Dance is a universal language, and Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet thrives on crossing the borders of interpretation with dancers from all corners of the globe and leading-edge choreographers. “I want everyone in the audience to identify with someone or something in our performances,” says young French artistic director Benoit-Swan Pouffer from his New York studio. “I love the differences and the contrasts. We promote international diversity; it is our mission to cultivate and commission new work from all over the world.”
Returning to Charleston from its well-received debut in 2009, the 16-member company—founded in 2003 by Walmart heiress and arts patron Nancy Laurie—has evolved into one of the world’s most popular contemporary dance companies, known for thought-provoking performances and cross-cultural pollination. For this year’s festival, three European choreographers offer an eclectic and explosive repertory. In Violet Kid, the U.K.’s Hofesh Shechter creates a complex dance of patterns and rhythms, reflecting man’s struggle to find harmony within chaos. Angelin Preljocaj, an Albanian native residing in France, examines the religious theme of Annonciation in an abstract and compelling way. And young Canadian Crystal Pite’s work, Grace Engine, will complete the program, which is sure to captivate and delight.
As it happens, “Swan”—as the fearless artistic director is known—was formerly a dancer with the festival’s other top dance bill, the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. When asked how he felt about sharing the limelight with this much more senior troupe, he replies, “Never in my wildest dreams—it’s unbelievable.” Gracious and talented, Cedar Lake should not be missed.
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet
June 1, Friday, 7 p.m.
& June 2, Saturday, 2 p.m.
Gaillard Auditorium, 77 Calhoun St.
$65, $40, $30, $20