Brown paper packages are boring, and I’m allergic to those kittens and their whiskers. So, here are my eight favorite moments in dance this year:
1. Live music for dance concerts
I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much live music in the DFW dance scene in such a short amount of time. Texas Ballet Theater partnered with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra for Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. Bruce Wood Dance Project joined with Dallas Chamber Symphony, and of course the Dallas Black Dance Theatre's annual DanceAfrica celebration always includes live drumming. Donald Byrd’s Spectrum performance as part of the TITAS series included a live cellist, and Avant Chamber Ballet boasted their usual live music with Carnival of the Animals and other performances. All this in addition to LakeCities Ballet and Collin County Ballet Theater, which consistently offer live music with their Nutcrackers. Is this the new normal? I hope so.
2. Dallas DanceFest
Yes. Everything. All the above. I loved every minute of it and everything it stood for. The variety was incredible, and the community felt so supportive. The performance groups came out with guns blazin’, and the event knocked everyone’s socks off. It featured not only a wide range of genres, but also of ages. Young pre-professionals shared the stage with college students and veteran performers.
Again. Again. Please let’s do more. For many years to come.
3. Epiphany DanceArts: Diamonds
Live music is not the only collaboration that happened this year. Epiphany DanceArts included painter Abel Garcia to join their October performance of Diamonds, but he wasn’t just a random fixture. His presence and his painting were an integral part of the story. But that’s not all that made this show stand out. A strong narrative with an empowering message gave Artistic Director Melissa DeGroat a solid foundation from which to spread her choreographic wings. She ventured beyond her typical ballet and liturgical vocabulary to include other movement styles that better served her theme.
And, oh, what a theme it was. By finding our identity solely in the thoughts and words of others, we hold ourselves back from becoming something greater. So shed the stamps and labels others give you. You’re more than that. I may or may not have balled my eyes out.
4. Dark Circles Contemporary Dance
Joshua Peugh is a breath of fresh air for contemporary modern dance. His choreography is thoughtful and quirky, without trying to be either. Movement patterns prove to be surprising, yet quaintly organic. The style of his mentor, the late Bruce Wood, has obviously rubbed off, but Peugh avoids becoming a carbon copy and creates his own alluring form. Note to Josh: do more full-length concerts in Dallas, thanks.
5. Dallas Summer Musicals High School Musical Theater Awards
I’ve known that DFW’s youth has talent. Every year, I watch pre-professional ballet dancers grow in their craft and mature in the art form and what they do astonishes me. I guess it should be no surprise that it runs through the high school musical theatre world, too. Covering the HSMTA at Fair Park was a jaw-dropping experience, and I applaud all the local awards shows that highlight, reward, and grow the talent of young musical theater performers.
My favorite part about the awards ceremony? Watching Hebron High’s tap-dancing segment of White Christmas. All 30 or so of them. Tapping. Together. Students from a public high school. The education system is not completely broken.
6. Dallas Summer Musicals: Nice Work If You Can Get It
This musical debuted in 2012, but you would’ve thought it came straight from the Golden Age of Broadway. A collection of Gershwin songs and a story set in the Prohibition Era are the perfect ingredients for an incredible night of music, dance, and laughs.
The best dancing I saw, however, was from the patrons as they exited the theater (many of whom fell into the elderly category). Ladies who seem to normally have a difficult time maneuvering around were shaking their hips and moving their feet to the jazzy orchestral music. Even the stodgiest-looking men bobbed their heads and moved their shoulders to that lovely beat. Every aspect of the show (music, acting, dancing) spread a youthful vibe that couldn’t be denied.
7. The visual awesomeness of the shows TITAS brought to town
Every year I’m amazed at what Charles Santos brings to Dallas. This year we had the beautifully-muscled bodies of Alonzo King LINES Ballet, the hilarious yet surprisingly technical Les Ballets de Trockaderos, the puzzling yet stunning visuals of Shen Wei, and the creative genius of MOMIX, to name a few. The Command performance boasted David Parsons’ Caught, which leaves audiences giddy with its illusions of defying gravity. And that only covers about half the year’s offering.
8. The amount of dance. I kept busy..and still missed a lot
Dance and musical theater keep this critic busy. Y’all do so much! I was especially surprised at the amount of concerts happening at the first of the season, but way to go for hitting the ground running! Even with my packed calendar, though, I still missed a lot.
Here at TJ, we can’t all make it out to everything, but without the multitude of performances, we’d just be twiddling our thumbs. I’m looking forward to another eventful year, and I have a several companies on my must-see list, including Danielle Georgiou Dance Group.