Starting at the end of this month through April, six major touring dance companies will make their way through the Port City to perform at UNCW’s Kenan Auditorium, the Wilson Center at Cape Fear Community College and Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts. Fortunately, the three venues have made it easy for Wilmington audiences to see them all. Kristen Brogdon, director of UNCW Presents, and Shane Fernando, director of the Wilson Center, collaborated with Tony Rivenbank, executive director of Thalian, to provide one low cost for all six performances for one low price.
“Shane and I were trying to figure out a way to build on the existing dance collaboration between Kenan Auditorium and Thalian Hall,” Brogdon tells. “He and I are both dance enthusiasts and have a significant dance presence on our series through the companies we invite.”
Both Brogdon and Fernando felt the combined ticket would be a great way for all venues to gain equal exposure.
“We noticed there seems to be specific audiences that reappear in each venue,” he mentions. “We felt a dance passport would be a great way to show audience members there are like-minded programs throughout the city.”
Wilmington’s continued support for the arts is a virtue that has not gone unnoticed by the artists who have visited from around the world. The fact our city’s relationship with the arts seems to extend to more performing artists and companies each year is a testament. The performance schedule lists a diverse selection of companies, including Tango Buenos Aires and Ronald K. Brown/Evidence performing at Kenan Auditorium, Urban Bush Women, Hou Ying, and Sidra Bell Dance NY at the Wilson Center, and Caleb Teicher & Company performing at Thalian Hall. Though most of the performances have contemporary roots, a few groups will present other styles such as traditional Tango, contemporary with West African influences, and tap dance.
“Tango Buenos Aires is based out of Argentina, and they will be on the road with live music, in addition to their dancers,” Brogdon divulges. “Kenan will be the fourth stop on a U.S. tour that lasts over two months. ‘Evidence,’ led by choreographer Ronald K. Brown, is based out of Brooklyn but heavily influenced by West African dance, as well.”
The companies at the Wilson Center will introduce new works. Among them is Urban Bush Women, out of New York.
“They’re bringing in ‘Hair and Other Stories,’ which was one of the 18 works that were funded in last year’s National Dance Project,” Fernando tells. “We’re actually one of the first venues across America to show this piece.”
Following Urban Bush Women’s performance in February, Hou Ying, out of China, will take the stage in March to demonstrate contemporary artistry in “Tu-Tu.”
“It deconstructs the way the body moves,” Fernando says. “They use release techniques and four-dimensional spatial recognition to deconstruct physical movement influenced by time and space.”
The third company performing at the Wilson Center, Sidra Bell NY, is bringing a collaborative piece with Swedish composer Per Störby, who is contributing the composition to the chamber ensemble.
Rounding it out will be Caleb Teicher & Company, also from New York. The performers bring a unique blend of modern dance and tap with musical theatre included.
“Because dance is primarily a non-verbal art form, it’s especially well-suited to helping audiences understand the experiences of people from other places,” Brogdon says. “I believe wholeheartedly that time spent in the theater, especially watching dance, is one of the best ways to build empathy. It’s also one of the least expensive ways to travel!”
Wilmington Dance Passport also serves as a direct way for attendees to support art in education.
“The company members, dance-makers, and technical teams spend a lot of time with the drama students in our community,” Fernando says. “The artistic director of Urban Bush Women will be bringing the company in to work with the New Hanover County High School’s drama students and students at DREAMS of Wilmington.”
The first performance, Tango Buenos Aires, will perform at Kenan Auditorium on Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. A full schedule of performances and tickets for the Wilmington Dance Passport can be purchased at the Kenan Auditorium Box Office, or online at the Arts at UNCW home page.