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Hendersonville native brings modern dance to Asheville

Chase Brock directs the cast of 'Nutcracker' at the Flat Rock Playhouse in December 2012. Chase Brock directs the cast of 'Nutcracker' at the Flat Rock Playhouse in December 2012.

Chase Brock, the Hendersonville native who made it big on Broadway as a dancer and choreographer, will bring his dance company to Asheville's Diana Wortham Theatre this month for three shows.

 


Brock calls the program a greatest hits of performances by his company, the Chase Brock Experience, one that he promises will make modern dance fun and accessible.
"We've done them all over New York," he said in an interview. "We took this exact program to Wilmington last October."
How does he want audiences to react?
"You know what I say. I say that our dance company is like the gateway drug of modern dance," he said. "If you say you don't like modern dance those are the very people I like to come to see our dance."
The company performs a five-piece program that Brock says will entertain and at times surprise. It includes Mission: Implausible, an exhilarating fast-paced dance theater extravaganza; Curious Episode, a witty duet for two women who tease and needle each other in alternating classical and jazz modes; What a Wonderful World, a full company explosion of athleticism, color and abandon; Slow Float, a five-song folk-rocky suite for the full company in a series of snapshots of friendships, relationships and summer coming to an end; and Whoa, Nellie!, a wild and wacky traveling carnival of dance performed to eclectic singer-songwriter Nellie McKay's album Obligatory Villagers.
Brock started dance and tap at age 6 in the YouTheatre program of the Flat Rock Playhouse, was dancing professionally on Broadway at age 16 and started his own dance company in 2007. The first show he produced in his hometown was his adaptation of "The Nutcracker," performed at the Playhouse in December 2012.
Audiences at DWT will see the Chase Brock dance numbers that have played in New York and elsewhere on the East Coast.
Among the dancers is Macy Sullivan, the 2012 Julliard graduate whom Brock cast as Marie in the Nutcracker show at Flat Rock. She's now in Brock's company and is one of eight dancers — four male and four female — performing in Asheville.
"This is so interesting and lucky," he said when asked how the DWT engagement came about. "I had my eye on Diana Wortham Theatre for a long time because they do a three-dance series every season and there are many bigger cities that long ago the funding for modern dance dried up."
He once told an interviewer that he always wanted to bring his company to the Asheville stage. In the fall of 2012, the theater invited him.
"I have family there, I have many friends," he said of his homecoming. "Of course they're coming to all three shows."
Brock says that his "professional debut" actually took place at age 12 at DWT when the Asheville Junior League paid him to perform an original tap dance routine.
Brock is generous with his time during the visit.
Besides the two evening performances and matinee for students, he will participate in a pre-performance talk with audience members both nights and teach a master class on Saturday morning.
"We'll take dance students or some brave non-dance students and we're going to teach them some excerpts from the show," he said. The show, he said, "will surprise a lot of people that don't like dance.
"If people haven't yet been to Diana Wortham it's worth checking out what they have going on because it's really exciting. In the same way we want them to come to the Playhouse we want people from Hendersonville to go to Asheville. We want to cross-pollinate as much as we can."

 

Information from Diana Wortham Theatre was used in this report.


Chase Brock Experience shows are 8 p.m. March 21 and 22 at Diana Wortham Theatre. Ticket-holders can attend free pre-performance discussions with Brock in the Forum at Diana Wortham Theatre at 7 p.m. both nights. Seating is limited and offered on a first come, first served basis. No admittance after 7:10 p.m. For information or to purchase tickets, call the box office at (828) 257-4530 or visit www.dwtheatre.com.