State of the Art

Charlotte Ballet’s Soirée: Diversity in motion, action

Taiko drumming will be part of “Soirée,” Charlotte Ballet’s fundraising evening for Reach and the Dancer’s Fund.
Taiko drumming will be part of “Soirée,” Charlotte Ballet’s fundraising evening for Reach and the Dancer’s Fund. Courtesy of Charlotte Ballet

Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux likes to say his troupe took the name Charlotte Ballet because it’s headquartered here, and “everything we do is ballet.” But when the company goes outside itself for a fundraiser, it can do anything in the big wide world of dance.

That’s why “Soirée,” an evening from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Knight Theater, knows no boundaries.

Your $75 would be well-spent if it did no more than buy entry to the party hosted by Corps de Ballet, Charlotte Ballet’s volunteer service and social organization. That party offers international cuisine, live music by Los Leones Latin Jazz and live and silent auctions. The money raised will go to the scholarship dance program Reach and the Dancer’s Fund, which supports the recruitment and retention of dancers from diverse backgrounds.

But the one-hour performance in the middle of the evening is a jawdropper:

Classical Indian dancer Preeti Vasudevan performs alongside a singer and drummer. Charlotte Ballet associate artistic director Sasha Janes has set a new piece to the music of Vadim Kolpakov, one of the great Russian Roma (Gypsy) seven-string guitarists in the world.

Japanese drummers Triangle Taiko will perform with Charlotte Ballet dancers in a new work by choreographer Mark Diamond. And Wideman/Davis Dance, a company with roots in New York and Columbia, will perform; that company usually explores social issues from an African-American perspective.

I have a soft spot for Reach, which offers dance training, dancewear, transportation and tickets to attend Charlotte Ballet performances at no cost to students aged 7 through 13. It’s based on the potential to be trained in dance and demonstrated financial need, and 110 students train twice a week at five Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Centers.

Charlotte Ballet does more than pay lip service to diversity in its company and its training programs. And for one night, that diversity will spill onto the stage in a different way, as four cultures come together for a remarkable hour.

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