Archive for the ‘Local Dance’ Category

UPDATE: Here’s my review of the show in The Dallas Morning News, though you may need a subscription to read the whole article.

The largest gathering of North Texas performing artists in memory will raise money for local AIDS organizations Tuesday night at Winspear Opera House. The dance world will be represented at A Gathering: The Dallas Arts Community Reflects on 30 Years of AIDS by Texas Ballet Theater, Bruce Wood Dance Project and student ensembles from SMU and the Booker T. Washington arts magnet.

TBT artistic director Ben Stevenson has made a pas de deux set to the so-called “Caccini Ave Maria” for company members Heather Kotelenets and her husband, Alexander Kotelenets. The aria will be sung by countertenor John Holiday, who won this year’s Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition.

Bruce Wood has choreographed three new pieces for the show: Blue for dancers Dallas Blagg, Albert Drake and Harry Feril, set to the Joni Mitchell tune to be performed by Denise Lee; a solo to the Chopin Prelude in E Minor for Kimi Nikaidoh that will use panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt as decor; and Blackbird for Nikaidoh, Feril and Jennifer Mabus to the Beatles song, with Robin Hackett on vocals.

SMU dance professor Millicent Johnnie has worked up MAW Expensive (A Tribute to Fela) for a company of 12 students. And from Booker T., dance coordinator Lily Cabatu Weiss has choreographed This Woman’s Work for Mabus, Dallas Black Dance Theatre company members Katricia Eaglin and Richard Freeman and six students, and faculty member Bridget L. Moore has made Human for six students, and The Road Home for DBDT’s Claude Alexander III and Sean Smith and student Mason Manning.

Both good and inexpensive seats remain for the fundraiser, with the organizers offering half-price tickets. Just use the promo code “artist” without quote marks.


Photo by Sharen Bradford/The Dancing Image

 UPDATE: Bruce Wood let his choreography and dancer Nycole Ray do most of the talking Saturday afternoon at the TEDxSMU conference, where this year’s theme was “disruption.” “I usually don’t explain dances,” Wood said before briefly doing just that, then stepping aside for a performance of the solo he made for the Dallas Black Dance Theatre veteran a year ago, At the Edge of My Life…So Far. “Change happens when something needs to break…You can either resist it or pass right through it.”

Ray began the piece sitting at a table covered in flour but was soon jumping on and around it, scattering white powder in the air, on the floor and all over her long and elegant maroon dress. Wood’s movement patterns were sharp and angular, especially Ray’s arms, which wheeled and flapped as if acted upon by an unseen force or internalized frustration.

She pounded the table with her fists, rolled across it, and flailed into it with sudden changes of direction. Away from the table, she made tight turns and grasped at her head and face. While others at TEDxSMU talked of disruption, Wood and Ray brought the theme to physical fruition.

Nycole Ray/Photo courtesy Dallas Black Dance Theatre

Ahead of his debut of three new dances Tuesday at Winspear Opera House, Bruce Wood is speaking and demonstrating at this year’s TEDxSMU at the Wyly Theatre. The theme of the all-day conference Saturday is “Disruption,” and Wood is bringing along Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s Nycole Ray for a performance of the disruptive solo he made for her last year, At the Edge of My Life…So Far.

The dramatic dance is typical of Wood’s quasi-narrative style, depicting one woman’s distress with the help of a table covered in flour. The conference, which runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., is invite-only but will be live-streamed on the Web and at three venues, including the Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff. Wood and Ray should be taking the stage between 2:30 and 3 p.m. during the second of three sessions, according to Unfair Park.

Wood returns to the Performing Arts Center on Tuesday night for A Gathering: The Dallas Arts Community Reflects on 30 Years of AIDS, where the Bruce Wood Dance Project will perform three new works.

Performing artists are always looking for ways to break down the barriers between the work they’re making and those who come see it. Installations that take dancers off the stage and into the crowd are one method. Muscle Memory Dance Theatre and Ghost Town Arts Collective have collaborated on such a project, You Will Know When You Are There: A Journey in Art and Modern Dance, a combination gallery show/installation/performance culminating over the next two nights at Life in Deep Ellum.

The idea started with Meghan Cardwell-Wilson, a member of both groups, says Muscle Memory co-artistic director Lesley Snelson. Snelson, Muscle Memory co-artistic director Amy L. Sleigh and Cardwell-Wilson joined with Ghost Town members Heidi Rushing, Liz Elsberg and Jean Roelke around the broad theme of an introspective journey. “The subject of this event,” according to the press release, “is transformation and myth: processes that twist and turn, taking us somewhere … a place that is unknown until arrival. You will know when you are there.”

With each group playing off of the other, Snelson says, the visual artists designed and built an installation inside the performance space, and the choreographers created a 40-minute dance piece that interacts with the objects. The action takes place off the stage at floor level, but the audience will be seated – a concession to sight lines. Muscle Memory is accustomed to collaborating. “Pilot,” their annual concert of new work by emerging choreographers, has been a success in bringing public attention to young artists.

A gallery exhibition of works by Ghost Town has been up at Life in the Deep Ellum since Oct. 10 and a reception and dance preview was held Oct. 15. This weekend, gallery doors open at 7 p.m., with performances at 8.

Contemporary Ballet Dallas/Photo courtesy of the company

My story on the North Texas college-dance scene, focusing on resident choreographer programs at SMU, UTD and TCU, leads Sunday’s Dallas Morning News arts coverage. The experience gained by students is key to their future professional careers and also provides opportunities for audiences to see work that otherwise would not be available here.

I’ll dig deeper into this phenomenon with looks at the individual residences over the next two weeks, leading up to the performances eventually. Meanwhile, I caught this weekend’s season opener of Contemporary Ballet Dallas, a decade-old company founded by SMU graduates.

CBD revived a Halloween-themed concept, Danse Macabre, for Friday and Saturday shows in the small hall at the Eisemann Center. The program of seven premieres and one revival got off to an appropriate start with House of Mirrors by choreographer Jill S. Rucci, featuring a ballerina (Jeana Robers Mosher) haunted by Night Terrors (Rachael Burns, Victoria Dolph, Danielle Georgiou, Jennifer Obeney and Carolyn Robbins).

In the second half of the program, seen Friday, Diablo by Jennifer Arellano employed a similar strategy. To music by Bach and Saint-Saens, the title character (Brandon McGee) controlled his Minions (Audrey Archer, Brittany Bollinger, Lea Essmyer, Sandra Plunkett, Addison Reed and Emilie Rupp) until a last-minute reversal.

These dances contained accomplished group work, but they weren’t as frightening as Beset by Confectionary and Not a Clue! were funny. Beset by choreographer Anna Marie Ewert-Pittman (who also has a piece in the SMU Fall Dance Concert) was a competition between Lela Bell and Jennifer Mabus with candy at stake. It required a broom to clean up.

In a takeoff on the popular board game, Not a Clue! (2002) by CBD co-founder and artistic director Valerie Shelton Tabor ended the night with a tour de force of hilarious tableaux fueled by slapstick pantomime. This is the kind of fun, accessible piece that can be enjoyed by audiences that might not sit still for other types of contemporary dance and shows that there is still a place for mimetic, acting-driven movement if it’s well conceived.

My other favorite piece of the evening was All for Fire by Victoria Dolph, which built momentum through depictions of the four elements. Jennifer Obeney, portraying Water, emerged to twirl and whip a long ribbon into eye-catching shapes. Dolph created some beautiful juxtaposing as the other elements arrived. Dolph also stood out as The Dame, the femme fatale in Obeney’s wryly dry Dance Noir, a takeoff on the detective genre that included Sam Spade/Mike Hammer-style voiceover.

Less successful was Love Lost, a duet choreographed by CBD assistant artistic director Lindsay Bowman. Starting with the treacly music by Evanescence, the piece was a clichéd look at the ups and downs of a young relationship that included some fine dancing by the ubiquitous Obeney and Stephen Raikes but also a lot of moody dead spots apparently meant to create atmosphere.

Aberration, Part II by Kate Walker showed what it’s possible to do with mood and inventive movement as Bollinger, Essmyer, Georgiou and Lisa Lagravinese created mystery out of Walker’s snake-like choreography.

Here’s Cheryl Callon’s review for Theater Jones, and here’s a link to CBD’s YouTube channel, with looks at Clue, Aberration and Diablo.

Elledanceworks co-founders Michele Hanlon and Ronelle Eddings/Photo by Brian Guilliaux

Elledanceworks Dance Company opens its 15th season this Friday and Saturday, Oct. 7-8, outdoors in McKinney. The program in Katie’s Garden at the Heard-Craig Center for the Arts includes the first North Texas performances of work by Berlin-based choreographers Birgitt Bodingbauer and Simone Grindel, who are in residence at the University of Texas at Dallas.

The pair from the German troupe Nightmare Before Valentine are showing A Shot in the Dark, a duet that won first place at the 5th International Online Dance Festival in 2009. Later this month, Bodingbauer and Grindel will premiere V.I.P., a new piece they have been conceiving with UTD dance students.

This weekend’s free program, titled Elledanceworks 15: Garden Party, also features From One Fountain by company co-founder and UTD professor Michele Hanlon, who runs the UTD residency; Unravel by company co-founder Ronelle Eddings; and a piece by company member Tiffanee Arnold.

Music will be performed by the Amy Seltzer Quartet, led by the Elledanceworks resident composer joined by musicians Tom Ottinger, Tomas Hernandez and Russell Blair.

Michael Serrecchia (left) touring with Chita Rivera/Photo courtesy Dance Council of North Texas

The Dance Council of North Texas hands out its annual awards Sunday afternoon at the Arts District studios of Dallas Black Dance Theatre. Among the honorees is Michael Serrecchia, an original cast member of A Chorus Line now ploughing his trade as an actor and choreographer for Theatre Three and other local companies. Serrecchia will receive the Natalie Skelton Award for Artistic Excellence.

The ceremony also features performances by DBDT, Bruce Wood Dance Project and eight Dance Council scholarship students. The scholarship program is the beneficiary of the Dance Council Honors. Tickets to the 2:30 p.m. event are $35 and available at the Dance Council website or by calling 214-219-2290. Discounts are available for Dance Council members and students. Press release after the jump.

The other honorees are:

Revathi Satyu, Mary McLarry Bywaters Award for Lifetime Contribution to Dance

Danny Curry, Mary Warner Award for Service to Dance

Dorothy "Dottie" Williams Hunt Kleeb, Larry White Dance Educator Award

Gene Pflug, Texas Tap Legend


Aspen Santa Fe Ballet/Photo by Rosalie O'Connor

Nearly a dozen promising dance performances – half of them imported – dot the North Texas arts calendar this fall, from Savion Glover at Bass Hall to Garth Fagan at TWU to local heroes Dallas Black Dance Theatre and Texas Ballet Theater to shows mixing students and professionals by the dance programs at SMU, UTD and TCU.

The 2011-12 season unofficially opens with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet this Saturday, Sept. 10, at Winspear Opera House, sponsored by TITAS, and one of my five top picks for fall. Check out my curated calendar here and look for my interview with ASFB artistic director Tom Mossbrucker coming soon to this space and The Dallas Morning News Guide section on Friday.

Enkhzaya Nyam-Oso in a dance about a swan called Uran Gar/Photo by Lisa Taylor

Cultural dances interpreting the customs and traditions of Mongolia are being performed as part of the Genghis Khan exhibition at the Irving Arts Center. The 15-minute shows, featuring dancers Zanabazar Gankhuyag, Khongorzul Khosbayar, Enkhzaya Nyam-Osor and Pure-Ochir Arslanbaatar, wrap up this week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with performances at 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 p.m. Details after the jump.


Elledanceworks 14

Posted: June 16, 2011 in Elledanceworks, Local Dance

Elledanceworks company members, photo by Brian Guilliaux

Michele Hanlon and Ronelle Eddings met at Nova Dancing Company in 1997 when Eddings was a company member and Hanlon was choreographing for the group. They hit it off right away and decided to collaborate on a dance event presciently called “Project One.” Project Two became Elledanceworks, now a fixture on the North Texas dance scene.

The 11-member company wraps its 14th season Thursday-Saturday at the Bath House Cultural Center. The program includes six premieres, two previously seen works, and guest company Danielle Georgiou Dance Group, with musician Amy Seltzer performing live. I talked to the co-founders recently for a preview article.

Michele Hanlon and Ronelle Eddings

Photo by Brian Guilliaux

Photo courtesy Sharen Bradford/The Dancing Image

Update: Here’s a link to my review in the Morning News, which you’ll need a subscription to fully read; Margaret Putnam’s on Theater Jones; and Mark Lowry’s in the Star-Telegram.

Bruce Wood is the only Dallas-Fort Worth choreographer not named Ben Stevenson to make a name for himself in the past 20 years. But when he lost most of his funding in 2006, Wood was forced to close his decade-old modern dance company. Now, he’s back with a new troupe, Bruce Wood Dance Project, that will test the waters during two nights at the Montgomery Arts Theater inside Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts this weekend. Read my preview story from today’s Dallas Morning News after the jump and check out reports from Art & Seek’s Jerome Weeks here and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Punch Shaw here.