Local Arts

We asked three people in-the-know to point us toward great arts events this season: Here’s what they picked

Drew Dansby

Drew Dansby is a 17-year-old cellist and violinist, heralded by local classical music leaders as one of the best young musicians in Charlotte. (Says his teacher, Alan Black, principal cellist for the Charlotte Symphony: "He plays like he's 40. He focuses in a way I've never seen anyone do before.") Drew sent us his choices days after returning home from touring in Asia with the elite National Youth Orchestra of the USA. What’s Dansby most looking forward to in the upcoming season?

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Drew Dansby Diedra Laird dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

“Carmen” at Opera Carolina: Although I’ve never seen an opera before, the name Carmen is certainly familiar. I have played various movements of Bizet’s Carmen Suites in youth orchestra more times than I can count, so I’m intrigued to experience the complete theatrical drama whence this music originates. And while some newcomers like me might perceive opera as sometimes old-fashioned and stuffy, the presence of a fierce, flamboyant female lead in this show is certainly refreshing and enticing.

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“Carmen” at Opera Carolina. Design by Kendra Slisz for Opera Carolina

Charlotte Ballet’s “Innovative Works”: I was astonished to learn that the pieces on the program have not yet been choreographed or even named. I admire the collaborative nature of this freestyle performance – the dancers themselves include both professionals from the company and students from UNCC, while the creation of the pieces will combine the perspectives of choreographers, a playwright, and even a professor of Shakespeare.

“Matilda” at Children’s Theatre: Roald Dahl is an author I loved as a younger kid, and I still adore his books for their creativity and seamless storytelling. I’ve never experienced his stories in any other medium other than ink on paper, so I can’t wait to experience Matilda on a stage with live characters. My younger sister and I share a love for this story in particular because of its empowering message to children – it reminds us all to value childlike wonder over both staunch conformity and even conventional genius. I suspect that the atmosphere of a children’s theater communicates this idea in an especially unassuming and personal way.

“Holst The Planets” at the Charlotte Symphony: I’m very excited to witness the Charlotte Symphony take on Gustav Holst’s masterpiece. As a young aspiring cellist, this work helped me to fall in love with orchestral music. Although I was five years younger at the time, I vividly remember playing two movements (Mars and Jupiter) from this suite under the baton of Christopher Warren-Green in a side-by-side with the youth orchestra and the Symphony. Then, we shook the walls of Belk Theater with the glorious vibrations of a 200-member orchestra, and now I am eager to see The Planets performed again on the same stage with the same conductor. In addition, it’s admirable to see the Symphony breaking outside of familiar classics to introduce concertgoers to a more nebulous piece which composer Eric Whitacre completed just three years ago. Scored for electronic instruments, chorus, and orchestra, “Deep Field” was inspired by cosmic images from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Davita Galloway

Davita Galloway, co-owner of the definition-defying dupp & swat, hosts and convenes artists across many genres in different events and in various venues – the August “Summatime” edition of #ImAnArtistDammit at Camp North End, for example, brought together food, music, theater and more, while the next #ShapingCLT interactive show at the Levine Museum of the New South is coming up Sept. 12. The title: “Unpacking Privilege.” We asked her what she’s most looking forward to, in the coming arts season.

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Davita Galloway Courtesy of Davita Galloway

The Black Mecca, Sept. 22 at Camp North End: “Art, tech, and unique activations” celebrate Black Culture in America at this festival. Says Galloway, “With a smorgasbord of offerings and curated experiences surrounding ‘blackness,’ THE BLACK MECCA piques my interest as it promises to be unapologetic, hella dope and, honestly, needed.

The Daffodil Girls,” Nov. 8-10 and 15-17: Three Bone Theatre’s description is “Lie. Cheat. Steal. Sell Cookies. Inspired by David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, THE DAFFODIL GIRLS turns the famous tale of manhood and cut-throat real estate sales into a dark comedy centering on a group of pre-teen girls trying to make their way through cookie sale season for their scout troupe.” Galloway says: “A longtime fan of their voice, I’m super excited to see THREE BONE THEATRE tackle this twisted ‘cookie sale’ tale during its East Coast Premiere.”

A still from “Dark Manhattan,” made in 1937. Courtesy of the Gantt

Dark Manhattan,” Oct. 14 screening at the Gantt Center, which describes its plot like this: “A low-level gangster determines to let nothing stand in the way of his gaining control of the numbers rackets in Harlem.” Galloway says: “For no other reason than simply having a certain level of adoration for gangsters — as their risk-taking is admirable — I’m all in on this one.”

Ken Lambla

Ken Lambla has been dean of UNC Charlotte's College of Arts + Architecture since 2002 and on the faculty since 1983, and is known to show up, as one curator put it, "at every single art event in the area. I don't know how he does it." What’s Lambla most excited about in the upcoming season?

Ken Lambla Michael LoBiondo 704-521-1210 Michael LoBiondo

Charlotte Ballet is presenting several important works for the Charlotte audience. Fall Works, Oct. 11-13, includes Medhi Walerski’s “Petite Ceremonie,” which was created through his long association with Nederland Dans Theatre and will be stunning. Sasha Janes will present a new work to Leonard Bernstein which should also be great. Innovative Works, Jan. 25-Feb. 16, 2019, will include an important Shakespeare collaboration with choreographer Peter Chu along with UNC Charlotte professors Dr. Andrew Hartley and Dr. Lynne Conner.

“Talking Walls,” with a panel discussion on Oct. 10, is initiating 15 mural projects throughout the city. The physical fabric of Charlotte is filled with blank walls, common images and impersonal references; this set of projects intends to “open up” the potential for visual intelligence to be an everyday experience.

Refik Anadol, who created the “Interconnected” data sculpture at the new airport terminal, will speak about this ASC Public Art project at UNC Charlotte Center City Building at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 17. The sculpture displays ever-changing data representations of the airport's “inner workings.”

Not last, the effort to present sensory friendly performances by Children's Theatre of Charlotte (first this season: “Matilda” on Oct. 14), Charlotte Ballet (including “Nutcracker” Dec. 13), and others should receive greater attention as the arts and design communities recognize how new audiences can include a broader cross-section of the population.