A preview of Charlotte Ballets Fall Works with Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux

By Stephanie Harris

October 10, 2015

For over four decades, Charlotte Ballet has been improving the cultural arts landscape in North Carolina. This season, the Company continues to push limits on stage and capture Charlotte audiences’ attention and emotion with inspired performances.

The artistic excellence on display at every Charlotte Ballet performance is the result of talented dancers led by passionate, experienced leadership. The President and Artistic Director works diligently with the rest of the staff to ensure that each show exceeds even the highest standards.

But energy, virtuosity and cohesiveness aren’t automatic for any dance company. These attributes emerge from dedicated work and focus on a common goal.

Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, artistic director of Charlotte Ballet and wife Patricia McBride. Photo via charlotteobserver.com

Becoming a member of Charlotte Ballet is not an easy process — dancers have to not only possess exceptional skill, but also mesh well with the rest of the group.

“Our dancers support each other and make a team,” says Bonnefoux.

“I look for people who are talented, but also have something to offer as a person. They work for eight hours a day together, so they can’t be selfish. They share the success of a show because everyone contributes.”

The 2015-16 season opening show, Fall Works, has the same diverse combination of pieces that regular Charlotte Ballet audiences have come to enjoy. It includes a new ballet created by Associate Artistic Director Sasha Janes, and a soulful reprisal of an audience favorite, Forgotten Land, by choreographer Jiri Kylian.

Photo by Jeff Cravotta

Bonnefoux explains, “I think the audience will be surprised by how different the dancers become as they dance to different music and different styles of choreography.”

“Fall Works is going to be really fun for the audience. They get to go from seeing the dancers interpret a lyrical, deep and dramatic work by Jiri Kylian, to dancing to bluegrass music, to the joyful, iconic “Four Seasons” by Vivaldi.”

Bluegrass music, as Bonnefoux mentions, is performed live, courtesy of the Greasy Beans, as part of the third piece in the show: Bonnefoux’s critically-acclaimed ballet, Shindig. The combination of ballet and bluegrass seems unlikely, but with the right artists involved, a beautiful creation emerges.

“The musicians in The Greasy Beans are all incredibly talented and their work inspired me and the dancers,” Bonnefoux says.

“Bluegrass music actually fits classical ballet very well. It was a tremendous joy to discover bluegrass and how nicely it complemented ballet. Shindig was always supposed to be a fun piece. It brings people together. The dancers are having as much fun as the audience.”
Athleticism and grace rarely synchronize with such stunning grace as that achieved in ballet. Queen City audiences share the fortune of having a local dance company that demonstrates this delicate balance with utmost style and professionalism. Fall Works acts as a wonderful example of this.

Charlotte Ballet's performance of Jiri Kylian's Forgotten Land
Charlotte Ballet’s performance of Jiri Kylian’s Forgotten Land

“There’s a new balance in the company because of the nine new dancers. The new company members have tons of talent and already mesh so well with our veteran dancers. This will be a great show for the audience to discover their favorite dancer,” says Bonnefoux.

With aptitude overflowing and the Company brimming with creative energy, the 2015-16 Charlotte Ballet season, starting with October’s Fall Works, is set to present engaging shows and put awe-inspiring technique in the spotlight.

Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, artistic director of Charlotte Ballet since 1996, announced last month that he will retire at the end of the 2016-17 season.


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