Laura Halzack of the Paul Taylor Dance Company in “Le Sacre du Printemps,” en route to CPCC next week. Paul B. Goode
Laura Halzack of the Paul Taylor Dance Company in “Le Sacre du Printemps,” en route to CPCC next week. Paul B. Goode

Lawrence Toppman

What’s ‘Sensoria’? Your chance to see a dance genius, books you eat and ... Elvis?

March 23, 2017 8:15 AM

Maybe you’re one of those people who reads about “Sensoria” every year and says, “Who knew Central Piedmont Community College attracted talent like that? I’ve gotta get to that ... one of these years.”

If so, this is the year.

Sensoria 2017 runs March 31 through April 9, mostly at the Elizabeth Avenue campus and sometimes at the Cato Campus, with more heavyweight attractions and variety than ever. Here are eight things (though by no means all the things) you need to know about, in chronological order:

[BEHIND THE SCENES: Poet/artist/teacher Amy Bagwell, part of the Sensoria team, finds new ways and new collaborators to morph Charlotte’s arts scene. How’s that going?]

1. “Tosca,” March 31-April 2 – CPCC Opera Theatre does Puccini’s tragedy about a strong-willed soprano, the venal police chief who will do anything to get her into the sack, and the painter she loves despite his revolutionary sentiments during the time of Napoleon.

2. “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” March 31-April 9 – When this drama premiered on Broadway in 1984, nobody knew August Wilson would become America’s most important black playwright. CPCC Theatre does this drama about exploited black jazz musicians who come to grief in the ’20s over money and racial conflicts.

3. CPCC Chorus Concert, April 3 – “Love songs through the ages” promises the press release, and those cover six centuries. Hard to resist a show where “featured composers include Josquin and Elvis.” If there had been a Top Ten in 1500, Frenchman Josquin Des Prez would have been on it.

4. Edible Book Fest, April 3 and 5 – Students, faculty, and staff create “books” inspired by a favorite tale, a pun on a famous title or simply made in the shape of a book, scroll, or tablet. Entries are exhibited, documented, then consumed.

5. “Graffiti with Deneer Davis,” April 4 – Spray cans at the ready! Davis, a fixture at Breakin’ Convention, does a participatory demonstration of the diverse art of graffiti. Breakdancers from Nouveau Sud social circus join in – as will you.

6. George Saunders, April 5 – The author of “Pastoralia” and “Lincoln in the Bardo” gives the Irene Blair Honeycutt Distinguished Lecture, with a book signing to follow. Writes he: “There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness really: selfishness. But there’s also a cure.”

7. Putting Contest – I just wanted to get the phrase “a master’s degree in turfgrass pathology” into the paper. John Royals, who has one, directed students in the construction of three PGA-specification putting greens to test your skills. Holes-in-one may earn you a prize.

8. Paul Taylor Dance Company, April 7-8 – The full company hasn’t performed in Charlotte in 15 years, so this is news for rejoicing. Taylor, now 86, has justly been called the greatest living pioneer of modern dance; we’ll see three memorable works from the 1980s: “Brandenburgs,” “Lost, Found and Lost” and “Le Sacre du Printemps,” done to live music.

Toppman: 704-358-5232

Coming next week

Author George Saunders, who’ll be at Sensoria April 5, answers questions from the Observer’s Dannye Powell.

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