'Pirouettes, Pliés & Pets' Project Mixes Dancers And Animals

By: Debra Lawless

Topics: Arts

Bailey and Jonathan Ford with Ellie.  KIM RODERIQUES PHOTO

Photographer Kim Roderiques of Chatham has two main passions in life: animals and children.

In creating her Dec. 12 fundraising event “Pirouettes, Pliés & Pets” that will benefit both children and animals, she brings these two passions together and adds a third element: dancers.

“It’s this unbridled joy when you mix animals with dancers,” Roderiques said in a telephone interview last week. “All of a sudden the walls come down, the anxiety is removed. It’s very sweet. Really sweet.”

The result is a fun evening that will help three nonprofit groups dear to Roderiques’s heart: Monomoy Community Services, which supports Chatham’s families with childcare and other services; MSPCA Cape Cod, an animal rescue and adoption center in Centerville; and Chance to Dance: Youth Ballroom Program, which helps with the often-prohibitive cost of dance lessons, shoes, regulation clothing, costuming and competition fees. Chance to Dance is based in Chatham.

And guess what? Roderiques has also created a book called “Pirouettes, Pliés & Pets” that will be released on the evening of the event.

The idea of mixing children, animals and dancers of all ages and genres in photographs and on film came about after dance instructor Adam Spencer of Adam in Chatham Cape Cod Ballroom Dance based at Studio 878 sent Roderiques a link to a webpage called “Dancers & Dogs.” Here, professional dance photographers decided to integrate dogs into their photographs of dancers and create something “sweet, lighthearted and funny,” as it says on their website. A book of the same name is due out on Nov. 19.

“When he sent me this thing, I went crazy,” Roderiques recalls. After watching the video Roderiques said, “Oh my God, I have to do this. We’re going to do this for Cape Cod.”

In a way, Roderiques approached the project from the opposite end of the photographic spectrum from the people involved with “Dancers & Dogs.” Roderiques is the author of the 2015 “Dogs on Cape Cod,” a picture book of local dogs in outdoor setting. But instead of confining the photographs in her new book to dogs, Roderiques branched out to all the pets represented by the MSPCA—goats, horses, cats, bunnies, donkeys, mini-horses, pigs and more—and then added dancers. Since March she has been photographing dancers, ranging in age from three to 80, and their pets. The dancers and animals live in all the towns from Truro to Cotuit. The results are stunning.

Now, the evening at the Orpheum is much more than a book release party. The event will begin at 6:30 with a reception. While Roderiques’s 62-page book, “Pirouettes, Pliés & Pets” will be available for its first sales that evening, prosecco will flow and the Chatham Squire has donated hors d’oeuvres. (The Orpheum’s cash bar will also be open.)

At 7:30, four prerecorded interviews by Chatham’s bestselling author Anne D. LeClaire will be shown. In these, LeClaire interviews four dancers who speak about their craft.

Following this, the evening’s musical and dance entertainment will begin. And “what an incredible evening it’s going to be,” Roderiques says. Spencer will serve as emcee. Here’s a look at the roundup:

Singers John Connelly and Allie Jason will perform outtakes from “We Are the Champions,” a tribute to Queen that they starred in last August at the Cotuit Center for the Arts. In the show, Connelly played Queen’s lead singer Freddie Mercury.

Jason’s mother, the well-known singer, composer and dancer Lisa Sullivan Jason of Chatham and New York, will accompany keyboardist Malcolm Granger, who was the musical director for the show at Cotuit.

Spencer will dance with Samantha Gendreau. “She’s amazing,” Roderiques says. The show will also feature Spencer’s young ballroom student Victoria Manni who will dance with Soren Jones-Carlson. “She will break your heart with overload cuteness.”

They will be followed by four adult tap dancers—Naomi Turner, Marie Hayes, Dottie Beaton and Maureen Casale.

Rose Clancy from the Chatham Fiddle Company will form a trio with guitarist Thomas Marchio (the son of Joseph T. Marchio, minister at the First Congregational Church of Chatham) and John Alven on bass. Irish step dancers Jonathan and Bailey Ford, grandchildren of Michael and Judy Ford of Harwich, will perform an Irish step dance “in full regalia.”

After the performances, the film “Pirouettes, Pliés & Pets” will be shown. The approximately 20-minute documentary, by videographers Clarence Crowell and Geoff Bassett, “will document the extraordinary connection between dancers and their pets.”

“Animals and children you can’t choreograph,” Roderiques says. “It is what it is.” And what it is is “joy.”

One person featured in the film is Eric Riley, a Broadway performer who summers in Chatham. Riley has appeared in Broadway productions such as “Dreamgirls” and “A Chorus Line.” In the documentary, he is shown singing on Harding’s Beach.

To help with her project, Roderiques received a grant from Rockland Trust Bank. As well as the Chatham Squire, Roderiques thanks the Chatham Orpheum for opening its space for the event.


“Pirouettes, Pliés & Pets”
At the Chatham Orpheum Theater
Thursday, Dec. 12, reception at 6:30 p.m. showtime at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $25, available at www.chathamorpheum.org.