Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre debuts unique new series


“The Mélange Series” is something Gregory Hancock had envisioned for some time.

“The establishment of The Florence allows us more and new opportunities to present intimate and more experimental work,” said Hancock, executive artistic director of Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre. “I have wanted to present spontaneous art with collaborations from a variety of artists for some time. This series will explore how art is created spontaneously in real time through the interactions of one musician, one dancer and one visual artist. We hope to present ‘The Mélange Series’ annually, but it is a series, so we have more scheduled throughout 2024 that will each feature different dancers and visual artists, as well as musicians from many different genres.”

Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre will present “The Mélange Series,” a series of performances of art, dance and music, at 5 and 7:30 p.m. March 23 and 3 p.m. March 24 at The Florence, 329 Gradle Dr., Carmel. Mélange is defined as a mixture or combination. The Florence opened in early 2023 as the black box theater inside the studio.

“There is no rehearsal between the three artists prior to the performance,” Hancock said. “The musician has prepared and selected music, but the dancer or visual artist does not know what it will be. Each performance will be unique. The music is the only thing that will remain consistent, but perhaps even in a different order with each performance. The dancer and visual artist will also create something unique with each performance.”

The performers are vocalist Katie Schuman, GHDT company dancer Camden Lancaster and painter Mirvia Sol Eckert.

“I’ve never seen or performed in a show like this before,” Schuman said. “As a vocalist, I’m frequently around a lot of other singers and actors, but the chances to collaborate with other types of artists are fewer and farther between. But art is about the human experience. As human beings, we all experience love, joy, loss, doubt, regret and so many other things that we can express through art. While the specific art discipline is different for each of us in this show, we each tell the same story from our own unique perspective.

“The audience gets to experience three distinct art forms capturing the same moments, each adding flavor to the combined experience.”

Schuman, a Bloomington resident, said most of the music is musical theater or Broadway style.

“I chose the music based on a theme, so the styles themselves are somewhat varied within the broader genre,” she said. “I was interested in telling a story about personal reflection, doubt and growth, so these songs reflect that story rather than one musical style within the musical theatre repertoire.”

Lancaster, a Fishers resident, said it can be challenging to create dance in real time. 

“The nice thing about dance improvisation is, this is a time to find new ways to create movement,” Lancaster said. “If something doesn’t work out with one of the movements how you thought it would, you now have created a transition out of a movement that is new to you. This allows me to continue to keep my personal choreography, movement and improvisation evolving. So as challenging and vulnerable as improvisation can be, it is also a beautiful way to keep growing in my artistry. Because every time I improv, I am learning and creating something new.”

The concept is new to Eckert, an Indianapolis resident.

“I have done things like plein air but never on stage in front of an audience,” she said “The presence of an audience or anyone observing while you’re creating can absolutely make you feel pressured and self-conscious. Creating is a personal and introspective process. In my studio, no one is there but me. Most visual artists are solitary creatures while creating and that’s what most of us love about it. ‘The Mélange’ will definitely take me out of my comfort zone, but I am always up for a challenge.”

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