Artistic Director William Starrett reflects on this season and what we can expect next year:
“Welcome and thank you for attending Cleopatra, the final ballet of our 57th performance season. We have enjoyed quite a successful season. Allow me to briefly recap some of the highlights of the season. We had record breaking sales of Dracula and Nutcracker; a tremendously exciting Gala with a Bite; another amazing joint performance with the SC Philharmonic in A Midsummer Night’s Dream; and, as if that weren’t enough, a packed house at the historic Township Auditorium for our presentation of Off the Wall & Onto the Stage: Dancing the Art of Jonathan Green. We also sold out our performance of Off the Wall & Onto the Stage at the Sottile Theatre in Charleston. To go one step further, we also sold out both performance of our annual Body & Movement Explored. None of this would be possible without the support of our phenomenal audiences. Thank you for continuing to support Columbia City Ballet!
With all these extraordinary successes under our belts, we now approach the end of the 2017-2018 season with one of the largest and most lavish ballets in our repertoire, and mark the retirement of our incomparable Ballerina, Regina Willoughby. Regina personally selected Cleopatra as her final stage performance. This is very appropriate since I created this ballet for Regina in 2008. At that time, I was struck by what I saw as Regina’s strong resemblance to the legendary actress, Elizabeth Taylor. I decided I just had to see her in one of Taylor’s iconic roles, and since my nature is “go big or go home,” I thought, why not Cleopatra. We last presented this ballet in 2010.
On a personal note, I want to say thank you to Regina for sharing her amazing talent and for being such an integral part of Columbia City Ballet. I certainly don’t have to tell our audiences what a one-woman tour de force Regina is. What both you and Regina may be unaware of however, is the fact that she has been an amazing gift to me as an Artistic Director. Due to her amazing confidence and her ability to abandon herself totally to the dance, I have never had to worry when Regina is on stage, I know that she is always going to deliver a memorable performance. In these, her final appearances, I say to Regina, thank you for your artistry, your beauty and your heart.
All of life is marked by passages, and as we say farewell to Regina, we are also excited to embrace the future and celebrate the incredible depth of talent of the current and future Company members of Columbia City Ballet. Already, we are turning our thoughts to our 58th performance season. In the coming weeks we will hold national auditions, bringing even more talent to the company, and we also have next season’s productions selected.
We’ll open the 2018-2019 Season in October with Dracula: Ballet with a Bite and an even more exciting Gala with a Bite! For the holidays, we will produce Nutcracker, Columbia’s oldest and largest performing arts event. While these productions are annual events, we always incorporate new elements to keep them fresh and exciting.
In January 2019, we will enter our 3rd annual joint performance with the SC Philharmonic as we present The Sleeping Beauty. With Morihiko Nakahara conducting the extraordinary Tchaikovsky score, this is guaranteed to be a ballet you don’t want to miss. Please see additional information about our Dream Team in this dancebill to learn who makes this artistic collaboration between the two organizations possible.
Once again, we will return to CMFA Arts Space, to bring you our annual Body & Movement Explored. Described as “an evening of dance where the visual and physical collide,” this presentation features original works by a variety of choreographers from across the region.
We are ending the 2018-2019 performance season with an exciting world premier ballet that will return us to the incredible world of America in the 1960s. We’ll showcase the only invasion of America since the Revolutionary War. That’s right, the British Invasion led by the Fab-Four, the one and only, The Beatles! Grab your grooviest garb, climb into your flower-power painted micro-bus, and head to the Koger Center to see Beatles the Ballet! I can assure you of an unparalleled entertainment experience in this new multi-media ballet which I am creating.
Now, allow me to invite you to join me in the ancient land of pyramids and desert sands for an inside look at the mighty civilization of Egypt and its most celebrated Queen, Cleopatra. Enjoy the performance and thank you for your continued support of Columbia City Ballet.
All my very best,