Dance

Matt Peiken | BPR News

Asheville’s Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance is a small, professional company that only operates in the summer. So in losing 2020 to the pandemic, founding director Heather Maloy hadn’t rehearsed her dancers in two years.

 

“For a lot of them, this is the first time they’ve been—and myself too—in a room with a group of people and no mask on and dancing,” she said during a break from rehearsal inside her dance academy. “Like, it’s a normal day.”

Matt Peiken | BPR News

Ten years ago, Natalie Portman won the Academy and Golden Globe best actress awards for her starring turn in “Black Swan.” There was, however, at least one critic of the film.

“It’s just a horror flick. It has nothing to do with ballet,” said Gavin Larsen, whose career in ballet has been far more quiet, far less dramatic. Today, in her late 40s, she teaches at the Ballet Conservatory of Asheville.

“Part of my mission is to dispel the myths about what it means to be a ballet dancer, and to propagate the truth about how beautiful a life in ballet is,” she said.

Matt Peiken | BPR News

Claire Elizabeth Barratt once drove alone from Asheville to Albuquerque, N.M.—26 straight hours—without stopping except for gas.

“I’m actually thinking of maybe doing a cross-country trip as a durational performance,” she said. “Just doing the whole I-40 coast to coast and calling that the performance.”

Morin Photography


At a rehearsal in the Woodfin dance studio of the Asheville Ballet, Rebecca O’Quinn is watching two middle-aged women rehearse a duet O’Quinn created around the prop of an overstuffed loveseat.

 

“They kind of take turns running around the couch and flipping over the couch, and are in relationship with each other, and it’s not clear what the relationship is,” she said of this dance work, part of an Asheville Ballet program May 17-18 at Diana Wortham Theatre in Asheville.

 

That unclear relationship could be a metaphor for O’Quinn’s own artistic path.

Matt Peiken | BPR News


Like a lot of excited, ambitious entrepreneurs, Heather Maloy put her head down and bulled forward with her plan: She wanted to create a fulltime professional ballet company in Asheville.

“With it being a summer tourist community and being very alive in the summer, it seemed like a great starting point,” she said. “But I wasn’t really thinking fully how to get past that summer point to a year-round point.”

Matt Peiken | BPR News


It’s hard to miss Sharon Cooper on the dance floor. Her expression is almost always wide-eyed, focused and intense. Even her slowest movements carry urgency.

But then there’s Cooper, the pediatric nurse. With her young patients, she’s smiling, animated and tender.

“I’ve always been interested in it, and always very interested in the body and the way it works and muscle systems,” Cooper said of nursing.

While Asheville's twice-annual LEAF Festival is best known as a music festival, the Trillium Dance Company has performed each spring and fall at LEAF for the past five years. In this video, step inside a company rehearsal and learn what Trillium founder Leslie Rogers has on tap for the spring 2018 LEAF.

Caren Harris

If there were a convenient way to do so, Constance Humphries would invite all her audiences inside her Asheville townhome to watch her perform.

“A gallery situation or small venue or even a house is ideal because I can be very close to my audience,” Humphries said. “I like to look at them, look in their eyes. I like to get in their space -- not in an aggressive way, but in a supportive way.”

The Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre is rehearsing a piece that depends on props and costuming that aren’t quite holding together.

At this point, performances are two weeks away, and Susan Collard doesn’t appear too worried. After 38 years of ups and down and dips and turns she could never have choreographed, Collard responds to these malfunctions with a smile.

“You have these visions of what you want to create,” Collard said. “And then (you have) the bill, and then ‘how do you raise your money?’”

Ann Dunn has spent her entire life in motion -- by necessity, force of will, restlessness and, through it all, a curiosity that refuses to sit still.

At age 71, Dunn has so many active elements in her life: She has a fulltime teaching schedule at UNC-Asheville. She’s working on her fourth book of poetry. Every summer, she dives into culturally immersive travels the world over, and she’s eager to share what she sees and learns both in her classroom, with her 11 grandchildren and anyone she has time to sit with.