NC Dance Festival Lands its Season Finale in Wilmington

Feb 23, 2012

When local choreographer Linda Larson dreamed up her latest creation, she started with a question: What if dolls came alive at night?

WHQR’s Sara Wood stopped by a rehearsal for Larson’s new dance piece called “French Rat Race,” set along the elaborate shops and storefront windows of Paris. The show moves to the stage in Wilmington this weekend for the last leg of the North Carolina Dance Festival.

As 12 dancers start from the top, Larson watches the run-through to iron out last-minute kinks. While her Parisian shoppers bustle across the room, her store-front mannequins stay frozen in their poses, simply watching the chaos.

“If a mannequin had a soul, or a thought, what would they be thinking about all the people in the windows that sort of poke and prod and even change their clothes in the windows? And how do they feel about going through existence as a prop?”

French Rat Race is Larson’s first experience using Scat music, which is difficult for dancers used to measuring time like this…

“5, 6, 7, 8…”

Scat gives singers the ability to improvise using sporadic syllables and sounds instead of words.

“It's impossible to count. So, my dancers have been very patient when all I've been able to come at them with is, 'You do it after the skeepy bop ssiggggh!”

This weekend, work from local choreographers and touring companies will be showcased together.

Sue Meier, along with Larson, is based out of the Wilmington studio the Dance Cooperative. She says the festival is not only an opportunity to perform. It’s also a chance to stay connected to the larger dance community.

“Seeing their work, keeps us in tune with what's happening in other parts because a lot of people are travelling all over the country as well as the world, so it's great we're always excited to see what they're bringing in.”

Since Wilmington’s stage and production resources aren’t as elaborate as other cities, dancers rolls up their sleeves to pitch in on the technical side as well as performing. It’s a one-for-all mentality that Meier says echoes throughout the Dance Cooperative as a whole. It’s an inclusive dance community that doesn’t discriminate by age, body type or ability.

“We base it on the movement. And not necessarily what you can afford to do or can’t afford to do, or what your body will do or won’t do. We’re never critical on that side. I mean, yes, you will get corrections and great technique, but it’s really about keeping that person whole.”

As dancers work tirelessly through the long hours of rehearsal, they pop from their poses, bringing to life the drawings Larson sketched in her notebook. Mannequins will finally get to bear their souls to audiences of the festival’s grand finale.

The North Carolina Dance Festival runs through the weekend at the Community Arts Center in Wilmington. For more information on performance schedules and tickets, .

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