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Covington, Emory, Gainesville dance troupes team up for production

Members of the Covington Regional Ballet, shown here in a prior performance, will present, "One: Body, Space & Time," a modern dance performance on Oct. 20 at Oxford College. The production also features dancers from the Gainesville Ballet Company and Emory University Dance Company.

Members of the Covington Regional Ballet, shown here in a prior performance, will present, "One: Body, Space & Time," a modern dance performance on Oct. 20 at Oxford College. The production also features dancers from the Gainesville Ballet Company and Emory University Dance Company.

For the first time in the history of the Arts Association in Newton County, a fall performance by the Covington Regional Ballet has been scheduled.

The modern dance performance "One: Body, Space & Time," set for 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20 at Williams Hall on the Oxford College campus, will not only feature the senior company of the CRB, but will also showcase performances by the Gainesville Ballet Company and Emory University Dance Company.

"This is the first time the Arts Association is presenting a fall dance production -- this is the very first one," said Ashley Lazenby Swan, who with her husband Peter serves as artistic directors for the CRB. "It's something that has been in the works since Peter and I arrived last year.

"We've always wanted to do a fall show because we know that Covington is accustomed to the 'Nutcracker' at Christmas and a spring ballet. We wanted to bring more contemporary dance and a few more repertory pieces to the community, so we've been working on it and it just so happened we were able to get everything in line for this season."The performance, which will be presented in two parts, features some 17 dancers from Gainesville and Emory, along with the 16 dancers in the CRB senior company. Lazenby Swan said she was particularly excited about presenting the Emory troupe, since the concert will be held at Oxford College.

"Considering we're doing the performance at Oxford, it's exciting to tie in Emory's dance program," she said. "It's a huge accomplishment for us and we're happy to collaborate with them."

The first half of the show will focus on the visiting artists, as well as a dance by the Swans and "a few rep pieces" by CRB members. The second half will center on themes inspired by the performance's title, with original choreography by the Swans.

"We went with the number '1' once we knew we were doing a fall performance," said Lazenby Swan. "Being that it is our first time doing it, we decided to do a one-night, one-performance (event) just to see how it went over, since it's never been done before.

"When we decided to make it one night only, Peter and I started throwing around ideas and even got the dancers involved -- what do you think of when you think of the number '1?' Ultimately, what we decided on was mapping out one day in life, starting when your feet first hit the floor."

"One" will feature seven original dances, and Lazenby Swan said she and her husband were very adamant about collaborating with their young charges.

"One of the things Peter and I really tried to do was incorporate our dancers into the creative process," she said. "Instead of us just constantly just throwing choreography at them, we worked hand in hand with them on this project.

"It was a real give and take -- we'd give our dancers movement and then allow them the freedom to interpret it and make the choreography together. I think they were really excited to be part of the creative process."

As "One" prepares to be staged, the CRB is simultaneously prepping for this year's performances of the "Nutcracker."

"We're juggling both -- Nutcracker rehearsals with the fall rep rehearsals," said Lazenby Swan, who danced for several years with the Charleston (S.C.) Ballet Theatre before coming to the local ballet company.

"(The Nutcracker is) going strong and is in the works. We've tried to present it as easily as possible, and our company did the 'Nutcracker' with us last year, so they're a little bit quicker in terms of picking up on choreography and have learned our style.

"It has presented its challenges and I think the dancers have been a little bit overwhelmed by all the choreography, but they're a very intelligent group of young ladies and they juggle it all extremely well. We're extremely proud of them."