Lily Do and Keith Justin Reeves performed "You're Always On My Mind" in April 2022. Photo by Bruce Boulineau. Courtesy Colton Ballet Company
Lily Do and Keith Justin Reeves performed "You're Always On My Mind" in April 2022. Photo by Bruce Boulineau. Courtesy Colton Ballet Company

‘Z’s Last Hurrah’ marks end of dance era

  When she talks about Colton Ballet Company’s April performance, Zanne Colton’s eyes get a little misty.

“It’s taken me two years to pull this all together, but as we get closer to its fruition, I’m on the verge of tears almost every time I talk about it because it is so bittersweet,” said Colton, the ballet company’s director, who announced her retirement.

 “Z’s Last Hurrah” will be performed at 7 p.m. April 26 at the Imperial Theatre.

It features six pieces loved by Colton that have been part of the company’s repertoire – some for many years.

A photo from recent rehearsal at Colton Ballet Company’s Walton Way studio. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

“The works – they are stunning pieces each in their own right. It is an absolutely gorgeous, varied program. It’s very diverse,” she said.

Among the pieces are “Okara” choreographed by Peter Powlus, who was a longtime artistic partner with Colton. It’s based on a Native American tale of three sisters representing the crops of corn, squash and beans, the sustainers of life.

Company alum Caitlin McCormack Phibbs choreographed “You’re Always on My Mind”  in honor of her grandparents, Charles and Barbara Moody and John and Anne McCormack.

It will be performed by Lily Do and Christopher Wilson. Wilson, a graduate of John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School, took ballet at Colton Ballet and now performs with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

“He’s returning especially for this to perform with us. I’m especially proud of his accomplishments,” said Colton.

One of the oldest works in the performance is called “Hearth of Embers” which dates back to the mid-1980s. Bon Ellis, Colton Ballet’s ballet mistress, danced in its debut, Colton said.

Ellis has also announced her retirement.

Colton has been part of dance in Augusta nearly her entire life.

“I fell in love with dance at 7 years old when I walked into my mother’s adult ballet class,” she said.

She trained in Augusta and spent time in New York and with the Atlanta Ballet before Augusta called her home. The company housed at the Walton Way studio has had many names over the years, but Colton has been one of its constants.

Along with her husband Ron Colton, who died in 2016, Zanne Colton has taught and shaped many dancers over the years.

While some students such as Russell Joel Brown, who performed on Broadway with Disney’s The Lion King, Karen Brown, who was a principal dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem and was the first African American woman to lead a ballet company, as well as Wilson, have made their careers in the arts, others took with them a love of the art form as well as some intangibles.

A performance photo from “Okara.” Photo by Bruce Boulineau. Courtesy Colton Ballet Company

 “They learn an art form, and they learn some critical thinking, some discipline and how to work as a team, how to work with others and become productive creative citizens. That’s important to me,” she said.

Only one performance has been scheduled, and organizers think it’s likely it will sell out. In addition to the dance program, the new artistic director will be announced that evening.

 While she won’t be its director next season, Colton won’t be stepping away completely. She and Ellis still plan to teach at the school after retiring.

For tickets, visit the Imperial Theatre website.

 A more in-depth story highlighting Colton’s career will appear in the May/June edition of Inspiring: Women of Augusta.

Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News and Inspiring: Women of Augusta, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at Sign up for the newsletter here.

Support Local Journalism

Local stories on local people, organizations and events. That's the focus of Augusta Good News, a member of the Georgia Press Association. And you don't have to go through a paywall to find these stories. An independent voice in Augusta, Ga., Augusta Good News is not funded by a billionaire or a large corporation; it doesn't have celebrity reporters who have agents. It's local people who are invested in the community and want to tell its stories. You can support local journalism and help us expand our coverage by becoming a supporter. Through Ko-Fi, you can give once or set up a monthly gift.

Comments are closed.