October 31, 2015
During the period between Charlotte Ballet’s energetic Fall Works show and the magical tradition of its Nutcracker performances, what’s a dance lover to do?
This year, the company helps bridge the gap between October and December with Soiree in November. Charlotte Ballet Soiree, November 7, is a celebration that shines the spotlight on international music, cuisine and dance. Corps de Ballet, Charlotte Ballet’s volunteer service and social organization, launches the night with a delightful pre-show party, which includes live music from Los Leones Latin Jazz, in addition to silent and live auctions. After enjoying opening activities, guests will be seated to watch a variety of dance performances that pay homage to traditions from around the globe.
Proceeds from Soiree will go toward supporting the Charlotte Ballet scholarship program, Reach. The Reach program provides dance training and related equipment and materials for dance students, ages 7 to 13, who have demonstrated talent and financial need. Proceeds will also benefit the Dancer’s Fund, dedicated to attracting and retaining dancers of color.
Soiree embodies Charlotte Ballet’s dedication to creating a future of dance overflowing with variety and diversity. During his tenure as artistic director, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, who is retiring at the end of the 2016-17 season, has made creating a company that reflects the community a top priority. Soiree is an opportunity for him to curate a show that highlights the possibilities that abound when classic ballet is paired with other traditions and taken outside of the small box that so many think of when considering ballet.
“This is a project that I’ve wanted to do for at least five years,” Bonnefoux says, “And we finally can do it, and I hope it will happen every year in the future. The world culture of dance is so rich. It’s exciting to see how choreographers and dancers are influenced by so much from around the world. It’s fun to see how much we can learn from different cultures and how dancers and choreographers take from tradition, add to it and make it something of their own.”
The set of unique performers, who Bonnefoux has brought together for a fantastic night of global music and dance, all display distinct style on stage. Some of the pieces include classical Indian dance from Preeti Vasudevan, founder of Thresh, a ballet choreographed by Associate Director Sasha Janes, to the music of Vadim Kolpakov, and taiko Japanese drumming group Triangle Taiko accompanying a piece by Mark Diamond.
“As I started thinking about the show, I started thinking about what cultures have the longest traditions in dance and music. So I thought about these traditions, Indian dance, for example and West African drummers, and then wanted to find respected artists and leaders in their fields. I wanted to bring together those dancers who are really keeping their traditions alive,” Bonnefoux says.
Bonnefoux’s commitment to presenting diversity in dance and educating young dancers, will not end with his retirement. In fact, as Artistic Director Emeritus, he will be very much involved in the future of the Charlotte Ballet and continue his work of bringing dancers from around the world and from varied communities to the company.
He explains, “Differences really make an environment better. Diverse backgrounds and personalities show through dance, and the dancers in our company are from a variety of countries and communities. It creates excitement.”
“I look forward to scouting for talent and bringing more dancers to Charlotte. I think that, along with training dancers in contemporary dance and more free expression, is really going to keep me busy. It’s very ambitious, everything that I want to accomplish, but I am very excited about it.”
Soiree, a night of food, music and dance, is a great opportunity to experience up close what Bonnefoux describes as the future of Charlotte Ballet. With a lineup of renowned talent on the program, the night of entertainment certainly won’t disappoint.