Ballet Based on Paintings of Gullah Life Has World Premiere at Columbia City Ballet

Classic Arts News   Ballet Based on Paintings of Gullah Life Has World Premiere at Columbia City Ballet
The world premiere of William Starrett's Off the Wall & Onto the Stage: Dancing the Art of Jonathan Green, performed by the Columbia City Ballet, takes place tomorrow night at the Koger Center for the Arts at the University of South Carolina.

The ballet will be reprised two times on February 5, before it goes on a Southern-city tour to Charleston, South Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; Tallahassee, Florida; Savannah, Georgia; Naples, Florida; Tampa, Florida; and Greenville, South Carolina.

Starrett's ballet is based on Green's popular and colorful paintings of life among the Gullah people, descendents of West African slaves who live on the coast: known as "lowcountry": and islands of Georgia and South Carolina. Green grew up in the lowcountry of South Carolina in the 1960s.

The choreographer has interpreted Green's images and set them to a mix of music that includes African-American gospel, jazz, field-work songs, and popular music as well as: according to the South Carolina newspaper The State: a recording of a sermon by Gullah preacher Sam Stoney.

According to the paper, Starrett hopes to arrange a national and an international tour for Off the Wall.

The Columbia Museum of Art has arranged a concurrent retrospective of Green's work, called Rhythms of Life: The Art of Jonathan Green. The exhibition runs through February 13.

Starrett, a former dancer with the Joffrey Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, has been artistic director of Columbia City Ballet since 1985.

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