Dallas — An accomplished, inspiring woman such as Bridget L. Moore could easily go anywhere in the world to find success (and she has) but thank goodness she stayed in Dallas. The end of 2017 saw every dance writer in the area singing her praises as the new artistic director of Dallas Black Dance Theatre. Her abrupt departure from the company at the beginning of 2018 was puzzling for sure, but not the end of her presence in Dallas, as commissions from SMU, Bruce Wood Dance, and others kept her busy.
That creative spirit continued, and B. Moore Dance was founded six months ago. Since then, Moore and her dancers have presented at various festivals, conferences, and residencies, and on March 31, the company proved its prowess at Elevate the Vision, a fundraiser showcase at the Bruce Wood Dance Gallery, sponsored by the James + Gayle Halperin Foundation. Even though most people there had seen Moore’s work plenty of times and her aesthetic is well-known in Dallas, seeing an eclectic sampling of choreography with all her dancers in one room under the gaze of the Dallas skyline felt like a grand opening celebration.
Scrumptious food and friendly conversation with familiar DFW dance patrons preceded the informal choreography showing, where the company performed excerpts of Southern Recollections: Romare Bearden, Nissi, Sketches of Flames, and Uncharted Territory.
The performance opened quite similar to the manner in which Moore arrived on the broader North Texas dance scene—strutting through with charisma, fire, and a unique style. The spunky, vivacious Romare had colorfully-dressed ladies in fabulous hats and glamorous smiles sashaying around the stage while men donning black costumes matched their flirtatious manners. Gestures of pointing and fluttering hands added a dazzling touch to this tenacious work with impressive technical vocabulary.
Nissi, her most recent piece, dialed back the punch with no less force. Similar motifs appeared, including an attention to gesture, albeit with different shapes. What’s most revealing about this work compared to the other three is the dancers’ unwavering commitment and attention to detail in every aspect of the choreography and its execution. The slower nature of the first section and the extremely intimate performance setting meant the dancers could hide nothing. The tiniest details in technical precision, clarity, body and facial expressions were on display, and the cast never faltered.
While Nissi found a quiet spirit even among its explosive moments, Sketches of Flames pulled out all the stops with its spicy movement qualities. Hand gestures focused on mimicking lightning-fast drawing, moving the motion to other parts of the body. Sassy and joyous at times, sexy and luxurious at others, it was definitely a whirlwind.
The relentless, exhilarating Uncharted delivered excitement on a different level, just as it has in every performance during its creative journey. The smaller space, minimal lighting, and bare stage made the dancers’ performances and Moore’s vocabulary soar to new heights for a new appreciation of the work.
Of course, much of that was due to Fernando Hernandez’s phenomenal costumes, not only for Uncharted, but the other works, as well. His long-time collaboration with Moore is right in line with her vision for the organization. Erik Barnes provided musical interludes between dances, and Terrance M. Johnson (artistic director for TMJ Dance Project) talked more about educational and leadership initiatives, other collaborative projects, and upcoming performances. He accurately referred to dance in Dallas as the “Dallas dance eco-system”, a sentiment Moore echoed when introducing her dancers and expressing how many of them (and those in attendance) are products of the dance community.
Bridget L. Moore has certainly found her place in our eco-system, and the organization is going to evolve our arts scene for the better. I said this in my 2017 year-end reflection, and it’s truer now.
Watch out, Dallas. Her fire is spreading.