Arts » Theater + Dance

Gregory Hancock's harsh world

The show based on the Indy dance figure's battle with cancer



Change is the only constant in the world, and Gregory Hancock knows it.

Based on a recent series of life-altering circumstances in Hancock's life, Metamorphosis, the newest play in the GHDT canon, has undergone some serious alterations during production. The biggest one was a severe medical issue with one of the show's original dancers.

"An unexpected metamorphosis occurred just recently in the process of creating The Violin Under The Bed," says Hancock about a very personal piece that was originally supposed to be featured in Metamorphosis. "The dancer who is dancing the essence and spirit of my mother (Florence Marie Hancock) in the piece just had to undergo emergency eye surgery, and due to her recovery time, she will not be able to dance in the performance next weekend.  The role was specifically created for Abbie Lessaris, and I do not want another dancer to replace her in this role.  Abbie had a special personal relationship with my mother, and it is essential that this personal connection is felt in the piece."


For Lessaris, this development was very unexpected.

"I found out that both of my retinas had detached on my birthday, June 21," says Lessaris. "I had emergency surgery on my right eye on the 22, and my surgeon intends to operate on my left eye in a couple of weeks."

Because of this unfortunate situation, Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre will not be premiering The Violin Under The Bed until October now.

"I simply could not get on the stage and risk further damage after surgery," says Lessaris. "With this news, Mr. Hancock decided to postpone the premiere of The Violin Under the Bed. It is extremely hard for me to not take the stage with the rest of the dancers, but I'm so thankful for the trust that Gregory has in me to represent his mother, and I'm extremely thankful that he is willing to postpone the piece for me."

In place of the one-hour The Violin Under The Bed, Hancock has selected a pair of Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre repertoire pieces to make up the complete second act of Metamorphosis. Additionally, Lessaris was a featured dancer in the show's first-half piece, Until There Is No More..., meaning that Hancock was forced to find a replacement dancer for that role as well.


"I found out I would not be performing a week from dress rehearsal, and these dancers learned my parts and put together two different pieces in a matter of days," says Lessaris. "They will put on an absolutely beautiful show. Dancers are amazing creatures. These dancers are my family, and they are the most amazing group of people that I am so incredibly lucky to call my coworkers, friends and family."

Despite all of its last-minute alterations, Metamorphosis is still a very personal show for Hancock. In particular, Until There Is No More... is a piece about Hancock's recent bout with cancer.

"I took my fear and mortality and turned them into personal art," says Hancock. "One dancer portrays me in the piece, but other dancers portray aspects of me as well, along with portraying fear, comfort, strength and disease itself."

In this piece, Hancock will be played by Eduardo Permuy, who became a member of Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre during the 2015-16 season. For this role, Permuy really tried to relate with cancer victims in order to make his performance seem as genuine as possible.

"I have researched and talked to people that have gone through this horrible illness and am trying to put myself in that position and find within me how and what I would feel if I was in that position," says Permuy.

At the end of the day, Hancock hopes that Metamorphosis will "make a sometimes harsh world more beautiful through art."

"As a choreographer and director, I strive to have my work be ever-changing and evolving while still being respectful to the past that has brought me to this point of my life," says Hancock.


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