Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre seeks to inspire with ‘Illumination’


Although “Illumination” is a collection of dances created over several decades, there is a connection.

Gregory Hancock, executive artistic director of Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre, said the common thread is faith, hope and inspiration.

GHDT will present “Illumination” at 7 p.m. April 7-8 at The Tarkington at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.

“Pieces have been included from the company’s expansive repertoire, some in their full form and others as excerpts from larger full-length pieces,” Hancock said. “As a choreographer and director, it is interesting to look back into our history to see how dances have survived the test of time, and in some cases, have become even more relevant today. Although there are a variety of themes, styles and music represented in ‘Illumination,’ the idea of unwavering faith, often in the face of adversity, is paramount, along with the theme of light over darkness.”

Hancock said selecting pieces for a repertoire program was challenging.

“For this program, I started with a list of over 40 dances that were infused with faith and hope, and then continued to narrow down to select pieces that would complement each other, as well as showcase the individual talents of the GHDT company dancers,” he said. “This process eventually becomes more organic, and a natural flow to the program develops.”

Hancock said since the inception of his company, celebrating a global connection has been the focus.

“Honoring the individuality along with the sameness of the human condition through joy, sorrow, life, death, history, spirituality, and culture (is a goal),” he said. “As humans, we all have emotions, history, stories, plans and dreams that intertwine and take us on our journeys through life. The more we grow to understand ourselves, the more we learn how connected we are as humans on this planet. During this time of spring and rebirth, this beautiful program of dances from GHDT’s eclectic repertoire will uplift, inspire, enlighten and illuminate audiences.”

GHDT company dancer Abigail Lessaris said “Illumination” is a beautiful show filled with inspiration in many different forms.

“The performance is filled with emotions on a wide spectrum,” Lessaris said. “There are pieces of love, grief, freedom and unwavering faith. The connection we feel when we experience artistry that evokes these emotions is so important. I am proud to be a part of a group of individuals who work hard to bring this kind of experience to our community.”

GHDT’s season continues June 9-10 at The Tarkington with “Director’s Choice.”

“(The show) again reaches back to both the distant and recent past to bring pieces to GHDT audiences that will be new to many audience members as well as the current dancers in the company,” Hancock said. “I am positive that designing the programming for this production will be a challenge. Audience members often ask what my favorite piece is, and of course it is impossible to answer, as I have favorites at different periods, often depending on what is occurring in my life and our world at the time.”

As a bonus for the 25th anniversary season, it was recently determined GHDT will close the season with “The Music of La Casa Azul” with the Carmel Symphony Orchestra for a one-night-only performance Aug. 5 at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts. It’s a concert version of Hancock’s original full-length musical with CSO Artistic Director Janna Hymes as conductor.

Vocal direction of a cast of central Indiana singers will be under the direction of Tammy Anderson. New York City director and playwright Georgina Escobar will provide the stage direction.

“The dancers of GHDT will add a visual element to the production,” Hancock said. “I am thrilled to be working with so many talented artists on this project. What a spectacular way to close a sensational season of live art in our community.”

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