Artist’s NameWilliam Smith
Address5367 Cave Spring lane
Roanoke 24018
United States
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Tell us about you, the artist. Please include a few sentences of biographical information.

I’m a retired professional ballet dancer and currently a Professional Choreographer and Certified Arborist. I have been choreographing professionally for 10 years with works ranging from a murder mystery ballet to a ballet designed for a deaf audience.

Growing up in a small rural town in upstate New York taught me that many people never get a chance to experience the transformative power of the arts. I view myself as a missionary of dance. My goal is to produce works that don’t have a barrier to entry so that all may enjoy the dance.

Please describe your artistic practice including the media you work in and your approach to your art.

I’m a choreographer, and choreographers are masters at collaborations because dance does not exist in a vacuum. It needs other art forms to exist. Music is the driving force of dance. Costuming and having a tech crew to work lighting can make or break a work. Finding a balance of these forces while staying in a budget is probably the greatest challenge.

I believe in creating works that can speak to people on their level. Ballet can often feel stuffy or hard to understand.

For me, music is the driving force to choreography. I find that as the music drives the movement, it also has the ability to pull the audience into another world.

Collaboration with other artists has always brought me joy and urged me to grow as an artist myself.

Describe the proposed work or project.

In the Roanoke Greenway there is a statue near black dog salvage called “Calling the Powers” of a woman on her knees with her arms thrown back in wild abandon. This work caught my eye when my wife and I moved to Roanoke 10 years ago. I knew someday I would have to bring this work to life.

Last year, I reached out to the sculptor, Larry Bechtel and we talked about turning this work into a ballet. We discussed the meaning behind “Calling the Powers”

The woman is a vessel, a conduit for healing. This isn’t the first time she has used herself in this way. She is sucking out the evil and toxins of the earth, but it comes at a price. Still, she will return and repeat the process again and again until the earth is healed.

I want to create a ballet for 4 dancers: The Woman and 3 Dark Spirits. The work will be danced to sections of “The Rite of Spring” by Igor Stravinsky. The original choreography and libretto of “The Rite of Spring” a young woman is being sacrificed by her tribe to bring about a good harvest , This work will take that and apply the “Calling the Powers” story.
Instead of a victim, The Woman is a willing ‘Sacrifice’ to save the Earth. The 3 Dark spirits will be accompanying her along her journey up the mountain. The Woman faces the challenges of the 3 spirits as she makes her way up the mountain. She then calls upon the power and defeats the spirits (reenacting the sculpture).

WIth each show there will be a 10-15 min artists Discussion With Larry and I talking about the work and the process of sculpting and choreography.

I have Reached out to Liza Deck and Blake Gibson (Dance Teachers) at Patrick Henry and William Fleming high schools They have committed to having us perform on the William Fleming stage for the Dance kids. I would ideally like as many students as we can get into the theatres. Liza and Blake are in talks with their principals to get permission to open the show up to more students.

I have also reached out Cindy Peterson at The Taubman. She has agreed to having two shows in the Taubman. One show for their members and one show to be open to the general public. If the work is funded by this grant, I will look to get the kids of the West End Center and the Hope Center to the General Audience show. I have been in communication with both Susan Kessler at the West End Center and Yolanda at the Hope Center.

Dance can only exist in one moment. It is my goal to be able to reach as many people as possible by having several different shows in different locations (William Fleming and The Taubman).

I want everyone to feel the power of dance.

How will the work advance wellness, justice, or inclusion in Roanoke? Consider a community issue that you hope to address, something you want to celebrate or a condition you want to change.

Ballet should not just be for the elite or upper class.
The performing arts are really expensive. This is a huge barrier to anyone from a lower income family. Typically tickets to any live show are at least $25 per person.
The big question is does the arts matter? Do kids need to see art? Does the community need free art?
The answer is yes. Everyone needs a chance to see the arts. The arts builds empathy. It fuels conversation, and it takes us away from the everyday humdrum of life. The arts is a community builder.

This work is about determination. ‘The Woman’ is climbing the mountain to her goal but is constantly pushed backwards or slowed by the 3 “Dark Spirits”, but she never gives up. After much hardship, she makes it to the top of the mountain and is then able to Call the Powers to transfigure the “”Dark Spirits”. The woman is “the everyman.” We all make this journey.
Larry’s sculpture is about a woman “Calling the Powers” to help cleanse the earth of evil, pollution and disease (3 Dark spirits).
The main purpose of this work is to bring art out to everyone, not to just those who can afford it and to celebrate the arts and collaboration of different artistic mediums in Roanoke.

When do you anticipate undertaking the work? If the project is tied to a set event or date, let us know.

I would like to have the work performed in May.

Are there partners in this effort? If so describe the partnerships and what each partner brings.

Larry Bechtel is my first partner. My ballet will be based off of his sculpture.
I’m partnering with Roanoke Ballet Theatre for the rehearsal space and hiring their dancers.
I’m also partnering with Roanoke City schools for a stage for the school show.
The Taubman has agreed to partner for two shows. They will provide space for a performance for both their members and the general public.

Your theory of change: How will the work advance your efforts as an artist toward an established goal? How will you, a partner organization, or the community be changed?

This work will push me to my choreographic limits. Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” is a ‘rite of passage’ for any choreographer and dancer. The music is very complex and the way you must count the music is extremely difficult. This will also be more in the style of a early/mid 20th century modern ballet. That means the vocabulary of the dance will be more complex for the dancers. It brings about a new level of artistry in the way it must tell a story. Examples of this style are:
The Prodigal Son-
Green Table-
Afternoon of a faun (Robbins version)-

This will push the limits of the Roanoke Ballet theatre dancers and will force them to grow in ways that most classically trained professional ballet dancers are not accustomed to. Modern Ballet, specifically early/mid 20th century modern ballet, is something that is taught but not often performed in smaller ballet companies.
The students of Patrick Henry and William Fleming will grow just by seeing this. “Rite of Spring” and early/mid 20th Century style modern ballet are not something readily available to most people. Dance is currently available everywhere from tiktok to Fortnight, and these dances are good at introducing basic movements. However, they lack the artistry. When Balanchine came to America, dance was not apart of the american experience. It was more of a European cultural activity. When people started seeing work of this nature, it took hold. This is relevant because in the late 1940’s, Roanoke was one of the first cities to have a Civic ballet company, being inspired by a ballet company that toured through the area. My hope is to inspire some of the students or challenge them to think of dance not just as Tik Tok challenges but as a powerful storytelling medium.

The Taubman is a bastion of arts for the southwestern part of Virginia. Doing a work based off a local sculpture might encourage more local artists to collaborate together. The more the arts community sticks together, the more we can weather. This work will help promote that mindset.

The community doesn’t get very many free performing arts shows. It’s a big financial decision to go to a performing arts show for most families. Roanoke is an artshub, and the arts are for everyone. Having free public shows so that everyone can engage with the arts will only strengthen our arts community. It will make the tapestry of Roanoke a more colorful and desirable place or people to live.

How much money do you need to accomplish the project? (The allowed range is $500 – $3,000.)2,375
What other resources do you need to accomplish the project?

If the Arts Commision has a video camera that I can borrow so I can tape the dress rehearsal and the shows. I would give the arts commision full rights to using any of the footage.

Help marketing and promoting the free Taubman show.

Attach a full budget for your project. Include all costs and revenues. This can be a spreadsheet, word document, PDF, or image.Final-Budget-Calling-the-Powers.pdf
Submit your CV, resume, or brag sheet here.
Submit a PDF of up to five images representing recent projects or works. (Max file size 10 MB). This should be one file containing multiple images. This must be a PDF. Include captions describing the work. (A PDF can easily be made using the “print as PDF” function in MS Word or “Download as PDF” in google docs.)PIM-Photos.pdf
Do you have general liability insurance coverage for your arts-based business, either through your own policy or through a project partner?Through Roanoke Ballet Theatre – or The Dancing Lumberjack company will sponsor the insurance if need be.