The 17th Annual ARTS SENSATION! A Benefit Performance for Cape Fear River Watch

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The 17th Annual ARTS SENSATION!

A Benefit Performance for

Cape Fear River Watch

7:30 p.m. April 28, 2018

Thalian Hall Main Stage

310 Chestnut Street, Wilmington, NC 28401


Click to see the poster!

The 17th Annual Arts Sensation is cruising in for a lively and entertaining evening showcasing local talent for a music and dance spectacular to benefit Cape Fear River Watch, with a special presentation of Thalian Hall’s Thunder Roll. The music for this year’s show is from The Wilmington Big Band, and dance performances from local choreographers and dancers, including the captivating Company “T” Tap Dancers, who wow audiences every year with a vintage flair of tap dancing, and Kelly Hawes (Samra), who has been performing the art of belly dance in the Cape Fear region since 2001, with a joyful and entertaining style for all ages. Presenting original works are Tracey Varga from Forward Motion Dance Company and students from Dreams of Wilmington.

A long-time favorite in the Cape Fear region, The Wilmington Big Band boasts superior talent with the area’s top musicians and vocalists and the perfect combination of sophistication, good times and timeless memories. Led by Jim and Laura McFayden, The Wilmington Big Band is a 17-piece orchestra dedicated to preserve the American original art of big band music.  Reminiscent of Wrightsville Beach’s own Lumina Ballroom where true showmen like Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey entertained audiences, the Wilmington Big Band combines a mixture of timeless standards and hip pop tunes that will keep you dancing all night long.


Cape Fear River Watch was founded in 1993 by a group of local citizens dedicated to improving and preserving the health, beauty, cleanliness, and heritage of the Lower Cape Fear River basin. This non-profit group holds monthly environmental seminars, offers water-quality education programs to schools, civic groups, developers, homeowner associations and others, and provides storm water management training for local government staff. Cape Fear River Watch encourages community participation and provides Eco-Tours and Bird Watching Tours. Through education, advocacy, and action, Cape Fear River Watch aims to protect and improve the water quality of our region’s rivers, streams, and tributaries. Learn more about Cape Fear River Watch at

Expect an inspired and exciting evening of music and dance that is sure to bring you lasting memories of the wonderful talent in our community.

Tickets are $20 general admission through the Thalian Hall Box Office at 910.632.2285 or online at

 ARTS SENSATION! is presented by Forward Motion Dance Company. For more information, please visit us on Facebook or at

Tracey Varga Recognized at the 2018 Arts in Wilmington Awards Event

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Tracey Varga, director of Forward Motion Dance Company, received an award in the 2018 Arts in Wilmington Award event held at Expo 216 in Wilmington on January 20, 2018. Tracey was recognized for her contribution to the Arts in Wilmington in the Individual category, and in receiving the award, she in turn recognized the importance of building relationships, collaboration and the wonderful support of so many in the Wilmington area who help bring dance, music and visual art together. Tracey is a choreographer and visionary who has been involved in Wilmington’s dance community for 20 years and has produced many dance performances, such as Arts Sensation and Cape Fear Arts in Motion, with Forward Motion Dance Company since 2001.

Tracey Varga receives award in the Individual category at the 2018 Arts in Wilmington Awards event at Expo 216

Forward Motion Dance Company dancer Ashely Barnes, owner of the Dance Element and director of Element Productions in Wilmington, was also recognized with an award in the Artist category. Forward Motion Dance Company is proud of its representation at this year’s event and would like to thank Craig Stinson and all those involved in Arts in Wilmington by creating an avenue to connects artists, arts professionals, and arts advocates.


Forward Motion Dance Company Wine Tasting & Benefit Event 

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Wine Tasting & Benefit Event         

Sunday, February 11, 2018

4:30 – 7:00 pm

Ted’s Fun on the River | 2 Castle St. | Wilmington, NC 28401 | 910-231-5871

Forward Motion Dance Company, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is having a wine tasting and fundraising event, with live music by Staghorn Starlings and Jarret Raymond, light appetizers, and a drawing for door prizes. Years past have proven this to be quite a fun event so don’t miss out!

This year we are honored to have two musical guests! Staghorn Starlings are the husband and wife musical duo of Wilmington, NC natives Molly and Ozzie Darden. Rooted in country and folk music, this creative pair enjoys putting their unique spin on old and new favorites, and writing and performing original tunes that transcend decades. Whether in rowdy bar rooms, polite parlors, or in your backyard, Staghorn Starlings will have you tipping your hat and kicking up your boots to the beat of a bass drum and smooth harmonies

Also performing is Jarrett Raymond, one of the newest faces to hit the Wilmington live and local scene. Jarrett conducts a genuinely wonderful show to see and engage with, playing many familiar classic hits as well as original content. With a voice like Simba’s father, Jarrett will echo through the streets and into the souls of many! Come out and see this fantastic performance.

Tickets are $15.00, available from Forward Motion Dance Company members, at Ted’s Fun on the River and at the door. Proceeds benefit Forward Motion Dance Company.

Find out more about Forward Motion Dance Company on Facebook and

Proceeds benefit Forward Motion Dance Company, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, proud to be a part of the wonderful Wilmington arts community. We support and collaborate with local artists, performers, and venues. Thanks to all our supporters, now and in the past.

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FMD Receives Grant from Women’s Impact Network

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Forward Motion Dance recently received a generous grant from the Women’s Impact Network of New Hanover County, a program of the North Carolina Community Foundation.  The Foundation brings together women philanthropists to address the changing and diverse needs and challenges facing women and children in the community.  2017 marks the first year that WIN has offered small grants. This year, the focus of their inaugural program is to provide capacity funding to local nonprofits in Arts and Culture.  Our award is to help underwrite the annual Cape Fear Arts in Motion performance.

Diane Evers attended the Women’s   Impact Network Grants Award Luncheon  on Friday, October 13, 2017,where she accepted the award on behalf of Forward Motion Dance. (Photographs by Sherri Robinson)

Cape Fear Arts in Motion: Retro Fusion and Illusion

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Retro Fusion and Illusion

Presented by Forward Motion Dance Company

7:30 pm September 15 and 16, 2017

Thalian Hall Main Stage

310 Chestnut Street

Wilmington, NC 28401

Retro Fusion and Illusion embraces musical artists from the past and reintroduces artists from the present. A groovy and collaborative dance event, Forward Motion Dance Company’s annual performance showcases the talents of Choreographer Tracey Varga. New dance works will be presented along with a recreation of “Endangered”, which premiered at Dance-a-Lorus in 2011 and embraces the collaboration of film and artistic stage props by Joe Cordaro set to music by Dianne Reeves, and the dance solo “Beat of the Soul” which premiered in 2015, set to music by Janis Joplin and presented with sculpture created by local artist Doug Campbell. Featured guest choreographer Linda Webb presents “450nm 660 THz” from the 2013 Dance-a-Lorus, set to a remix of Elvis Presley’s “Blue Suede Shoes” with choreography using intricate partnering and floor pattern sequences performed by five men and eight women wearing bright blue shoes.

Dance performances are set to music by Nat King Cole, David Bowie, James Brown, Elvis, and Earth Wind and Fire. Returning from last year is a collaboration with local musician Julia Walker Jewell with the completed dance set to her original piano composition. A dance performed to new music by Herb Alpert features local teen dancers from DREAMS, The Dance Cooperative, The Dance Element and Wilmington School of Ballet.

Forward Motion Dance Company and Guest Dancers performing are Dancers are Ashley Barnes, Nicole Dalier, Rachael Goolsby, Michelle Harman, Qaadir Hicks, Sue Meier, Becky Spivey, Heather Till, Linda Webb, Elizabeth White, McCall White, Michelle Whiting and Amanda Young, Teen Dancers and Dance Students from Wilmington School of Ballet Modern-Jazz Class.

Tickets are $20.00 general admission; $17.50 for seniors, students, military, children under 12, and NCDA members. Please call 910.632.2285 for ticket reservations.

Forward Motion Dance Company is a Wilmington, NC, based non-profit 501(c)(3) dance organization whose mission is to provide local and regional communities with quality modern contemporary dance and education in the art of dance, as well as enhance the local arts community by providing performance opportunities for area dancers and performance artists. We are an all-volunteer organization proudly supported by local grants and sponsors.

Contact us at if you are interested in becoming a friend or sponsor and promote continuing arts performance and education on our community. For more information please visit our website

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Cape Fear Arts in Motion: Duets, Pirouettes, and Vignettes

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Presented by Forward Motion Dance Company

7:30 pm September 16 and 17, 2016
Thalian Hall Main Stage
310 Chestnut Street, Wilmington, NC 28401


Forward Motion Dance Company Arts in Motion 2016

A collaborative arts event, Forward Motion Dance Company’s annual show will shine with two performances showcasing the talents of Choreographer Tracey Varga.

Highlights of this show are guest performers and musicians performing live with the dancers. In a premiere performance, Soprano Nancy King and violinist Danijela Žeželj-Gualdi, both of UNCW, will perform three songs from “Suite for Voice and Violin” by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959). A premiere dance is set to the original composition “The Dance of the Coin” and performed live on piano by Julia Walker Jewell.

New to the show this year is a premiere piece from guest choreographer and former Wilmington resident Harper Piver, with a high energy dance to the music of MuteMath and a theme of grappling to make the right decision when faced with choices that may not be what they seem.

Teen dancers from local studios DREAMS, The Dance Cooperative, The Dance Element and The Wilmington School of Ballet will perform a premiere piece to a remix of music by Nina Simone.

Returning performances from choreographer Tracey Varga include “Surmount” from 2015 with music by Peter Gabriel and featuring a film by visual artist Patrick Ogelvie, a piece from 2015 set to music by Chopin, and a duet performance that premiered in 2012 with Linda Webb and Qaadir Hicks dancing to “Flutes en Vacances” (1926) from composer Jacques Casterede.

Forward Motion Dance Company dancers performing are Ashley Barnes, Nicole Dalier, Kaitlin Davis, Bonnie Dixon, and Becky Spivey, with guest dancers Anna Bettendorf, Qaadir Hicks, Emily Lawler, Linda Webb, Elizabeth White, McCall White, the teen dancers, and students from The Wilmington School of Ballet Modern-Jazz Class.

Expect an inspired and exciting evening of music, film, visual arts, and modern, contemporary and jazz dance from choreographer Tracey Varga and Forward Motion Dance Company.


Tracey Varga – Choreographer056

Tracey Varga discovered dance at the age of five in her first Tap class. Her performance, teaching and choreographic experience includes works in Maryland, Washington, Idaho, Illinois and New York. She founded Forward Motion Dance Company in 2004 and has performed and presented shows at Dance-a-lorus, NC Dance Festival, Wilmington Dance Festival, and Dance Blast/Art Blast, on local stages including Thalian Hall, City Stage, the Community Arts Center and Cameron Art Museum. Tracey teaches Modern/ Jazz at the Wilmington School of Ballet and Tap at The Dance Element and is a licensed Physical Therapist. She serves as program coordinator for the Arts Sensation benefit concert and is honored to be a recent recipient of the 2013 YWCA Women of Achievement Award for the Arts.


Our Guest Artists

harper-headshotHarper Piver – Choreographer

Harper Piver is a dance and multi-media artist who creates things of all sorts: choreography, films, written musings, music, and little balls crafted from empty straw wrappers. Raised as an only child by a band of characters that escaped from an epic Southern novel, Harper discovered that her
imagination was more interesting than yet another game of solitaire.

Harper’s curiosity propels her journey as an artist. In addition to her initial training as a dancer, her work has included significant encounters with music, text, and video. Until 2005, Harper was based in North Carolina, where her choreography was presented in numerous venues including the American Dance Festival’s Acts to Follow Series and on tour with the North Carolina Dance Festival. Her choreography has been commissioned and presented by companies and academic institutions around the US. As an advocate for dance North Carolina, she co-founded The Dance Cooperative in Wilmington and served on the board of the North Carolina Dance Alliance.

As a video artist, her dance for camera work has been presented in numerous dance film festivals both nationally and internationally. She currently teaches studio, composition, and lecture classes in dance and film at Arizona State University and in the Maricopa Community Colleges. She also facilitates explorations in dance, video, and the creative process through residency projects in K-12, higher education, and community settings. Her research on dance, technology, and pedagogy has been published and presented worldwide.

Harper has a BFA in Dance from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and an MFA in Dance from Arizona State University. Upon graduating from ASU, she was named the Outstanding Graduate of the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts.

Harper stays inspired by reading voraciously, traveling often, and singing while commuting. She is slowly working on writing her family back into the novel they abandoned.



Nancy King – Soprano

Nancy King, soprano, associate professor/coordinator of vocal studies at UNCW, is an active performer and guest lecturer. Recent concert appearances include Strauss’ Four Last Songs with the Wilmington Symphony, the Brahms’ Requiem with the UNCW Concert and Chamber Choirs, and a Southeastern North Carolina tour of Bach concerts with Chamber Music Wilmington. Ms. King has appeared as soloist in Handel’s Messiah with Toronto Classical Singers, Vaughn Williams Serenade to Music with the Oregon Bach Festival Chorus in Eugene, Oregon, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Canteloube’s Chants D’Auvergne, and the Poulenc Gloria with the Wilmington Symphony.

Operatic roles include Hannah Glawari in Lehár’s The Merry Widow, Cunegonde in Bernstein’s Candide, Adele in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, Susanna in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Euridice in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice and Belinda in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. Ms. King was also a member of the Grammy award-winning Oregon Bach Festival Choir, from 1998-2004, under the direction of Helmuth Rilling. She proudly serves as Artistic Director of Opera Wilmington, performing the role of Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Così fan tutte with them this past summer.


dani_2Danijela Žeželj-Gualdi – Violinist 

Distinguished performer on both Violin and Viola Danijela Žeželj-Gualdi has appeared as a concert soloist, chamber and orchestra musician throughout Eastern and Central Europe and USA. Her assertive style and strong musical personality have thrilled audiences including Carnegie Weill Hall, Carnegie Isaac Stern Hall, Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, Schwartz Hall at Emory University, Legacy Hall in Columbus GA, Kolarac Belgrade Serbia, and in Vienna, Graz, Grumo Italy, Atlanta, Athens GA, Florence SC, Pittsburgh, Charleston, Savannah and Wilmington. Her concert tours included appearances in Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Austria, and Italy.

As a concerto soloist she appeared with Wilmington Symphony Orchestra, DeKalb Symphony Orchestra and University of Georgia Symphony Orchestra. Her musical career is noted for collaborations with remarkable musicians, including Evgeny Rivkin, and Levon Ambartsumian, and contemporary composers Augusta Reed Thomas, James MacMillan.

Žeželj-Gualdi earned her Violin Diploma with highest honors at the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, Serbia. While in the U.S., she earned a Master Degree at Carnegie Mellon University, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts at the University of Georgia. Zezelj-Gualdi worked extensively with Eugenia Tchougaeva, Irina and Marina Jashvilli, Manana Dugladze, Cyrus Ferough, Carolyn Huebl, and Michael Heald and took part in master classes with Andres Cardenes, Thimothy Baker, Pamela Frank, and Misha Emory among others.

In January 2008 she became a founding member of the Balkan Quartet, a string quartet which focus is to involve and inspire composers to create new music that would use an indigenous Balkan language, reviving the rich Balkan folk heritage on a high artistic level.

Dr. Danijela Žeželj-Gualdi serves as a Violin and Viola Instructor and an Artistic Director of the Community Music Academy at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, as well as an Artistic Director and founder of the Cameron Arts Museum Young Musicians Competition.


Julia Walker Jewell – Pianistjulia-jewell

Composer and keyboardist, Julia Walker Jewell is a native of Wilmington, NC. She is currently the full time Director of Music at Wrightsville United Methodist Church, where she serves as organist and directs the adult, handbell and children’s choirs. She is also the leader of the Port City Trio, a long time Wilmington band featuring pieces from The Great American Songbook. Along with her husband, Kelly, she owns and operates Ted’s Fun on the River, a popular music venue in downtown Wilmington.

As a composer, she writes in both the classical and jazz idioms. In addition to writing for her Jazz Quintet, her classical works have been featured by the Tallis Chamber Orchestra of Wilmington, the “ComposerWorks Series” on the local and state level for many years and the “Very Special Arts Festival” (Brussels, Belgium).

She received her B.A. from UNC-W where she studied piano with Dr. Richard Deas and did her graduate work at Oakland University in Rochester, MI, studying commercial music and jazz.


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Thanks Forward Motion Dance!

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From the latest Cape Fear River Watch Newsletter…..

“The 15th annual Arts Sensation music and dance performance held April 19, 2016 was for the benefit of CFRW. Tracey Varga of the Forward Motion Dance Company Board of Directors stopped by to present the check to CFRW’s Executive Director Frank Yelverton. Thanks to Forward Motion Dance, the river received $1,500! We enjoyed the performance and helping out, and this donation will be used for the benefit of your river! Thank you!”

Grant Recognition

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Forward Motion Dance Company is extremely grateful to be a recipient of two grants in 2014 that helped us to produce an exciting new show, Cape Fear Arts in Motion, at Thalian Hall in September of 2014.

The Arts Council of Wilmington & New Hanover County recognized grant recipients November 1 at the Arty Party event, and Forward Motion Dance Company received $3000 to produce Cape Fear Arts in Motion. The Arts Council of Wilmington & New Hanover County distributed $50,000 in grants through the Grassroots Arts Program from the North Carolina Arts Council, benefitting 15 local arts organizations that provide diverse arts experiences.

The Landfall Foundation presented the $1500.00 award to Tracey Varga, director and choreographer for Forward Motion Dance Company, and board member Diane Evers at their awards event on November 6. Since the Foundation’s inception in 1995, this year saw the largest amount ever given, with $310,000 distributed to 72 Wilmington-area non-profit organizations.

Cape Fear Arts in Motion: Quartets, Pirouettes, and Silhouettes, Forward Motion Dance Company’s annual show showcasing the talents of Choreographer Tracey Varga, was a collaborative arts event, with guest musicians including the North Carolina Guitar Quartet and cellist Jude Eden performing live with the dancers, original costume designs by Rachel Goolsby, lighted costume design by Lee Wainwright and Miko Green, stunning set design by local artist Kristin Gibson, original music by Joe Cordaro, and a dance set to a film by Patrick Ogelvie and music by William Paco Strickland and the Fabulous Flying Flamenco Brothers.

Forward Motion Dance Company brings together the talents of many in the collaboration, including its company dancers and guests, as well as teen dance students from DREAMS of Wilmington, The Dance Cooperative, The Dance Element, and The Wilmington School of Ballet.

With this performance, Forward Motion Dance Company honors its mission to provide local and regional communities with quality modern contemporary dance and education in the art of dance, as well as enhance the local arts community by providing performance opportunities for area dancers and performance artists. We have a vision to find innovative ways to bring dance to the community.