Culture Shock Miami Presents Ballet Memphis In Triple Bill of New and Recent Choreography

Miami, Florida (PRWEB) March 29, 2015

(Miami, March 23, 2015) Approaching its third decade as a leading ballet company and incubator of new choreography, Ballet Memphis takes the Main Stage at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 8 PM. Culture Shock Miami presents the Tennessee-based company in a three-part program featuring works by North American choreographers Trey McIntyre, Julia Adam and Matthew Neenan.

Ballet Memphis was founded in 1986 by native Memphian Dorothy Gunther Pugh, a leader in the field of ballet and dance education and who serves as Artistic Director. The company has toured extensively throughout the United States and has been called a ?national treasure? by the Ford Foundation.

Gunther Pugh said, ?We’re proud to present some of our truly unique and truly American commissioned ballets from two of our most popular collections, the Memphis Project and the River Project. At Ballet Memphis, we’re committed to creating dance that reflects the world, represents our rich local and global heritage and makes a place at the table, so to speak, for all.?

The program scheduled for South Miami-Dade audiences offers three very different choreographic themes.

Devil?s Fruit by Canadian-born Julia Adam is the second piece Adam has choreographed for the River Project series, a Ballet Memphis program focusing on dance based on movement echoing the Mississippi River. In this new work, Adam explores the flora and fauna along the river, specifically the vast and intricate underground network of mushrooms.

Party of the Year (Victoria Avenue, CA 12/25/70) by American Matthew Neenan is inspired by the New York Times-best-selling book, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. The book chronicles three different lives filled with struggle, defeat and triumph during the heart of the “Great Migration,” an era between 1910 and 1970 when more than 6 million African Americans moved out of the rural South to other parts of the United States.

In Dreams by Trey McIntyre is a small but powerfully poignant work created for Ballet Memphis in 2007 and set to the music of Roy Orbison. Ballet Memphis Founder and Artistic Director Dorothy Gunther Pugh calls Orbison “the Placido Domingo of country music” and likened his singing to “the sound of the human heart breaking”. In Dreams is a work The New York Times called “…distinctive, touching” and moves the audience along with the dancers emotion.

The company tours with a cast of ten and will participate in community and education based activities for Miami-Dade public school students prior to the Saturday night performance. On Friday, April 24th, the company will hold a free performance of its evening program for students. A free masterclass open to advance ballet dancers will be held on April 25th at 10:00 AM. Both events will be at South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center.

$ 5 tickets are available to 13-22 year olds and one accompanying guest each, exclusively through

Full price tickets are $ 45 to $ 25 and $ 15 for Youth Tickets for 12 years old and under. These tickets are available online at or through the SMDCAC box office by calling 786-573-5300. $ 5 Culture Shock Miami tickets are not sold through the SMDCAC Box Office or through Culture Shock Miami ticket sales for this performance end on Friday, April 24, 2015 at 11:59 PM. No $ 5 tickets are available or through the SMDCAC box office.


In Dreams

Choreographer: Trey McIntyre

Cast: Travis Bradley, Crystal Brothers, Steven McMahon, Julie Marie Niekrasz, Virginia Pilgrim Ramey

Costumes: Bruce Bui

Music: All songs performed by Roy Orbison. ?Dream Baby? by Cindy Walker, ?You Tell Me? by Sam Phillips, ?The Crowd? by Roy Orbison and Joe Melson, ?I Never Knew? by Sam Phillips, ?In Dreams? by Roy Orbison. Interview with Roy Orbison: Being Remembered from Roy Orbison: Hits! Hits! Hits!, ?Crying? by Orbison/Melson

Notes: Performed to the expressive voice of Roy Orbison, In Dreams is a sometimes dark, always passionate, journey through six of the legendary artist?s most popular songs.

Devil?s Fruit

Choreographer: Julia Adam

Cast: Travis Bradley, Kendall G. Britt Jr., Crystal Brothers, Hideko Karasawa, Steven McMahon, Virginia Pilgrim Ramey

Costumes: Christine Darch

Music: ?Recomposed,? ?Vivaldi, The Four Seasons: Spring 1,? and ?Vivaldi, The Four Seasons: Spring 2? by Max Richter; ?Islands? by Philip Glass; ?The Four Seasons Concerto in F Minor, RV 297? by Red Priest; ?Recomposed,? ?Vivaldi, The Four Seasons: Summer 2? by Max Richter.

Notes: I approached this work as a tripartite positioning of the mushroom: The science, the pagan mythology and the mind-altering power of the mushroom to initiate one into the mysteries of the divine. I am overwhelmed and amazed by the beauty and power of the fungi kingdom.

Party of the Year (Victoria Avenue, CA 12/25/70)

Choreographer: Matthew Neenan

Cast: Travis Bradley, Kendall G. Britt Jr., Crystal Brothers, Jared Brunson, Anwen David, Hideko Karasawa, Julie Marie Niekrasz, Brandon Ramey, Virginia Pilgrim Ramey

Costumes: Bruce Bui

Music: ?Buon Natale? by Nat King Cole; ?Blues Power? by Albert King; ?Ride on Red, Ride On? by Louisiana Red; ?Hide Nor Hair? by Ray Charles; ?Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven? by Albert King; ?Save the Country? by The 5th Dimension; ?Silver Bells? guitar solo by Charles Hammer; and ?California? by Joni Mitchell.

Notes: Inspired by the best-selling book The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, Party of the Year chronicles the celebration and homecoming of sorts many African-Americans felt during and after the Great Migration (1910-70) from the South to other regions of the country.


Ballet Memphis, founded in 1986 by artistic director and CEO Dorothy Gunther Pugh, is recognized for its close ties to the region?s rich musical and literary heritage. It has been heralded for its innovations as a ballet company committed to creating and commissioning relevant work, nurturing young choreographers, and expanding the roles of dancers within the company and the community.

Ballet Memphis? annual thematic programming includes the AbunDANCE and Connections series as well as the FUSE partnership across other artistic disciplines. The acclaimed AbunDANCE series, which just finished its fourth installment, celebrates new ways to look at the world around us. In past seasons, AbunDANCE has taken fans on a journey through religion, art, and music. In the 2010/2011 season, AbunDANCE celebrated the influential roles women play in society with four works inspired by or created by women in a season titled Where the Girls Are 2. The Connections series, which includes the company?s annual gala event Connections: Food, pairs the art of dance with the essential elements of life that surround us, support us and engage us in everyday life. From architecture to fashion to the earth and sky, and of course food, Ballet Memphis shows the world how these integral parts of life are intrinsically artistic expressions as well.

In addition to its mixed repertory programs, Ballet Memphis also presents story ballets, often retold and choreographed anew with reflections of modern-day themes. Most recently, the company staged Sleeping Beauty, choreographed by company member Travis Bradley as well as a new Wizard of Oz and Cinderella, choreographed by Steven McMahon, a company member as well as the company?s choreographic associate. The company?s original and majestic Nutcracker has been performed in part on university campuses and regional theatres across the southeast as well as to a full orchestra in Spokane, Washington. In the 2010/2011 season, McMahon?s version of Romeo & Juliet will close out the company?s mainstage shows.

Choreographers who have created works on Ballet Memphis include Julia Adam (current artistic associate), Trey McIntyre (resident choreographer from 2001-07), Mark Godden, Dana Tai Soon Burgess, Jane Comfort, Lila York, Robert Battle, Thaddeus Davis, and Emily Coates and Lacina Coulibaly, both of whom worked with Ballet Memphis as part of dance fusion exploration supported in part by the World Performance Project at Yale University.

The company has performed to critical acclaim in New York at both the Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse and the Joyce Theater. Its performances as part of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts? ?Ballet Across America? programming were heralded in the New York Times and The Washington Post, as well as in national dance media. Ballet Memphis has performed at Houston?s Dance Salad, Spring to Dance in St. Louis, and Canada?s Festival des Arts Saint-Sauveur. With tour support awarded from the National Dance Project (a program of the New England Foundation for the Arts), the company will be presented in eight states in four different regions in the 2011/12 season including: The Duncan Theatre at Palm Beach State College; the Carpenter Center in Long Beach, CA; McKendree University in Lebanon, IL; Hammons Hall in Springfield, MO; and at the inaugural season at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, IN.

The company has been profiled and reviewed in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, PBS Newshour, Dance magazine, Pointe magazine, The Huffington Post, and more. Ballet Memphis has garnered national attention through ?Creating Work That Matters: Memphis Choreographs to the Soul of a City,? part of The Ford Foundation?s The Business of the Arts monograph series, and What Works: A Dance of Relevance by Jocelyn Dong, Stanford University?s Graduate School of Business Social Innovation Review, Winter 2004.

Ballet Memphis is housed in a national architectural award-winning facility in suburban Memphis. The company performs at the state-of-the-art Playhouse on the Square, the historic Orpheum Theatre and at other nontraditional venues around Memphis. The company also performs for and presents teaching artist sessions to more than 15,000 students annually. The Ballet Memphis School trains more than 700 students annually, with almost 40 percent on merit- or need-based scholarships. Performance and choreographic experience is provided through the Junior Company of Ballet Memphis. A stand-alone Pilates Centre in suburban Memphis, as well as classes at the company?s studios, serves more than 300 clients annually. The combined programs of Ballet Memphis?professional company, school and Pilates Centre?serve more than 75,000 people annually.


DOROTHY GUNTHER PUGH (Founder & Artistic Director) is a native Memphian who began her ballet training with Edith Royal of Orlando, Florida and later studied with Louise Rooke and Memphis Ballet. After graduating cum laude from Vanderbilt University, she studied with Raymond Clay and Donna Carver, and performed with Dance Concert Theatre. She completed teacher-training courses at the Royal Academy of Dance in London and with New York ballet master David Howard. Dorothy appeared on several national dance panels, including PBS NewsHour, the National Endowment for the Arts Dance Panel and the Glass Slipper Ceiling Symposium. A member of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, she has received the Women of Achievement Award for Initiative and the Gordon Holl Outstanding Arts Administrator?s Award, and is a recipient of a fellowship from the Center for Social Innovation at Stanford University Graduate School of Business. She is a fellow in the National Arts Strategies? Chief Executive Program? and was named a 2012 Legends Award winner from the Women?s Foundation for a Greater Memphis. In 2013, she received the Briggs? Foundation Community Service Award. She is the 2014 chair of the Artistic Directors? Council for Dance/USA, the nation?s largest dance service organization for professional dance companies. Dorothy appeared in many roles with Ballet Memphis before leaving the stage.

TRAVIS BRADLEY (Dancer) has performed many memorable roles for Ballet Memphis, such as John Darling in Peter Pan, Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, as well as the role of the Prince in Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Nutcracker. He has danced the Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz, as well as many significant parts in Trey McIntyre ballets, such as The Naughty Boy, Barramundi, and Pork Songs. Other notable ballets include Julia Adam?s Devil?s Fruit, Gabrielle Lamb?s Manifold and Julie Niekrasz?s Corps de Fortitude, and he was selected by Robert Battle?the current artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater?to perform the Takademe solo. Travis also has choreographed notable works for the Company including Splinters of the Stars, The Ugly Duckling and Sleeping Beauty. Travis previously danced with Houston Ballet and Richmond Ballet. He trained at The Harid Conservatory and Houston Ballet?s Ben Stevenson Academy. Travis is from Mechanicsville, Va., and joined Ballet Memphis in 2004.

KENDALL G. BRITT JR. (Dancer) has danced in several Steven McMahon ballets including the title role in Peter Pan as well as the roles of Romeo and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, the Prince in Cinderella, and the Lion in Wizard of Oz. Kendall also danced the memorable role of Puck in Mark Godden?s Midsummer Night?s Dream and the Prince in Nutcracker. Kendall was selected by Robert Battle?artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater?to perform his prestigious Takademe solo. He has performed soloist roles in Julia Adam?s Seven Threads and Curtain of Green, in Petr Zahradn