Upcoming performance at Kennedy Center will be a unique opportunity to celebrate local dance legend Lucy Bowen McCauley as his company commemorates its 25th anniversary and bows out.
After 25 years, the Bowen McCauley Dance Company will present its final performance at Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater on Tuesday, September 14 at 7 p.m. The Kennedy Center requires all clients to submit proof of their immunization status and masks are required.
Lucy Bowen McCauley moved to New York to study with the Joffrey Ballet at the age of 18. Now 62, Bowen McCauley is perhaps the DC area’s most consistent dance designer. She has choreographed several works for her company each year since its inception in 1996. Despite a large catalog to draw from, this latest show is typical of BMDC in that it includes several premieres.
“Other companies, when they pull out, go back to the vault and bring back older pieces and big favorites,” Bowen McCauley said recently. “If I had a whole week at the Eisenhower Theater, I sure would… But we’re going to come out, I think, with some of my best work.”
Bowen McCauley is known as a constant collaborator and artist artist; recent collaborators include the former United States Poet Laureate Rita Colombe and the Alexandria Symphony. One of the premieres of this show, “Insistent Music”, is set to a score by the Turkish composer Erberk Eryilmaz, whom Bowen McCauley describes as “a modern day Stravinsky.”
“My music has always been so strongly linked to folk dances from Turkey and the region,” says Eryilmaz. “Pulses and rhythmic patterns shape my music. What I love about Lucy’s work is that it adds more dimensions to the pulsations and rhythmic patterns that exist in music.
Another first, “Image”, is set to music by a German and Croatian composer Nikola Glassl, which will be played live by the composer’s grandson and pianist Nikola Paskalov, musical director of the company, with soprano Karin Paludan.
Alicia curtis, the company’s rehearsal director, says: “Lucy’s choreography always has a strong connection to the music. I can feel it as a dancer when I learn the choreography, and I think viewers can feel it too. Curtis also retired from the stage with this performance, after 13 years with the company.
In addition to Bowen McCauley’s choreographic premieres, this show will feature a premiere by the Israeli choreographer Igal perry—A solo for dancer Manish Chauhan. Chauhan was born into a poor family in India, and his life story inspired a recent film, Yeah Ballet, distributed by Netflix, and in which Chauhan stars. This performance will be Chauhan’s first on stage in the United States.
Chauhan is also the subject of the documentary Call me dancer, currently in post-production, directed by a local filmmaker Leslie Shampaigne. Call me dancer follows Chauhan over a two-year period, and Shampaigne says she wanted to make the film “to show people that no matter what economic background you come from, art can change a life.”
Dancing may have lengthened Bowen McCauley’s life: almost 20 years ago, he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, causing his heart to pump slowly and less efficiently. “What helps keep people from getting sick is exercise,” she says. “So my career probably meant that I developed this problem later on… I didn’t start seeing it until I was 40, whereas with my mother it started much younger. ”
Bowen McCauley has had five heart surgeries, the most recent in 2019, and she says her health influenced the decision to close the business. “With the pacemaker, the defibrillator, and the medications, I feel pretty good most of the time,” she says. “I’m fine, but the people who have my problems usually don’t have the longest lives in the world. ”
Alison Crosby, a founding member of the company who runs the company’s outreach programs, said: “[Lucy] battled chronic health issues that could have put someone else back from the hard work it takes to maintain a dance company.
Bowen McCauley plans to continue his Dance for Parkinson’s Disease program. She also has a few side projects planned in the choreography and looks forward to having “some more free time to travel and you know how to read books and see friends and take it a little easier”.
While we get to see more of Lucy Bowen McCauley’s choreography, Tuesday night will be the last chance to see her choreography performed by the company that bears her name.
Final performance of the 25th season. September 14, 7 p.m., at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater, 2700 F St. NW. $ 50. kennedy-center.org.