at the Carnahan-Jackson Dance Studio. Workshop II dancers, ages 13 to 14, will perform in two student galas in the Amphitheater during their five-week program.

Older dancers in the Company Apprentice Program and the Chautauqua Festival Dancers will have multiple performances throughout their seven-week stay.

The oldest group, the Company Apprentice dancers, will have the opportunity to take professional company classes and perform with the Charlotte Ballet. Only eight girls and four boys are chosen for this prestigious program each year.

Diamond said the Company Apprentices are especially important in larger performances  because the Charlotte Ballet does not bring itsentire company to Chautauqua.

Company Apprentices and Festival Dancers will perform together with the Music School Festival Orchestra in July in the Amp, in the two Sunday student galas, and in a choreographic workshop at the Carnahan-Jackson Dance Studio in August.

Many of the season’s performances will be preceded by pre-performance lectures from dance professionals organized by the Chautauqua Dance Circle, a group that provides support for Chautauqua Dance.

Karin Dakin, president of the CDC said the pre-performance lectures are always extremely well received by audiences. She said hearing about the inspiration behind the choreography, music and costumes from the choreographers makes her appreciate the performance even more.

“It’s not something that audiences usually have access to,” Dakin said.

The CDC will host 10 lectures this season: five pre-performance lectures and five “Views on Pointe.” Each is an hour-long discussion and presentation on different topics relevant to dance, featuring its guest speakers and faculty members of the Charlotte Ballet and School of Dance.

One of the lectures will feature Patricia McBride, faculty member for Chautauqua School of Dance and recent Kennedy Center honoree. Dakin said there is heightened excitement for the season to celebrate McBride’s honor in Chautauqua.

Chautauqua Dance will begin its 2015 season with the Chautauqua Dance Salon at 8:15 p.m. Friday in the Amp, preceded by a CDC pre-performance lecture at 7 p.m. in the Hultquist Center.