Ballet Memphis is in an interesting place right now, both physically and metaphorically. There's currently an empty, freshly grated lot at the northeast corner of Madison and Cooper, where the dilapidated French Quarter Inn once stood, and it won't be long before construction begins there on the growing dance company's new permanent headquarters. Last fall found Ballet Memphis on tour, visiting Washington, D.C., and Manhattan, earning rave reviews along the way. New York Times dance writer Alastair Macaulay was surprised by the places choreographers took the dancing, claiming that the company "shatters basic rules," with work that is "unorthodox, peculiar, fresh, and large-spirited." This week the dancers of Ballet Memphis will essay where they've been, where they are now, and where they're going in greater detail with Places, the first installment in a series of new works by young choreographers.
In his descriptions of the work, Ballet Memphis dancer and choreographer Steven McMahon has made it clear that Places isn't just about geographical locations. It also considers moments in time and stages of life. "It's a fascinating topic to explore through dance, literally and physically," he said.
McMahon curated Places, bringing together new work by Arch Dance Company's founding director Jennifer Archibald, Princess Grace choreography award-winner Gabrielle Lamb, and Dallas-based dance star Joshua L. Peugh.