She’s part of a tribe of young dance makers who hop fluidly between entertainment hot-spots—Las Vegas, L.A.’s Staple Center, Broadway, and Hollywood. Clients include Katy Perry (at the Grammy Awards); George Lucas (in a Disney film); Spider-Man (vaulting above Broadway); and two darling daughters ages three and four. Relishing her return to the ballet world (now a leading commercial choreographer, she danced with the Alberta Ballet at 17), Cherice Barton joins an elite club—choreographers creating new works for Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. For a theme, she’s been cogitating on a commodity both rare and elusive.
“What is happiness?” queries Barton in Eudaemonia, her first serious choreographic foray onto the concert stage. She addresses this essentially spiritual question with the tools of her trade, the human body. The eldest of three dancing sisters (Aszure and Charissa complete the trio), the Ontario-born, Edmonton-raised choreographer spoke by phone during her recent Aspen residency.
“Happiness is huge as a concept—and the universal search for happiness provides infinite layers to be explored,” she said with a tinge of solemnity.
Eudaemonia is a co-commission by ASFB and the esteemed Valley Performing Arts Center, located in Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley. VPAC executive director, Thor Steingraber, put ASFB directors Tom Mossbrucker and Jean-Philippe Malaty under tight constraints in selecting a choreographer. First, the work would have its world premiere Friday March 3, at VPAC, the frothy multi-arts theater located at Cal State, Northridge, where ASFB is dance company-in-residence. (This showcase represents the second of the residency’s three performances.)
Mossbrucker picked up the gauntlet with glee. “Thor asked us to select a Los Angeles-based choreographer.” he explained. “He also wanted someone working in commercial dance. We were delighted to discover Cherice, with her strong choreographic voice. She fits the bill on all counts.”
Steingraber, an impresario known for his eclectic taste, agreed. “There is something uniquely Hollywood about Cherice’s aesthetic and her approach to dance and performance,” he says. “It’s very much rooted in storytelling, embracing humor, and while unpacking a complex concept—the quest for happiness—it is also openly embracing of a kind of entertainment value.”
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