Meet the Local Artist: Amy Love Beasley

October 27, 2014 § Leave a comment


photo credit: Steve Clarke

A visual artist as well as a dancer, Amy Love Beasley will be joining the NCDF on its stop in Greensboro this year.  She currently serves on the faculty of Wake Forest University as a Teaching Fellow in Dance. Amy enjoys exploring intersections of dance with experiments in drawing, video, and animation. Her work has been presented at Elon University, UNC-Greensboro, FSC-Jacksonville, Art-o-Matic in Washington, DC, and WAXworks in Brooklyn, NY. She recently presented work at the Center for Performance Research, in Brooklyn and in Seattle, as a guest of It Must Have Been Violet. She has had the good fortune of performing for many artists who inspire her, including John Gamble, Gerri Houlihan, Niki Juralawicz, BJ Sullivan, Sean Sullivan, and Jan Van Dyke.

Amy particularly enjoys exploring the relationship between technology, the body, and dance as a catalyst for change. “…as technology leads us into new and exciting spaces, I also recognize the importance of coming back to the space that is our bodies, and I believe that dance provides us with a specific portal into transformative territory. I recognize dance as an influential medium for change, and I enter into sharing it with a great respect for the body’s intelligence, the power of movement, and the necessity of art. I feel deeply fortunate to be a participant in this field that I believe to be of growing consequence.”

On November 1 at 7:30pm in Aycock Auditorium you’ll be able to see her piece Buoyancy IV. Choreographed by her with movement contributions by the dancers, Buoyancy IV is bound to be visually stimulating and provocative. In her artist statement, Beasley shares some thoughts about Buoyancy IV:

Buoyancy IV is a dance work which shares my research into the act of mark making and movement: laying down visual evidence, transformation, transition, place, and gesture. I have created choreography based on these interests in this quartet–it reflects my interest in line and gesture in the act of dancing and our process included improvising and excavating the act of drawing to dancing. Further exploration of the piece will explore the transition from dancing to drawing.

Want to see the show? NCDF will be in Greensboro on November 1st!

Dance Local.

Meet the Artist: Leah Wilks

October 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

Leah Headbang-2

Meet Leah Wilks, a dancer based in Durham, NC who will be touring with us this season. This year she’ll be presenting a solo piece, Mess. Here’s what Leah had to say about the work: “How does the body react when the world makes no sense? Does it shut down? Does it ignore, or fight back? Does it try to control, to compartmentalize, to make meaning out of nothing? Can it ever learn to let go?” Listen to Leah talk about her creative process below:

Leah Wilks is a Durham-based dancer, teacher and choreographer. Recently, as a performer, she has worked with Renay Aumiller Dances, Gaspard&Dancers, Shaleigh Dance Works, Nicola Bullock, Anna Barker, and The Department of Improvised Dance. Leah is currently on faculty at Carolina Friends School, 9th St. Dance, Studio A DanceArts, and the American Dance Festival where she teaches everything from ballet to contact improvisation to release technique. Throughout it all, Leah has always been creating dances inspired by the questions to which she has no answer. She is the proud co-director of the multi-media dance company VECTOR, with the brilliant Jon Haas. VECTOR creates work that questions the rules and societal norms that shape our daily lives using highly physical, detail-oriented movement in combination with video, audio documentary, motion tracking, and projections to create participatory installations, evening lengthe performances, and dance films. Their recent projects include Mess (2014), Still Point (2013), and Secrets I Never Told My Mother (2012). To find out more information on their current project Habitus please visit:

Want to see the show? Check our schedule to see when the NCDF will be in your neighborhood!

Dance Local.

Meet the Artist: Diego Carrasco Schoch

October 6, 2014 § Leave a comment


Meet Diego Carrasco Schoch. He is a Durham based dancer and director of the company Diego Carrasco Dance. This year at the North Carolina Dance Festival he’ll be presenting A Place Apart. This piece began with the desire to use Beethoven’s incredibly romantic and beautiful Adagio sostenuto from the Moonlight Sonata and an interest in the representation of intimacy and an intimate space between men. What emerged was a piece about two men craving a space that is separate from the world we inhabit, a space that offers some protection and insulation from a world that is often tragic, ridiculous, trivial, and at times overwhelming. Keep reading to learn more about this week’s featured artist!

Diego Carrasco Schoch is a choreographer, performer, and educator located in Durham, NC with 25+ years of experience in the field. Performing as a soloist for North Carolina Dance Theatre (now Charlotte Ballet) and as a Principal with Milwaukee Ballet, his repertoire included leading roles in works by Alvin Ailey, Alonzo King, David Parsons, José Limón, George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, and Marius Petipa, to name just a few. As an instructor, he has been on faculty at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and the Milwaukee Ballet School. He also serves as an Assistant Repetiteur for the Salvatore Aiello Trust. He has choreographed for Milwaukee Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

Drawing from his Chicano heritage, he often explores themes of duality, gender, identity, and spirituality and embeds his work with Latino imagery, rhythms, and ideas. He recently self-produced his own concert at the Carrack Modern Art, where his new company Diego Carrasco Dance debuted.


Dance Project Interviewed Diego earlier this year and this is what he had to say.

Dance Project: Your piece is called A Place Apart. How did you come up with the title?
Diego Carrasco Schoch:
The title reflects the idea that the two figures crave a space that is separate from the world we inhabit, a space that offers some protection and insulation from a world that is often tragic, ridiculous, and trivial. Secondly, because the dancers begin in the audience, the stage is literally “a place apart” from us, the audience.

DP: What came first– the text and music or the choreography?
DCS: I began the project wanting to use the Adagio sostenuto from the Moonlight Sonata, but at the beginning of rehearsals, I didn’t play it. I concentrated on the kinetic/thematic material first. Only when I had several phrases and was ready to connect them, did I begin playing the music in rehearsal and, with the dancers’ help, figuring out the phrasing and order of the phrases. I knew the duet would be longer than the music, but didn’t worry about it until about midway through the process when I could see how the dance was developing and understand what it wanted to say. Once I felt I understood the dance, I began working with a sound designer and at that point I realized I wanted to use text to help delineate the world we are in from the world the dancers eventually inhabit onstage.

DP:Where did the text come from? How did you pick it?
DCS: The text is taken directly from current ads and news items. Each time the piece is done, we re-record the text to reflect the current time.

DP: What made you cast two male dancers?
DCS: At the time of the premier, I was interested in how intimacy between men is represented and wanted to explore those possibilities without necessarily making something that was ‘romantic.’ I understand how audiences can perceive romance between the men when they see the piece, and that’s ok, but it wasn’t my focus at the time. When I look at the dancing bodies in front of me, male and female, I merely try to understand the possibilities and challenges they present and proceed from there.

DP: Because of your strong ballet training, do you look for that technique when casting your dancers?
DCS: Not really. Ballet training doesn’t necessarily equal good technique. It is merely one of many different techniques for training physical and spatial awareness. Good technique to me is a tool the dancer uses to focus the audience’s attention on specific details and engage the viewers on a visceral and kinetic level. I look for clarity, curiosity, spirit and honesty in a dancer. I also like dancers who get excited about details, particularly the ‘how’ of what they are doing as opposed to the ‘what,’ and are active participants in the rehearsal process and bring something ‘to the table’ to share. I am wholly unimpressed by tricks – distorted alignment without meaning, high jumps, high legs and extreme flexibility. That isn’t dancing, it’s affectation.

DP: What do you hope the audience will come away with?
DCS: I want the audience to follow the dancers on their journey and be transported with them, for a few moments at least, to a place where beauty, tenderness, and mutual support are the important values.

Want to see the show? Check our schedule to see when the NCDF will be in your neighborhood!

Dance Local.

Meet the Artist: Sara Tourek

September 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

SaraTourek headshot

Meet Sara Tourek, a dancer based out of Greensboro, NC. This year, she’ll be presenting as we were on the North Carolina Dance Festival Tour.

Sara Ruth Tourek has worked as a professional dancer, choreographer, and educator throughout the United States, including in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Texas, West Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina. She currently works as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Elon University, where for the past six years she has choreographed numerous works for the dance department. Sara has also choreographed several shows at Greensboro’s Triad Stage and has been invited to present work as the featured local artist on the North Carolina Dance Festival Tour as well as the Greensboro Fringe Festival.  She was the featured guest choreographer and teacher at Texas Tech. Before residing in North Carolina, Sara lived and worked in New York City.

as we were photo by Chris Walt

From “as we were”; Chris Walt Photography

Sara has a wide range of teaching experience including classical ballet, pointe, contemporary dance, choreography, and partnering. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Dance/Choreography from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Technique from Ohio University. Sara has also served as the Lead Dance Instructor at Governor’s School West for the last five years and is the active Secretary of the North Carolina Dance Alliance board.

From "as we were"; Chris Walt Photography

From “as we were”; Chris Walt Photography

as we were is a contemporary duet that utilizes a wooden park bench to create a solitary and dramatic focal point. The piece aims to unveils the complexity of relationships and explore a dynamic range of movement and emotion as it unfolds.  The physical artistry of the dancers brings this gritty duet to life.

Don’t forget to take a look at Sara’s YouTube page to see some of her previous works.

Want to see the show? Check our schedule to see when the NCDF will be in your neighborhood!

Dance Local.

Meet the Artist: Gaspard Louis

September 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

Gaspard head shot by Robin Gallant

Meet Gaspard Louis, one of our esteemed choreographers for this year’s North Carolina Dance Festival. On tour this year, audiences will have the chance to see his company, Gaspard&Dancers, perform Rubix. Read more about this Durham, NC based dancer.

Gaspard Louis (Founder/Artistic Director) was born and raised in Haiti. His experience includes being a dancer and choreographer with the cutting-edge and internationally renowned Pilobolus Dance Theater. In addition to performing, touring, and teaching globally with Pilobolus, he collaborated on nine major dance works during this formative decade with the company. He has also choreographed for Freespace Dance Company in New Jersey and Kentucky University Dance Ensemble.

Currently, he directs The American Dance Festival’s year-round creative movement outreach program, which provides free dance classes to Triangle youth.  He founded his dance company Gaspard&Dancers in 2009, in order to create his own personal vision of dance in North Carolina.  The past couple of years he has created two works as part of planned trilogy about the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which has personal resonance for him.  With each of these works, he has explored themes of loss and aspiration on personal, communal, and national levels.  He has always sought to push the envelope technically and creatively in his choreography.  He hopes that his work engages the audience in a way that is emotional and visceral.

RUBIX is an abstract piece that explores the idea of a human Rubik’s Cube. The dancers use their bodies to form complex physical design of ever-shifting of parts fitted and refitted into numerous possible combinations.

Dance Project had the opportunity to interview Gaspard earlier this year. Here’s what he had to say about his work for this year’s festival.

Dance Project: Tell me a little bit about your choreographic process.  Where do you usually start? Do your ideas start in your head or body?
Gaspard Louis:
My choreographic process is for the most part a collaborative process. I come in the studio with an idea and describe to the dancers. I bring some of my own music, but I also ask the dancers to bring some music as well just to get a different perspective. I sometimes give them a phrase as a starting point, ask that they add an 8 to 16 counts to it, and let it develop from there.

DP: Do you prefer creating abstract work, or narrative?
I am much more comfortable creating abstract work. However, if the situation presents itself where I have to create a narrative work, I will not shy away from it.

DP: How did you get started with RUBIX?
RUBIX started with an image of the rubik’s cube in my head where the body moves organically, intertwining and forms a series of patterns and shapes.

DP: How long did it take for you to come up with such intricate lifts? Did anyone ever get hurt in this part of rehearsal? How do you ensure their safety?
GL: Having a Pilobolus background, the lifts came quite easily to me. However, I had to be extra careful when teaching that particular technique to my dancers. Some have had partnering, but not to the extent that I have. I usually work backwards with them when it comes to do an intricate lift. We start with the ending image so that everyone involved knows where the grips are, and then go back to do it in real time. Nobody got hurt during RUBIX. Safety is always at the forefront of every rehearsal.

DP: Did the music come first or last?
GL: For most of my works, the choreography and the music are usually created together. I have been fortunate so far to be able to collaborate with local musicians. Sometimes they would come in the studio to play as we were improvising, other times, I would listen to piece of music and ask them to compose something similar to it.

DP: What do you hope the audience will come away with?
GL: I only hope the audience leaves the theater having been entertained and satisfied and wanting to come see me again.

Want to see the show? Check our schedule to see when the NCDF will be in your neighborhood!

Dance Local.

Meet the Local Company: Black Box Dance

September 15, 2014 § Leave a comment


Formerly Even Exchange Dance Theater, Black Box Dance is an innovative new company housed at Arts Together in Raleigh, NC. Each year as part of NCDF, the local host chooses a company or companies to perform alongside the touring artists at their specific site. This year, Meredith College invited Black Box Dance to participate in their one-night-only dance concert. According to their website:

…the Black Box represents innovation in dance making: the process of how dances are made and where they are used in the world.

Our mission is to celebrate dance through creating, teaching and performing works that interpret, influence and inspire those within our local and global communities. Dance is one of the most natural connectors to our humanity that we have and through our work and play we hope to expose that very fact.


018 BBDT July 19 CAC

Joining our five touring artists, Black Box Dance will be performing Opposition Overture (“The Rock”) at our Meredith College performance on September 20. Opposition Overture is “the outline of an as yet unrealized evening length work exploring our complicated relationship with opposition.” It aims to look at this relationship through humor, large movement, intimate gesture, and text while using the myth of Sisyphus as a frame for the work.

014 BBDT July 19 CAC mpbb2014

The work was created by Black Box Dance with collaboration from participants from the Appalachian mountains to the great dismal swamp. They hope that the piece will be both a political and personal journey for the audience, engaging difference with civil dialogue and dance.

Want to see the show? NCDF will be in Raleigh on September 20!

Dance Local.


All photos credited to Brooke Meyer

Meet the Artist: Kristen Jeppsen Groves

September 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

Kristen Jeppsen Groves 2

“My passion for dance is a unique way to present, discuss, and solve real issues. I care deeply about dance, but I care more about influencing people. I believe art should be a courageous statement about the world we hope to live in and not a comment on what it simply is. I am an idealist of humanity, but often I find audiences are impacted by realities, both great and small. Art shapes how others look at the world and can influence them to take an active role in their environments. For me, it needs to serve a purpose that will influence the audience, student, contributor, or critic to understand themselves, the body, and motion in new ways.”

Meet one of our touring artists for this season, Kristen Jeppsen Groves in collaboration with Defero Dance Collective. Defero Dance Collective is a Raleigh-based contemporary dance company: a diverse community of dancers with strong technical and artistic backgrounds. They will present As We Were, a process-based work that highlights individual dancers as in-process beings: something they are now, built on where they came from, but may not continue to be in the future.  Exploring ideas of performance and observation, the work showcases the beauty of unique individuals moving together as they are. Read more, and watch her video interview to learn more!

Kristen Jeppsen Groves, choreographer, dancer, and educator, received an M.F.A. in choreography from the Ohio State University and a B.A. in Dance Education from Brigham Young University.  She has presented her choreographic works in Ohio, Utah, Las Vegas, New York, New Mexico, and abroad in Senegal, Mail, and Morocco, and Italy.  Groves has taught dance for fifteen years in collegiate dance programs, most recently at the Ohio State University and Brigham Young University, in K-12 programs, and private dance studios.

Want to see the show? Check our schedule to see when the NCDF will be in your neighborhood!

Dance Local.


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