Fall Into Dance: Ballet Celebrates Local Artists, Autumn in Asheville


Fall Into Dance: Ballet Celebrates Local Artists, Autumn in Asheville

  • Ali McGhee

    Ali McGhee is a journalist, creative writer, and academic. Her work has appeared in The Edgar Allan Poe Review, Romantic Circles, Symbiosis: A Journal of Anglo-American Literary...

UPDATE: Due to the weather the shows previously scheduled to be performed outside at the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Stage at Pack Square Park will now be at the Asheville Masonic Temple at 80 Broadway in downtown Asheville. The dates and times are the same, and the shows are still free!

Fall is upon us, and the Asheville Ballet Company is celebrating the arrival of the new season with Fall Into Dance: an Artistic Harvest, a new show that highlights the immense musical and performance talent we have in the Asheville area. The show, which is comprised of multiple pieces that chart new territory in creative experimentation, adaptation, and innovation, is unmissable. It’s a free (!) performance happening over two nights this coming Friday and Saturday, September 25 and 26, at the beautiful stage in the Asheville Masonic Temple
There are six pieces total in the show, each possessing its own unique flavor and vision. One major highlight among the evening’s many luminous moments is an adaptation of Sophocles’ Philoctetes (from the fifth century BC). Choreographed by Ann Dunn, the head of the Asheville Ballet, it tells the story of the eponymous hero, who becomes pivotal for the Greek victory over the Trojans after he’s bitten by a snake and exiled to an island by Odysseus with only his bow for protection. Dunn’s adaptation includes a Greek chorus updated for our contemporary moment. She notes that this retelling “frames the themes of wounding and healing, and expands the story of the drama to the larger issues to which Sophocles points—issues which resonate today in as potent a way as they have throughout human history.”
The half-hour piece features original music from local composer Max Witt, which will performed live by a small chamber orchestra conducted by Nicholas O’Leary and with performances from Matthew Richmond and other prominent area musicians. I had the opportunity to preview some of the music, and it’s exquisite, hauntingly beautiful and resonant long after each movement (there are five) comes to an end. According to Witt,
 “I was left with a lot of freedom to interpret the text into music. I also delved deeply into the great ballets of the past, especially Stravinsky’s Firebird. Musicians like Beethoven and French composer Poulenc were a source of inspiration for the piece as well.. . . I started with the basic idea of trying to write ‘classical music’ that fit the text, but more importantly that people actually would want to listen to. Personally, I'm getting tired of new composers trying to write music so ‘out there’ that it becomes taxing on the listener. The idea of trying to provide some sort of stable ground for the listeners and the dancers to stand on was at the front of my mind the whole time.”
This section of the evening alone is a rare chance to see the convergence of an astonishing degree of talent. Other choreographers and performers are also taking the stage with new pieces, including Lyle Laney’s #streetpas, which updates the classical pas de deux of classical ballet with hip hop-infused choreography. Tricia Renshaw will be presenting two pieces, Polar and Elohi, that explore the relationships between bodies, landscapes, and spaces, offering up a vision of interconnectedness that defines even the most subtle of interactions and examines the porousness of boundaries at every level of existence.
Fleming Lomax will debut Georges on my Mind, a delightful homage to George Gershwin and George Balanchine that unites technical precision with humor and sass. Rebecca O’Quinn’s Soul of the blues, sole of our shoes explores the power of the blues as “soul medicine,” enlivening the spirit in moments of ennui and darkness.
The show begins each night at 7:30pm – Septmeber 25 and 26 – and is free and open to the public (donations are accepted). 
Visit ashevilleballet.com or call 828-252-4761 for more details.

Personal rehearsal photos complements of Vickie Zitney