High Point Ballet pays tribute to armed forces

Jun. 01, 2014 @ 01:00 AM

If Memorial Day still has you feeling patriotic, High Point Ballet may have just the show to send some red-white-and-blue goosebumps up and down your spine.
Call it a troupe supporting the troops.
On Friday evening, the ballet will present “Salute: A Tribute To Our Armed Forces,” a three-act performance honoring America’s servicemen and servicewomen, past and present.
“For some time, I had been wanting to do some kind of tribute for our fallen soldiers, as well as a celebration for our armed forces,” explains High Point Ballet’s artistic director, Gary Taylor, whose original choreography will be featured in the production.
“Salute” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the High Point Theatre.
The show will no doubt resonate with anyone who has an appreciation for the armed forces, but it’s also personal for Taylor.
“It’s a combination of a tribute for my wife’s father and for my grandfather and uncle,” he says. “They were all three in the service and have passed away now.”
Taylor’s father-in-law, Paul Hibbett of Thomasville, was a career military man whose service included a stint in the Green Beret Special Forces. The father of High Point Ballet’s executive director, Rita Taylor, Hibbett died in 2001. Taylor’s grandfather and uncle served in the military in England.
“I had always wanted to pay tribute to my wife’s father especially and do it in a respectful way, so I really enjoyed diving into this realm,” he says.
Taylor originally staged “Salute” in 2007 in Southern Pines, with a troupe called Moore OnStage. The production was so well-received that Taylor decided to restage it in High Point, he says.
The show, which will feature more than 50 dancers — most of them from the Triad — is divided into three distinct acts.
Act 1 salutes the dance style and music of the World War II era, with dancers performing to such high-energy audience favorites as “It Don’t Mean A Thing” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”
“We go from large ensembles to couples, to groups of four to six dancers, offering a variety of styles, including a great tap number,” Taylor says. “No one will be able to sit still during these numbers.”
Act 2 takes a much more reverent tone than the upbeat first act, according to Taylor.
“It starts off with a reverent hymn for the fallen,” he says, “and it ends with a story ballet called ‘Journey of Honor.’ The story follows three families who have a family member called up in the draft, and it shows how the war affects them and changes their lives.”
The act focuses on the sacrifices and commitment of those who join the service — and their families — and concludes with a solemn tribute to those soldiers who have fallen.
“The third act is really a celebration of our armed forces,” Taylor says, explaining that the act features recognizable military anthems and patriotic marches designed to bring the audience to its feet. “It’s a grand, uplifting, powerful way to end the show.”
According to Taylor, “Salute” will strike a chord with anyone who recognizes and appreciates America’s rich military heritage through the generations.
“I think it’s going to be a roller-coaster ride of a journey of joy, love and tribute,” he says, “and it’s going to be done with a great sense of honor and respect.”

jtomlin@hpe.com | 888-3579

Want to go?

High Point Ballet will present “Salute: A Tribute To Our Armed Forces” at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the High Point Theatre, 220 E. Commerce Ave.
The three-act performance, featuring original choreography by artistic director Gary Taylor, pays tribute to U.S. armed forces.
Tickets are $19 for adults, $16 for students and military, and may be purchased online at highpointballet.org or highpointtheatre.com, or by calling the box office at 887-3001 between noon and 5 p.m. weekdays.