Columbia City Ballet’s Body and Movement Explored Returns featuring Caroline Lewis Jones & more

  CCB Company Member Dini Tetrick

Body and Movement Explored is a unique collaboration showcasing the works of Columbia City Ballet dancers and several guest choreographers who have created a mixed repertoire of works for the professional members of the Columbia City Ballet company.

Among the guest choreographers is Columbia-based, but internationally known dancer and choreographer Caroline Lewis Jones. Lewis-Jones has been dancing for over 27 years. At the age of 18 she moved to New York City where she performed for six years. Her credits include the VMA’s with NSYNC, the Latin Grammy Awards, WNBA National Commercial, Commercial work, Disney Industrials, Britany Spears “Me Against the Music” video, MTV’s Body Rock Fitness Video, and more. Although successful as a commercial dancer, her true passion lies within contemporary company work, where she has had the opportunity to work for Mia Michaels Company R.A.W, Dee Caspary’s IV Dance Company, Notario Dance Company, Rhapsody and Company, A.S.H Contemporary, and Justin Giles’ Soul Escape. In 2001 she traveled to Seoul, Korea where she performed for Jason Parson’s and POZ Dance Theatre.  In July 2010, Caroline performed with Sonya Tayeh from “So You Think You Can Dance” with her company in Chicago. She also choreographs for studios around the country, and teaches for  Adrenaline Dance Convention and The Dance Sessions.

Caroline Lewis-Jones

Other guest choreographers include Rachael Leonard from Florida, Jerry Opdenaker, who performed with the company in Nutcracker, technical artist Ryan Stender, and local favorites Journy and Anna Wilkes-Davis.

Jerry Opdenaker

During Jerry Opdenaker's 22-year dancing career, he worked as a principal company member for ballet companies such as Pennsylvania Ballet, Kansas City Ballet and Ballet Florida. As director of the nationally recognized STEP Ahead, Ballet Florida’s choreographic workshop, he was declared as a “Jewel of the Palm Beaches.” He has choreographed for the New York City Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, McKnight Foundation Ballet, Gamonet, Ballet Florida National Choreographic Initiative and Florida Grand Opera. For the past five years he has served as the dance discipline coordinator for the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts  YoungArts program and directed his own company, O Dance, in West Palm Beach.

Rachael Leonard

Rachael Leonard is co-founder and artistic director of Surfscape Contemporary Dance Theatre (SCDT), an adjudicator for the American College Dance Festival Association, a master artist in residence for Very Special Arts and an internationally published author of dance articles and papers. Leonard has choreographed throughout the US and taught at College of Southern Idaho, University of Utah, Alma College, Jacksonville University, Rowland-Hall Saint Marks School, Lowell Elementary School, Stoneleigh-Burnham School and Atlantic Center for the Arts.

Never seen before by any audience this year celebrates the fourth year of the Body Movement series. Performed at the CMFA Arts Space March 11th and 12th at 7:30p.m.

“At the helm of the state’s largest dance company I felt it was extremely important to create the Body & Movement series to help foster the talents for young modern, contemporary and classical choreographers," says William Starrett, Artistic and Executive Director of the company. "Not only from the midlands area but throughout the southeast so they could gain the experience of working with top professional dancers and simultaneously give the dancers opportunity to dance original works created for them with a wide range of creative styles, dance genres and artistic viewpoints.”

A total of twelve mixed repertoire pieces will be performed set to a variety of not only classical but popular music. Dancers include Anna Beavers, Madeline Foderaro, Katie Heaton, Courtney Holland, Laura Lunde, Bonnie Boiter-Jolley, Philip Ingrassia, Abby McDowell, Reinaldo Soto, Denis Vezetiu, Regina Willoughby, Claire Richards, Camilo Herrera, Rebecca Bowles, Maurice Johnson, Emily Carrico, Ashley Concannon, Jordan Hawkins, Brandon Michaels, Ian Samuels, Autumn Hill, and Amanda Summey.

In addition to the performance, company member and gifted photographer Ashley Concannon will open an exhibit of her collection of work on Columbia City Ballet dancers.

CCB member Rebecca Bowles

CCB Company Member Denis Vezetiu


According to Concannon, "The BME series was highly influenced by recent works done by Photographer BAKI, particularly those with dancer Friedemann Vogel. I love the movement and lighting of his photography, the balance of strength and grace. I wanted to imitate his work, with just a bit less of a whimsical look. I studied other works created by photographers Rachel Neville and Steve Vaccariello, and ultimately came up with this new collection of my own."

Body and Movement Explored will be held at the CMFA Art Space at 914 Pulaski Street in the Vista on Friday, March 11th and Saturday, March 12th at 7:30 p.m. The end of the performance will have an open mic discussion where the audience is invited to explore and discuss on their experience directly with the choreographers. Tickets are $25 in advance at and $30 at the door. For more information or for help with ticketing call the Columbia City Ballet offices at 803.799.7605. A Facebook event revealing more information about the choreographer line-up can be found online here,

REVIEW: CCB's Body & Movement Explored by David Ligon

Philip Ingrassia and Autumn Hill - photo by Ashley Concannon The art scene has progressed immensely in Columbia, SC over the past decade, and while Columbia City Ballet may have previously seemed to lag behind, performing the same pool of two- and three-act story ballets since William Starrett took over, only creating new ones every few years, the company seems to be moving forward of late and progressing along with the city.


On Friday, February 20 at 7:30 PM Columbia City Ballet presented its third annual Body & Movement Explored series. This event is a departure from what the company typically performs. Starrett has said this is an experimental project for the dancers as well as emerging choreographer to see if it can bring in an audience, and one day be presented on a bigger stage.


It is always exciting to see dancers you have become familiar with onstage be able to share another part of themselves with the audience. Most of the choreography was by Columbia City Ballet dancers. This year marks the first time choreographers came from out of state and volunteered their time to create works, including Rachel Leonard, a freelance choreographer from Florida; Jenny Broe, Owner of StudioFX in Charleston; Kevin James of Smuin Ballet; and former CCB principal dancer, Wayland Anderson. The Columbia City Ballet choreographers included soloist Philip Ingrassia, and corps members Ashley Concannon, Amanda Summey, and Denis Vezetiu.


Mr. Vezetiu choreographed two pieces as well as co-choreographed one with Ms. Concannon. His most captivating was his pas de deux, "Walk," which showcased his incredible strength and control as he manipulated dancer Nadine Tetrick around his body. She never touched the floor, as he was always controlling her. Her port de bras reacted to him like movement through water. They were one body moving together creating something beautiful to Ludovico Einaudi's minimalist score.


Ludovico music was used in four different pieces, as well as other minimalist composers including Philip Glass and Zoe Keating. What is interesting is how these composers created an atmosphere and texture with their music, rather than becoming monotonous because of its repetitiveness, lack of dynamic contrast with only slight rhythmic and melodic variations.


Jenny Broe, one of the visiting choreographers, created an enthralling contemporary piece of work to an up-tempo, club remix version of Bryan Adams’ “Wicked Games.” The choreography was seamless throughout, creating a battle between the dancers as to who could out dance whom. There was no pause for the dancers who moved from one structure to the next in groups or in pairs. The dancers would enter or leave the arena by walking fiercely like runway models. The other stand out choreographer was Rachel Leonard, who choreographed the opening piece “Speak” as well as the finale “Garcons et das Filles et des Bancs”. The last piece was set to operatic music with four sets of couples divided by gender and sitting on benches. There were phallic movements and a titillating flirtation from the four girls and four boys making it humorous and engaging fun. The boys unfortunately, missed some of the musical cues that would've made her vision really come to life.


Starrett recently commented that this is an experimental show trying to find an audience and support. He choreographed a pas de deux, “All for You,” for real life married couple Ingrassia and Autumn Hill. It was a tongue and cheek country western, on the bayou piece with choreography familiar to anyone who has seen Starrett’s previous work. For the music he collaborated with Josh McCaa who is married to CCB principal, Claire McCaa. McCaa’s country western music and voice were great, but didn’t quite sync up to the choreography. Starrett’s work with CCB is typically classical story-line fairytale ballets, like CCB’s upcoming “Cinderella.” “All For You” gave Starrett a chance to try something on a smaller scale and in a less-serious mood. It might have seemed that Starrett was going for laughs at times rather than substance, but maybe the programming of a light piece provided a good contrast with the passionate and personal work of the other choreographers.


Amanda Summey's piece “Identity Crisis” was fresh and thought provoking. Hip-hop, with elements of contemporary ballet, the eight women were wearing red masks that covered the lower half of the face and wearing street clothes. With their faces covered, they had to rely completely on body movement for expression. The music used was just a rapper with no instruments, but the rap voices layered on top of each other, creating a vocalized rhythm. Summey is a poly-artist: a visual artist and sketcher, ballet dancer, choreographer, and theater graduate from Northwestern University, she brings graffiti street art and intellectualism to her work.


The dancers who stood out were the constant duo, Bonnie Boiter-Jolley and Claire Richards. They were in the most pieces but were always paired together. Although these two compliment each other physically – they are tall, slender and blond – it would have been nice to see them dance separately, for each brings her own versatility to the stage.


In the future, CCB should model this show after other workshops around the country by auditioning choreographers to present full-length works (20-30 minutes) so the dancers can get fully invested in the work. There are theaters that can host such an event, other than the informal black box, that won’t run up the cost as much as putting it on at the Koger Center would. Having a professional event at such an informal space has its downsides: there isn’t enough lighting to explore the space, and the sound was a little low, which in turn meant we could hear every step and breath taken on stage. I believe the Columbia arts community will support a mixed-repertory series. Body & Movement Explored should be expanded and promoted bringing one-act ballets of various lengths with plot-less rather than story line structures. I think the series could be artistically and fiscally viable.

In Jasper Vol. 3, No. 4: Ashley Concannon - Through The Dancer's Eyes

"Any given day finds 25-year-old Ashley Concannon crouching in the corner of the Columbia City Ballet studios between rehearsals. Usually she is sewing ribbons onto a pair of pointe shoes, taping her toes, stretching, exercising, or completing one of the many tasks demanded of her by her profession, but when she can find the time she sneaks behind the lens of her Canon Rebel T3i to capture a glimpse of life in the dance studio from another artistic perspective--that of a photographer. ..." - Bonnie Boiter-Jolley For the full article and photos, check out page 46 of the magazine below: