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“To watch the company is to see hope take human form” —High Ground News


Featuring Kevin Thomas’s Ballet Rise Set to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Public Speech, a World Premiere by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Alum Hope Boykin, Camille A. Brown’s New Second Line, and Amy Hall Garner’s Saint Glory

Saturday, February 3, 2024 at 7:30pm

Sunday, February 4, 2024 at 2:30pm


January 9, 2024 (Memphis, TN)Collage Dance – recently named one of the 50 largest ballet companies in the nation by Dance Data Project – continues its 2023-24 season with its winter performance, RISE, on Saturday, February 3 at 7:30pm and Sunday, February 4, 2024 at 2:30pm at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts. A special abbreviated matinee performance of RISE for 2,000 Memphis-Shelby County Schools students will take place on February 2, 2024.


The performance – which takes place on the first weekend of Black History Month – features Collage Dance Artistic Director Kevin Thomas hallmark ballet Rise as the evening’s centerpiece, which is set to the iconic “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop Speech” given by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, just one day before his assassination. Also included is a world premiere, I Am My Work, by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater alum, Hope Boykin, Camille A. Brown’s soul-stirring New Second Line, inspired by the events of Hurricane Katrina, and Amy Hall Garner’s transcendent Saint Glory, inspired by her grandparents’ Catholic and Baptist roots.


Kevin Thomas shares, “When I first moved to Memphis in 2007, I visited the National Civil Rights Museum and it was such a powerful moment for me, stepping into my history and feeling all these different emotions. That is where I got the idea to create this ballet and to show Dr. King’s powerful speech through movement. I thought it was also timely since there are hardly any works in the classical canon that have to do with the African-American experience. This piece was and still is a way to give that to our culture and be true to Collage’s mission.


“What I also love about Rise is that it incorporates our stars of tomorrow, the young, talented students in our Conservatory who perform alongside the professional company. Every year that we perform the work, we update it slightly – it grows with the students and the students grow with it. Like Dr. King’s Mountaintop Speech where he’s on top of the mountain and seeing into the future – the future is our kids who will carry the art form forward.”


Of the program as a whole, Thomas remarks, “All these pieces honor Black History Month and honor those who have come before and after, who have paved the way. They are significant to our culture, and what has brought us here and held us up. Amy Hall Garner and Camille A. Brown’s works have been great successes before and that’s why Collage is performing them again. Audiences should also anticipate Hope Boykin’s premiere, as her movement quality is a rich mixture that has the dancers moving in a contemporary and neoclassical way.”


When speaking on her creative process, Hope Boykin shares, “I believe all movement is abstract until it’s given context and color. Seeing this entire company of black and brown bodies is pretty incredible. The ideas and the structure for this new work were inspired by the dancers.”


Originally commissioned by Reflections Dance Company and premiered in 2006, Camille A. Brown’s New Second Line takes inspiration from the events of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The work is a celebration of the spirit and culture of the people of New Orleans. Second Line is a traditional brass band parade for weddings, social events, and most notably, funerals. The people who follow the parade dancing with high energy and spirit are known as the “second line.”


In Amy Hall Garner’s own words, “Saint Glory honors the memories I have of accompanying my grandparents to Sunday church services in Louisiana. My Grandmother, a devoted Catholic, and my Grandfather, a choir member for over sixty years in the Baptist church, instilled in me the importance of faith, the ritual of religion, and the exclusive richness of African-American culture. Sharing those moments with them are sound imprints of my childhood, ones that I cherish and carry with me each day.”


Collage Dance Collective’s next spring performance is ELEVATE, which takes place on Saturday, April 20 at 7:30pm and Sunday, April 21, 2024 at 2:30pm also at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts. Featured works include the Memphis premiere of Wayne McGregor’s Chroma, which explores the drama of the human body and its ability to communicate extremes of thought and emotion. The one-act ballet is set to original music by Joby Talbot and his arrangements of music by The White Stripes, and was heralded by the London Times as “ravishing on all fronts.” It premiered in 2006 at The Royal Opera House and in 2007 received an Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production. The performance also includes a dynamic new commission by Miami-based choreographer Durante Verzola.


Collage Dance’s fourteenth season is made possible through generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, James R. & Anita Horne Jenkins Family Foundation, SouthArts, Ford Foundation, Alice L. Walton Foundation, Tennessee Arts Commission, the International Association of Blacks in Dance, Hyde Family Foundation, Bank of America, ArtsMemphis, the Shubert Foundation, Orion Bank, and Buckman Laboratories.


Performance Information


Saturday, February 3, 2024 at 7:30pm

Cannon Center for the Performing Arts | 255 N Main St | Memphis, TN 38103

Tickets: Starting at $28.50



Sunday, February 4, 2024 at 2:30pm

Cannon Center for the Performing Arts | 255 N Main St | Memphis, TN 38103

Tickets: Starting at $28.50



Kevin Thomas: Rise

Amy Hall Garner: Saint Glory

Camille A. Brown: New Second Line

Hope Boykin: I Am My Work (World Premiere)



About Collage Dance 

Collage Dance, recently named a “Southern Cultural Treasure” by South Arts and the Ford Foundation, and listed among the 50 largest ballet companies in the nation by Dance Data Project, is one of the largest Black-led performing arts organizations in the South and one of just a few professional ballet companies in the world with a roster of BIPOC dancers.

Working to inspire the growth and diversity of ballet, Collage Dance Collective showcases a repertoire of relevant choreography and world-class dancers representative of the communities we serve. The professional company has presented thirteen full-length seasons in Memphis, plus national and international touring presenting a diverse range of classical and contemporary choreography from George Balanchine, Nacho Duato, Ulysses Dove, Joshua Manculich, Amy Hall Garner, Kevin Iega Jeff, and more.

The work of Collage Dance Collective has been featured in media outlets including Huffington Post, Allure, Yahoo!, The Commercial Appeal, Afropunk, Dance Magazine and Pointe Magazine.

Its institutional arm, the Collage Dance Conservatory, trains more kids of color in a classical art form than any other non-profit in the region. More than 1,000 students each week study dance through Collage’s in-school dance education programs and on-site at its new 22,500 square foot state-of-the-art facility, Collage Dance Center, opened in December 2020. The Conservatory’s unified curriculum coupled with a rigorous culture of excellence, hard work, and high standards provides students with a first-rate experience. Students are challenged, nurtured, and prepared for the rigors of a professional career on or off the stage.

Collage Dance also runs the Collage Dance Continuum, which seeks to dramatically increase access to dance and movement classes for Memphians, regardless of age, ability, disability, or body type. The Continuum is a collection of community engagement initiatives, collaborative partnerships, adult classes, and courses for adults with no previous dance training. The Continuum offers affordable classes in a non-competitive, affirming environment with master teachers at the top of their craft.


Learn more at
Image at top of release by Treb’bor Jones, depicting Collage Dance Collective in Kevin Thomas’s “Rise”




Contact: Mallory McFarland | Morahan Arts and Media | (646) 241-0899