New York Theatre Ballet Will Bring Art to Life at ECC Performance
With the flick of his wrist and paint on his brush, Hobson Pittman sat down in front of a blank canvas and created nostalgic and romantic works of art detailing Southern landscapes, people, and places.
Decades after his work became recognized by art world professionals and collectors, local school children will study the history behind the pastel drawings, ballerinas will interpret the art through movement, and residents will toast the Edgecombe County artist and say, “Here’s to Hobson.”
On April 28, the New York Theatre Ballet (NYTB), the foremost chamber ballet company in the country, will perform a world premiere of a ballet based on Pittman’s work. The performance is part of the annual Edgecombe Performance Series held on the Tarboro campus of Edgecombe Community College.
Famed NYTB dancer Steven Melendez is choreographing the original ballet, called “Of Brewton House,” inspired by Pittman’s pastel drawing “Miles Brewton House” from his Charleston series. Pianist Gabriel Luce is composing an original score to accompany the performance.
The project is funded by the Grassroots Arts Program of the N.C. Arts Council, the Furman Mathewson Trust of the Edgecombe County Memorial Library, and local support.
“This is an exceptional opportunity and a source of great pride for the citizens of Edgecombe County,” says Anderson Ferrell, advisory board member of the Furman Mathewson Trust. “This event should attract statewide and regional interest, not only for lovers of the art of dance, but also for lovers of fine art and historic architecture.”
Melendez and other dancers for the original ballet “Of Brewton House” will arrive in Tarboro on April 18 to begin 10 days of rehearsals. The public is invited to watch the rehearsals on April 19, 20, 22, and 26 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The rehearsals are free of charge.
The dancers’ 10-day residency will enable them to visit with Edgecombe County Public School students who are learning about Hobson Pittman and the NYTB through specially designed lesson plans.
“Edgecombe Community College is pleased to welcome the New York Theatre Ballet back to our campus for a fourth year,” says ECC President Dr. Deborah Lamm. “The troupe’s artistic expression is remarkable, and their focus on exposing school children to dance is truly inspiring.”
Steven Melendez is the NYTB’s principal dancer. Two other NYTB dancers, Mayu Oguri and Stephen Campanella, will be in residence at ECC working with him to create the ballet “Of Brewton House.”
“As a dancer and a choreographer, I hope that the work I present on the stage allows members of the audience a moment to turn to the stranger next to them and share a common feeling or a common thought even if they disagree on everything else outside of the theatre,” Melendez says.
The world premiere “Of Brewton House” will take place during the New York Theatre Ballet’s performance on Thursday, April 28, at 7:30 p.m. in Keihin Auditorium on the Tarboro campus of Edgecombe Community College.
Admission is free, but tickets are required. Tickets are available through the ECC Box Office at 823-5166, ext. 187, and at Edgecombe County Memorial Library, 823-1141.
The NYTB engagement coincides with an April 30 gala benefit for the Blount-Bridgers House, a historic museum and gallery in Tarboro that boasts an extensive collection of Hobson Pittman paintings. Guests at the “Here’s to Hobson! Gala” will enjoy a festive evening of dining and dancing.
For information on attending the rehearsals or the “Here’s to Hobson! Gala,” please email NYTBTarboro@gmail.com.