Under Robin Harris' discerning direction, we've long looked to N.C. State's dance program for innovative, humorous and poignant combinations of dance, theater, documentary and narrative. These themes play out tonight in the company's annual spring performance. After reprising the witty Wilt Thou and she wilted (Among the Daisies) from Blanche, her 1997 documentary work about early-20th-century journalist Blanche Clift, Harris premieres Paradise Pavilion Ballroom, a work for dancers on roller skates, about the great dance marathons of the 1920s and '30s. In Against the Railing, assistant director Tara Mullins explores the odyssey her grandmother embarked upon, at age 14 in 1921, when she left her parents and her native Sicily to board a ship bound for America.
Returning guest choreographer Claire Porter, who has conveyed sharp social insights with humor, takes on academe, genre—and panel discussions—this time out in a raucous work, MODERN on MODERN on MODERN. Local hero Renay Aumiller places her environmental 2011 N.C. Dance Alliance commission, Burrow, on the company, before "but today they're all gone" (Mr. Davis), a new Harris work looking at the ways we react to disaster. Bring your thinking caps. —Byron Woods