Collage Dance Collective Executive Director Marcellus Harper and Artistic Director Kevin Thomas have been talking for years about how their dance company looks and who they bring in to choreograph new work. "It was very obvious to us that our rep didn't have a lot of women choreographers," Harper says. "There really aren't a whole lot of women choreographing ballet, and when you think of women of color, the group becomes even smaller. As a dance company, we wanted to be intentional about artist selection and to add more women's voices to the company's repertoire."
Collage's season opener is a result of this ongoing conversation. Femme collects two world premieres, a regional premiere, and a local favorite, all created by female choreographers.
- Collage presents Femme
The world premieres Collage is adding to its rep have been developed by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre choreographer Amy Hall Garner and University of Illinois professor and Dance Theatre Harlem alum Endalyn Taylor. Gemma Bond's contribution to the mix was previously performed at American Ballet Theatre.
Camille Brown's work will be more familiar to Collage fans. Her dance, "New Second Line," uses New Orleans-style brass band music and was inspired by events leading up to and after Hurricane Katrina.
"What this program does very well is show off the range of our dancers," Harper says. "They can go from very romantic, neoclassical work to contemporary work, weaving through different styles with ease.
"We want to reach people who think ballet isn't for them," he adds. "We want people who think ballet is stuffy. And also, we want to reach people who love art and can't get enough."