The Beckles Dancing Company continues to celebrate the creative and inspiring power of dance with its spring performance entitled Eighteenth Movement in Space and Time, April 5-6, 2013, at the South Dallas Cultural Center in Dallas. The program includes works by guest artists Tina Mullone, Prathiba Natesan and Exhibit Dance Collective as well as a collaboration with jazz singer Jennifer Ann Beckles.
Loris Anthony Beckles is the artistic director of Beckles Dancing Company and the executive director of ARGA NOVA DANCE. A native of Guyana, he received a BA in Dance from Adelphi University where he studied ballet, modern, jazz and African dance. He has also studied at the New York School of Ballet and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. Beckles has performed with the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, Eleo Pomare Dance Company, Capitol Ballet and the Syracuse Ballet Theatre.
Beckles has taught ballet and modern at Park Cities Performing Arts Center in Dallas, modern and jazz at the South Dallas Cultural Center and jazz dance at Dream Catcher and Infinite Bounds in Plano. He is also the founder and coordinator of the South Dallas Dance Festival, which celebrated its 12th season in November.
TheaterJones asks Loris Anthony Beckles about what he hopes the audience will take away from Eighteenth Movement in Space and Time, collaborating with guest artists and the company’s role in the Dallas dance community.
TheaterJones: For those unfamiliar with your company can you please give us some background?
Sure! It is a modern dance company with ballet, African and jazz influences. The ages range from 14 to 40 and we try to blend them into an ensemble. So, we are really a multi-age dance ensemble. It’s mainly my choreography, but we are also opened to guest choreographers.
Did you always want to have such a wide range of ages in your company?
I am just opened to it. I think it’s good because people have the impulse to move when they are young and when they are older they bring a certain maturity to it so, it’s good to have all that in the company.
What was the inspiration behind the title Eighteenth Movement in Space and Time?
Well, the company was formed in 1995 by Andre R. George and when he passed in 1996 I took over the company. So, it has been 18 years now and that was the inspiration behind the title Eighteenth Movement in Space and Time. It sounds very heavy and competent and in a way it is, but it’s really about celebrating our 18th year.
To what do you attribute your company’s longevity in the Dallas arts community?
Just the determination to keep going.
Are you presenting works that cover the last 18 years or is it mainly newer work?
It’s mainly newer work. The oldest work is from 2001 and it’s a solo called Suite Beauty (Parts I and II). There are four parts total and parts I and II are usually done by themselves. I actually started making it on a man and then I worked with woman and 4 years later I did it with a man and a woman. So, it has been interesting to see the different energies and how each individual’s personality shaped the work. I will also be premiering a new piece entitled Exile which I worked on with my sister Jennifer Ann Beckles.
Can you tell me a little bit about the other guest artists who will be appearing in the show?
Tina Mullone was a member of the company and now she teaches at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. She will be performing a short work by me called Thing Thing. Michelle Gibson from Exhibit Dance Collective will be presenting something that is quite different from what I do. She has a whole different vocabulary and it’s a really nice piece. And Prathiba Natesan is an Indian dancer who I have worked with before and she will be performing the solo No Net Ensnares Us which she also choreographed. So, there is quite a variety.
The Beckles Dancing Company is very active in the Dallas dance community, including the South Dallas Dance Festival and the Barefoot Brigade. Was that your goal from the beginning?
It wasn’t my goal to do a whole lot of things, but curiosity and need pushed me in those directions and I was happy to go. In the Barefoot Brigade we wanted to present a forum for different companies to pool their resources. And in the South Dallas Dance Festival I wanted to see companies I had only heard about dance in the same place at the same time. There is also an artist-in-residence program at Greiner Middle School which I am a part of. I want to hopefully enrich and inspire students there.
What would you like the audience to take away from the performance?
Hopefully they will hum a tune and a certain sequence of movement will get stuck in their memory. And hopefully they will connect the movement to what they see every day like sunrise, sunset, movement of traffic or an emotion like frustration. Hopefully they can identify with those things and just remember something that was particularly moving to them.
What are your future plans for the company?
I would like to continue choreographing and I would like the organization to be stronger and to continue the various programs that we are doing, including the Barefoot Brigade, the South Dallas Dance Festival and the artist-in-residence program. So, if we could just continue to grow that would be great. And we will continue to expand because there will be more children, more companies and more dancers.
◊ Katie Dravenstott is a freelance writer and dance instructor in Dallas. Visit her blog at www.kddance.wordpress.com