Next week, from Tuesday through Friday nights, artists from Columbia City Ballet are stepping out of the studio and off of the Koger Center Stage to bring us a dance event the likes of which Columbia has not seen in a very long time. Pure, clean, innovative dance that, rather than tell you a story as full-length narrative ballets typically do – shows you a story that you create with your own interpretations, reactions, and emotions as engaged and enlightened audience members.
We don’t get a lot of mixed repertory dance here in Columbia—Columbia City Ballet hasn’t done anything with mixed rep in years. We typically get it from USC and the amazing opportunities Stacey Calvert gives to her young dancers there; as well as the through-the-roof work that Thaddeus and Tonya Wideman-Davis do which few people ever hear about. (Seriously, how about advertising, folks? Let us work with you!) Columbia Classical Ballet has been more likely to offer mixed rep, but usually only via Life Chance which typically brings an excellent caliber of dancer in, but gives us the same old classical variations over and over. (My stomach turns every time I hear the opening notes to the male variation from both La Bayadere and Le Corsaire these days.)
But as Columbia dance audiences have grown to be more astute, more critical, more engaged in the dance they see, the demand for mixed rep has grown. We are ready to trust ourselves more as dance audiences; to go to the next level of engagement with dance. We don’t necessarily want to always read the storyline from ballets in our dance bills and we’re not that concerned about sets or costumes. We want the full experience of dance. We want to feel (if you’ll excuse my sentimentality) like we are on the stage ourselves, soaring through the air, moving through the music. The confines of story lines make it much more difficult to participate in the dance experience. Narrative ballets tell us stories, which is nice; but they talk to us – not with us.
I had the chance to talk to Columbia City Ballet company member Wayland Anderson about his choreography which is being featured, along with five others’, in next week’s performances, and this is what he said about mixed rep ballet, the shows next week, and the opportunity, as a dancer and choreographer to take part in this exceptional Columbia dance opportunity.
“A mix rep performance gives the audience several different perspectives or approaches to dance. It puts the audience in charge of forming their own ideas on what they experience. Full length ballets tend to utilize the boy meets girl and falls in love formula. In a mix rep show anything can happen.”
“The ballets that are considered classics today were comments on their time when they were created. Mix rep shows give today’s choreographers an opportunity to speak on the world as they experience it. This process will keep the art form alive and relevant to today's generations. We must pass the torch to the next generation. It is similar to the cycle of life.”
“This opportunity has allowed me to embark on a journey with 12 amazing dancers. During the choreography process it was important that I allowed the dancers to shine through their interpretation of my movement. Together we will share our love for dance and present a ballet that honors our journey and honors the love ones that we have lost.
Wayland Anderson is a professional ballet dancer, teacher and choreographer with a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Maryland. Mr. Anderson is presently a dancer with Columbia City Ballet. He has performed soloist roles in William Starrett’s Nutcracker, Off the Wall and Onto the Stage: Dancing the Art of Jonathan Green, and he danced the principal role of Darius Rucker in the world of premiere of The Hootie and The Blowfish Ballet. His choreographic piece for next week is called The Survivors with music from Avro Part's Fratres.
Body and Movement Explored is a unique performance where the visual and physical collide created by Columbia City Ballet Dancers, local choreographers, and local artists in partnership with Jasper Magazine. Body and Movement Explored will be held at the CMFA Art Space off of Pulaski Street. The $20 tickets can be purchased by calling the ballet offices at 803.799.7605. Or via Brown Paper Tickets at Buy Tickets Tuesday February 26 until Friday March 1 at 7:30 pm.