The rumors have been swirling, and now, choreographer Bruce Wood confirms it: He’s putting together a new dance company.
The Bruce Wood Dance Project will have two performances in June in the Dallas Arts District. The exact venue hasn’t been firmed up.
His previous group, the Bruce Wood Dance Company, lasted for a decade in Fort Worth, shuttering in 2006. For it, Wood created some of the most acclaimed contemporary ballets that North Texas had seen in ages, including a ballet to Lyle Lovett songs.
Although he still lives in Fort Worth―and will stay there to be near his mother―he’s moving his dance operations to Dallas. He has secured office space in Sammons Center for the Arts, has been auditioning for a company of five men and five women dancers, and is hard at work with fundraising. Heritage Auction Galleries, Park Cities Dance Studio and Ellen Kendrick Creative, among others, are already listed as sponsors. His steering committee includes Gayle Halperin, Jacqueline Porter and TITAS Executive Director and Artistic Director Charles Santos.
But he’s hesitant to say whether he’s planning a full season.
“We’ll see how it goes this June and if all goes well, then we’ll expand. If it doesn’t go well, we won’t.”
Wood has worked frequently in the Arts District in recent years, choreographing for Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and Dallas Black Dance Theatre. The latter group will debut a solo (currently untitled) by him in its December concert at the Wyly Theatre.
In the past, he has made his love for the Booker T. auditorium known, as the Winspear Opera House is too large for his use (although the Bruce Wood Dance Company performed at the similarly sized Bass Hall, frequently selling it to about 75 percent).
“They have all these buildings [in the Dallas Arts District], somebody’s going to have to create content for them,” Wood says about the Dallas Arts District. “It seems to me you’d want to foster talent in this place. Not only do you become a destination for performance, you start to export those performances out to the country.”
Creating a company that can tour, as the BWDC occasionally did, is a long-term goal. He also hopes to develop a mentoring program for talented dancers who are 15 to 18, and perhaps use them as part of the company.
The debut show by Bruce Wood Dance Project will feature two premieres, and one as-yet-undecided work from his repertoire, perhaps his well-loved Rhapsody in Blue or Bolero, he says. Performances will be June 10 and 11, according to the group’s website.
As for his reception by Dallas so far, Wood is ecstatic.
“It has been really great,” he says. “Donors, administrators and dance people are excited about it. It’s very different than Fort Worth. Here, they’re generally more supportive of performance and other people’s stuff. It feels more like an actual, bona fide community, rather than a ‘this is my turf, get off my lawn’ vibe.”
His choreography will probably still fall under the general category of “contemporary ballet,” but he can already tell that his work as a choreographer is changing.
“After 12 years of doing this, I’ve evolved,” he says. “I really want to do some different stuff, that for whatever reasons, I didn’t feel I could do in Fort Worth. Stuff that’s more edgy and adult―not risqué or anything like that, maybe more theatrical and complex.”