We all have our own interpretations of what makes a diva. Some may be proud to carry the title, while others spit out the word like an insult. Jill Eathorne Bahr, Charleston Ballet Theatre's resident choreographer, has her own definition: "Extraordinary glamour, mystery, a liberal sprinkling of tragedy, and most of all endurance throughout the years."
Ultimately Bahr selected 12 divas ranging from retro ladies like Peggy Lee and Judy Garland to more recent icons like Whitney Houston, Cher, and Madonna. Once the choices were made, Bahr enlisted the help of Mary Porter for diva-inspired couture costumes.
As Bahr considered CBT dancers for each diva personality, she looked at their strengths as dancers as well as similarities in dancer and diva personalities. Their own body language helped the dancers relate to their characters when they already shared characteristics.
"For example, Elizabeth Halijian is Tina Turner. She embodies the best and the earthiest meaning of movement, the same as Tina," explains Bahr.
Melissa Weber will portray Madonna in the show. She relates to her diva character through similar stage experiences. "She's an entertainer and loves to work the crowd," she says. "As a ballet dancer, it's important to interact with our audience, and I definitely love the stage and love to perform for a live audience."
Not only does the movement represent each diva, but the musical selections are all sung by the divas. According to Bahr, the audience will experience a message of truth and passion from each diva's song. "It will leave you breathless."