NC Dance Festival to Open 24th Season at Meredith College

NC Dance Festival production photo

Experience the energy and talent of professional dance artists from across NC with the 24th season of the NC Dance Festival. The Festival will open the season in Jones Auditorium at Meredith College in Raleigh on September 20, 2014 at 7:30 p.m., and then continue across the state, visiting Boone, Greensboro, and Charlotte.

This prestigious showcase of professional dance is the highlight of the North Carolina Dance Festival Weekend produced at Meredith College. The weekend includes community dance classes, a master class, and two mainstage performances, one of which is the NC Dance Festival concert and the other, ALL-Dance Festival concert on September 21 at 3 p.m. celebrates the range of dance in our local community. Jones Auditorium is on East Campus Drive and parking is available near the Auditorium.

Tickets are priced at $15 general; $10 students/seniors; $5 for children under 10. There is also a $25 festival pass.  The shows are free for Meredith students, faculty, and staff.  For ticket reservations call 919-760-2840.  

The NC Dance Festival presents work by some of the best modern dance choreographers in the state.  From thrilling lifts and intimate partnering to social commentary and celebration of movement as an expression of identity, these dance concerts offer a wide variety of contemporary modern dance created in North Carolina. This year’s NCDF artists are Kristen Jeppsen Groves (Fayetteville); Gaspard Louis/Gaspard & Dancers (Durham); Michelle Pearson/Black Box Dance Theatre (Raleigh); Diego Carrasco Schoch/Diego Carrasco Dance (Durham); Sara Ruth Tourek (Greensboro); and, Leah Wilks/VECTOR (Durham).

Kristen Jeppsen Groves, a choreographer recently relocated to NC, will present As We Are, a process-based work that explores ideas of performance and observation, showcasing the beauty of unique individuals moving together, as they are. Gaspard&Dancers, directed by Gaspard Louis, presents Rubix, a puzzle of ever-changing combinations and complex physical designs created by the bodies of the three dancers. Black Box Dance Theatre, an evolution of Raleigh’s much acclaimed Even Exchange Dance Theatre, will premiere a new work, Opposition Overture, that looks at our complicated relationship with opposition from the personal to the political…there is humor, large movement, intimate gesture, and text.  The story of Sisyphus is used as a frame for the piece and provides both inspiration and cautionary tale.  A Place Apart, choreographed by Diego Carrasco Schoch, is a tender yet strong duet for two men which uses text and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata to depict intimacy, entanglement, support, and the need for space inherent within relationships. Sara Ruth Tourek also presents a duet, as we were, for a man and woman. Exploring a dynamic range of movement and emotion, the duet reveals the complexity of relationships. Leah Wilks of VECTOR performs the solo Mess, which asks the questions, “How does the body react when the world makes no sense? Does it shut down? Does it ignore or fight back? Can it ever learn to let go?”

The festival also offers outreach activities to connect these choreographers into local schools and community centers to teach and perform in association with the performances.  In Raleigh, Gaspard Louis will conduct a master class open to the community on Saturday, September 20 4:30-5:45 p.m. at Meredith College in Weatherspoon Building. Dance students of all ages and backgrounds will learn principles of contemporary movement and partnering, as well as a section of Rubrix, the dance Louis and dancers will perform in that evening’s concert. 

About the NC Dance Festival
The Festival is an annual production of the Dance Project, under the direction of Jan Van Dyke. Dance Project, Inc. is a non-profit organization that has been operating in North Carolina since 1989, with the mission to cultivate the field of modern dance in North Carolina, nurturing a community of artists, audiences, and students by providing opportunities for training, performances, collaboration, and employment. The Dance Project coordinates the NC Dance Festival, directs the dance program at City Arts, and manages Artistic Director Jan Van Dyke’s current company, the Van Dyke Dance Group.  

The Festival establishes a network of venues for professional regional choreography and performance, expanding accessibility of dance throughout the state while raising the profile of North Carolina’s own artists. We strive to build the state’s dance community and create an open, supportive environment where ideas can be shared. The NC Dance Festival encourages the public in the arts, particularly in terms of building awareness and exposure to contemporary dance. For more information, please visit www.danceproject.org.

2014-15 NCDF Touring Artists

Kristen Jeppsen Groves, choreographer, dancer, and educator, received an M.F.A. in choreography from the Ohio State University and a B.A. in Dance Education from Brigham Young University.  She has presented her choreographic works in Ohio, Utah, Las Vegas, New York, New Mexico, and abroad in Senegal, Mail, and Morocco, and Italy.  Groves has taught dance for fifteen years in collegiate dance programs, most recently at the Ohio State University and Brigham Young University, in K-12 programs, and private dance studios. For NCDF 14-15, Groves will be working in collaboration with Raleigh-based Defero Dance Collective.

Gaspard Louis was born and raised in Haiti. His experience includes being a dancer and choreographer with the cutting-edge and internationally renowned Pilobolus Dance Theater. He has also choreographed for Freespace Dance Company in New Jersey and Kentucky University Dance Ensemble. Currently, he directs The American Dance Festival’s year-round creative movement outreach program, which provides free dance classes to Triangle youth as well as being a guest teacher at Elon University.  He founded his dance company Gaspard&Dancers in 2009, in order to create his own personal vision of dance in North Carolina. http://www.gaspardanddancers.org

Michelle Pearson steps in as artistic curator for the newly formed Black Box Dance Theater as they reimagine how dances are made and where they are used in the world.  "The Rock" is an overture to a yet unrealized evening length work. It looks at our complicated relationship with opposition from the personal to the political. The myth of Sisyphus frames the dance providing both cautionary tale and inspiration. 

Diego Carrasco Schoch is a choreographer, performer, and educator in Durham, NC with 25+ years of experience in the field. As a soloist for North Carolina Dance Theatre (now Charlotte Ballet) and as a Principal with Milwaukee Ballet, he danced leading roles in works by Alvin Ailey, José Limón, George Balanchine, and others. He has been on faculty at the UNC School of the Arts, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and the Milwaukee Ballet School, and has choreographed for Milwaukee Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre, UNC School of the Arts, and the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. He recently self-produced his own concert at the Carrack Modern Art, where his new company Diego Carrasco Dance debuted.

Sara Ruth Tourek has worked as a professional dancer, choreographer, and educator throughout the United States, including in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Texas, West Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina. She holds an MFA in Dance/Choreography from UNC-Greensboro and a BFA in Dance Technique from Ohio University. She currently works as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Elon University, where for the past six years she has choreographed numerous works for the dance department. Sara’s choreography has also been presented as the featured local artist on the North Carolina Dance Festival Tour, the Greensboro Fringe Festival, as well as Triad Stage. She is the active Secretary of the North Carolina Dance Alliance board.

Leah Wilks is a Durham-based dancer, teacher and choreographer. Recently, as a performer, she has worked with Renay Aumiller Dances, Gaspard&Dancers, Shaleigh Dance Works, Nicola Bullock, Anna Barker, and The Department of Improvised Dance. Leah is currently on faculty at Carolina Friends School, 9th St. Dance, Studio A DanceArts, and the American Dance Festival where she teaches everything from ballet to contact improvisation to release technique. Throughout it all, Leah has always been creating dances inspired by the questions to which she has no answer. She is the proud co-director of VECTOR, a Durham-based multi-media dance company, with the brilliant Jon Haas. 

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