Fort Worth — Dark Circles Contemporary Dance weighed in with three disparate works Thursday night at the Hardy and Betty Sanders Theatre in the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, all premieres.
In Louis Acquisto’s Nemesis Variations, exactly what nemesis faced the dancers is anyone’s guess, but time is clearly playing a role. None of the five dancers can ever quite reach their destination, because from behind a voice calls “stop,” even after they continue what they are doing.
At the back a projector displays the time, beginning on one section at 5 minutes, 30 seconds. With relentless impersonality (for what could be more impersonal than time), the seconds tick away until there is no time left. This happens five times, with the length of time varying.
Every once in a while an alarm clock goes off, but the anxiety comes just as much from the relentless time ticking down and a voice shouting “stop.” The four women and man seem trapped, moving with nervous energy and mostly within their own small orbit. Only in the last section does anything like panic set in, with the dancers breathing heavily, shouting "stop," and tumbling and bouncing back up.
The music offers its own irony, ranging from heavy metal (Bastard Bizkit’s “DS-13”) to lush melodies (Sam Cooke’s “Teenage Sonata”).
If Nemesis Variations seethed with anxiety, Joshua L. Peugh’s Marshmallow and White Day had the air of children at play, sometimes dreamy, other times full of curiosity. There is so little change in costume and only the tiniest transition in atmosphere between Marshmallow and White Day that the two merged as one seamless whole.
But Marshmallow had more of a bite, with dancers swarming in to center stage in two groups of five, men first and women following. They dip and swirl with ease before regrouping as couples. In one section, Peugh and Jennifer Mabus examine each other’s bodies—face, hands, knees and shoulders—with gentle, tentative touches, almost like the blind discovering someone’s look through touch. In a romantic waltz, couples swirl around in a circle with the men lifting their partners high with the women extending arms up in one graceful curve. What is unusual is that the men hold the women backward so that their faces look in the opposite direction.
At the end, all gather in a row, and one by one, reach into a pocket, pull out a marshmallow and eat it. This strange gesture comes out of nowhere and adds a whimsical note.
White Day refers to the Korean and Japanese holiday that is somewhat like our Valentine’s Day, taking place March 14, when everyone offers a gift. The dance has a dreamy quality, created by the music (“ax Mr. L” by Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto and “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrench” by Sakamoto). The women move in slow, measured steps on tiptoe, while the men crawl or lie on their backs, feet waving. But the overall feeling is of tenderness, of give and take. When couples do connect, they curl into each other like kittens.
» Margaret Putnam has been writing about dance since 1980, with works published by D Magazine, The Dallas Observer, The Dallas Times Herald, The Dallas Morning News, The New York Times, Playbill, Stagebill, Pointe Magazine and Dance Magazine.
» Photos copyright Sharen Bradford of The Dancing Image