D THE COURIER, MARCH 22, 1975 PAGE 7 Pittsburgh Ballerina Stars In Eric Dance Company ERIE She arrives breathless, just minutes before the ritual of daily ballet class is to begin; under the collegiate uniform of jeans and sweater, which is discarded in the dressing room, is another uniform, the black tights and leotard of the dancer. Unobtrusively she takes her place at the barre, and as the first pli'es begin her entire body responds with concentration, harmony and grace. - When the class is divided into two groups for center floor work, she quietly takes her place toward the side of the studio, sometimes dancing with both groups, sometimes - studying the first group before her assumes the floor. From such an understated demeanor, one would never guess that 21 - year - old Charon Battles, college senior, part - time ballet teacher, general understudy for the company of college dancers in a forthcoming ballet production, and unofficial ballet mistress, is soon to add another distinction to an already noteworthy eight - year professional career: she is to be the first Black ballerina to dance the leading role of Swanhilda in the fairy - tale ballet "Coppelia." One might say that Charon's prodigious talents - surfaced at the age of three: recounts Charon, "I never walked I either danced or I ran." She began the formal study of ballet at the age of nine, and at thirteen was one of the original members of the now formidable Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Blessed with a high elevation that is rare in female dancers, and an extraordinary sense of balance, Charon found herself in solo roles from the outset: the Arabian Dance from the traditional classic "The Nutcracker" was set for the Pittsburgh company on Charon. Her distinctive style emerged from performances of "The Dying Swan," "Corsaire," and the "Don Quixote" pas de deux, and she had danced with such prominent dance figures as Gennadi Vostrikov, Alexander Filipov, and a brief appearance with Edward Villella at the age of fifteen. Soft - spoken and articulate, Charon considers herself neither a strictly romantic, or an eccentric, athletic - type performer, but rather, one who is adaptable to a variety of roles. "When I am in an introverted role, I feel the character first going inside me, and then going into the audience. But when I dance a very fiery, extroverted part such as a Spanish the feeling is bounding from me, onto the audience, and off the audience, back into me. There is an element of reciprocation, which helps me to communicate my role." Charon assesses her strength as a performer to lie in her unique style, self - described as "basically Oriental, ephemoral the soft, lyrical movement with a touch of Sylphide." She also displays another quality to which others will also attest: the combination of fire and soul that is the mood of such pieces as "Don Quixote." The scene of Charon's most recent distinction in the world of dance is Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., from where she will graduate in May as a dance major. It is there that the college company rehearses for the upcoming "Coppelia" production. Enter Charon, bandanna - wrapped head, wearing assorted sweaters and legwarmers. As the rehearsal 'Commissioner', An Affrontation by Althea Fonville (Courier Staff Writer) "Report To The Commissioner" had an intriguing plot. While watching it one would not necessarily know what the next scene might entail. However, the content of the film, its essence was "jacked up." In terms of the perpetration of blatant racial prejudices, the movie was just "down, right" ridiculous! The story was a narrative, told by an investigator and several other policemen. A scandal had erupted within the New York Police Department (N.Y.P.D.) A female narcotics agent had been mysteriously killed with the gun of a city detective. The press and other media got hold of the story minutes after it. had happened, and blasted it. The image of an innocent looking white woman found dead in a Black pusher's apartment, with an apparent cop's slug in her, was the worse thing the Police Commissioner could imagine. He wanted the "run down" of what really happened. He wanted a factual report. Thus the story was told from the inside. Its slants, comprehensively ran along the lines of the "lily white makes right" saying. To make matters worse Yaphet Kotto, a very good Black actor who usually has good roles, played the part of Detective "Crunch" Blackstone, an "Uncle Tom," assimilating "Negro". As the story is narrated, one notices the "them and us" attitude which prevails on the part of the department, with regard to all other non - police persons. This attitude is really displayed when the drug problem is handled. Susan Blakely, playing the part of Chicklet, undercover "narc agent" says, "Everytime I put a pusher behind bars, I feel that I'm helping society." She really creates the image of a "goodie two shoes." trying to correct social ills,, and save the country. Of course there are times when foxy Chicklet kills a junky or two, but this only serves to show how good she is at her job. Ironically enough, the girl gets killed by another "do gooder" cop. As an attractive young kid, strung out on dope, she goes about doing what is necessary to lrame a noted drug pusher. Actor Tony King plays the part of "Stick" Anderson. He's the typical superfly pusher, wanting a piece of the rock, but goes about getting it the wrong way. Chicklet becomes his mistress and ends up living with him. Her superior who finally gave her the authorization to do this, was a sacrificer of anything that served to better his position. Chicklet was just at the point of folding her case when "in comes" Boregard (Michael Moriarty). . "Bo" had spotted her on the streets once before, and thought she was a runaway. Hoping to avert his energies, (the department did not want him to know that she was an undercover "narc") his superior didlndeed tell him that she was a runaway. Bo was given the phony assignment of finding where the "narc" resided. With "mucho" trouble, he did. Trying to find a moment whereby he could talk her into going back home, Boregard firmly planted himself in the apartment of Stick and Chicklet." When Stick discovered him he of course went after his gun. During a brief shoot out, Chicklet was killed as she stood before Stick, trying to stop him from shooting Bo. For no logical reason, Stick splits after the girls falls. A chase scene develops. Both men go running up and down the streets of New York. The two end up trapped in a department store elevator, both holding the other at gun point. Because Stick is the stronger of the two, he finally ends up persuading Bo to join forces with him against the mounting numbers of policemen. Both men finally joined together and began to exit the elevator by way of a trap door. As soon as they had done so, a squadron of policemen opened fire and pumped all types of lead into "Stick". The main points that the film conveyed were that the orders created and executed by the law enforcing bureaucracies are callously haphazard. They are made without regard or concern of the human life; and that nothing matters as much as the individual. Coverups are prevalent and becoming more and more prominent. 4, Wt ..... . V CHARON BATTLES progresses she is seemingly everywhere at once, , Briefly filling in for the actor who is to perform the polishing the corps dances, perfecting some of the role of the ancient Dr. Coppelius, Charon executes a intricacies' of her own principle role. hobble limp that would surely rival the per formance of any other to have done the part of the eccentric toymaker. Her professional experience of eight years serves as a guide to the corps members into the subtleties of the story ballet, which combines dancing with pantomime and acting. Says Charon, "It is only the inexperienced people who say 'I know everything now,' who don't understand that you never, ever, stop learning. By seeing me react to their parts, they learn the importance of mixing and mingling on stage, of doing a little 'stage business'." She considers that her multi - level involvement in the ballet will permit the give and take between the principle dancer and the corps to be transferrred from the working atmosphere of the rehearsal, to a unified spirit in performance, and subsequently it will intensify her involvement in the' role of Swanhilda. "I enjoy 'Coppelia' I prefer the story ballets," comments Charson. "Even if I do a pure dance ballet, I always make up my own story. Dance seems so dead if the person dancing does not feel something if she doesn't have an idea or an image in her head, then she can't communicate to her audience because she doesn't feel first." Any performer creates an individual pre - show routine, to immerse into a role both physically and mentally. "I get nervous, an uneasy stomach, just before I go onstage, and that's just enough of a nudge to get me onstage and into the character, to keep me going and from thinking too much." Charon's rituals consist of arrival at the theatre one and one - half hours before curtain call "with that amount of time I can warm up, do my make - up, fix my hair a certain way, and have a couple of moments of meditation and then I'm out on stage." Perhaps it is the complete physical discipline that is demanded of the dancer which allows him or her to contain all vestiges of pre - performance nerves. Charon's serenity a trademark defies the notion that it is discipline alone which accounts for the proverbial poise of the ballet dancer, for its source seem to emmanate from the very soul. Indeed, spirituality, an occasional moment of inner reflection, is intrinsic in Charon's routine, in her professonal dancer's life, in her role as a ballet teacher for children in Erie's Martin Luther King Center, and in her hectic student role. The fact that a Black ballerina will dance the role of Swanhilda will not, she feels, significantly alter the character of the ballet or her performance, and this idea is supported by the comment of the Artistic Director of the Mercyhurst Co., Ismet Mouhedin. When asked why Charon was cast for the part: "She's good - that's all." As for the Black ballet dancer, whose cultural role has often been muted, the language of dance does not make distinctions and thus its scope is universal and it includes all possibilities. "I've never had an identity problem in ballet class." Charon adds, "if you can make the audience forget that you are one certain color, and only make them think of you as that character on stage, then there are no other difficulties in dance that you can't overcome." Dance Experience Set For Pittsburgh George Faison, the choreographer of the hit broadway musical "The Wiz", will bring his exciting dance company, the George Faison Universal Dance Experience, to Pittsburgh for a residency under the sponsorship of the Pittsburgh Dance Council. The Faison Company performance is slated for Wednesday, March 19 at 8:00 p.m., in the Playhouse Performing Arts Center, Craft Avenue Theatre. In the short span of three years, George Faison has made his Universal Dance Experience one of the most talked about and sought after dance companies in America. There is little doubt that George " Faison is becoming the pinnacle name in sparkling and exhilarating Black Dance in this country! The George Faison Universal Dance Experience is a twelve - member. all - black company which reveals the whole of American Black History from the most joyous occasions of its culture to the sadness and tragedy associated with its heritage. The Faison Company is this country's only professional all black modern dance company. While not derived from African or Caribbean influence. The George i Faison Universal Dance Experience embodies the essence of the American Black Heritage in a theatrically pleasing and intense dance environment. Faison, who was a principal dancer for three years with the Alvin Ailey City Center Dance Theatre, not only choreographs for the Universal Dance Experience, but has had many triumphs: Faison choreographed Broadway's smash - hit musical ''Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope", "Inner City" for the New Theatre of Washington in addition to the much acclaimed "The Wiz". His choreography has also been witnessed in several of the nation's leading repertory theatres including the Afro - American Total Theatre, the New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theatre, the Lincoln Center Repertory Company, the Negro Ensemble Company and tbe New Theatre of Washington, D.C. The New York based Faison Universal Dance Experience, will give master classes and lecture - demonstrations in the Pittsburgh area, prior to their performance on Wednesday evening, March 19. This performance will conclude the Pittsburgh Dance Council's series "THREE" for the 1974 - 75 season. . Pittsburgh Dance Council programs are supported by the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C, a federal agency. The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, The Gulf Oil Foundation and individual contributors. Black Nationalism It is not a change that one goes through, Nor is it something that one day you just decide to do. But rather a force down Deep inside, That is generated by the Power of an authentic Blacfe Pride. It is not walking in a protest march carrying A sign, and theorizing with others that Everything takes time. A complete transitional Change. of the mind is what must be endured, In order to win the battle of the psychological war. For like the apple that revealed the truth to Adam and Eve, Nationalism shall one day, . . . Set Black people free. by Bucky Meyers Pittsburgh, Pa.
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