A! Magazine for the Arts

Deirdre Cole as Full Moon in Sean Hilton’s ballet, “Lunar.” (photo by David Patton)

Deirdre Cole as Full Moon in Sean Hilton’s ballet, “Lunar.” (photo by David Patton)

Deirdre Cole creates the human movement in ‘The Wolf Crystal’

June 26, 2019

Deirdre Cole, artistic director of Highlands Ballet, has been serving with the Virginia Highlands Festival for more than six years, and when the idea of a kinetic art project came up, she was excited.

“I was honored to be invited to a creative brain storming session with a wonderful group of brilliant minds to explore implementing kinetic art as a new part of the festival programming,” she says.

Cole like others on the committee came up with ideas and researched different types of kinetic art.

“The entire brain storming team played a part, but the written story by Greg Lilly spearheaded what we have become and where this immersive theater project has catapulted,” she says.

Her role is to choreograph the dancers and the movement of the human powered puppets, but her choreography has limitations that she usually doesn’t have to deal with, there’s no stage. All the action takes place outdoors on and near the streets of Abingdon.

“It’s completely limiting but also challenging. Our environment forces me to be innovative. This proves to be organic...no pointe shoes will be seen,” Cole says.

Cole estimates that there will be 20 to 25 dancers. “Their specific roles are yet to be determined, as well as music. We are seeking a world/Native American sound to reflect the heritage of our area and our story.”

But Cole has an additional challenge, the time of year, summer. Many of her dancers may have family vacations or obligations. However, she has a plan to surmount that obstacle.

“I chart everyone’s schedule and direct accordingly. We want as many dancers as possible to be able to participate in such a unique project. I have participated and created original works before this, but I’ve not had the pleasure of being part of such a wonderful team,” she said.

About Cole
Cole is the co-artistic director of Highlands Ballet Company and has been teaching dance for almost 30 years. Most recently she directed and choreographed “The Magic Butterfly,” a world-premiere ballet with new music composed by Evelyn Pursely-Kopitske. Performances included live music performed by the Paramount Chamber Players.

Her leading roles as a dancer have included Sugar Plum Fairy in “The Nutcracker,” Mrs. Cratchit in “A Christmas Carol,” Titania in “A Midsummer Night Dream” and numerous contemporary leads in “Gershwin by George” and “Echoes” to name a few.

In 2017, she and Highlands Ballet Company served as signature artists for the 69th annual Virginia Highlands Festival, creating an original work of choreography that embodied the festival theme “Kick Up Your Heels.”

Greg Lilly's story provides framework for project