Dig Baton Rouge

Harlem Ballet Inspires

By Claire Salinas

“Come to the show to be inspired, enlightened, entertained and uplifted. That’s why anyone should partake in any art. You may discover something new that you had not expected to see through these ballets.”

The Dance Theatre of Harlem will be coming to the Baton Rouge River Center to perform a ballet that according to Ballet Master Keith Saunders seeks to, “inspire, educate and entertain” through highlighting diversity and making social commentary.

Three different ballets will be performed during the October 28 performance.

The first is a classical ballet entitled Pas de Dix, staged by the late Freddy Franklin, the second piece tells the story of the great migration of African-Americans from the South to the North called Past-Carry-Forward and the final piece is entitled Return.

Past-Carry-Forward tells the story of the Great Migration of African Americans from the rural South to Northern and industrial states to escape the racism and Jim Crow laws of the South. Specifically, it examines through the eyes of African Americans what they went through in that part of the century. Several scenarios are explored in the piece, including a party scene that takes place in Harlem and a scene that takes place in the segregated military.

Return is a ballet that opens up into an extended abstract session, which according to Saunders, “seeks to imagine a new future and a new time after the great migration.”

The company has recently begun their tour of the country and will continue traveling and performing through January.

While being on the road can become grueling, according to Saunders, it’s all part of the job.
“It’s undoubtedly very physically demanding,” he said. “We work six out of every seven days, either traveling or rehearsing and performing. It’s also what we signed up for, this is what we do.”

Saunders feels that the diversity of the performance will greatly add to the culture of Baton Rouge.

“By bringing what we do to Baton Rouge, or any community, we’re contributing to the culture of that community by virtue of our being there. Dance Theatre of Harlem has been a touring company, so we take influences from all over the world.”

For Saunders there is nothing more satisfying then seeing what this diverse cast can achieve through their performance.

“For me its all about new possibilities and discovering what the art form is capable of expressing, what dancers are capable of achieving and how that all comes together.”

Saunders believes that attendees will be inspired by the performances and encourages them to come with an open mind.

“Come to the show to be inspired, enlightened, entertained and uplifted. That’s why anyone should partake in any art. You may discover something new that you had not expected to see through these ballets.”

Tickets can be purchased online at www.brrivercenter.com for the Tuesday, October 28 performance which will begin at 7:30 p.m. at The River Center.

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