For 15 years now the local nonprofit, Forward Motion Dance Company, has been hosting fundraisers for other local nonprofits in town through their Arts Sensation event. 2016 will see funds generated to Wilmington’s own Cape Fear River Watch (encore’s Best Environmental Group, 2016) when the sensation takes over Thalian Hall on Friday, April 29, at 7:30 p.m.
“The Forward Motion Dance Company Board chooses a local non-profit organization as the annual beneficiary with the goal of not only to contribute funds to the organization, but to bring awareness to the Wilmington and surrounding Cape Fear area residents about what they do and how they contribute to the community,” Forward Motion’s founder Tracey Varga says. Recipients over the years have included Food Bank of Coastal Carolina, Domestic Violence Shelter and Services, The Full Belly Project, Indo-Jax Surf School, Kids Making It, The Good Shepherd Center, The Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County, and Lower Cape Fear Hospice. Varga and company chose the Cape Fear River Watch because of the role they play in keeping our river and its environmental resources protected. Plus, they advocate change to policy makers, fight polluters, restore fisheries, and more.
“They play [an important role] in protecting our environment,” Varga says. “As per their mission statement: to protect and improve the water quality of the Lower Cape Fear River Basin through education, advocacy and action.”
Arts Sensation marries a host of local performing arts all on one stage to bring a full-fledged night of arts advocacy and entertainment to the Port City as well. This year they’ve included The Midatlantic’s bluegrass and Americana sounds as the featured musical group. Forward Motion also asks local choreographers and dancers from multiple Wilmington area studios, including The Dance Cooperative, The Dance Element, The Wilmington School of Ballet, as well as the Forward Motion Dance Company and “Company T” Tap Dancers, to perform. They showcase the best in movement through ballet, classical, modern, jazz, lyrical, and Middle Eastern/belly dance.
“This year we will also have music students from Roland-Grise Middle School performing ‘Trashcan Therapy’ (using ladders, cans to create music), with music director Pete Frank,” Varga informs. “Kelly Hawes will be performing belly dance with live music composed and performed by musician Perry Smith on guitar.”
All ages are represented throughout the evening as well. In fact, original work, choreographed by students aged 11 to 13 from The Wilmington Ballet, will feature “Heart Cry.”
“The Company T” have been part of the annual event since it began in 2001. “This year they will tap to the music of Bette Midler and the Andrews Sisters,” Varga says. Original works and previously performed works both are salted for the stage, including modern dances Anne Firmender and Linda Ann Webb (modern-jazz), both of whom premiered at Forward Motion’s Wilmington Dance Festival just a few weeks ago. Titled “In the Clouds,” they dance to music by Chopin.
“Kaitlin Davis will perform a new solo modern-jazz piece that she choreographed to music by SBTKRT,” Varga says.
Plus, two classical ballet pieces will be featured, including a solo by Emily Lawler, as choreographed by Yuri Grigorovich and coached by Ashley Barnes. A group piece, “Don Quixote Suite,” danced by Wilmington School of Ballet students, has been choreographed by Stella Johnson after Marius Petipa.
Annually, Forward Motion performs at local festivals, for community organizations, at schools, and hosts demonstrations. They also hold a fall recital which features live musicians with the dancers. Last year it featured Danijela Zezelj-Gualdi on violin and Robert Nathanson on guitar. This year’s event will be held Sept. 16, and will again pair dancers with live musicians on piano, violin and vocal, as well as include visual artists who construct stage screens and sculpture for the show.
“Our mission is to provide the local and regional communities with quality modern contemporary dance and to enhance the arts community by providing performance opportunities for area dancers and performing artists,” Varga says.
Yet, they also support and give back to the community at large in a grander way. Arts Sensation will prove as much is true, as all ticket proceeds ($15) go to Cape Fear River Watch.