Charlotte, NC - In Director’s Choice, an annual North Carolina Dance Theatre performance series, President and Artistic Director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux brings together three diverse ballets: William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, which Bonnefoux calls a contemporary masterpiece; Mark Diamond’s steamy and sensuous Bolero, which Bonnefoux adds also has a “bit of humor;” and Sasha Janes’ Rhapsodic Dances, which Bonnefoux says is a current take on a romantic, classical ballet.
Bonnefoux serves as the artistic visionary for NC Dance Theatre and one of his largest tasks is selecting the ballets the company performs each season. “The ballets in Director’s Choice don’t share a central theme; actually, they’re all very different,” said Bonnefoux. “I select ballets and choreographers I feel passionately about and really want the audience to experience. I think our audience will enjoy these three ballets, and I always look forward to hearing their responses.”
Director’s Choice tickets start at $25 and may be purchased at 704.372.1000, ncdance.org and the Blumenthal Performing Arts Box Office.
Director’s Choice includes:
William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated
In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, is a dynamic, physical work for nine dancers by legendary choreographer William Forsythe. The work demands extraordinary talent and precision and is set to music by Thom Willems. During the ballet there are two golden cherries hanging “in the middle, somewhat elevated.”
Last performed by NC Dance Theatre in 2000, Bonnefoux is excited to bring In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated back, and company members say they are very much looking forward to learning the ballet. “I'm really excited to explore contemporary ballet in a new and stylistic way, in the way William Forsythe envisions movement,” said dancer Melissa Anduiza. “I look forward to interpreting Forsythe’s movements, and committing to a new style while also having the ability to make it my own.”
Forsythe is an American choreographer who primarily works in Germany where he leads the Forsythe Company. Commissioned by Rudolf Nureyev in 1987 for the Paris Opera Ballet, In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated was recognized immediately as a contemporary masterpiece and has since been performed by major companies around the world. Forsythe has commented “Originally created for the Paris Opera Ballet, In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated is a theme and variations in the strictest sense. Exploiting the vestiges of academic virtuosity that still signify ‘the Classical,’ it extends and accelerates these traditional figures of ballet.”
The New York Times proclaimed, “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated is Mr. Forsythe at his fierce finest.” The San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “Everyone who sees William Forsythe's In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated is knocked out.”
Sasha Janes’ Rhapsodic Dances
Sasha Janes, who spent eight seasons dancing with NC Dance Theatre, recently transitioned to the role of full time rehearsal director. This season his ballet Rhapsodic Dances makes its Charlotte premiere at Director’s Choice. He is also presenting a ballet for Innovative Works in November and is choreographing Dangerous Liaisons next spring.
Rhapsodic Dances debuted this August at the Chautauqua Institute, where Dance Theatre has a residency each summer. The ballet, set to “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” by Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, is full of quick, challenging movements. Costume designer Summer Collins is creating new costumes for the 10 dancers in the work, including stunning tutus for the female dancers. “I think it’s really going to push the dancers’ classical ballet technique,” said Janes.
Reviewer Jane Vranish wrote, “Janes showed that he has a full comprehension of ballet technique and the vision to embrace a higher standard, hopefully an indication of things to come.”
Janes was born in Perth, Australia, and received his training at the Australian Ballet School. Before joining North Carolina Dance Theatre, he danced professionally with the West Australian Ballet, Australian Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet, Dayton Ballet and Chautauqua Festival Ballet.
Mark Diamond’s Bolero
Set on a hot summer afternoon in a south of the border village, Bolero begins with the male dancers in siesta. As the ballet unfolds, the women dance with a growing intensity that entices the men awake and to their feet. Artistic Director Bonnefoux described Bolero saying, “It’s very steamy and sensuous, with a little bit of humor.”
Choreographer Mark Diamond, who choreographed the piece in 2006, said Ravel’s “Bolero” inspired him to create this piece. Diamond is program director of NC Dance Theatre 2, a group of professional artists who offer educational presentations and perform with NC Dance Theatre. He has choreographed over 30 ballets for NC Dance Theatre and serves as associate artistic director and resident choreographer for Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux at the Chautauqua Institute Summer Season.
When Bolero was last performed in Charlotte in February 2008 reviewer Kate Dobbs Ariail wrote, “Diamond excels at story-telling, and he’s made a story to fit the sensuous throbbing and escalating intensity of the music. Filled with humorous moments, this narrative supplies the basis for lots of sexy sequences for the women, and swaggering macho outbursts from the men…”
An audience member described the performance as “my favorite piece of the night for music, choreography, costume and set all working together… Bolero was technically challenging while allowing for creativity of expression.”