David Hochoy has become accustomed to choreographing productions to all spectrums of music, working with everything from medieval compositions to Beatles classics. Nevertheless, the Dance Kaleidoscope Artistic Director of 23 years admits he has never truly ventured into the wild world of country and western music.
- Crowe's Eye Photography
- Kings & Queens of Country previewed at DK's annual gala.
From March 6-16, Dance Kaleidoscope will present Kings & Queens of Country at the Indiana Repertory Theatre upper stage. Marrying traditional country music with contemporary dance, Hochoy and Cynthia Pratt (Guest Choreographer in Residence) have each choreographed productions using music from their favorite iconic country stars, including songs by Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and many more.
"It's been a very great learning experience for me," Hochoy said. "I did a lot of research; I've listened to a lot of songs. I think the audience is going to be very happily surprised with what we came up with, because both the sections are very different and we use the music in very different ways."
Following the performances on Thursday, March 13, a Line Dancin' & Two-Steppin' Party will be held in partnership with Sun King Brewing Company. At the party, DK dancers will give audience members a taste of traditional country and western dance styles in an extremely casual class setting. Emily Dyson, originally from Spring, Texas, will lead the class, teaching two line dances and a two-step.
- Crowe's Eye Photography
- Emily Dyson and the other Dance Kaleidoscope dancers taught line dancing at the company's annual gala.
Being from Texas, Dyson was introduced to old-school country music and its associated steps at an early age, fostering her lifelong love for the genre. Harkening back to her experiences in elementary school music class, she fondly recalls her initial exposure to the customary country-and-western-partnered movements.
"Around rodeo season, which is February through March, in music class, you will start learning square dances and line dances. They teach you how to work with the other boys, even though you're not quite ready for that at that age," Dyson said. "You have to partner with boys and do two-steps, and they'll teach you the Grand Right and Left and different ways of partner dancing. Then, we would put on a big performance on a Friday; it's called Go Texan Day."
When Hochoy introduced the idea for a country and western production to the DK staff, Dyson remembers being ecstatic about the opportunity, despite the hesitancy that many other DK members seemed to have.
"A lot of people have a grudge against country music. You know, 'it's just about drinking and women and horses,'" Dyson said. "It's just so much more than that to me, and I'm hoping that people through our dancing, and through what David and Cynthia have created, will see that and have a whole new outlook on it."
Through the casual class, Dyson hopes to spread her lifelong love for country and western music, while also giving audience members a chance to personally connect with the Kings & Queens of Country production, saying "It's part of what people actually do, so I'm hoping it gets them excited, and maybe they'll come back to our show again the next weekend, or later that week, and want to see it and they'll keep their eye out for what they learned in the line dancing class."
Firsthand experiences such as this casual class give the audience a way to feel connected to performances that might otherwise seem foreign, according to Hochoy.
- Guy Clark
- Guy Clark, manager of IRT's costume shop, designed these kicky sketches for DK's Kings & Queens of Country.
"A lot of the research that people are doing for performing arts organizations now is saying that audiences want context -- they want to be able to put themselves in the context of the art form," he pointed out. "So we try to do things that involve the audience and get them a little closer. We don't necessarily have to teach them what it is exactly that we do on stage, but it gives them a taste of going through the process of having to learn a dance and using their bodies."
- Dance Kaleidoscope
- Dancer Noah Trulock gets fitted for his colorful country and western wear.
With his lack of familiarity with country and western music, Hochoy also was in search of ways to personally connect with the music he had chosen to choreograph with. He quickly found this in the form of unexpected "treasures" within certain songs he was exposed to.
In particular, after being introduced to Zac Brown Band's "Free" by Dyson, Hochoy was able to relate to the music that he found himself sifting through on an intensely personal level.
"When I heard it, I started weeping because I thought it was so beautiful," Hochoy said. "I'm gay and they're doing this big thing about gay marriage, so when I heard the lyrics, it just struck a chord in me. I just loved it. So I've been finding little gems like that all the time."
Although the Kings & Queens of Country performance may appear vastly different than most other Dance Kaleidoscope productions, its overall goal aligns with the company's mission "to inspire, educate and entertain through the experience of outstanding contemporary dance," Hochoy concluded.
"If we can reach a whole new crowd of people who love country and western music and inspire them, I think we are doing what we are meant to be doing," he said. "They will see their music being used in a completely different way that they've never really imagined before, and hopefully it will be absolutely mind-boggling to them."