Trustus, which was named Best Local Theater Company of 2010 by the Free Times, is a 25-year-old theater company that stages innovative, contemporary plays fresh off New York’s stages. Reasons to Be Pretty is one of the latest works from writer, film director, and tragicomedy master Neil LaBute, whose filmography includes Nurse Betty and In the Company of Men. Reasons to Be Pretty is the final installment of LaBute’s trilogy of plays dealing with beauty and physical appearance. When Greg mentions that his girlfriend Steph has a few physical imperfections, she erupts with rage, causing him to ponder society’s emphasis on looks, love, and lacy mittens.
Nominated for 10 Tony Awards in 2007, Grey Gardens tells the simultaneously lively and heartbreaking story of Big and Little Edie Bouvier. Set in two acts, the play follows the eccentric and often-dysfunctional duo's descent from the lap of luxury as New York socialites to an isolated existence in a squalid home overrun by feral bands of aristocats. One of few Broadway productions based on a documentary, the musical is inspired by the true story of Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis's aunt and cousin and includes personal songs that explore their complicated mother-daughter relationship. Performances take place downtown in the historic Fountain Inn Civic Center, an intimate 485-seat theater that features chamber concerts, theatrical productions, and partially masked phantoms ready to tear tickets and whisk patrons to their seats.
Many dance companies approach ballet from a modern angle. Caroline Calouche prefers a more perpendicular one. When the stage is not enough space for her visions of macabre masquerade balls or surreal dreamscapes, she takes to the air above it, outfitted with a cirque's worth of aerial harnesses and accouterments. Her dancers are just as likely to pirouette down a 20-foot skein of golden silk as across a hardwood floor. Pairs of lovers might hang precariously from the frame of a hollow cube or perform a gravity-defying pas de deux on the double lyra—their suspension above the earth either an expression of freedom or a prison of their own making. Like identifying an elderly smoker's gender over the phone, the airborne element leaves plenty of room for interpretation.
By marrying the storytelling ability of floor-bound choreography with the gravity-defying tricks of circus arts, Caroline Calouche & Co. unleashes the full potential of aerial dance. The company's productions are free to venture to strange new places. For example, in past shows, women have risen from their graves to haunt their murderous husbands. Likewise, the sounds of Moby and Blue Man Group are more likely to be heard than Debussy.
Audience members who want to plqy the ropes and silks for themselves can learn to do so during the dance company's aerial-dance classes, along with a tight curriculum of ballet, contemporary, and stretching and strengthening courses. For all its global influences and aerial showmanship, Caroline Calouche & Co. keeps its feet rooted in the local community with outreach programs for all ages, ethnicities, and social groups.