Meet Clare Cook

Meet Clare Cook

Meet Choreographer, Clare Cook
Clare will premiere her latest dance theater piece, Ripe Figs Won’t Keep, at STIR. 

Clare Cook watches the fig tree in her backyard like some people watch storms. She imagines the leaves as citizens of a community, the branches; living roads leading to family groups, the roots; ancestors who mine the earth for nourishment passing it silently up the trunk. And the fig herself? Woman. The seasons of life put on a show for her. A story of how we exist to support, challenge and share seasons with our community is whispered year after year. We don’t get to skip ahead nor are we allowed to go backwards. Ripe Figs Won’t Keep taps into the deep connection between humans and nature and channels those fleeting moments of ripeness into a rich landscape of dance, poetry and music.

“Every fruit has its secret.

The fig is a very secretive fruit.

As you see it standing growing, you feel at once it is symbolic:
And it seems male.
But when you come to know it better, you agree with the Romans, it is female.

What then, good Lord! cry the women.

We have kept our secret long enough.
We are a ripe fig.
Let us burst into affirmation.

They forget, ripe figs won’t keep.
Ripe figs won’t keep.”

excerpt: Figs, by D.H. Lawrence

Ripe Figs Won’t Keep was created in close collaboration with with poet, Kelly Clayton, composer, Amy Burgess, dancers; Sydni Bourg, Aerin Higginbotham, Rachel Geiger and John Henry McCardell. Lighting Designer, Brian Schneider and Costume Designer, Shannon Billeaud round out the creative team bringing the fig world to life.

Jamie Harson and Kelsey Leger of Scratch Farm Kitchen are the chef collaborators creating a taste of food to accompany the dance.

Take a sneak peek into the creative process of Ripe Figs Won’t Keep…

Meet the Dancers

Sydni Bourg is a Lafayette native, mother of two, and has extensive training in ballet. Sydni is currently a member of Clare Cook Dance Theater. Local performance credits include Alice in Alice In Wonderland (Cité des Arts), a satyr in ShadowBox Myth (AcA), a princess/creature in CCDT’s Rendition of Firebird with Acadiana Symphony and most recently Play; a Residency by Theresa Wasiloski at Acadiana Center for the Arts.

Aerin Higginbotham began her passion for dance with various local dance schools in Lafayette, Louisiana. In 2005, she was accepted into Lafayette Ballet Theatre’s advance level, gaining corps de ballet placement the following year. She began dancing professionally with Lafayette Ballet Theatre in 2010 and continues to learn new styles and techniques in the art form. Her resume includes studying at programs such as Ballet Austin and American Ballet Theatre as well as performing in numerous ballet productions. Her most recent performance was Septime Webre’s Peter Pan as Tinkerbell and Mrs. Darling where she had the opportunity to partner with principal dancers from California Ballet. She enjoys dancing alongside talented artists and hopes to do so for the rest of her life. She is excited to work with Clare Cook Dance Theater on this project and is grateful for the opportunity to work in such a creative environment, Besides dancing, Aerin loves yoga (a lot), being on nature adventures, coffee, and hanging out with her dog Ruby.

Rachel Geiger has been dancing professionally since 2005 with companies including Full Circle Dance Company, the Contemporary Ballet of Pennsylvania, Rev9 Dance Company, VT Dance, and Campbell Dance Project. She is an honors graduate of Johns Hopkins University with a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology, and Belhaven University with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance. Rachel started dancing in 1991, and has studied dance with teachers and choreographers from Kansas City Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Rachel also enjoys teaching various styles of dance including ballet, modern, creative movement, tap, and jazz, and has over 15 years of experience teaching beginner through advanced students of all ages.

John Henry McCardell is a native of Lafayette, LA. He graduated from DeLarue Dance Centre under the direction of Carol DeLarue in 2009 with 12 years of dance training. He has a degree in Mathematics from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and currently works at Pamplona Tapas Bar and Restaurant. With UL, he has appeared in multiple productions of State of LA Danse and Evening of Dance. He has also performed in numerous productions with the Lafayette Ballet Theatre in works such as The Nutcracker, Midsummer Nights Dream, Sleeping Beauty, and most recently Peter Pan. He has worked with Movement Lab Dance Group to perform PLAY: A Movement Project under the direction of Theresa Wasiloski. This is his second performance with Clare Cook Dance Theater, his first being Touching Loss in April of 2016.

Meet the Creative Team

Amy Burgess is a composer/lyricist from New York City. Recent Theatre: “Elevator Heart,” Upcoming York Theatre workshop (October 2017), Good2Go Festival with Prospect Theatre Company (2017), Tisch New Musicals workshop (2016), Queens Council on the Arts Grant (2016), concerts at Dixon Place (2015, 2016); “Under My Skin,” choreography by Clare Cook, Dance Now NYC, Joe’s Pub (2014); “Show Me Real” with Clare Cook Dance Theater, NYMF (2012), Tada! Theater (2012). Choral Commissions (Selection): for the Portland Symphonic Girlchoir: “We Will Speak” (2017) International Premiere, St. Giles Church, Edinburgh, Scotland (summer 2017); “Look To This Day” (2016); “Dreamer of Dreams” (2014). Other Choral Commissions: “A Day In The Life” for the Marian Singers, Portland, OR (2013); “She Holds Fire in Her Hands” and “I Have Come To Cast Fire” commissioned for Oregon’s 150th Anniversary Celebration, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland, OR (2009). Composer-in-Residence, Portland Symphonic Girlchoir (2014, 2016, 2017). Amy writes and sings in the band Two Sheets to the Wind with Joel Waggoner ( Amy received her BM in Composition from Pacific Lutheran University and MFA from NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. / @composeramy

Louisiana native Kelly Clayton‘s poetry has been published by, among others: Future Cycle Press, Delacorte Press, and China Grove Press. She is a VONA/ Voices and Hedgebrook Alumnae, as well as a recipient of the Hedgebrook Women Authoring Change Award.  She and her husband Brian, a Lighting Designer, were awarded an Artist’s Residency by the Acadiana Center for the Arts. Production of their original play, “Dancing With Aurora Borealis” was staged and performed in January 2017.  Kelly facilitates custom-made creative writing workshops in Louisiana schools, both public and private, for the Lafayette Juvenile Detention Center, and to groups of formerly incarcerated adults.  She lives in Lafayette, in a sweet little house complete with front yard fig tree.

Brian Schneider, a New York City native, has worked extensively in lighting for Theater, Dance, TV, and as Lighting and AV Manager at the Rubin Museum of Art. Upon moving to Lafayette, Louisiana in 2011, Brian became the Technical Director for the Acadiana Center for the Arts, assisting them through their first four seasons. In 2015, Brian began his own design firm, Footcandle Lighting & Electric. He lights performances, as well as landscape, commercial and residential projects. He loves working with the people of South Louisiana, and integrates Louisiana’s culture and point of view, with his personal style. Brian also has the pleasure of working on productions with groups such as Acting Up in Acadiana, Collaborate 78, Milena Theater Group, Clare Cook Dance Company and Wanderlust Theater Company. You can view his work at

Shannon Billeaud, Costume Designer, first sat down at a sewing machine at the age of 7. Within 6 years she began draping her own designs and cutting her own patterns. Throughout her teens she began to engulf herself in historic garment construction and costume design. While studying for her bachelor’s degree at the University of New Orleans and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette she immersed herself in Louisiana History and how costuming evolved in this unique setting. Throughout her college career Shannon worked under Art-To-Wear jewelry designer Marie Des Jardins. In 2016, after apprenticing under Mardi Gras costume designer Madame Suzanne Breaux, Shannon opened her own costuming Atelier located in Downtown Lafayette.


Chefs Jamie Harson and Kelsey Leger with Choreographer, Clare Cook

Learn more about Clare Cook here


STIR, a food and dance performance event
Thursday August 3, OPENING NIGHT CELEBRATION Benefit, 7:00pm
Friday August 4, 7:30pm
Friday August 4, 9:30pm
Saturday August 5, 7:30pm

$40 General Admission
$35 AcA Members, Students, Seniors
$125 Opening Night Celebration tickets (Thursday Aug. 3rd only)*