The Ballet Memphis New American Dance Residency Puts the Emphasis on Local Culture
Alia Kache in rehearsal with Ballet Memphis. Photo by Louis Tucker, Courtesy Ballet Memphis
The Ballet Memphis New American Dance Residency, which welcomes selected choreographers for its inaugural iteration next week, goes a step beyond granting space, time and dancers for the development of new work.
Over a period of two weeks, the dancemakers will visit important Memphis cultural sites, such as the National Civil Rights Museum and the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum, and meet with local experts on Memphis music history, Southern literature and social justice. The goal is to both help develop new choreographers and to encourage the pursuit of research-driven, community-oriented work.
Crystal Michelle PerkinsCourtesy Ballet Memphis
In a press release, associate artistic director Steven McMahon, who oversees the program, noted, "It is rare for ballet choreographers to not only immerse themselves within the local culture in which they are working, but to also allow the city or region to inform their creative process."
This year's selected residents are Valerie D. Alpert, Tommie-Waheed Evans, Michael Medcalf and Crystal Michelle Perkins. The four will gather for a panel discussion (free to the public) reflecting on the experience at the conclusion of the residency on Friday, April 26.
Mention "flamenco" to anyone in the Cuban dance scene, and they are likely to bring up Irene Rodríguez. Artistic director of Compañía Irene Rodríguez, Cuba's premiere flamenco company, Rodríguez has shared the stage with such renowned flamenco artists as Eva Yerbabuena, María Juncal and Antonio Gades. She is also a faculty member at Havana's Fernando Alonso National Ballet School, and has served as a choreography consultant at Ballet Nacional de Cuba.
Irina Kolpakova in the studio with Katherine Williams. Photo by Quinn Wharton for Pointe.
Being coached by a treasure like former Kirov prima Irina Kolpakova is an experience most dancers only dream of. But company members at American Ballet Theatre have been the lucky beneficiaries of her wisdom since 1990. Thanks to Instagram, where pros like Gillian Murphy and James Whiteside share snippets of their sessions with Kolpakova, any ballet lover can be a fly on the wall during rehearsals with the famed ballet mistress.