the coolest thing i did all week

yesterday evening i attended north carolina dance theatre's sneak preview of their upcoming director's choice ballet. this year, among a balanchine piece, dwight rhoden has choreographed a 30-minute world premiere ballet based on the works of artist romare bearden. this is cool for several reasons.

first of all, romare bearden is from charlotte, although he moved to new york city when he was young. many of his colorful collages and paintings center around the civil rights movement and african american culture, as well as the harlem renaissance and scenes from the passion of the christ. i learned about him in college and studied his work with the great susan carlisle bell, so it was exciting to see dance based on his work.

second of all, dwight rhoden is a huge deal. if you're wondering where you've heard his name, it's possibly from so you think you can dance, where he has choreographed many pieces. he has also choreographed for cirque de soleil (by the way, if anyone wants to take me to see totem in charlotte, that would be okay), kelly clarkson, lenny kravitz and prince. from what i've seen, i love his choreography.

third of all, i've seen one other company rehearsal before at ncdt, but sitting in on one is about the most insanely fantastic thing ever. it's like all of my ballerina books and movies as a child coming to life before my eyes. last night i realized i was smiling like a fool just watching. it was fascinating watching dwight at work (who, by the way, wears the skinniest jeans i've ever seen on a man. i'm pretty sure they wouldn't fit me.) and just as fascinating watching the dancers as they learned the steps and the emotions dwight was trying to convey. i also really enjoyed hearing dwight discuss how he translated bearden's pieces in to choreography. it was a magical evening that came with really delicious free local cheese and a really delicious free merlot (which i normally don't like). i can't wait to see the actual performance in a few weeks!

all images via jeff willhelm for the charlotte observer
bearden piece: "one night stand" mixed media collage on masonite, 1974

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