Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance will return to Winston-Salem on July 8 for a one-night-only performance.
The “unconventional” professional ballet company last performed here in 2019 after a seven-year hiatus. But the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the dancers from doing any performances last year. Previously, the company performed here from 2008 to 2012.
Terpsicorps’ artistic director and founder Heather Maloy said the company performs contemporary ballet.
“It’s more a combination of modern dance and ballet,” Maloy, a University of North Carolina School of the Arts alumnus, said.
She added that this will be the first time that Terpsicorps has performed outside in Winston-Salem.
She believes that audiences want to be inspired but may not be ready to sit inside to do it.
The company will perform in front of the waterfall in Corpening Plaza at 231 West First St. More performances had been planned but were canceled because of recent hot temperatures. Terpsicorps will contact ticketholders for the canceled performances.
A summer home
Terpsicorps said that its performances showcase critically acclaimed dancers handpicked from companies across the United States and abroad, chosen specifically for their physicality and artistic sensibilities.
Now in her 19th season as artistic director, Heather Maloy, a nationally recognized choreographer, aims to bring the community work that “delights the senses, tickles the funny bone and sheds light on the complexities of the human experience.”
The company, typically known for making bold statements on current events, is choosing instead to focus on providing this summer’s audience an escape from them.
Terpsicorps said that people can “expect a much-needed evening of laughter, inspiration and community.”
Maloy, who is originally from Winston-Salem, danced for 13 years with the North Carolina Dance Theatre under master choreographer, Salvatore Aiello. She moved to Asheville in 2003 and founded Terpsicorps, which shares a dual residency between Asheville and Winston-Salem.
“I realized, ‘Why couldn’t we be in more than one city?’” Maloy said. “I had always loved the dance audiences in Winston. They are very educated and appreciative. It’s because of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.”
Although Terpsicorps is a summer only professional ballet company, Maloy’s goal is for it to grow and become a year-round company that Asheville and Winston-Salem could share.
But being a summer only company has its advantages, she said, because most professional ballet companies lay their dancers off in the summer, providing Maloy with some of the best dancers in the country.
“Through this really beautiful environment, we have dancers from all these different places who gather and become this little family for the summer,” she said. “A lot of people will come back year after year and get to know each other really well. It’s like a little summer home.”
This year, the company has six dancers from three professional ballet companies.
Maloy said she normally hires more dancers for a show, but because she made her plans amid the pandemic, she decided to have a smaller group this year.
The cast includes Madeline Bay and Daniel Ojeda, dancers with Ballet Idaho; Michael Caye and Emma McGirr with the Nevada Ballet Theatre; and Saho Kumagai and Anderson Souza, dancers with the Atlanta Ballet.
Terpsicorps’ season sponsors in Winston-Salem are Malcolm and Patty Brown, and Mercedes-Benz of Winston-Salem and Mercedes-Benz of Greensboro.
“We’re excited about them coming,” Tim Cooper, a manager and an owner of Mercedes Benz of Winston-Salem and Mercedes Benz of Greensboro, said. “We like to do things we hope will bring people together in the community, and we think that might be a good way to do it.”
He said that Maloy is extremely talented and has put together something special.
“We like getting behind efforts like that,” Cooper said.
There are eight pieces on Terpsicorps’ program.
“Luminescent Chocolate,” and “Calm,” both choreographed by Maloy, are the first two pieces.
Maloy said she choreographed “Calm” for her husband, Travis Price.
“I have a very chaotic and crazy life and he normalizes everything and brings me down to a real level,” she said. “It’s a very beautiful duet with this one very grounded, beautiful man and this woman, who is always moving frantically. But every time they come together, everything is slower and more beautiful.”
Next on the program is Salvatore Aiello’s “Senza Fretta,” described on the playbill as “a whimsical encounter which brings forth a simpatico friendship.”
Caye and Souza will perform the piece.
“It’s a little comedic, very high energy,” Maloy said. ‘It’s a virtuoso piece that really shows off the incredible technique of these two male dancers.”
Bay, Ojeda and Souza will perform in Maloy’s comedic crowd pleaser, “Couch Potatoes,” which premiered in 2003 by the North Carolina Dance Theatre.
“This piece is dedicated to my couch and the quality time we have spent together,” Maloy said. “It’s just based on our love affairs with our couches.”
The characters are a woman in her pajamas, a wannabe jock and a hippie.
Other pieces are “Searching for You,” the concert stage premiere of “The Date” and the world premiere of “So Long,” which is choreographed by Terpsicorps’ ballet master Christopher Bandy.
According to the playbill “So Long” is “a whimsical work in four movements, choreographed in memory of a time we collectively will never forget. This new work is dedicated to all those we have lost to COVID-19. May their memories bring us joy and gratitude as we return to our lives.”
The final piece is “Famous Last Words,” a world premiere commissioned for the Beethoven Rocks Winston-Salem Festival, that is subtitled “or ... I’ll pick up toilet paper next week, there’s plenty at home.”
Maloy said “Famous Last Words” starts with a comedian who quotes many famous last words of famous people.
For this piece, the performers will go through 23 rolls of toilet paper.
“The idea of ‘Famous Last Words’ would be right before the pandemic if you were out and somebody even offered you toilet paper, you’d be. ‘I don’t need any toilet paper.’ And then you couldn’t get any,” Maloy said.
Maloy was recently at a store buying eight, 12 packs of toilet paper to get though Terpsicorps’ initial performances that started in Asheville, when a man in line starred at her.