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A Little To The West 

NCDT veteran forms new dance company in Asheville

Heather Maloy might have been born to dance. She had her first ballet lessons in early childhood from her mother, Judy. A native of Winston-Salem, she entered the North Carolina School of the Arts at age 12, and upon completing the 12th grade as a scholarship student, she was hired by NC Dance Theatre at age 17 -- the youngest dancer ever hired in the company's 33-year history.After NCDT relocated from Winston-Salem to Charlotte in 1990, the original company slowly dwindled away with a few exceptions, including Heather. Now, after 13 years -- a record for longevity with the company -- Heather Maloy has left to develop other career options.

Heather enjoyed the improvisation classes at the School of the Arts, but took it to a higher level in the dance composition classes taught by Rich McCullough at UNC-Greensboro. The creative process really turned her on and she decided she wanted to do more than just be a dancer for the rest of her career. She also wanted to choreograph.

In 1991, former NCDT artistic director Salvatore Aiello gave her the opportunity to present her first work, a solo for another female dancer and a large armchair called "Pas Seul." At the time, Aiello spoke of the scarcity of female choreographers, mentioning Agnes de Mille and Martha Graham -- suggesting that Heather was following in strong footsteps.

After Jean Pierre Bonnefoux became artistic director, he introduced Innovative Works as an annual event. Heather's ballets were included on these programs, including the most recent one in April which featured "Couch Potatoes" -- a delightful, whimsical work featuring three dancers and a beat up old couch -- for which she was also listed as set designer.

Now Maloy is pursuing her dream. Actually, she could have stayed and performed the role of Clara in The Nutcracker until way past her 40th birthday. She wasn't ready to hang up her toe shoes but felt the need to compose more dances. In order to do that, she decided, she had to form her own professional dance company.

Starting a dance company anywhere in this country is a risky business in the current lousy economy. The first thing this Tar Heel native had to decide was where to locate it. Even though she'd toured all over the country with NCDT, Heather wanted to remain in the Old North State. Charlotte has many dance presenters, Raleigh and the eastern part of the state have Ricky Weiss's Carolina Ballet. So, considering its recent growth as an arts center, Asheville beckoned.

We hear a great deal of talk about entrepreneurship, but it seems fitting to call Heather Maloy an "artist/preneur" -- OK, there's no such word, but we can call her dancer/choreographer and artistic director of her own company, which when you think about it, is pretty amazing. Heather's company, Terpsichore Theatre of Dance, will perform primarily in the summer. In the future, their season might be extended to late spring and early fall.

In the first week of May, Heather bit the bullet and moved to Asheville to prepare for the Grand Opening of her company on June 27 and 28 at the Diana Wortham Theater. The company will be composed of former NC Dance Theatre dancers and others. Tim Yeager will be the troupe's ballet master. A second performance is scheduled for August 8 and 9. In addition to Maloy's ballets, Salvatore Aiello's dances will be in the repertoire.

Before moving from the Queen City, Heather made many trips to Asheville speaking to various civic organizations, movers/shakers and influential people trying to drum up interest in a professional dance company. Anyone who knows Heather can't help but feel that her pioneering spirit, guts and determination will pay off. Along with many dance devotees in Charlotte, we're proud of what Heather has accomplished, and even prouder of what she's attempting. Godspeed.

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