Amaranth Arts dance company returns to Richmond

Eden Garcia-Thaler
Contributing Writer

Amaranth Arts returns from an international tour to present a diverse selection of new and old emotionally-arching works entitled “Falling Back to Grace” Sept. 11-13 at Grace Street Theater.

VCU alumni are currently rehearsing for the upcoming production of “Falling Back to Grace.” Photo by Richard Finkelstein.

“Falling Back to Grace” marks Amaranth Arts’ return to the Richmond stage since their last production four years ago. Though the company’s home is Richmond, the company was founded in Costa Rica while their dancers were studying abroad.

Every dancer of the company is an alumnus of Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Dance. Since its formation, Amaranth Arts has been performing, teaching, and choreographing in countries including China, Italy, Mexico, France and Scotland.

Scott Putman, artistic director and choreographer for Amaranth Arts, has created all five works presented in the upcoming production. Putman said his travels have allowed his work to grow and develop in new ways, because he has been able to experience firsthand how different cultures create and share art. 

“One of the beautiful things about travel is the way that it opens your spirit and your understanding of different cultures and the way in which those cultures create,” Putman said. “Traveling has always opened my creative process by influencing it with its simple sense of being.”

“Falling Back to Grace” consists of a dynamic body of works. The pieces presented in this show include a world premiere, “The One and Lonely,” as well as a Richmond premiere, “Shadows Fall Where Light Dares Shine.” The production will also present “Creek Walkers Under a Waning Moon,” and the restaging of the acclaimed, “On the Shelf of Memory in the Temple of a Compressing Heart.” In a collaboration with Island Moving Company of Newport, Rhode Island, Amaranth Arts will also perform “Land of a Thousand Reflections.” 

Each piece of the program will take the audience on a journey, but Putman said the experience will be complete when all of the pieces are joined.

“There is a really interesting arc and development that will be experienced and will challenge the audience to take part in,” Putman said. “I am very proud of the range, style and physical language that is created within each of the works.”

The performance will feature a blend of dancers ranging from new members like Johnnie Mercer, who will dance in “The One and Lonely,” to longtime members like Damion Bond. Bond was in the original cast of “On the Shelf of Memory in the Temple of a Compressing Heart,” which premiered eight years ago.

Bond joined the company in 2006 and has performed in “On the Shelf of Memory in the Temple of a Compressing Heart,” every time since its premiere. Described as a personal favorite, Bond said she expects the audience to enjoy the emotional and character-driven aspects of the piece, and described the dance as a journey of the search for light. 

Bond said her performance is physically challenging, involving handstands and difficult low-to-the-ground work, and hopes the audience will appreciate the athletic elements. Throughout her personal experience with the dance number, Bond said she has noticed the movement become more elegant and eased. 

Putman credits VCU Dance training for creating dancers who embrace the work with their whole heart and mind. He expects the audience to be inspired, awed and refreshed by the holistic way the dancers embody each piece of work. 

“I am honored and proud to have them working with me to share the vision of each work on the program,” Putman said.

“Falling Back to Grace” will run Sept. 11-13 at 8 p.m. at Grace Street Theatre on 934 W. Grace St. Tickets are $20 for the general public and $10 for students with a valid ID.

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