In its first four years, Carolina Performing Arts paid for the production of 15 premiere performances.
Tonight, the Philadelphia Dance Company, called PHILADANCO, will perform “Watching Go By, The Day,” — the first commissioned performance since 2009 and the only one this season.
SEE THE PERFORMANCE
7:30 p.m. tonight at Memorial Hall
Tickets are $10 to $44.
A commissioned show is a performance that Carolina Performing Arts asks an artist to create specially to premiere at Memorial Hall, said Ellen James, manager of marketing and communications for the Executive Office for the Arts.
“We’re a place where pieces will be seen before the rest of the world,” James said.
“Watching Go By, The Day,” — one work in the four-dance program — cost Carolina Performing Arts $50,000 to commission. The money was raised through private donations, James said.
“Our budgets are tight, and we always have to be … using our budgets wisely and intelligently,” James said.
“Normally we do have more (commissioned pieces) but this does make this piece even more special.”
Hope Boykin, a Durham native and former PHILADANCO dancer, choreographed the piece.
Emil Kang, executive director for the arts, knew Boykin from her performances at Memorial Hall as a dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater of New York.
Kang approached her about a year and a half ago about commissioning the work, Boykin said.
“Emil is supporting me in a way that artists wish they could be supported all over the world,” Boykin said.
“He’s basically saying, ‘I respect you, I appreciate you and I want to continue to support what you do.’”
PHILADANCO was formed in 1970 by Joan Myers Brown, a dancer and trainer in Philadelphia who wanted to provide a place for black dancers to perform.
“We were coming out of the era of segregation,” she said. “In Philadelphia, there was no company that would hire the dancers that I would train.”
Now, PHILADANCO is internationally recognized for its high energy and various styles of dance.
Boykin said “Watching Go By, The Day,” is an abstract representation of characters going through a typical day.
“I’m not necessarily trying to convey a story,” she said. “I’d like people to say, ‘Oh, I can relate to that redundancy.’”
Boykin has had her choreography commissioned before, but “Watching Go By, The Day” is the first near her home.
“For me it’s not just an opportunity, it’s a blessing,” she said.
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