Two years ago, life threw Chally Erb a curveball. Known as one who always pushed himself to physical extremes, whether as a runner, cyclist, kayaker, rafter, farmer, hunter or stilt-walking juggler, Erb did more with his body before breakfast than most of us do in a week. So in 2014, when he was diagnosed with ALS, a neurological disease that causes muscle weakness and impacts physical function, friends and family feared for this proud, lion-hearted man; how would he cope with having to give up 90 percent of what he loves doing? The answer, of course, is simple: he doesn’t give up.
From his service as a U.S. Marine to his current project raising awareness and funds to find an ALS cure, Erb has always been a fighter. Though some adventures may finally be behind him, he continues to improvise ways to experience, create or perform; he has been an artist all his life, and he won’t let physical inability stand in his way of bringing joy and art to all.
“Do the play you’re in, not the one you rehearsed,” has been a favorite mantra of his, and is well-evidenced in both of his roles in the upcoming Trillium Performing Arts Collective concert, Chally’s Follies, where he has turned his limitations into an integral part of the art.
The concert, a collection of nine new pieces of dance and movement theater, is envisioned as a celebration of Erb and his indomitable spirit – many of the pieces are either thematically centered on periods in Erb’s life, or embrace the physical style of comedic performance he is known across the state for, and Erb himself will debut his latest work, a duet with longtime fellow artist and wife, Beth White. Friends from Arizona and Richmond, VA, will be bringing their talents to share, along with all of Trillium’s youth company and current core artists.
Chally’s Follies will be held at the Lewis Theatre, Mar. 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m., and Mar. 6 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. In keeping with Erb’s determination to fight back, Trillium is donating $2 from each ticket sold to UnLock The Cure for ALS research, and will also provide a jar in the lobby for any of those wishing to make personal donations.
For more information, or to purchase tickets in advance, call 304-645-3003 or online at trilliumperformingarts.org.