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.

Season Supporters

September 5, 2014 § Leave a comment

The Dance Project looks for ways to partner with local businesses, schools, and arts organizations throughout the year, and one way we seek those connections is by selling ads in our season performance programs. Our tagline is “Dance Local,” and we are committed to supporting the local arts community and creating programs that will continue to make Greensboro a vibrant, active place to live and work. We are pleased to connect with local businesses and schools that play an important role in making the Triad a thriving community, as we help our audiences not only “Dance Local,” but also “Eat Local,” and “Shop Local!” In return, the proceeds from these ad sales helps Dance Project meet the expenses of promoting our season performances.

Many thanks to our current local supporters!

(Want to see your business listed here? Contact us about corporate sponsorship and advertising in our programs!)

Our Grantors:

NCAC_LogoBlack artsgreensboro logo





Our Season Advertisers:


Of course, many individuals also make donations through the year to help us produce our performances as well! Here’s a list of our donors for this fiscal year.

Big Thanks from all of us at Dance Project!

In Rehearsal: Then and Now

August 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

Defero Dance Collective rehearsing for NCDF 14-15. Photo by Justin Paris

Defero Dance Collective rehearsing for NCDF 14-15. Photo by Justin Paris


Gaspard&Dancers rehearsing for the NCDF/ADF performance in June.

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Eleanor Smith’s dancers rehearsing for NCDF 13-14

Jen--Rehearsal (1)

Terranova Dance Theatre, rehearsing for NCDF tour 11-12


“Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.”
–Martha Graham

Dancers have always spent important time in rehearsals. Here are some pictures of current and past featured artists at NCDF hard at work in rehearsals. Choreographers and company members alike work tirelessly to prepare themselves for performances and this is where the behind-the-scenes magic takes place to make sure that what you’re seeing on stage is a presentation of the dancers’ best work! No matter who the different artists are each year, one thing will always stay constant: lots and lots of rehearsal. Be sure to keep checking out the blog for more updates on what’s happening behind-the-scenes this year at NCDF!

Announcing the 24th Season of the NC Dance Festival!

August 18, 2014 § 1 Comment

5 artists, 5 shows, 4 cities


Photo of Leah Wilks by Chris Walt

Photo of Leah Wilks by Chris Walt

The NC Dance Festival (NCDF) is looking forward to the 24th Season! Each season, NC-based professional choreographers are chosen in a blind adjudication process to participate in the annual NCDF statewide tour. The following artists/companies have been chosen for the 24th season of the NC Dance Festival, which begins in September 2014:

Kristen Jeppsen Groves in collaboration with Defero Dance Collective (Fayetteville & Raleigh)
Gaspard Louis/Gaspard & Dancers (Durham)
Diego Carrasco Schoch (Durham)
Sara Tourek (Greensboro)
Leah Wilks (Durham)


The companies and choreographers included on the 2014-15 NC Dance Festival touring roster will be presented at four different NC locales. Host institutions will also invite artists from their own areas to participate in the concerts locally. Following is a listing of dates and places:

Raleigh, NC

September 20, 2014 7:30pm
Jones Auditorium, Meredith College

Featuring: Diego Carrasco Dance, Gaspard&Dancers, Kristen Jeppsen Groves (in collaboration with Defero Dance Collective), Sara Ruth Tourek, VECTOR (Leah Wilks).

Local group Black Box Dance Theatre will also present work.

Boone, NC

October 24-25, 2014, 7:30pm
Valborg Theatre, Appalachian State University

Friday: Diego Carrasco Dance, Sara Ruth Tourek, VECTOR (Leah Wilks) and others

Saturday: Gaspard&Dancers, Kristen Jeppsen Groves (in collaboration with Defero Dance Collective) and others

Greensboro, NC

November 1, 2014, 7:30pm
Aycock Auditorium, UNC-Greensboro

Featuring: Diego Carrasco Dance, Gaspard&Dancers, Kristen Jeppsen Groves (in collaboration with Defero Dance Collective), Sara Ruth Tourek, VECTOR (Leah Wilks).

Local artist Amy Beasley and Audience Choice Show winner Elissa Edwards will also present work.

Charlotte, NC

January 24, 2015, 7:30pm
Robinson Hall, UNC-Charlotte

Featuring: Diego Carrasco Dance, Gaspard&Dancers, Kristen Jeppsen Groves (in collaboration with Defero Dance Collective), Sara Ruth Tourek, VECTOR (Leah Wilks) and others.

Check our website for Outreach classes and chances to speak with the artists in each site.

Come and see the NCDF in your neighborhood and support “Dance Local” artists!


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