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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 Perkins uses her arms to create a sculptural gesture. 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.

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