This was an interesting year for me. Due to professional pursuits, I missed a good deal of dance during the first five months of the year, but I had my busiest summer ever. So much for it being a slow time.
As I thought back on the year, the memorable moments stick out not just because awe-inspiring (although there were plenty of those) or points of physical brilliance and virtuosity (still saw a lot of those), but rather times that I felt were important in the life of a company or the North Texas scene itself.
Here are some interesting moments from my year. Most of this list pulls from June onward, but I did catch the most important event opening 2015:
Rhythm in Fusion Festival (RIFF)
Produced by Malana Murphy and Katelyn Harris (Rhythmic Souls artistic director), the importance of this festival cannot be overemphasized. First, it’s a first for North Texas. Tap festivals have existed for decades as a way for the rhythm tappers to share their skills, educate new generations, and learn from each other. RIFF expands its base to include any dance form utilizing rhythm as its base, including those from around the world. The caliber of teachers and performers gathering in one spot was astonishing. Luckily, RIFF is a mainstay with the next one coming up in a couple of weeks.
The Command performance featured Lil Buck, a dancer not (gasp) of ballet or modern dance origins, and more contemporary dance than traditional ballet. This season (still in progress) features all dance, with numerous international companies making their debut. Opening the season with a bang, Twyla Tharp debuted her 50th anniversary tour here in Big D. TITAS, under the leadership of Charles Santos, continues to evolve and change the dance scene, as well.
Danielle Georgiou Dance Group
Last year, I listed DGDG as a company I’m looking forward to see, and I caught two performances that swung to either side of the content spectrum, yet were very similar. Their Out of the Loop offering of Nice (originally premiering in 2014) focused on treatment of women, and although it might have made some in the audience feel bad for being white, heterosexual males, the mixture of live, original music, great acting, and a variety of movement created an intriguing show. It fit perfectly with her self-described feminist philosophy.
So, out of left field comes The Show About Men, a similar exploration on gender themes but from the other side. The collaborative nature of the show is remarkable, as Georgiou had to rely more heavily on the input of her performers than ever before, due to its content.
Previous works prove that she can develop a unique movement quality in her dancers, but the group’s showing of Under Her Skin at the CD/FW Dance Exchange at the Modern Dance Festival at the Modern in Fort Worth over the summer displayed a wonderful theatricality, making the company one of the most diverse on the market.
Bruce Wood Dance Project
After the shock of Wood’s 2014 sudden passing and the subsequent unanimous decision to continue his legacy and company, the dance community wondered exactly which direction the company would take. November’s performance struck the perfect balance. Re-live Wood through his repertoire, invite outside choreographers, and nurture in-house talent. The concert was the most diverse one I’ve seen from the company.
Wood’s Liturgy featured his signature arm patterns, beautiful pictures, and impressive precision. Bryan Arias’ My Heart Remembers has a somewhat similar aesthetic that matches the company, but contains enough unique vocabulary to distinguish it from the first work. Artistic director Kimi Nikaidoh takes a more free-flowing approach with the vastly different Find Me.
Dallas Black Dance Theatre
This fall’s Director’s Choice was the most fun I’d ever had at a DBDT concert. I usually attend one of their performances with the expectation of seeing gorgeous lines and a thought-provoking piece or two, and while I always enjoy or at least appreciate the concert, I walked out of this one with the glee I feel after seeing an upbeat musical. And I still saw the magnificent bodies and even had to use my brain, too. It was the perfect mixture.
Dallas Repertoire Ballet’s Bella Rusli as Clara and guest artist Dexter Green as the Nutcracker Prince delivered the most joyous, connected performance of the season. A genuine, organic performance quality combined with exuberant technical displays made them a joy to watch.
Two dancers tie for the best Snow Queen. Dallas Ballet Company’s Olivia Mann displays a Broadway-style brilliance that no one else matches, but Collin County Ballet Theater’s Yulia Ilina demonstrates the delicacy expected of a Snow Queen. If a dancer could harness those two qualities, she would be unstoppable.
The best Sugar Plum Fairy distinction is also split. The good ones not only execute meticulous technicality but also exude a magical quality. April Daly (guesting for Dallas Ballet Company) has the latter covered, but no one can match Adiarys Almeida’s stunning pirouettes and fouettes in Collin County Ballet Theater’s performance.
2015: Year in Review
- Monday, Dec. 28 Margaret Putnam's Year in Dance
- Monday, Dec. 28 Cheryl Callon's thoughts on the year in dance
- Monday, Dec. 28 Katie Dravenstott's thoughts on the year in dance
- Monday, Dec. 28 Columnist Danielle Georgiou's Year
- Tuesday, Dec. 29 Gregory Sullivan Isaacs' Year in Classical Music and Opera
- Tuesday, Dec. 29 J. Robin Coffelt's thoughts on the year in classical music
- Tuesday, Dec. 29 M. Lance Lusk's Year in Shakespeare
- Wednesday, Dec. 30 Jan Farrington's thoughts on the year in theater
- Wednesday, Dec. 30 Martha Heimberg's thoughts on the year in theater
- Wednesday, Dec. 30 David Novinski's thoughts on the year in theater
- Thursday, Dec. 31 Amy Martin's thoughts on the year in comedy
- Friday, Jan. 1 Mark Lowry's Year in Theater
- Sunday, Jan. 10 TheaterJones writers look forward to 2016
- Monday, Jan. 11 The top performing arts news of the year