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American Ballet Theatre bus coming to Charleston

ABT bus from the 1940s and 1950s

In the 1940s and 1950s, American Ballet Theatre toured the country by bus. For the summer of 2021, the company will revive that with "ABT Across America," which includes a stop in Charleston. American Ballet Theatre/Provided 

American Ballet Theatre takes to the road this summer, reviving a company tradition of yesteryear that is perfectly suited for present-day, pandemic-constrained times.

Starting in July, American Ballet Theatre is traveling the country by bus and truck to visit eight U.S. cities over 21 days.

Charleston has made the list. The performance, which is presented by Charleston Gaillard Center, will take place outside on the campus of The Citadel.

Stephen A. Bedard, President and CEO of the Charleston Gaillard Center noted, "We are thrilled to present ABT Across America this summer at The Citadel. While our Education & Community Program frequently serves our community outside our walls, this performance gives us a unique opportunity to present world-renowned artists outside of our beautiful venue. We extend our sincerest thanks to American Ballet Theatre, Citadel alumnus, Bill Moody, and The Citadel for making this event happen!" 

For the initiative "ABT Across America," the heralded ballet company builds on its rich history of cross-country tours in the 1940s and 1950s. For the new tour, 20 ABT dancers and 28 support crew will traverse 14 states, covering a total of 3,100 miles. Along the way, the company will perform outdoors for socially distanced audiences.

Hitting the road after a performance in Lincoln, Neb., the "ABT Across America" entourage will travel in a caravan of six sleeper buses and three production trucks.

The buses roll into Charleston for a July 17 outdoor performance at The Citadel, which will be performed without an intermission. Other stops include Iowa City, Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis and Middleburg, Va. The tour culminates on July 21 with a performance at Rockefeller Center. 

In an interview with The New York Times, American Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie said, “We missed out on celebrating our 80th anniversary, but we’re going to end this tour at Rockefeller Center, where we performed our inaugural performance on January 11, 1940,” adding it will be a prelude to a very new and different future for the company. 

Repertory for the tour includes Lauren Lovette’s "La Follia Variations," a work for eight dancers set to music by Francesco Geminiani; Jessica Lang’s "Let Me Sing Forevermore," a pas de deux blending ballet and jazz vocabulary set to songs sung by Tony Bennett; Darrell Grand Moultrie’s "Indestructible Light," a celebration of American jazz music; and a classical pas de deux from ABT’s extensive repertoire.

More details on the Charleston stop are forthcoming from Charleston Gaillard Center. For information on tickets, visit gaillardcenter.org.

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Follow Maura Hogan on Twitter at @msmaurahogan.

Maura Hogan is the arts critic at The Post and Courier. She has previously written about arts, culture and lifestyle for The New York Times, Gourmet, Garden & Gun, among other publications.