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by Lewis Covington

Indigo Girls join the ballet
Energy and enthusiasm fairly flows when speaking to choreographer Margo Sappington. It’s easy to see why Atlanta Ballet Artistic Director John McFall approached Sappington to collaborate on a project with Atlanta-based duo The Indigo Girls.

Sappington, now living on a farm in Upstate New York, had previously worked with three other choreographers on an evening-length work danced to the music of Prince. That was in 1993 for the Joffrey Ballet. “This one is all mine,” she claims, triumphantly. Some 25 musical selections were first suggested by Girls Amy Ray and Emily Saliers then narrowed down, with Sappington’s input, to just seven songs.

Rather than calling her piece “The Indigo Girls Project,” Sappington prefers instead the title “Shed Your Skin,” taken from one of those seven aforementioned songs. Saliers and Ray will perform live with the ballet on the open proscenium stage of the Fox Theatre (660 Peachtree St.) Oct. 18 – 21. “It will have a rock concert feeling,” Sappington asserts.

As part of her preparation for the dance, Sappington not only listened to the entire Indigo Girls discography but also saw them twice in concert. Struck by their power and charisma, Sappington says, “I’m capturing the feelings and emotions in the songs. Their songs are very personal, and maybe some in the audience will see things in a different way. Many of them will be seeing ballet for the first time.

“My mission is to educate an audience – to show that dance is an art form not just exercise. It’s more than wearing nothing and shaking your booty. You can wear nothing and create something beautiful,” she says, laughing.

The evening’s program opens with George Balanchine’s classic “Serenade” set to Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade in C Major for String Orchestra.” Tickets ($20 – $60) may be purchased by calling 404-817-8700 or by visiting At press time seats were still available.

Indigo Girls Emily Saliers (left) and Amy Ray perform live with the Atlanta Ballet Oct. 18 – 21.
Michael Halsband

National Coming Out Day on Sundance
The Sundance Channel celebrates National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11, with a full evening of gay and lesbian-themed programming. The first of three programs begins at 8:30 p.m. with “Conversations in World Cinema: Christine Vachon,” in which the independent producer talks about her work in gay and lesbian cinema. Vachon produced the award-winning film “Boys Don’t Cry” as well as the recent hit “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”

At 9:00 p.m. Ryan Butler’s documentary “A Union in Wait” is scheduled and the strangely compelling “Chuck and Buck” rounds out the evening at 10:00 p.m.

“A Union in Wait” director Butler may have been the catalyst for this evening of special programming. “I just took [the film] to them and made them watch it,” he says, “but it was the genius marketing people at Sundance who came up with the National Coming Out Day idea.”

Butler’s film tells the story of Susan Parker and Wendy Scott ,who in 1997, after 16 years together, decided to celebrate their relationship with a commitment ceremony in their college’s chapel. Little could they know they were stepping into a maelstrom of controversy.

The college was Baptist-fueled Wake Forest University. Wait Chapel sits in the middle of the campus. The Board of Trustees denied the request for a same-sex union ceremony.

Butler, then a student at nearby North Carolina School for the Arts, and president of its Gay Student Alliance, says, “I thought it was something that needed to be documented. It could be a marker in history for that area.” Butler had been training in filmmaking since the age of 16.

With the help of two camera operators and an editor, plus loans from faculty members with video and lighting equipment, the documentary began to take shape. In order to film, the crew was sometimes forced to surreptitiously enter the gated Wake Forest campus claiming they were there to use the library, all the while hiding the equipment in the back of the car.

Once the story made headlines Butler found himself in a position to make a difference by conducting interviews and documenting reaction of supportive students and faculty while administration and Board of Trustees members remained oddly mum for nearly a year before making a vague and contradictory public statement.

Finally, in 2000, the couple was allowed their union ceremony and today, “they’re just glad to be out of the spotlight,” Butler says.

See the Homoculture Calendar for repeat dates.

A true commitment: Susan Parker (left) and Wendy Scott in Ryan Butler’s documentary “A Union In Wait.”



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