How does NC #dancelocal? Charlotte Edition

March 17, 2014 § 1 Comment

Charlotte’s Top 10: The best things about dancing in Charlotte


10. Room to breathe.

Charlotte is a great location for many artists who share a love of  both the city and country. Arlynn Zachary loves to live in a place that allows for breathing room where you can have one foot in the city and one foot in the country at the same time. “There is a small-town feel where you get to know most of the other dancers within our community fairly quickly (if you get involved), and a large-town feel when you get to perform in some of the bigger theaters in uptown Charlotte,” Arlynn says.

Charlotte's NoDa Historic Art District Community gallery crawl

Charlotte’s NoDa Historic Art District Community gallery crawl Photo Credit: VISIT CHARLOTTE

Event photography of Charlotte Alive After Five at Charlotte Epicentre

Charlotte Epicentre Photo credit: VISIT CHARLOTTE

9. It’s still Rock n Roll to me. 

A great non-dance related piece of living in the Charlotte area is the music scene. “The music scene in Charlotte is pretty great. My husband is in a band, Sinners & Saints, as are several friends of ours, so I am always going out and checking out live music” Audrey Baran says. She and other Charlotte locals are excited about supporting live music which is why she is using live musicians for her next show!

Nightly entertainment at the NC Music Factory in downtown Charlotte, NC

Nightly entertainment at the NC Music Factory in downtown Charlotte, NC Photo Credit: VISIT CHARLOTTE

8. Improvisation Station.

Along with the popular modern/contemporary dance scene in Charlotte, one thing that is really heating up is contact improvisation. Audrey Baran  is helping to organize a quarterly Improv Jam with some friends to build community involvement and a safe space to play.

7. Class Time.

Practice makes perfect! Charlotte is home to Open Door Studios,and  The School of NCDT, which is a beautiful facility and performance space. Central Piedmont Community College offers classes with Humphrey-Weidman dancer Mary Ann Mee, who Audrey Baran calls “a hidden gem.” UNC-Charlotte, a long-time host of the NC Dance Festival, also boasts top-notch faculty and a variety of classes, performances, and outreach ventures.

Open Door Studios Photo credit:

6. Giving back.

There are a lot of organizations in Charlotte with kind hearts who believe in giving back to the community and beyond.  Triptych Collective make socially-engaged performance art and incorporate outreach and volunteering into their process. TAPROOT hosts “Incubator” events, where artists from various disciplines can share work and get feedback from the crowd. Open Door Studios and Kim Jones of UNCC both offer free classes to students at Our Bridge, an after-school program for refugee and immigrant children. These groups  do most of their work in collaboration with other artists of multiple mediums, and other art (and non-art) organizations. Building the greater community is definitely a top priority in each of these groups.

5. Inspiration.

“It is hard not be inspired by everything happening!” Says Audrey.

Arlynn says, “I am involved with most of the dance organizations/companies in Charlotte in some form or another, and being able to work with such wonderful people who have been so generous and driven, is what has kept me in Charlotte. There is a place for dance here – we are making it happen – that is my favorite thing.”

Caroline Calouche believes The Charlotte Dance Festival is an important inspirational force in the city. She says, “I believe the Charlotte Dance Festival has helped the community give opportunities to rising choreographers.”

Photography by: Kathleen Temple, ArtsFest, Inc. Design by: Leanne Moore

4. Hot Performance Spots.

Charlotte is home to both old and new performance venues which make it a historical and trendy place to dance! The beautiful Theatre Charlotte has been around for over 80 years. The Chop Shop is an awesome warehouse-turned-performance-space, where  Dance Under the City Sounds will be shown on June 11th. Performing in “unconventional” spaces seems to be a trend in Charlotte. Caroline Calouche enjoys dancing outside in the parks and plazas uptown. Upstage and Petra’s are both cabaret-style venues perfect for intimate performances. And of course, larger theaters like Booth Playhouse, Spirit Square, and Knight Theater are amazing to perform in.

Charlotte in bloom in spring 2011

Knight Theater Photo Credit: VISIT CHARLOTTE

3. Emerging Companies.

While the Charlotte area has long been known for ballet through the North Carolina Dance Theatre, over the past 3 years Modern and Contemporary companies have begun to be a strong presence in the community. When Caroline started her company Caroline Calouche&Co. 8 years ago, there were only 3 companies in Charlotte. Those 3 are still there in addition to many more independent and collaborative companies that help inform people about dance.  Popular companies include: Moving Poets, Echo Contemporary Dance Company (recently re-located to Boston), Triptych Collective, Taproot Ensemble, Baran Dance, Deep Water Collaborations, and THE MARK dance company. For the thrill seekers, Charlotte also has a hand full of reputable aerial studios.

Moving Poets_Sarah and Javy_digital

Moving Poets Photo credit: Jeff Cravotta

2. The Arts are Alive.

As artists we love areas booming with any form of art and Charlotte does not disappoint in this category. Every weekend you can find gallery crawls, incredible bands both locally and nationally, and plenty of art exhibitions. One of Sarah Emery’s favorite spots is the McColl Center. This contemporary art center is located in an old historic neo-gothic church Uptown. It brings in various artists for periods of residency. It is open to the public with over 5000 sq. ft. of gallery space for exhibitions, open studios, workshops etc.

Wells Fargo Community Celebration in Charlotte, NC

The Mint Museum Community Celebration in Charlotte, NC Photo credit: VISIT CHARLOTTE

1.Teamwork makes the dream work.

The people of Charlotte are what really stand out in making it a great place to live and dance! Sarah says her favorite thing about dancing in Charlotte are the dancers and their tight knit groups, “We are working hard to collaborate among dance companies in support of the bigger picture…dance in Charlotte. There is not a lot of “us and them.” Audrey says, “I love that Charlotte is small enough that the dance community is closely knit and everybody knows everybody else, but large enough that there is lots of diversity and opportunities for dance are constantly popping up. The city is growing in so many ways, and it’s exciting to see dance and the arts be part of that growth.”

Many thanks to the dancers who gave us the inside scoop on the Charlotte dance community!

What’s on your top 10 list about dancing in Charlotte? Don’t forget to send us your #dancelocal images for our photo contest–details here.


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§ One Response to How does NC #dancelocal? Charlotte Edition

  • Faith says:

    What a great article! I love the dance community in Charlotte and look forward to seeing the modern dance scene grow.

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