‘Lift Every Voice’ to be Madison Ballet’s first-ever film series

Madison Ballet shines spotlight on artists of color with new project, set to debut April 15.
Dancers on a dimly lit stage
Photo courtesy of Darren Lee

Madison Ballet shared news Friday of its new project, “Lift Every Voice,” a collaborative effort between its dancers, select choreographers of color and area filmmakers to produce three thought-provoking short films.

The project will act as a way for artists of color from the community – choreographers, filmmakers and dancers – to create and share their experiences with one another, in the hopes that it will form connections and make space for future creatives. Rachelle Fochs, Kia Smith and Jacob Ashley are the three choreographers directing the series, and they are paired respectively with Dave Alcorn, Jordan Biagomala and John Urban, the filmmakers tasked with transforming each new ballet performance beyond the stage.

At its core, ballet is a classical form of dance, perhaps illustrated in our minds by packed theaters and the traditional movements of “Swan Lake” and “The Nutcracker.” By using the medium of film, the “Lift Every Voice” project hopes to provide choreographers and dancers a new way to share their stories with the community and beyond.

“This project reflects Madison Ballet’s commitment to dedicating its time, space and resources to bringing important new works by choreographers of color to life through its dancers and the film medium,” says Sara Stewart Schumann, Madison Ballet’s artistic director. “Madison Ballet amplifies the shared vision of all those involved in this collaboration, as it presents “Lift Every Voice” to our audiences in the Madison community and beyond, and looks forward to continuing this initiative for years to come.”

The film series will be released on Madison Ballet’s YouTube channel on April 15. The second and third films will debut on April 22 and April 29, and each of the films will close for viewing on the YouTube platform on May 16. However, Madison Ballet hopes to present “Lift Every Voice” as an in person, triple-bill performance in the future. The company, which has produced full-scale productions, timeless ballets and innovative performances for the Madison community for nearly 40 years, empowers students of all ages and has a wide outreach program. With tis project, Madison Ballet hopes to continue facilitating conversations and cultivating growth with the empowering art of dance.

Hannah Twietmeyer is a contributor to Madison Magazine. 

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