Carmel’s Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre to revisit frontier days

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Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre
Camden Lancaster will perform when Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre presents “The Wild Wild West” Feb. 10-11, 17-18 and 24-25 in Carmel. (Lydia Moody photo)

“Theatre” is an important word in the name of Carmel-based arts organization Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre.

While the company presents the artistry of contemporary dance, storytelling is never overlooked.

“I’m focusing on stories as well as the acting abilities of the dancers,” said Gregory Hancock, a leader in the central Indiana arts community for nearly 40 years. “Our dancers have nice, strong character development, which is always fun to work with and fun for them.”

An upcoming production of “The Wild Wild West” promises plenty of bold characters, represented by cowboys, gunslingers, lawmen and saloon dancers.

The company initially presented its “Wild West” revue in 2019, when Hancock researched Westerns on the Grit television network for inspiration.

“Sometimes they were a little silly or comical,” he said. “We wanted to include that. There’s also a bank robbery. There are villains and cowboys.”

“The Wild Wild West” is scheduled for performances during three weekends in February.

Because the show is a revival of a 2019 production, Hancock said the company can deliver a stronger version today.

“The dancers mentioned that you can inhabit it more,” he said. “They know what’s happening in the story. They understand the music more, and the choreography comes together quickly.”

It’s shaping up to be a pivotal year for the professional company, originally founded by Hancock as the Indianapolis Dance Company in 1985. The Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre name was adopted in the 1990s.

The seven-dancer roster will lose three members to retirement when the 2023-24 season concludes in June, Hancock said.

Company auditions are scheduled Feb. 3 and March 30. Hancock said a 12-dancer roster would be ideal.

Three productions of the company’s 2023-24 season are scheduled at the Tarkington venue of Carmel’s Center for the Performing Arts.

The other two productions on the schedule, including “The Wild Wild West” are being presented at the Florence venue at the Academy of Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre, 329 Gradle Drive.

The Florence debuted in 2022 as an enhanced performance space at the company’s rehearsal studio.

“During the pandemic, we thought we should invest in our infrastructure,” Hancock said. “We received a nice grant to invest in the space and get wraparound curtains and theatrical lighting so we can create an intimate performance.”

A capital campaign project was seeded by a grant from the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation Inc. and completed through a seat-naming initiative.

The Florence is named in honor of Hancock’s late mother, Florence Hancock.

Florence Hancock, who worked in the medical records department at Ascension St. Vincent from the 1970s until her death in 2014, served as treasurer for the Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre board.

“My mother worked tirelessly and sacrificed so the company could survive and flourish,” Gregory Hancock said when the venue opened. “She would be thrilled to see this happening for the company. We are working to create a special performance space that is reflective of my mother’s passion for the arts and her belief in the transformative qualities of art.”

‘The Wild Wild West’

  • When: Various times, Feb. 10-11, 17-18 and 24-25
  • Where: The Florence at the Academy of Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre, 329 Gradle Drive, Carmel
  • Tickets: $40
  • Info: Visit gregoryhancockdancetheatre.org.

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