Moore OnStage and Taylor Dance Team Up for 'Tributes'
BY MARY ELLE HUNTER
Special to The Pilot
An extraordinary dance production is brightening up the stage of the Robert E. Lee Auditorium at Pinecrest High School on Memorial Day weekend.
Moore OnStage and the Taylor Dance Company present "Tributes - A Dance Spectacular," a spirited blend of dance, music and song featuring ballet, jazz, tap and contemporary choreography created by Gary Taylor.
A recipient of the prestigious National Choreographic Award by the Regional Dance America division of the Southeastern Ballet Association twice during his career, Gary Taylor is recognized for his mastery of innovative choreography, instruction and performance.
Rita and Gary Taylor, who figure prominently in the regional dance scene, are a visionary team dedicated to creating inventive works of professional caliber.
Sixty dancers and singers, including Kelcie Frye, Nicholas Smith, Tajari Goins and Caroline Gallagher, will delight the audience in a fast-paced, glamorous production.
The Taylor Dance Company is drawn from talented advanced students, augmented on this occasion by two women and five men who are professional dancers
The three-act production of "Tributes," as described by Rita Taylor, "opens with a set of ballet movements, backed by music from seven classic Broadway shows, and then glides into a Sinatra suite, a special creation by Gary. From that vantage point, we move to the second act with rock ballet demonstrating the range of classical training and how it is the basis for all types of dance technique, to music from swing to the jazz stylings of Herbie Hancock."
In Act Two, fantastic tap numbers are featured along with four energetic jitterbug pairs topped off by the slower rhythms of bluesy ballads.
Act Three transports the audience to several foreign countries, to view dance with a Japanese influence, to West Africa and Ireland, and to the movements of India's Bollywood
Gary Taylor observes that the Bollywood number is a performance method borrowed from the dancing in Hollywood production numbers that merges with traditional hand gestures of the native dances of India.
"It was represented in the Oscar-winning film several years ago, 'Slumdog Millionaire,' and I created choreography based on this exciting and exotic dance style," he says.
Rita and Gary Taylor work as a team on the concept for all of their productions. No strangers to the art of producing, they use the services of New York-based professionals in lighting, sound and production design to showcase their dancers and singers
Christine Fowle, who also acts as the couple's personal assistant, is the costume designer for "Tributes."
She has selected attire that is indicative of the periods relating to the dance numbers. For instance, in Act I, the emphasis is on black and white, with tuxedos for the male dancers and sophisticated looks for the female dancers.
"Red is the predominant color for Act II, and of course, Act III is costumed with a wide range of international hues," says Rita Taylor.
Gary explains that when he and Rita plan a show, they take into consideration the interweaving of vocals with dance selections.
"You could say that it's similar to putting the pieces of a gigantic jigsaw puzzle together," he says. "We think about covering costume changes for the dancers, and choosing the appropriate opening and closing numbers for each of the three acts is always a challenge."
This energetic and enthusiastic pair, in addition to running the dance studios and a Children's Theatre in Southern Pines, also has a pre-professional company in High Point and the Winston-Salem Festival Ballet. The Winston-Salem venture is just finishing its second full year, and they have collaborated with the symphony and the opera in Winston-Salem during that time.
Rita is particularly proud of the Children's Theatre, directed by Kim Fielder-Jones.
"We provide a year-round experience for youth who are interested in theater and have presented such productions as 'Camelot,' 'West Side Story,' 'Grease' and 'Footloose,'" she says.
How Rita and Gary Taylor manage to keep up with all three locations simultaneously might seem to be a daunting task.
However, they say they have a great staff and have become masters of scheduling. Their 10 to 12 teachers work on a rotating basis at each location, and for the most part, the teaching staff is versatile in working with a total of some 500 dance students.
In encouraging Sandhills families to spend part of the holiday weekend seeing the show, Rita and Gary Taylor point out that the music is familiar, and it is an intriguing production with lots of movement.
"Even the men in the audience won't be bored," says Gary. Rita adds, "It is an infectious sort of performance that will tempt you to get up and dance in the aisles along with the participants on stage."
"Tributes - A Dance Spectacular" will be performed Saturday, May 26, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, May 27, at 2 p.m. For tickets, priced at $22 for adults and $15 for students 18 and under, call (910) 692-7118. MasterCard, Visa and Discover are accepted. Media sponsorship provided by WLHC Life 103.1 FM.
Contact Pinehurst freelance writer Mary Elle Hunter at mehunter email@example.com
More like this story