Gregory Hancock Theatre takes audience on a trip to “India”


By Mark Ambrogi

For Abbie Lessaris, Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre’s “A Night in India” presents some challenges.

ND 0606 Night in IndiaWEB
“A Night in India,” will be on stage June 9 and 10. (Submitted image)

“It’s a very challenging performance, stamina-wise,” Lessaris said. “We have a lot of different sections as opposed to some of our shows that are a full-length story. When it’s a full-length story, it’s created to have different ups and downs within the story. When we do several pieces of several different shows, we pick all the high-energy, high-stamina, exciting section. Since we are doing several different pieces, it means quadruple times the costumes. Every time we go off stage, we have to make a costume change.”

“A Night in India” will be presented at 7 p.m. June 9 and 10 at The Tarkington at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. The show features two guest dancers from India. Hancock said the show features some pieces from previous productions and some new pieces as well.

Hancock has been traveling to India for several years, choreographing and teaching.

“There is a large Indian community in Carmel, and when we’ve done Indian works before we usually draw a large Indian crowd,” Hancock said. “The whole concert is designed for Western and Eastern audiences, so it will be appealing to everybody. It’s colorful and exotic.”

Academy faculty member Christine Thacker said like most of Hancock’s shows, it is athletically demanding for the dancers.

“There are a lot of steps packed into a short period of time for all of the pieces, and then we add costuming,” Thacker said. “It starts to alter the movement quality. There are a lot of bangles, a lot of jewels and scarves. The dresses are heavy. They’re not designed for dancers, so they have to get used to the weight of the skirt and stay on top of the music.”

Thacker said it includes a duet from “Lagaan” in 2001, one of the first Indian-inspired pieces he has done.

“That goes back many years when we first did that piece,” Thacker said. “We discovered when we first presented that and continued to present it is that we had a lot of exuberant support from our audiences. They enjoyed the music, the costuming and the movement.”

For more,