Above: North Carolina Dance Company's Pete Leo Walker. Photo credit: Peter Zay.

Above: North Carolina Dance Theatre’s Pete Leo Walker. Photo credit: Peter Zay.

By Douglas Singleton

For this year’s performance of “Innovative Works,” North Carolina Dance Theatre Artistic Director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux collaborates with local poet-actor Quentin Talley on a performance titled “Transformation.”

Talley starts by blending in with the audience. As the performance progresses, he breaks the fourth wall and joins the dancers on stage. “I transformed from audience to artist,” Talley said.

The $1.1 million grant Knight Foundation announced tonight for the North Carolina Dance Theatre is about just that – transforming audience and artists. The grant provides for new and contemporary works, much like “Transformation,” that we hope will attract and engage audiences.

Knight Foundation also recognizes the importance of the artists, and awarded $100,000 to increase the dancers’ weeks of employment. Generating additional weeks of work for the dancers ensures that North Carolina Dance Theatre remains competitive in its attraction and retention of high-quality, diverse dance talent.

As dancer Jamie Dee said: “I chose to dance for North Carolina Dance Theatre because of the strong artistic leadership and the opportunity to grow professionally through powerful and challenging choreography. Knight Foundation’s gift reaffirms my belief that North Carolina Dance Theatre will continue to be a company where I can grow as a dancer – both because I’ll be pushed in new, contemporary ballets and because of the commitment to increase dancer work weeks. It’s an incredible feeling knowing we as artists are valued and supported by the community where we perform.”

Audience and artists. Knight Foundation’s generous gift supports both. As a company we look forward to providing a stable environment for our dancer’s to grow and excel, while expanding our repertoire and furthering our mission to present innovative programming that challenges, educates and enriches Charlotte.

Douglas Singleton is executive director of North Carolina Dance Theatre, recipient of $1.1 million in new funding from Knight Foundation.

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