Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre’s ‘There’s No Place Like Home’ returns to stage 


Gregory Hancock often reaches into his repertoire to bring back a favorite.

The Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre executive artistic director doesn’t always bring a production back the following year, but he decided to do so with “There’s No Place Like Home,” which debuted in October 2021. The storyline, with a “Wizard of Oz” theme, is a biographical tale of how Hancock was moved by visiting India.

The Carmel-based Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre production is set for 7 p.m. Oct. 28-29 at The Tarkington at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. One of the main reasons Hancock decided to include it in the 25th season celebration was at the request of two board members.

“(They) were moved by the piece and were fascinated to see India through my eyes and my personal story come to life on stage,” he said. “While the dance is autobiographical, there is the universal struggle to find meaning and understanding in our journey through life with all its triumphs and tragedies. During the past few years, I have intentionally made my work more personal, but by doing so it also makes me extremely vulnerable. While last year I left some aspects of the work open to the interpretation of the audience, this year I have added more intention and thus made the story more personal and emotional.”

The Carmel resident said the response from audiences and critics last season to “There’s No Place Like Home”  was  overwhelming, so it made sense to give more people an opportunity to see it.

“The energy of each performance is uniquely different, and our work typically has multiple layers to the performance, so each viewing brings a new and fresh experience,” Hancock said. “One of the nice things about presenting repertoire is the ability to continue to enhance the work from the original presentation. These enhancements are usually in the form of contributions to the emotional impact of the narrative of the production. When dancers repeat pieces, they can inhabit their characters and the choreography in stronger ways. They have a deeper understanding of the emotional aspects of the piece and the intention of the choreography and character.”

Hancock said most dancers are performing in the same role with some minor changes.

Company dancer Thomas Mason, a Carmel resident, returns in the role of a young Hancock.

“Last year the experience of learning the choreography and hearing the stories was extremely special,” Mason said. “However, what makes this time more special is being able to dig deeper into my character to tell the story even stronger this time.”

Company dancer Abigail Lessaris, Mason’s fiancee, said the story evokes powerful emotions. Lessaris plays the roles of Mother India, Mother Ganges, Saraswati, Buddha and Hanuman. The roles all represent Hancock’s mother, Florence Hancock, who died in 2014.

“It is truly a journey of finding oneself, and finding your family in this world,” Lessaris said. “It is a timeless story that anyone can relate to in their own personal way.”

Lessaris said one of the biggest challenges of the show is the incorporation of different styles of dance. The choreography is influenced by Bollywood, Bhangra, Kathak and many other forms of Indian dance styles, she said.

 “The costumes are ornate, the backdrop is stunning, the lighting is fantastic and the choreography is athletic and exciting,” Lessaris said. “The extravagance of this performance is food for your eyes.”

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