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Project sheds light on human rights

Arianna Auber
aauber@statesman.com
Chaddick Dance Theater's 'Dark to Light' is part of Ballet Austin's Light / The Holocaust and Humanity Project.

When Cheryl Chaddick was in junior high, she learned about the atrocities of the Holocaust in one of her classes. She says the experience shook her to the core.

So when Ballet Austin asked her dance company, the Chaddick Dance Theater, to participate in a three-month-long ballet and Holocaust education partnership, she agreed. The final product of her collaboration with Ballet Austin, called "Dark to Light," is a five-part performance that starts today and runs through Saturday.

The performance is part of Ballet Austin's Light / The Holocaust and Humanity Project that aims to promote the protection of human rights using arts, education and public dialogue.

The first "Dark to Light" piece, "The Hands of Men before the Hands of God," is a group performance that formed as a result of the impact that junior-high class had on Chaddick's young mind.

Since the class, she has spent her life in a spiritual battle, a quest to discover whether God exists and how he could let such dark events like the Holocaust happen. Some of this questioning - and eventual revelations - led to the creation of the second piece, "Scatterings of Light."

The third piece, "Driftwood," features guest performers Maia McCoy and Katherine Hodges, who choreographed the duet.

Another installment is a monologue Chaddick wrote, called "Landmark," to tackle the issue of aging.

The final segment, "He Said, She Said," neatly ties in the themes of the first two pieces with the message that Ballet Austin hopes to convey about the importance of human rights.

Through the piece, a collaborative effort between Chaddick and University of Texas graduate student John Michael Hunt, Chaddick said she hoped to convey that we are ultimately all the same.

"We all have the same feelings, the same hopes, the same struggles," Chaddick said. "I think that's why the Holocaust experience was so profound - because I can't understand how you can look at another human being and try to annihilate them. It's like trying to annihilate yourself. I could not comprehend that as a young girl."

'Dark to Light'