Since the untimely death of the Charleston Ballet Theatre last year, Charleston audiences faced somewhat of a vacuum when it comes to classical ballet. There have been one or two performances by touring companies (like the Russian Nutcracker last holiday season, and the upcoming Shanghai Ballet performance at the end of October), but nothing like a regular season.
That’s changing this year, as the Columbia City Ballet will perform its first inaugural season in the Holy City. The 53-year-old company is based in Columbia, S.C. and, although they tour extensively across the Southeast, have only performed the odd show or two in Charleston over the years.
Part of that was because the CCB did not want to step on the CBT’s toes, says William Starrett, CCB’s executive and artistic director. “We had a great mutual respect with the Charleston Ballet Theatre, and we purposely did not include the Lowcountry in our touring schedule out of that respect.”
When the CBT closed its doors, leaving Charleston without a ballet season, CCB started looking into adding the Holy City to its tour schedule. Not only could they help fill a void in Charleston, but it would be good for CCB’s dancers too. “One of the most important things, the main priorities that I want to provide the dancers with is performance opportunities. I’ve always been dedicated to that mission,” says Starrett. “[The CBT closing] was a terrible loss. It was a great reminder of how vulnerable the art form is.”
The CCB will perform four ballets during the 2013-2014 season, beginning with Dracula: Ballet with a Bite on Oct. 29.
Starrett created the ballet 22 years ago, but continues to work with it to keep the choreography and characters fresh — especially in light of the True Blood– and Twilight-inspired vampire craze of recent years. “It’s more young and youthful now,” he says.
CCB will also perform The Nutcracker, Starrett’s original ballet Alice in Wonderland, and Giselle in Charleston. All performances will be at the Sottile Theatre, except for Giselle, which will be performed on Kiawah Island in March. See the full schedule and purchase tickets at columbiacityballet.com.