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Avant Chamber Ballet Is Bringing Live Music Back to Dance

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On the heels of a number of dance companies following the theatrical standard of announcing their season's offerings, fledging company Avant Chamber Ballet is presenting a line-up that promises to keep audience and dancers busy in the coming year.

Avant Chamber Ballet is one of the newest ballet companies on the Dallas dance scene, and one that shows a lot of promise. Their most recent offering, a new take on Alice in Wonderland, gave a refreshing view of the beloved classic. Artistic Director Katie Puder showed what you could do with a small budget, but big dreams: a simple yet sophisticated performance in which all the elements at play, from the set, to costumes, to choreography, worked together to produce a living fantasy.

That desire for clean lines, organization, and immersive performative experiences comes from Puder's time studying under Paul Mejia of the Paul Mejia Ballet International (and previously of the now-defunct Metropolitan Classical Ballet) and Mejia's time studying under George Balanchine. You can always expect a neo-classic clarity and restraint, brisk footwork, and live music (a testament passed down from Balanchine and Mejia) from an Avant Chamber show, and this new season stays true to that mission.

For 2014-15, Puder and her company embark on their most ambitious season yet. It's the biggest one to date and is, once again, devoted to live music - an element that dance critics in this city beg for. When it comes to ballet, the addition of live music has the potential to take a solid performance to a more memorable full-bodied experience. It takes over all of the senses. Not only are you watching something that could be deemed super-human--try dancing en pointe, I dare you--you're hearing famous pieces of classical music or listening to the premiere of an original composition. It's almost as if, for a moment, we are transported back to a world where the performing arts and musical arts couldn't live without each other. It was a beautiful time, and if you can be taken back there even if it's only for an hour or so, it's worth it.

"It's hard to pick just one thing I'm excited about, because we have more shows, more dancers, more opportunities, and more support," says Puder, "but if I had to narrow it down, I would have to say it's all the collaborations that are happening with composers, musicians, other dance groups, and organizations."

For the first time in their relatively short existence, Puder is handing over the choreographic reins to new choreographers, including Dark Circles Contemporary Dance's Joshua Peugh, and local dancers, Elizabeth Gillaspy and Emily Hunter. It will be interesting to see how Peugh's contemporary and abstract style sits with these classically trained dancers, and what Gillaspy and Hunter produce. Avant Chamber will also be working on a collaboration with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, which falls in direct line with their mission to always have live music at their shows.

See also: From South Korea to Dallas, Dark Circles Contemporary Dance Crafts New Vocabulary

The company is also adding more performances to their season. Up until their well-received Alice in Wonderland this spring, they had only been able to do one performance of each production. Now, they are gaining enough momentum, and audience support, to expand their production schedule to include a weekend of performances.

"One of my goals has always been to provide my dancers and musicians more performances. I'd rather do a long run in a 500 seat theatre than one night in an opera hall," Puder says.

With two of their shows taking place at the Eisemann Center in Richardson for multiple nights, I'd say that Puder has overcome a huge hurdle facing many emerging companies today.

Here is the complete season overview, with dates, times, location, and pieces:

FALL PROGRAM: Eisemann Center, Richardson, TX October 11 & 12, 2014 8:00 and 3:00 PM

Carnival of Animals - World Premiere Choreography by Katie Puder Music by Camille Saint-Saens

Title to be Announced - U.S. Premiere Choreography by Joshua Peugh Music to be announced

Exactly Woven Choreography by Katie Puder Music by Dimitri Shostakovich

HOLIDAY CELEBRATION - World Premiere: November 20, 2014 Whites Chapel, Southlake, TX Presented by Apex Arts League

Choreography by Katie Puder Music by Tchaikovsky, Carols and more

WOMEN'S CHOREOGRAPHIC PROJECT - Inaugural Year: March 7 and 8, 2015 Eisemann Center, Richardson, TX

Mixed program featuring commissions of female choreographers including Elizabeth Gillaspy, Emily Hunter, and Katie Puder. SOLUNA: International Music and Arts Festival May 7 - 24, 2015 Dallas, TX


254 Dance Festival September, 2014 Waco, TX

Plano Dance Festival April, 2015 Plano, TX

Programming and casting for all productions are subject to change without notice.

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