My favorite thing about 2018? DFW’s growing, vibrant dance scene of course! Reflecting on my first full year of performances with TheaterJones, I was both surprised and delighted to find such variety and diversity within the performing arts community. With that said, here are a handful of pieces that stuck with me:
Thinking back to the first half of the year, one stand-out performance in this collection lies with Avant Chamber Ballet’s Beauty & Bach. I instantly fell in love with soloist Emily Dixon Alba’s graceful, yet commanding movement qualities. Artistic Director Katie Cooper’s Appalachian Spring not only highlighted these strengths but offered a choreographically creative approach to such an iconic score.
African drum and dance ensemble Bandan Koro took the prize for most energetic and electric performance of the year. Their presentation of Guinea Fare: Her Story, Her Ipseity literally rocked the house—or at least Hamon Hall. Their African beats and paired with the culturally relevant poetry of Audra Lorde and powerful soundtrack of Nina Simone created an incredible merging of traditional African choreography and contemporary themes. It’s no wonder this production was selected for AT&T Performing Arts Center’s 2017-2018 Elevator Project.
My list would be incomplete without at least one appearance of Dallas Black Dance Theatre. During DBDT: Encore!’s show Rising Excellence, guest artist Takehiro Ueyama premiered The Sea of Heaven—a captivating work of aesthetically pleasing visuals and emotionally charged motifs. Ueyama’s peculiar shapes and undulating movements translated seamlessly onto the bodies of DBDT’s second company.
Tejas Dance’s PratibhAsa: Anthology in Dance offered a welcome diversion into the world of classical Indian dance. As a duet, Bhuvana Venkatraman and Chintan Patel gave new meaning to traditional Bharatanatyam techniques and themes. The evening left me in a trance-like state—I was spellbound by the combination of untethered stomps, intricate expressions, and enchanting stories.
Dallas Dances, the weekend-long dance event presented by the Dance Council of North Texas, provided a slew of local talent. Through this enormous collection of dance, Brandi Coleman Dance’s What We Do With Time stood out in both the maturity and expertise of the movers and the Coleman’s clever, profound choreography. Capitalizing on relatable themes and quirky gestures, the piece was one of the weekend’s best.
What’s a “best of list” without a TITAS performance? Amidst a fantastic 2018-2019 season, the Stephen Petronio Company brought a satisfying combination of classic post-modern themes and socially complex ideas. This was particularly present in Hardness 10—a work that alluded to Yvonne Rainer’s simplistic style while also including visuals referencing the #MeToo movement and other social justice themes.
To close the year, Indian dance company Indique Dance Company wowed with SvaBhava. Focused on merging classical Indian techniques with contemporary styles, the company gave an incredible performance as a part of the 2018-2019 Elevator Project Series. Highly entertaining and masterfully produced, the show fused elements of Bharatanatyam with hip-hop, jazz, and modern dance. Not only did this provide a unique display of cultural integration, but it also highlighted the need for diversity in performing arts through multiple sold-out performances.
As I reflect on this collection of noteworthy performances, it excites me to see so many local companies presenting quality, professional, and above all, creatively inspiring works. Looking ahead to 2019, I have one item on my wish-list: a continued effort to include more cultural diversity in the mainstream DFW dance scene.
2018 YEAR IN REVIEW
Friday, December 28
- The Year in Comedy by Chief Comedy Critic Kevin Beane
- Danielle Georgiou's Sixth Position: A Year of Movement
Saturday, December 29
- The Year in Dance by Chief Dance Critic Cheryl Callon
- The Year in New Dance Works by Katie Dravenstott
- The Year in Dance by Emily Sese
Sunday, December 30
- The Year in Music and Opera by Chief Music and Opera Critic Gregory Sullivan Isaacs
- The Year in Music and Opera by Robin Coffelt
- The Year in Music and Opera by Wayne Lee Gay
Monday, December 31
- The Year in Performing Arts Books by Cathy Ritchie
- The Year in Classical Music Recordings by Andrew Anderson
- The Year in Theatrical Recordings by Jay Gardner
- The Year in Film by Bart Weiss
- The Year in Performing Arts News by Mark Lowry
Tuesday, January 1
- The Year in Theater by Frank Garrett
- The Year in Theater by Jan Farrington
- The Year in Theater by Janice L. Franklin
- The Year in Theater by Martha Heimberg
- The Year in Theater by Jill Sweeney
Wednesday, January 2
- The Year in Theater by Mark Lowry
Thursday, January 3
- A challenge for our readers
Friday, January 4
- Looking ahead to 2019