Dallas — When 2016 began, I was full of energy and positivity. 2015 was a stellar time for dance in Dallas as we saw the city take giant steps forward to becoming a major national name in dance. For example, TITAS created its first all-dance season, Texas Ballet Theater presented the famous Petite Mort by Jiří Kylián, and Avant Chamber Ballet created the first all-female choreography festival in Dallas, the Women’s Choreography Project.
2016 was looking to be just as bright with TITAS moving forward with another all-dance season and the Women’s Choreography Project continuing. We also saw local companies experimenting with new ways of creating dance, such as with Muscle Memory Dance Theatre’s “Made in a Day,” a 24-hour choreographic project, and viewing dance, with Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s commissioning of Tiffany Rea-Fisher’s The B Side. We also saw local companies creating new stories, such as with Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet’s Mask of the Red Death, and re-envisioning classics, as with Dark Circles Contemporary Dance’s version of The Rite of Spring.
However, 2016 was not the year we all thought it would be. Local artists, theater companies, and performers found themselves dealing with the challenge of finding and keeping performance spaces, and finding and receiving funding from the city. Then, in July, our city was rocked to its very core with the deadly shooting of five police officers in downtown. I was nearby, in Deep Ellum, performing that evening, and the emotion in the room is still almost indescribable. I walked off stage to find police officers in the lobby—where there are usually none—advising us to stay in the building, to stay off the roads, and as far away from downtown as possible. It wasn’t until I got back to the dressing room, saw the texts from my family, and checked into Facebook that I realized what was going on and my heart broke. Our city, my city, was attacked, and there wasn’t anything I could do to stop it or help. Not at that moment.
The next day, I got up and walked into work at Cara Mia Theatre’s School of YES! at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center and I looked around at my fellow teachers and we all shared a moment of silence and huge hug. Then, at the same time, we said, “It’s show time.” We did what we knew we had to do to, we had to perform. We had to lead our students through their end of camp performance and we had to show them that nothing can silence our voices; instead, we must awaken the voices of change.
A week later, I performed again. On July 14 and 15, for Bastille Days Dallas, the Danielle Georgiou Dance Group, in collaboration with The Color Condition, produced a roaming public performance entitled “While the Moon Watches.” On the first day, in Oak Cliff, we slow danced with each other, with the public, and with officers monitoring the event. On the second day, we danced through the Arts District and ended the evening with a huge dance party in front of the Dallas Museum of Art. Our goal with the performance was simple—to share a hug and a dance, a gesture of compassion, and create a moment of unity and healing—and we dedicated it to the City of Dallas and the officers who risked and gave their lives for our protection on July 7.
Then in November, it broke again alongside millions of others when Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Once again, I performed. Two days after the election, with four other dancers from DGDG, we took to the stage at the Dallas Museum of Art for our version of a cabaret. Pussy-bows and men in glitter and short-shorts. Petticoats and frilly bloomers. High-heels and corsets for all. We can-canned the night away. We danced for light and love. We danced in the face of adversity.
And I got to work on writing our newest show, WAR FLOWER. A response to what is happening now. An examination of the cyclic nature of history, language, and time. A look at rituals in animal and human communities. We started experimenting with the show, during our swarms in November at the Dallas Public Library and the MAC, and we’ll open the show, one day before the inauguration, on Jan. 19 at the Bath House Cultural Center.
Looking back on 2016 in some ways I realize that we needed to go through it all to be motivated to make changes. We can’t just wait for someone else to do it for us, and we can’t just sit back and say, “Ok, I guess this just how things are going to be.” We are due for something new. We are due to step up and forward. In 2017, I wanted to see people doing work that is crucial, doing the work they shouldn’t wait to do—make work as though it was the last piece of work you get to make. I hope that 2017 is a year of risk-taking, of making no apologies, of not giving a f…fouetté.
OUR 2016 YEAR IN REVIEW SERIES
- Thursday, Dec. 29: Comedy by Amy Martin
- Thursday, Dec. 29: Dance by Margaret Putnam
- Thursday, Dec. 29: Dance by Cheryl Callon
- Friday, Dec. 30: Classical music and opera by Gregory Sullivan Isaacs
- Friday, Dec. 30: Classical music by J. Robin Coffelt
- Friday, Dec. 30: Broadway, cabaret and vocal recordings by Jay Gardner and James McQuillen
- Friday, Dec. 30: Dale Wheeler, DFW's theater's biggest super fan, lists his favorite shows
- Saturday, Dec. 31: Theater by Janice L. Franklin
- Saturday, Dec. 31: Theater by Martha Heimberg
- Saturday, Dec. 31: The year in Shakespeare by M. Lance Lusk
- Sunday, Jan. 1: Mark Lowry's essay on the year in theater with a Top 10
- Sunday, Jan. 1: Columnist Danielle Georgiou looks back at her year
- Sunday, Jan. 1: Columnist Shelby-Allison Hibbs gives her wish list for 2017
- Week of Jan. 2: More looking forward to 2017