Louisville’s Ambo Dance Theatre Premieres 11 New Works Tonight

Mar 18, 2022 at 11:11 am
Ambo Dance Theatre's "Two Way Mirror" show contained works created during National Choreography Month's January Challenge.
Ambo Dance Theatre's "Two Way Mirror" show contained works created during National Choreography Month's January Challenge. Photo via Ambo Dance Theatre

Ambo Dance Theatre will present its “Two-Way Mirror” show tonight. The show will kick off their 2022 season and features 11 new works created by all levels of the company’s members: directors, company members, apprentices and junior company dancers. 

The show will take place at the Woman’s Club of Louisville on Friday, March 18 at 7 p.m. Tickets work on a pay-what-you-can system to make access to dance easier. They can be purchased here.

The works were each created as part of the National Choreography Month’s January Challenge. Choreographers were asked to create a new piece of choreography using a series of daily prompts to gather inspiration for movement. This is the second Ambo Dance Theatre production in collaboration with NACHMO. The first show premiered as an exclusive digital production. Ambo Dance Theatre Artistic Director Amberly M. Simpson has also moved into the role of NACHMO regional director for the state of Kentucky. The NACHMO organization aligns with the Ambo Dance Theatre’s mission to provide access to “dancers and dance enthusiasts of all ages.” 

Please Note: “A few of the pieces in this production feature loud vocalizations, making it a non-sensory friendly production. However, Ambo Dance Theatre is committed to inclusivity. All audience members will be offered complementary earplugs to be used during the production as needed or desired. Additionally, sensory warnings will be given at the start of any pieces that feature potentially upsetting content.”

From the release, here are the synopses of the dances being presented. 

Scream in D Major

Amberly M. Simpson, Artistic Director “Scream in D Major” was created as a reflection of the frustration and angst that many of us have experienced over the past two years of the pandemic. The piece sets the dancers in a waiting room-type space and reflects their internal monologues, all the while the atmosphere around them remaining unchanged and their feelings unacknowledged, a sort of screaming into the void. While this piece is not about the pandemic persay, it zooms out on the past two years in order to zero in on one of the most frustrating components that has driven much of our anxiety: the feeling of constantly waiting for answers, clarity, and an understanding for how to move forward.

“Carnival of the Aminals (Part Three)”

Joseph R. Brandt, Associate Director The “Carnival of the Aminals” (yes, that is intentionally misspelled) series began in the summer of 2021 as an exploration of comedy in dance, as well as a desire to combat the stereotype that modern dance always has to be heavy or serious in subject matter. This third segment to the saga continues to take inspiration from composer Camille Saint-Saens musical suite Carnival of the Animals while also incorporating the witty poetry of the late poet Tony Hoagland. Other excerpts of “Carnival of the Aminals” have been featured at Kentucky Shakespeare’s Dance in the City event as part of their Summer Festival, the Louisville Fringe Festival, and Ambo Dance Theatre’s production of Imprint. Ultimately each of these excerpts will form an evening length work that will be taken on tour in the Summer and Fall of 2023!


Linsey Gessner, Company Dancer “WALLZ” takes a close examination of our understanding of, and relationship to, the word “home,” especially in the context of freedom vs. security. What is the difference between a house and home? What does it mean to be homeless? To what extent is our relationship with others built upon, and also hindered by, the protections and barriers that constitute a home? Through an exploration of these questions, this piece invites audiences to reexamine their relationship to the walls, both physical and metaphorical, that we find ourselves returning to. This piece comes as a continuation of Linsey’s work with this concept that she initially workshopped with Ambo Dance Theatre in November of 2021.

“Balancing Act”

Rachel Bucio Grote, Company Dancer “Balancing Act” brings to light the realities women face in their roles as career women and wives, academics and mothers. It lays bare the impossible bind that women find themselves in when the identities and titles that they carry are perceived as being in conflict with one another. This perceived conflict of identity can lead to an impossible predicament for women, resulting in the denial of their human nuances, and the overall derogation of women in a society that still clings to outdated notions of feminine roles, competence, and power.

“Love is in the Air”

MAC, Company Dancer This work takes inspiration off of Kentucky author Bell Hooks’ proposal to embrace a “love ethic” as opposed to living out a purely nihilistic philosophy that centers on the ultimate futility of life. “Love is in the Air” is an exploration of what a “love ethic” might look like, and the dynamic experiences that create barriers to authentically living out that sense of community. Built in a collaborative format, the dancers explore connection, wrestle with the toxicities that breed disconnection, and grasp for hope and reconnection in the face of pain.

“The Art of Joy in Grief”

Heather Moran, Company Dancer "The Art of Joy in Grief" is an exploration into the perception of grief, its causes, the way we carry it, and how we can allow it to transform, grow, and heal us. It also plays with the concept of the interconnected yet isolated nature of grief and the unique way that we all experience it in some form but must ultimately walk it alone. The dance invites the audience to examine and connect with the grief in their own lives and inspire them towards acceptance and healing.

“What You Don’t See”

Sheila Zeng, Company Dancer "What You Don't See" explores how we navigate vulnerability in a society that constantly demands us to code switch between various spaces and contexts. It invites audiences to explore the question of “why do we show a different side of ourselves to others instead of our ‘normal’ selves?”, in order to take a deeper look at their relationship to vulnerability.

“Candle in the Crowd”

Arieanna Washington, Apprentice "Candle in the Crowd" exposes audiences to the false assumption and portrayal of introverts. It explores the effects of harmful stereotypes- that introverts are defined as unsocial people who live in solitude- and what life really is like being introverted in a world catered towards extraverts. It invites the audience to broaden their horizon as they listen to the inner monologues of events that happen in daily life from the perspective of introverted minds.

“the flower and the sun”

Sofia Ritchie, Apprentice “the flower and the sun” explores the nuances of intimacy, particularly in women’s relationships, whether platonic or romantic. Driven by the observation of how socialization encourages women, both through words and physical actions such as hugging, to be more nurturing toward one another than men, this piece asks audiences to take a deeper look at the relationships in their lives, and how the unconscious messaging of their upbringing may influence how they handle the people closest to them today.

“Happy in the Presence of Others”

Semaiah Robertson, Junior Company Through a constantly shifting landscape of solos and unison work, “Happy in the Presence of Others” explores the challenges that come from being codependent on the presence of others to find joy in our lives. In doing so, it asks the audience to examine their relationship with themselves. Are you able to sit with yourself and find the same joy that you source from your Relationships?


Helena Smith-Pohl, Junior Company “Inertia” reflects on the difficulty of isolation, and the challenges of reconnecting with others after prolonged periods without social contact. The dance draws inspiration from everyday sounds, showcasing the way we experience them differently when we are confined to stillness vs. living at our full activity level. In these current COVID-driven times especially, it’s hard navigating the challenges of shutting down our lives and then opening them back up again, constantly slaloming back and forth. This piece invites audiences to process through some of the resulting emotional weight of the ongoing pandemic, and serves as a reminder that, no matter how isolated we may feel, we are not alone in our struggles.

Ambo Dance Theatre presents “Two-Way Mirror”A NACHMO Production Friday, March 18 Woman’s Club of Louisville 1320 S. Fourth Street ambodancetheatre.org 7 p.m.  |  Pay-what-you-can

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