Instead of heading off to the ballet this year, Collage Dance Collective is bringing the ballet to you by way of televised performances and a new archive of digital content.
With Covid precautions preventing large gatherings, the local dance conservatory sought to make access to their art and culture more feasible for Memphians and others across the world. December 14th is the set date for the first of three televised, 30-minute performances, all airing on WREG News Channel 3 at 6:30PM just after the highest rated and most watched 6 o’ clock news in Memphis.
- Episode 1: ‘Tis the season’ will set the scene for the holiday season, featuring the majestic second act of Swan Lake, a world premiere by Amy Hall Garner and the inspiring Dream Medley featuring acclaimed tenor Rodrick Dixon.
- Episode 2: ‘Rise’ will kick off the beginning of Black History Month with Collage’s trademark performance honoring the legacy and contributions of giants and pioneers whose shoulders we stand on. The program includes Kevin Thomas’ iconic Rise ballet, featuring both professional company and conservatory dancers, and Kevin Iega Jeff’s Trilogy.
- Episode 3: ‘Spring in my Step’ will welcome in the new season with premieres of new works: the world premiere of Kevin Thomas’ Firebird and the Memphis premiere of Kevin Iega Jeff’s re-imagined Flack, a riveting work featuring music by legendary songstress Roberta Flack.
The second and third performances won’t air until February 1st and April 21st, but, to keep folks fully engaged during the in between time, they’ve rolled out a digital membership model. From short films, artist spotlights, and never-before-seen performances to exclusive deep discounts for adults classes and merchandise, and special invitations to online and offline events, “ONE Members,” will pull back the curtain even further for those wanting a more in-depth look into the modern day dance world, for just $11/month.
Plus, if those 30-minute showings aren’t enough, ONE Members will also provide access to the full one-hour length performances for each of the three airings mentioned above.
It feels like it’s been over a year since I last wrote about Collage celebrating their 10th year of operation, but that was just a few months ago. Since they hit that major milestone back in February of 2020, they’ve opened their new, 22,000 square-foot studio space off of Sam Cooper, and pivoted all programming to safely address the needs of the dancers and the community they currently serve—offering online instruction and limiting class sizes to adhere to social distancing.
Photos: 1st and 3rd by Raphael Baker. 2nd by Ariel J Cobbert.
In October of 2019, I had the pleasure of attending Collage’s Swan Lake in Memphis performance—my first experience seeing a ballet cast fully with dancers of color, and the first ever production of Swan Lake with POC cast in history. What a joy it was to see a stage full of dancers who looked like me, representing a city that is also mine. What an honor it is to have a local, cultural institution that’s paving the way for more dancers of color to take the stage. And what a privilege it will be for others who’ve never witnessed such a sight to now have access to this kind of artistic display.