The Dallas Dance Fest Is Back, Bigger than Ever

Categories: Dance

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Serkan Zanagar

The Dallas DanceFest is back. After a 10-year hiatus, the festival that began with outdoor performances at the Annette Strauss Square returns with the same premise but a new venue, the Dallas City Performance Hall.

Its original debut in 1985 started off small, featuring only three companies: Dallas Black Dance Theatre, and the now defunct Dancers Unlimited and Ballet Dallas. These were the main players in the city back then, with Dancers Unlimited being the starting place for many modern dancers and choreographers still working and creating now, and Ballet Dallas was the training ground for many dancers still performing today.

The festival grew to include the similarly growing dance community, and involved regional and national companies who were members of the Dance Council of North Texas - each group subjected to the same application and jury process. The festival quickly became a Labor Day tradition, had a name change in the middle of its growth spurt (you might remember it as The Dallas Morning News Dance Festival), and operated for 20 years, before calling it quits in 2004.

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Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth Embraces Social Media, Spontaneity in Performances this Weekend

Categories: Dance

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CDFW

Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth wants you to help them choreograph their next piece. Really. If you have the desire to make somebody's body wiggle, this might be your chance.

With their latest offering, Some Assembly Required, Artistic Director Kerry Kreiman and her dancers are reaching out to the social media world and calling upon you, the public, to help inspire their performance this weekend at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Opening up the creative process to the public and allow them to dictate the course of the show? My hat's off to you, CD/FW. The concept sounds equal parts enticing and terrifying. Yet, these dancers are up to the challenge, and Kreiman has been slowing piecing the puzzle together for them.

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Get Out of Dallas For the Best Dance Events this July

Categories: Dance

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imPULSE Dance Project/ Anastasia Waters

Summertime can lead to feelings of wanderlust, boredom, and - if you're lucky - a really good tan. In the summer, it's super easy to just want to relax all day long, stare out your window, and daydream. But it is in those dreams that something great can come. The long days and hot temperatures can be inspiring if you let them, and if you let yourself have a good time and just play around, with no expectations.

This summer, let's commit to having a good time. With that in mind, we've named this summer the "Summer of Play": a time to experiment and see where our creativity can take us. The dance shows, events, and workshops happening in July might just be the best motivator.

The biggest player of them all is Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth, who is once again taking over the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth with their annual Modern Dance Festival at The Modern. Celebrating its 11th year, the festival takes places over two weeks with performances, film screenings, and workshops. I have broken down its offerings for easier planning.

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Ballet Concerto Dedicates Its Annual Outdoor Dance Concert to Longtime Collaborator

Categories: Dance

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Perry Langenstein

For 32 years, Ballet Concerto has been ringing in summer with an outdoor end-of-the-season concert series at the Trinity Park Pavilion in Fort Worth. Well attended every year, with more and more people coming out, laying down their blankets, and cuddling up with a glass of wine, and chowing down on their packed picnics - this show is worth the 45 minute drive outside of Dallas.


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A First Look at Dancer/Artist Shen Wei's Paintings at the Crow

Categories: Dance, Visual Art

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Courtesy the artist.
Shen Wei in his New York studio

"They are all untitled, and I think he did it on purpose, so as to minimize preconceptions that might influence anyone looking at them," curator Dr. Karin Oen tells me as she walks me through the installation of artist Shen Wei's exhibition at the Crow Collection of Asian Art.

The eponymously titled exhibition is Shen's first in Dallas and debuts his most mature painting series to date. Though better known for his choreography, Shen began his artistic journey as a painter. The visual arts have played a key role in his development as a choreographer and have been an integral part of his stage productions, but as he enters a new phrase of his career, he is falling back into the world of painting. "The creative process is one that ebbs and flows, and he is experiencing this pull-back from dance and wanting to paint more," Oen says. This exhibition is a result of that desire to devote himself to his first love.


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For Choreographer and Painter Shen Wei, the Heart of Life Is in Movement

Categories: Dance

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Teatro Comunale Pavarotti, courtesy of AT&T Performing Arts Center
Wait, where are they going?

"What I hope people gain from my work is a glimpse of beauty, and to engage in the mysteriousness of the unknown."

Shen Wei. Dancer. Choreographer. Painter. Art historian. Creator of the internationally lauded Shen Wei Dance Arts in New York City, and coming to Dallas' Winspear Opera House on Thursday, June 19, for a show that's not just about dance; it's painting coming to life.

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Avant Chamber Ballet Is Bringing Live Music Back to Dance

Categories: Dance

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Brian Guilliaux

On the heels of a number of dance companies following the theatrical standard of announcing their season's offerings, fledging company Avant Chamber Ballet is presenting a line-up that promises to keep audience and dancers busy in the coming year.

Avant Chamber Ballet is one of the newest ballet companies on the Dallas dance scene, and one that shows a lot of promise. Their most recent offering, a new take on Alice in Wonderland, gave a refreshing view of the beloved classic. Artistic Director Katie Puder showed what you could do with a small budget, but big dreams: a simple yet sophisticated performance in which all the elements at play, from the set, to costumes, to choreography, worked together to produce a living fantasy.

That desire for clean lines, organization, and immersive performative experiences comes from Puder's time studying under Paul Mejia of the Paul Mejia Ballet International (and previously of the now-defunct Metropolitan Classical Ballet) and Mejia's time studying under George Balanchine. You can always expect a neo-classic clarity and restraint, brisk footwork, and live music (a testament passed down from Balanchine and Mejia) from an Avant Chamber show, and this new season stays true to that mission.


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Best Dance Shows to See and Workshops to Attend This June

Categories: Dance

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When the weather gets hot and sticky, schools start to close, and we all mentally check out and start dreaming of beers and beaches and sleeping until noon. But dancers never stop. The beginning of June marks the end of many companies' spring seasons and the start of professional training workshops. Because for the first time in nine months, dancers actually get a chance to work on themselves and their craft, training with people they've been wanting to work with, and formulating new ideas for the fall.

So this month's roundup will include workshops that are available for everyone from professionals to people just wanting to fun in a dance class, while also highlighting performances from new and loved companies. And one very important show that honors Bruce Wood.

June 12-13: Bruce Wood Dance Project presents Touch
The show must go on. This testament has never been truer than in the case of the dancers of the Bruce Wood Dance Project. They have to dig deep, confront their pain and grief, as they mourn the loss of their leader who recently passed away. Wood was more than just their choreographer and director; he was their friend, their mentor, and their surrogate father. He was loved by many, and mourned by all. But this is what he would have wanted: to see his show hit the stage and to see his dancers do what they were born to do, perform.

Touch is probably the show that best illustrates what Wood was always searching for--a way to communicate without words. To transcend the need for an oral narrative and to rather, relate to another person tactilely as the act of touching is an essential means of exploring and interacting in daily life. Every contact is a beginning of a journey. In a work that inspired the title of the show, the dancers' flexibility and emotional range is tested to present a new physicality in communication. Wood also began to revive one of his favorite dances, Home, which is set to one of his favorite pieces of music, Gabriel Faure's "Requiem." This haunting work epitomizes his simplistic style, and gives an intimate look at his ideas regarding beauty and reality that haunted him in life, and will forever remain with us now that he has gifted them to us. Thursday, June 12 and Friday, June 13 at 8 p.m. at the Dallas City Performance Hall, 2520 Flora Street. Tickets $15-$100. 214-428-2263.

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Remembering Bruce Wood

Categories: Dance

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Sharen Bradford/The Dancing Image
Bruce Wood
Friend. Brilliant choreographer. Tenacious. Humorous. A fighter. Stubborn. Advocate for dance. Committed. Collaborator.

There are not words to adequately and appropriately describe the man who helped to usher in this new era of dance in Dallas. Bruce Wood was a tidal force in the city's culture, a man born to dance and create. At 16 he left his home in Fort Worth to go to New York and study with George Balanchine at the School of American Ballet. He went on to dance with the New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and Les Ballet Jazz de Montréal. Yet Wood never forgot where he came from; Texas wooed him back bring a level of dance that we are all trying to model ourselves after.

See also: Bruce Wood, Choreographer and Respected Advocate for Dallas Dance, Dies Unexpectedly

In 1996, while living in Austin, he formed the Bruce Wood Dance Project, and one year later moved the company to Fort Worth renaming it the Bruce Wood Dance Company (BWDC). I remember watching the first iteration of his company perform while I was attending the University of Texas at Arlington. Many of the dancers and I who were a part of the UTA Dance Ensemble would mark our calendars and buy our tickets as far in advance as we could to make sure we didn't miss one of his shows. When the company folded, it was a huge loss for the North Texas dance community, but Bruce didn't give up. He kept on working, and one of the pieces that I believed re-launched him into the choreographic hemisphere was "Surrender," a solo he set on Emily Hunter of the then Texas Dance Theatre.

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Bruce Wood, Choreographer and Respected Advocate for Dallas Dance, Dies Unexpectedly

Categories: Dance

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brucewoodance.org
Bruce Wood
Bruce Wood, founder of Bruce Wood Dance Project and perhaps one of the areas most esteemed choreographers and advocates for the Dallas dance scene, has died of complications from pneumonia and heart failure. He was 53.

His death was extremely unexpected. I just saw Bruce a couple of weeks ago and he looked the picture of health. He was excited about his new work he was premiering at the Spring Celebration Gala for Dallas Black Dance Theatre and honoring Ann Williams, and he was knee deep in rehearsals for his dance company's summer show, Touch, June 12-13 at the City Performance Hall. Gayle Halperin, president of BWDP, said the new show would go ahead as planned as a tribute to him

This is the official release sent out by BWDP:

In Memoriam of Bruce Wood - 1961-2014

Esteemed choreographer, friend, and master teacher; Bruce Wood experienced complications from pneumonia and died of heart failure, with his family by his side, on Wednesday, May 28. His death was sudden and unexpected. He was 53.

Wood was a maker of dances that had tremendous impact on thousands of lives. As artistic director and sole choreographer of Bruce Wood Dance Company from 1996-2007 and Bruce Wood Dance Project from 2010-current, the work lives on. The next BWDP performance carries-on at the Dallas City Performance Hall on June 12-13, 2014.

He is survived by his mother and two siblings. The family has asked that donations be made Bruce Wood Dance Project (www.brucewoodance.org) in lieu of flowers.


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