Check out our Q&A with Juwan Linkston and Kim Jones!

Charlotte Ballet Pre-Professional dancers were back on the stage last week for their Ensemble Performance, a collection of works choreographed by Charlotte Ballet artistic leadership, faculty, and local choreographers Juwan Linkston and Kim Jones. Juwan is a former Charlotte Ballet artist, and Kim is associate professor of dance at UNC Charlotte. We caught up with them and asked about the choreographic process. Read on for our Q&A with Juwan Linkston and Kim Jones!

What inspired you in creating this work?

JL: A Road to Pieces was inspired by the music, [For Four Hands by Franci Poulenc.] I feel like the music was a script that told me what to do, and the dancers were the translators of the script. This was an expansion of a previous project when I created a pas de deux during Choreographic Lab. This was an experiment in how to take a pas and turn it into a five minute work for six dancers.

KJ: Confronting the Silent Spring was created two months before the global pandemic [in partnership with] students at UNC Charlotte. The piece is a reflection of the present state of the earth as well as a hope for renewal in its future. This piece is a call to action – to cherish the world we live in and do better. Do better for ourselves. Do better for humanity and our planet.

What were the challenges or surprises?

JL: One challenge was that I didn’t know which dancers I was going to have or how they would move and work together. There was also no partnering because of Covid. There were six dancers, but no contact with each other. I had to learn how to communicate effectively with each individual dancer.

KJ: One of the challenges we all faced, were the difficulties in teaching and learning choreography online. We used the zoom platform, multiple cameras, and screens.  I was teaching from home, my assistant Heather Kincaid who demonstrated movements from her home. The dancers were receiving our instruction and rehearsing from a studio at Charlotte Ballet.

How did you choose the costumes?

JL: The costumes were an eclectic geometric mix of unitards and biketards. A Road to Pieces has been a journey. I’ve been working on it for two years, and now this is the final piece. No two costumes are the same which reflects the journey.

KJ: Rachel Engstrom designed the costumes and on loan as a courtesy of the Department of Dance at UNC Charlotte.

What were rehearsals like?

JL: We started working with a two week crash course in December. We had a month off for winter break then a week in January and a week in February to finish rehearsals.

KJ: I enjoyed working with this cast of seven Pre-professional artists. They were all so kind, patient, hard-working, and dedicated to the creative process. Once we all were in the studio together, the choreographic process moved swiftly. We all realized how precious our time was together, we were all 100% focused and you could feel the respect and care all around. In the end, I had time to give the dancers individual and group attention to support the overall piece.

Photo of Juwan Linkston by Todd Rosenberg.
Photo of Kim Jones by Jeff Cravotta.