Big Rig Crafts Choreography From Everyday Experiences for Converge

Categories: Dance

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Jesse Scroggins

North Texas is springing up with creative dance companies full of talented artists looking to expand their skills beyond their graduate studies and carry college projects through to workable careers in the metroplex. Meaning for you: there are a plethora of interesting physically creative shows happening nearby. For instance, Big Rig Dance Collective's Converge at Black Box Theater next weekend.

Big Rig Dance is a giant collective of creatives that came together on a road trip, like a group of kids making B.F.F.E. pacts on the way home from summer camp, only their promise to each other was to keep dancing, and do this dance company thing right. Their idea and what started with a large group of talent in 2010 has funneled into the current configuration with four co-directors choreographing, collaborating and facilitating shows with original live music, experimental video, multimedia and of course, dance!

"Dance is something innate in our bodies. We're driven to move, first and foremost," Big Rig co-director Lily Sloan says. "We are also interested in collaboration with musicians so we have music originally composed or live music improvised along with us. We've also worked with digital media artists, so there's a lot of layers to our work, all equally important."

If you've heard of Big Rig Dance Collective it may have been their show at Central Trak in Dallas, Arts Goggle in Fort Worth, Denton's Black Box Theatre performances or the New Genre Arts Festival in Tulsa. They've also erupted into site-specific or improvisational community dance performances on the square in Denton and at the Community Market in Denton. The group is led by four TWU dance alums who are wired for modern dance and all interested in an experimental quality while maintaining a professional face and rigorous performance.

"We're not drawing our ideas from something grandiose, but from everyday experiences, ordinary things we think people can relate to. We may craft our movement out of pedestrian activities, for example, and see what kind of mood and energy, emotion we can create," Sloan says. She and co-directors Crysta Caulkings-Clouse, Whitney Geldon and Amanda Jackson steer Big Rig while also spreading their talents between teaching, choreography and growing the company.

They collaborate with a number of local artists including Hentai Improvising Orchestra, Rebecca Bryant, a dancemaker addressing societal phenomena, photographer Jesse Scroggins, dance musician Westin Ox-King Portillo, associate professor of dance at TWU Sarah Gamblin and Josh Osburn who focuses on electronic music composition and sound design, plus a list of guests artists varying per project.

Last year's open audition scooped up a variety of dancers and long-time collaborator Meredith Knight to pursue a new direction geared toward the heart of the operation: four individual works uniquely shaped each of the four co-directors. The sum of their work when they reconvened led them to create Converge, a show they've tagged as containing loops, disruption, endurance and construction.

"Our training comes out of a lot of post-modern techniques, contact improvisation, ensemble improvisation, really dynamic physicality and we also love the athleticism that dance can have," Sloan says. Converge also includes a duet and trio performance, both excerpts from the Acts of Absence performance by Sarah Gamblin at the Tulsa New Genre Arts Festival in February.

See Converge at 8 p.m. Friday, May 16 or Saturday, May 17 at Pointbank Black Box Theatre (318 E. Hickory) in downtown Denton. $15 admission, $12 for students and seniors, free for kids under 5. See bigrigdance.org for more information.

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