On the Road, with the Band

Bowen McCauley Dance collaborates and tours with famed country punk-rock band, Jason and the Scorchers.

Bowen McCauley Dance in Victory Road

Rock bands go on tour. Dance companies go on tour. But it’s not often a rock band and dance company get together for a show at the Kennedy Center before heading out on the road together.

Victory Road is a collaborative project between contemporary dance company Bowen McCauley Dance (BMD) of Virginia and Jason and the Scorchers, a country punk-rock band credited by Rolling Stone with “rewriting the history of rock ’n’ roll in the South.” The full-length show uses songs from Jason and the Scorchers’ 30-year career, weaving a storyline inspired by the life and music of lead singer Jason Ringenberg.

Lucy Bowen McCauley, artistic director of BMD, has been a fan of the band for about 30 years but didn’t have a chance to see them in concert until three years ago. “It was the best concert of my life, and I’ve seen quite a few concerts,” she says, describing her younger self as a “ballerina with a rock habit.” “I’ve always loved their music and thought I could use it with my choreography. They tend to have a lot of upbeat, really danceable tunes with good words, and they are great musicians.”

Ringenberg wasn’t sure what to think when McCauley called him out of the blue two years ago with her collaboration idea. “To be quite frank, I thought it was some crazy lady, and I didn’t hold a lot of hope. But I was dead wrong on that,” he says. “This is such a huge honor for us. We’ve never done anything like this, so we’re over the moon about it and so thankful to make it happen.”

Jason and the Scorchers’ music is rooted in old Southern folk, Celtic melodies and first-wave punk rock, so it naturally lends itself to dancing. Ringenberg gave McCauley a storyline about a boy who leaves his hometown with a dream of becoming a rock star in the ’80s, and some song suggestions. During McCauley’s choreographic process, she talked through the final song selections and the show order with Ringenberg, so her nine dancers and the band could unite onstage to tell the Victory Road story.

“We had a trial run last February with one song, and when the dancers started dancing to the music, it brought tears to my eyes. It was so radical and so beautiful,” Ringenberg says. “I hope folks take away that such divergent worlds can coalesce and create art together.”

Victory Road premieres on April 10 and 11 at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Company members will perform alongside the band and then travel together through Virginia, then again later in the year through Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia and Alabama as part of BMD’s outreach programming. DT

For more: bmdc.org

Hannah Maria Hayes is a frequent contributor to Dance Teacher.

Photo by Jeff Malet, courtesy of Bowen McCauley Dance

Teachers Trending
All photos by Ryan Heffington

"Annnnnnnd—we're back!"

Ryan Heffington is kneeling in front of his iPhone, looking directly into the camera, smiling behind his bushy mustache. He's in his house in the desert near Joshua Tree, California, phone propped on the floor so it stays steady, his bright shorty shorts, tank top and multiple necklaces in full view. Music is already playing—imagine you're at a club—and soon he's swaying and bouncing from side to side, the beat infusing his bones.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Evelyn Cisneros-Legate. Photo by Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West

Evelyn Cisneros-Legate is bringing her hard-earned expertise to Ballet West. The former San Francisco Ballet star is taking over all four campuses of The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy as the school's new director.

Cisneros-Legate, whose mother put her in ballet classes in an attempt to help her overcome her shyness, trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and School of American Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet as a full company member in 1977. She danced with the company for 23 years, breaking barriers as the first Mexican American to become a principal dancer in the U.S., and has graced the cover of Dance Magazine no fewer than three times.

As an educator, Cisneros-Legate has served as ballet coordinator at San Francisco Ballet, principal of Boston Ballet School's North Shore Studio and artistic director of after-school programming at the National Dance Institute (NDI). Dance Teacher spoke with her about her new position, her plans for the academy and leading in the time of COVID-19.

Keep reading... Show less
News
The author with Maurice Hines. Photo by Anthony R. Phillips, courtesy Hopkins

In March, prior to sheltering in place due to the coronavirus outbreak, my husband and I traveled from New York City to Miami to screen our award-winning documentary, Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back, at the Miami Film Festival.

Our star, Tony Award–nominated dancer and choreographer Maurice Hines joined us in Miami for the festival—stepping and repeating on the opening night red carpet, sharing anecdotes from his illustrious seven-decade career with local tap students, and holding court at a cocktail mixer with lively female fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.