“When I heard about [House Bill 2], my train of thought couldn’t seem to get away from it,” says Heather Maloy, artistic director of Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance. “Because HB2 focuses so much on transgender people, I felt it was important to create something that showed their transformation within a series of other transformations.”
The idea was to provide those changes with a platform of normalcy “so that no one person’s path is any more valid or worthy of understanding than anyone else’s,” says Maloy. Terpsicorps unveils its latest work, Transform, at Diana Wortham Theatre Thursday, June 23, through Saturday, June 25.
The show is a blend of stories showcasing struggle, triumph and the mutability of the human spirit. The local nonprofit ballet company, now in its 14th season, has undergone its own transformation. In 2015, Terpsicorps moved into its current West Asheville studio space following the loss of its former River Arts District home. The company added a year-round dance school, ballet conservatory and the opportunity to provide lessons to underserved communities.
While offering classes to preprofessional dancers throughout the year, the company brings in critically acclaimed professional dancers, from across the country and abroad, for its annual production. Maloy’s choreography is known for tackling tough subjects with stunning visuals, athletic-yet-dramatic movement and a touch of humor. Previous shows included an interpretation of The Scarlet Letter, a dance inspired by illustrator Edward Gorey and an all-male cast. The company collaborated with local indie-pop band stephaniesid for a fundraiser and held all of its rehearsals outdoors for last year’s production, The Elements.
This year, the passing of HB2 coupled with change in her own life prompted Maloy to shift her creative focus from a piece on Jazz Age legend Zelda Fitzgerald to one that allowed her to express human interconnectivity. “I personally have gone through a lot of transformation this year with the opening of the school, losing people and other things that have happened,” says Maloy. “So I had this thought of creating this piece showing that every person’s life has a series of transformations you go through, which are completely different for everyone.”
The dance will weave together several stories. A soldier struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, a young couple go through the daily motions of life and love, a family deals with a fatal diagnosis and a woman wrestles with her sexual identity. “There’s this series of revolving transformations taking place,” says Maloy. There’s a transgender story within that, “and at the end, this woman who re-emerges completely transformed … influences all of the characters to become a more supportive and inclusive community.”
Also included in the program is “Satto” by master choreographer Salvatore Aiello, Maloy’s mentor during her time at the North Carolina Dance Theatre (now the Charlotte Ballet). The Maloy-choreographed “Couch Potatoes” features three dancers “doing every ridiculous and silly thing you can imagine on a couch,” she says. And a new work will be unveiled by longtime Terpsicorps collaborator and ballet master Christopher Bandy.
“I see the world around me and try to convey that in what I create,” says Maloy. “I’m always trying to open people’s minds to things that they aren’t necessarily used to seeing.”
WHAT: Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance presents Transform
WHERE: Diana Wortham Theatre, 2 S. Pack Square, dwtheatre.com
WHEN: Thursday, June 23 through Saturday, June 25, at 8 p.m. $30 general/$28 seniors/$25 students/$20 teens/$12 children