The Story Behind the Rainbow Dances

The Rainbow Dance Co. Annual Spring Concert is only days away now. Join us at Cary Academy’s Berger Hall this Friday, March 1 at 7:30 PM or Saturday, March 2 at 2:00 PM for this unique performance that celebrates the creative voices found in children, teens and adults! Now in its 39th year, Rainbow Dance Co. was the brainchild of Arts Together founder Lemma Mackie and is the only multi-age dance company of its kind in North Carolina — members range from ages 9 to 90+.

Rainbow dancers are collaborative artists who contribute throughout the choreographic process. They collaborate uniquely: a 10-year-old has the confidence to offer artistic feedback to a 50-year-old, both respecting each other as peers. Below, discover the stories and inspiration behind the six dances in this year’s concert — Top 10 Reasons Not to Dance, Emingoyak, paper trail, Finding Joy, Icarus and Beats Per Minute. Co. Director Kathryn Auman describes them as “witty, thought-provoking, joyful and fierce.”

Top 10 Reasons Not to Dance

Sure, we know dance is a great way to exercise and stay fit, improve health, build confidence, meet new people, lift your mood...blah, blah, blah. Well this work seeks to share with you what researchers have found all over the world: the top 10 reasons NOT to dance. This work is dedicated to Rainbow dancers who have every reason not to dance yet show up anyway.


Inspired by the book Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a botanist and a citizen of the Potawatomi nation, our dance is an expression of gratitude for Mother Earth. In the Potawatomi language, emingoyak translates as “that which has been given to us.” With reverence and a desire to protect these gifts, we dance in her honor.

paper trail

This piece is inspired by the crumpled, floating, ripped and pulpy qualities of paper. We used newspapers (appreciating it’s loaded symbolism) as a means to create movement and imagery out of an ordinary, albeit now slightly anachronistic, object.

Finding Joy

“Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.” – BRENE BROWN

Have you ever been so consumed with the problems of the world, or your own problems, that you forget to be present? Maybe you have missed moments of joy that were happening all around you. In this piece, we challenged ourselves to break down barriers, remove distractions and notice small moments of joy.


“I’m the living Icarus.” – JADEN SMITH

The ancient Greek story follows an overconfident youth who flew too close to the sun, despite his father’s warnings. This message symbolizes how we need to learn from our ancestors and apply it to our current situations as to not make history repeat itself, as it inevitably does. This way, we can use these lessons to rewrite history.

Beats Per Minute

“Reality has become so intolerable, she said, so bleak, that all I can paint now are the colors of my dreams.” – AZAR NAFISI, READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN

Much like a heartbeat, time passes uniquely for individuals based on their lived experiences. This piece explores our perception of time and the relationship between the past, present and future. How do we stay grounded in reality while dreaming of a brighter future?

All Rainbow Dance Co. images courtesy
Matt Kesterson

Be sure to get your concert tickets in advance since prices go up at the door. Advance ticket sales end Friday, March 1 at 3:00 PM.