Chamber Dance Project’s World Premiere of ‘Gatsby’

The Chamber Dance Project’s June 2022 season will premiere one week from today, on Thursday June 16, at 7:30 p.m. at the Greenberg Theatre. The production, called “Grace, Grandeur & Gatsby,” will feature dance, music and shadow work and include the world premiere of “Gatsby” by Artistic Director of the Chamber Dance Project Diane Coburn Bruning.

After starting the Chamber Dance Project 22 years ago in New York City, Bruning decided to move the production here in 2013. She’s “thrilled” with how the Washington, D.C. area has been supportive of the Chamber Dance Project and how the city has become a cultural resource of great talent.

“With ‘Grace, Grandeur & Gatsby,’ we’re really pushing new bounds in creativity with our shadow puppetry in Gatsby, our own musicians and these very talented dancers whom you may have seen in ‘Prufrock’ two years ago,” Bruning said. “Ours is a creative process that deeply engages our audiences.”

Conceptualized as “an exhilarating response to one of America’s most iconic novels,” Gatsby “places Daisy Buchanan at the center of a story in which facades of success mask darker desires,” Chamber Dance Company’s website says.

Bruning is looking forward to sharing the company’s two world premieres and other repertoire works opening night on June 16. The other repertoire works include “Prufrock” by Bruning, “Dwellings” by Christian Denice and “Extremely Close” by Alejandro Cerrudo.

Performer Jiamond Watson got a call from her mentor and former professor Tommie Waheed saying that Chamber Dance Project needs a woman and asking to fill a specific role and whether she were available. “Coming out of the pandemic, I was itching to work and perform so I told him yes right away,” Watson said. “We started rehearsals in early January 2022 and everything went smoothly.”

In the ballet “Gravity to Grace,” Watson is acting as a lead dancer which she said is an “awesome opportunity,” given she is an apprentice with the company. “Gravity to Grace” was made specifically to align with her body and abilities. “I feel powerful and beautiful dancing that work,” she added.

Watson is also in the ensemble in “Gatsby.” She called her greatest inspiration in dance her “dance mom,” the formidable Katherine J. Smith. “She’s the voice in my head, the rehearsal director constantly coaching me,” Watson said. “I carry every lesson and gem with me — thank you, Ms. Smith, for everything.”

Watson characterized dance a great outlet for young people to find focus, confidence, discipline and a sense of community. “I like to think of my dance training as life training,” she said. “If you can complete a two-hour-long ballet class, you can get through your biology course at school!”

More information on “Grace, Grandeur & Gatsby” can be found here.


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