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Asheville native brings his Motion Dance Theatre back to WNC

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6/20/2012 - Asheville native brings his Motion Dance Theatre back to WNC
by Caitlin Jenkins - Asheville Citizen Times

ASHEVILLE -- Stand up straight, point your toes, turn your feet out and get ready for a new kind of ballet experience.

That's the promise of the Motion Dance Theatre company, now in the middle of a three-week residency in Western North Carolina. The group will be performing new works twice this week -- and hoping to turn the traditional notion of ballet on its head.

"Ballet can be raw, edgy and meaningful," said Motion founder and Asheville native Nick Kepley. "It's not just tutus and tiaras."

As the culmination of the troupe's visit, Motion will be premiering three original pieces that combine modern and traditional dance techniques Thursday in Tryon and Saturday at Asheville's Diana Wortham Theatre.

The show promises "a spectrum of dance," Kepley said.

This year, Motion's production will also feature live music, and one of the musical pieces was commissioned from Bruce Tippette, a musician in the master's program at the UNC School of the Arts in Winston-Salem.

Kepley hopes to engage his audiences and educate people about ballet. "Dance is still on the periphery of people's cultural landscapes," he said. "Ballet can be something very current."

He also wants them to talk about it: A question-and-answer session follows each performance.

Kepley founded Motion in 2010 as a summer outlet for dancers who are between seasons and for up-and-coming choreographers. He wanted to create an environment that "allows choreographers to get better at what they do," he said.

Each year, Kepley picks two guest choreographers. The choreographers are given no restrictions or guidelines. "All they have to do is create," he said.

Kepley believes bringing his dancers and choreographers to the Asheville area for a few weeks each summer helps amp up the creativity.

"It makes the artists feel like they're on a retreat," he said. "They can escape the pressures that go along with a big city."

This is the second year that Motion has performed in WNC. "I wanted to bring dance back to where I'm from," Kepley said. "We'll definitely be back again next year."

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