The Appalachian State University Department of Theatre and Dance welcomed guest artist Laura Pettibone Wright to campus for a week-long residency in late October. An accomplished dancer, master teacher, dance historian and noted répétiteur of the Erick Hawkins dance technique, Wright taught master classes, gave lectures and restaged an original Hawkins piece, “New Moon,” with 12 Appalachian dance students who will recreate the choreographer’s masterwork during the 2018 “Fall Appalachian Dance Ensemble” (FADE), with performances Nov. 14–17 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. in Valborg Theatre on the university campus.
Wright earned a double major in music and dance with a minor in art. This combination piqued her curiosity of Hawkins’ dance company due to his interest in a wide range of disciplines and cultures that spoke to her desire to dig deeply into philosophic, spiritual and aesthetic thought. Pettibone has toured nationally and internationally for over a decade as a renowned dancer with the Erick Hawkins Dance Company, where she performed numerous roles by Hawkins. She now functions as a historian and répétiteur of Hawkins’ dances and teaches Hawkins technique throughout the U.S. as well as in Greece and Austria.
When asked about the piece “New Moon,” Hawkins said, “it is an exact embodiment of the human need to begin again. The new moon is a metaphor for such a resurgence of life.”
Wright spoke highly of the Appalachian student dancers, saying, “I have found the App State dance students to be fully invested in the process of restaging Hawkins’ dance. They are eager to find the nuance of the style and poetic expression of the choreography. Since I am only here for a week, we have had long, daily rehearsals and they are giving their all. I am grateful for their work to achieve the essence of this beautiful piece.”
Appalachian dance faculty member Dr. Jessica Wood, a close friend and former colleague of Wright's, is serving as rehearsal assistant for the work and will shepherd the piece through technical rehearsals and performances.
Hawkins was an internationally accomplished dancer and choreographer who changed the face of modern dance as we know it today. Originally from Trinidad, Colorado, Hawkins received a scholarship to Harvard University where he studied the classics. Throughout the years, Hawkins found his successes as an artist as the first student at George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet and the first male dancer in the Martha Graham Dance Company. He then started his own company in the 1950s, where he collaborated with contemporary composers and visual artists to create a style that was uniquely his own: The Hawkins Technique.
Tickets for the 2018 “Fall Appalachian Dance Ensemble” are $17 for adults, $15 for faculty and staff and $10 for students and are available at theatreanddance.appstate.edu or by calling 800-841-ARTS (2787).
The Valborg Theatre is a 334-seat modified thrust performance venue located on campus at the north side of Chapell Wilson Hall on Howard Street in Boone. The theatre entrance faces the back of the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts on King Street. Parking is available after 5 p.m. on campus in faculty/staff lots and after 5:30 p.m. in the College Street parking deck near Belk Library and Information Commons.
by Sabrina Furches
About the Department of Theatre and Dance
The Department of Theatre and Dance is one of seven departments housed in Appalachian’s College of Fine and Applied Arts. Its mission is to facilitate transformative experiences for students and the public, which cultivate compassionate, creative and collaborative communities through theatre and dance. The department also offers coursework for integrated learning through the arts to the general university student population. Its dynamic co-curricular production program provides exemplary theatre and dance experiences to departmental students, the university community and the region.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls over 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.