I was starting to wonder if Dallas DanceFest was even going to happen this year, but my reservations were laid to rest last week when the Dance Council of North Texas announced on its Facebook page the dance companies that will be participating in this year’s festival, which has been strategically renamed Dallas Dances.
The festival has received criticism from the beginning about its focus on mainly local dance companies and for its inclusion of pre-professionals from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Local Dance Critic Manuel Mendoza touched on these sore points in his review of last year’s Dallas DanceFest, which boasted the question “Why doesn’t Dallas have the dance festival that it deserves?”
In his review Mendoza basically says that by including the pre-professional dance studios, high schools and university programs in the area the festival is actually doing a disservice to the more established dance companies in the area.
He writes, “North Texas professional companies are the ones putting the area on the dance map even as they struggle to find suitable places to perform in a town starved of small, affordable venues. They are the groups competing for public and private grants so they can aim high, so they can someday pay their dancers something close to what their New York counterparts earn.”
He continues, “Most important, they are the ones doing the most complex, interesting work.”
What I think people are overlooking is that the mission of the Dance Council is not to exclusively support and promote just the professionals in the area, but also the up and coming professionals that stem from the local studios, performing arts schools and universites. And I think this is where the mission of Dallas DanceFest starts to get murky. Is the festival suppose to only highlight the professionals in the area? Or is its main target the young professionals and giving them a unique performance opportunity?
Apparently festival organizers have decided it’s a little bit of both if this year’s line up is any indicator.
I think the Dance Council has come to realize that they should stick true to their overall mission, which is fostering and promoting every type of dance and dancer in the Metroplex and I believe the name change better reflects the vibrancy and diversity of the Dallas dance community.
With that said, here are the dance companies performing at this year’s Dallas Dances:
Around the Holidays the NorthPark Mall in Dallas turns into a zoo thanks to the upscale mall’s unique holiday attractions which include Santa Claus, the trains and Sights and Sounds of the Season, which is a FREE performance series featuring the musical and movement stylings of schools, churches, synagogues and community and professional dance troupes from around North Texas. The performance series runs Nov. 28 through Dec. 22nd and the Dillards’ Court and North Court and again this is FREE!!!
With two little ones at home I am well versed with the trains and Santa Claus attractions at the mall, but I am a little embarrassed to admit that I have never stopped to watch any of the dance performances presented by the many well-known professional and pre-professional companies in the area. That is going to change this year especially since the only way to see Bruce Wood Dance’s Mistletoe Magic will be through this performance series. (Bruce Wood Dance performs tomorrow at 1pm in the North Court area.)
Looking at the performance line up online, I am amazed with the number of dance companies both professional and pre-professional that will be presenting in these 30-60 time slots as well as the variety of movement styles that will be showcased. I mean this Saturday alone starting at 10am you can catch some of the most popular names in the Dallas dance community, including 8&1 Dance Company, Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Bruce Wood Dance, Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, Danielle Georgiou Dance Group and Contemporary Ballet Dallas.
After checking in with some of these companies on social media, I can tell you that Dark Circles Contemporary Dance will perform Joshua L. Peugh’s Les Fairies as well as a section of a new work that Peugh is planning to introduce in the spring. OK! that alone has me hooked! Danielle Georgiou Dance Group will also give us a sneak peek of a new creation and perform Colby Calhoun’s Bedtime Stories. And Contemporary Ballet Dallas will perform to some holiday classics along with the school’s student ballet, tap and hip hop youth ensembles.
And while I have already included a link to the full line up, I wanted to pull out some special dates for all you dance lovers out there so you can go ahead and mark your calendars:
Dallas Black Dance Theatre Academy Performance Ensembles
The Hockaday School Dance Department
Texas Ballet Theater Dallas School
Collin County Ballet Theatre
Chamberlain School of Ballet
Avant Chamber Ballet
The Ballet Conservatory
Bombshell Dance Project
Dallas Ballet Company
I hope to see you all there!!! Get there early to find a parking spot and claim a front row seat!
Get into the holiday spirit with any one of these Nutcracker productions, from the traditional to Nearly Naked, offer across Dallas-Fort Worth. Plus a list of other holiday dance.
It’s that time of year again! In between all the shopping, decorating and baking you have planned this holiday season make sure you set some time aside to check out one of the numerous Nutcracker productions being offered by many of the professional and pre-professional dance companies across Dallas-Fort Worth. For audiences west of the DFW Airport, Texas Ballet Theater will be running Ben Stevenson’s version of The Nutcracker for multiple weekends at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth. Additionally, Ballet Frontier of Texas and North Central Civic Ballet will be presenting their annual Nutcracker performances at Will Rogers Auditorium.
For residents north of Dallas there are myriad Nutcrackers to choose from, including versions by LakeCities Ballet Theatre in Lewisville, Festival Ballet of North Central Texas in Denton, and Allen Civic Ballet in Allen. The Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, will soon be bursting with holiday cheer when Chamberlain Performing Arts, Dallas Repertoire Ballet, Royale Ballet Dance Academy, Tuzer Ballet and Collin County Ballet Theatre bring their Nutcracker productions here beginning Thanksgiving weekend and continuing till Christmas. The Irving Arts Center is another popular venue for local Nutcracker productions, including versions by Ballet Ensemble of Texas, International Ballet Theater and Momentum Dance Company. And in Dallas the Moscow Ballet returns to McFarlin Auditorium at Southern Methodist University with its rendition of The Great Russian Nutcracker, featuring new costumes and set designs.
You can even hear Tchaikovsky’s full Nutcracker played by the Dallas Symphony, without dancers, if you’re so inclined.
And if you are in need of a change this season, check out any number of the holiday dance shows being offered, including Avant Chamber Ballet’s Holiday Celebration at Dallas City Performance Hall; Epiphany DanceArts Tis the Season at the Eisemann; Texas Ballet Theater’s The Nutty Nutcracker at Bass Performance Hall; and even a burlesque show in Dallas aptly named Nearly Naked Nutcracker. A full list of all the Nutcrackers and holiday productions in the area can be found below.
Nov. 20-21 Ballet Frontier of Texas presents The Nutcracker with choreography by Chung-Lin Tseng at Will Rogers Auditorium in Fort Worth. $40-$50. Call 817-689-7310 or visit www.balletfrontier.org
Nov. 20-22 Moscow Ballet return to Dallas with its rendition of The Great Russian Nutcracker at Southern Methodist University’s McFarlin Auditorium. This year’s production features new costumes for Act I by designer Arthur Oliver and two new backdrops by Academy Award Nominee Carl Sprague. $28-$88. Call 800-745-3000 or visit www.tickmaster.com
Nov. 27-29 Chamberlain Performing Arts annual showing of The Nutcracker featuring New York City Ballet Principal’s Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson. $15-$100. Call 972-744-4650 or visit www.eisemanncenter.com
Nov. 27-29 Momentum Dance Company brings the holiday tale to life with choreography by Jacquelyn Ralls Forcher at the Irving Arts Center. $15-$25. Call 972-252-2787 or visit www.irvingartscenter.com
Nov. 28-29 LakeCities Ballet Theatre celebrates its 25th annual production of The Nutcracker which features live music from Lewisville Lake Symphony and guest artists Sarah Lane of American Ballet Theater and Daniel Ulbricht of New York City Ballet. $20-$45. Call 972-317-7987 or visitwww.lakecitiesballet.org
Dec. 4-6 Dallas Ballet Company presents The Nutcracker featuring guest artists April Daly and Miguel Blanco from Joffrey Ballet at the Granville Arts Center in Garland. $23-$24. Call 972-205-2790 or visit www.garlandarts.com
Dec. 5 Local dancers Harry Feril (Bruce Wood Dance Project) and Yulia Ilina (Avant Chamber Ballet) join theInternational Ballet Theater for its production of The Nutcracker Sweet at the Irving Arts Center. $28-$38. Call 972-252-2787 or visit www.irvingartscenter.com
Dec. 5-6 Ballet Ensemble of Texas, under the direction of Joffrey alum Lisa Slagle, presents the holiday classic at the Irving Arts Center. $25-$30. Call 972-252-2787 or visit www.irvingartscenter.com
Dec. 5-6 Rowlett Dance Academy presents its 14th annual production of The Nutcracker at Garland High School. $10. Call 972-475-8269 or visit www.rowlettdanceacademy.com
Dec. 5-6 Royale Ballet Dance Academy offering of The Nutcracker at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson. $20-$25. Call 972-744-4650 or visit www.eisemanncenter.com
Dec. 5-6 North Central Civic Ballet’s rendition of The Nutcracker at the Will Rogers Auditorium in Fort Worth. $30. Visit www.nutcrackertickets.com
Dec. 5-10 New York City Ballet brings George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker to the big screen in various movies across the DFW Metroplex. $16-$18 Adult. Visit www.fathomevent.com
Dec. 11-27 Texas Ballet Theater takes the stage with Ben Stevenson’s version of The Nutcracker at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth. Call 877-828-9200 or visit www.texasballettheater.org
Dec. 11-13 Dallas Repertoire Ballet brings its rendition of the beloved holiday tale to the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson. $22-$42. Call 972-744-4650 or visitwww.eisemanncenter.com
Dec. 12 Colleyville Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker for one-night only at the Irving Arts Center. $25-$30. Call 972-252-2787 or visit www.irvingartscenter.com
Dec. 12-13 Festival Ballet of North Central Texas showing of The Nutcracker at Texas Woman’s University, Margo Jones Performance Hall in Denton. $11-$36. Call 940.891.0830 or visit www.festivalballet.net
Dec. 19-20 Tuzer Ballet presents The Nutcracker with guest artists Rie Ichikawa (Boston Ballet) and Zack Grubbs (Cincinnati Ballet) at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson. $15-$50. Call 972-744-4650 or visitwww.eisemanncenter.com
Dec. 19-20 The Allen Civic Ballet presents its annual production of the holiday classic with live musical accompaniment by the Allen Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra at the Allen High School Performing Arts Center in Allen. $15-$25. Visit www.allencivicballet.org/nutracker
Dec. 19 The Art Ballet Academy presents The Nutcracker at Mansfield ISD Center for the Performing Arts, Mansfield. $16. Visit www.abacademy.com
Dec. 22-23 Collin County Ballet Theatre’s annual production of The Nutcracker features live music from Plano Symphony Orchestra at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson. $22-$77. Call 972-744-4650 or visitwww.eisemanncenter.com
OTHER HOLIDAY DANCE
(including non-traditional takes on The Nutcracker)
Nov. 19 Avant Chamber Ballet returns to White’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Southlake with its holiday production of Nutcracker: Short and Suite. This one-act Nutcracker presented by Apex Arts League includes new choreography by Katie Cooper and music by Tchaikovsky. $15-$20. Call 800-481-8914 or visit www.apex-arts.org
Nov. 27-29 The Dallas Symphony Orchestra plays Tchaikovsky’s complete The Nutcracker (no dancers), and featuring the Children’s Chorus of Collin County, at the Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas. Call 214-692-0203 or visit www.mydso.com
Nov. 27-Dec. 27 MBS Productions presents its annual hit The Beulaville Baptist Book Club Presents a Bur-Less-Q Nutcracker, in which a church has to do a last minute substitution of its dancers for The Nutcracker, at the Addison Theatre Centre’s Studio Theatre. $29. Call 214-477-4942 or visit www.mbsproductions.net
Dec. 6 8&1 Dance Company closes its third season with In The Spirit, featuring live music and heart-warming chorography at the Quixotic Word in Dallas. Visit www.8and1dance.com
Dec. 6 Dallas Youth Ballet presents a Rockefeller Christmas Spectacular at Dallas City Performance Hall with special guest Arron Scott from American Ballet Theatre. $20-$75. Visitwww.parkcitiesstudios.com
Dec. 10 Avant Chamber Ballet’s Holiday celebration at Dallas City Performance Hall incudes Katie Cooper’s Sleigh Ride and Nutcracker: Short and Suite. $20-$30. Visit www.ticketdfw.com
Dec. 11-12 Bruce Wood Dance Project presents a Christmas Cabaret benefit with Broadway stars Aaron Lazar, Liz Callaway and Joseph Thalken, at the BWDP Studio, 3630 Harry Hines Boulevard, Suite 36, Dallas. $350-$1,000. Call 214-428-2263 or visit www.brucewooddance.org
Dec. 12 Ballet Concerto presents its annual A Holiday Special at Will Rogers Auditorium in Fort Worth. The program includes Winter Wonderland, The Princess and the Magical Christmas Star, O Holy Night and A Cool Yule. $8 for daytime performances and $12-$25 for the evening performance. Call 817-738-7915 or visit www.balletconcerto.com
Dec. 12 Contemporary Ballet Dallas offers their spin on Charles Dickens’ classic tale with Boogie Woogie Christmas Carol at McFarlin Memorial Auditorium on the Southern Methodist University campus. $18-$30. Visitwww.contemporaryballetdallas.com
Dec. 18 Texas Ballet Theater brings The Nutty Nutcracker, its PG-13 spoof of The Nutcracker, to Bass Performance Hall for one night only. $40-250. Call 877.828.9200 or visit www.texasballettheater.org
Dec. 18-19 Epiphany DanceArts celebrates the holiday season with its production of Tis the Season at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson. $17-$27. Call 972-744-4650 or visit www.eisemanncenter.com
Dec. 19 Broads & Panties presents Nearly Naked Nutcracker: A Burlesque Ballet featuring aerial performances, circus arts, ballet and burlesque at Trees in Deep Ellum. $20-$44. Visit www.treesdallas.com
Dec. 19-20 Denton City Contemporary Ballet presents A Gift for Emma at Margo Jones Performance Hall at Texas Woman’s University, Denton. $15-25. Call 940-383-2623 or visit www.dentoncitycontemporary.org
Dec. 19-20 ImPULSE Dance Project celebrates the season with Snow at the Medical Center of Lewisville Grand Theater. Program includes works by Artistic Director Anastasia Waters and company members Krista Langford and Kristin Daniels. $17. Visit www.impusedanceproject.org
Strong storytelling, elaborate set design and dynamic guest performances are some of the highlights at Dallas Ballet Company’s annual Nutcracker performance in Garland.
Dallas — After 28 seasons Dallas Ballet Company (DBC) Artistic Directors Brent and Judy Klopfenstein know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to their version of The Nutcracker. Intricate set design, light-hearted narratives, cleverly crafted group dances and dynamic individual performances are what audiences have come to expect and DBC didn’t disappoint at Saturday afternoon’s showing of The Nutcracker at the Granville Arts Center in Garland.
Guest Artists April Daly and Miguel Blanco from Joffrey Ballet were magnetic in their roles as Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier. They both displayed unwavering control as Blanco manipulated Daly through the tricky body rotations and balance holds in the grande pas de deux at the end of the show. Despite his broad frame Blanco was very lighted-footed in his jumps and pulled off his triple pirouette effortlessly. Daly was like watching a shooting star on a clear night. She ricocheted across the floor in a series of pique turns finishing in a flawless arabesque hold. Her breathy exhales and soundless, fast foot work made her a captivating performer to watch.
The show also contained some standout performances by a few DBC members. Lanie Jackson dazzled in her role as the Snow Queen. In addition to exquisite technique, Jackson’s innate musicality gave her the freedom to explore different qualities of movements. One minute her arm placement is razor-sharp and body position exacting and the next her arms are exploding to match her exhale at the top of a soutenu turn into a smooth shoulder lift. Even though Morgan McClinchie (Snow King) could have used more tension in his body while leading Jackson around the stage, his capacity for the press up lifts and backward progressing catches were impressive. McClinchie also got to showcase his clean technique and jumping chops as the lead in the Waltz of the Flowers alongside Isaac Hileman and Christian Otto. Long-limbed and naturally poised, all three young men take after Guest Choreographer Jason Fowler, a former soloist with New York City Ballet and DBC alum. Waltz of the Flowers lead Olivia Mann wowed the audience with her rhythmic breathing patterns, supple feet and unending extensions.
Whereas the Snow Corps were not as springy in their movements as Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s score demands and traffic patterns and timing were not always clear at times, The Waltz of the Flowers Corps was the exact opposite. All eight dancers executed the fluttery arm movements and striking pointe work with spunk and synchronized musicality.
The opening party scene at the Silberhaus’ house was quick moving, yet predictable with Drosselmeyer’s (Randolph McKee) eccentric showmanship, Clara’s youthful vigor and the adequate performances by the Harlequin and Columbine Doll and Mechanical Solider. Audiences enjoyed the maturity Annie Corley brought to the role of Clara. Her obvious skill and effervescent personality were used throughout the show and not just in the first half. The group dances in the first half were refreshing thanks to the use of props such as fans, baby dolls and swords. The movement itself was rudimentary (i.e. waltz steps, chaines, tendues and traveling chasses), yet it was performed cleanly and concurrently. The battle scene was more playful than menacing with the younger performers portraying the mice and soldiers. The flashing red and white lights on the otherwise dark stage added to the scene’s drama.
The large props present in almost every scene added to the overall fanciful theme, but in some cases they also slowed down the transitions between scenes especially during the second half. The Spanish Chocolate group made up for the drawn-out pause with spirited jumps and saucy skirt flicks. Terrance Martin reprised his role as the Arabian and proved he is still capable of performing the front walkovers and back handsprings that dubs this section a crowd pleaser. Whitney Hester surprised us with her sharp point work and controlled upper body positions as the lead in Chinese Tea. But what really sets DBC’s production apart from others is the skill set of even its youngest dancers. Basic, yet clean movement choices and fun use of props is why the Gingerbread scene remains an audience favorite.
No matter where you live there is a Nutcracker performance waiting for you. Here’s a list of North Texas Nuts, plus other holiday dance.
From the big-budget dance companies such as Texas Ballet Theater and Moscow Ballet to the smaller, community-based companies, there is an enchanting Nutcracker performance for everyone to see. For those of you living North of Dallas there is the Allen Civic Ballet, Festival Ballet of North Central Texas in Denton and LakeCities Ballet Theatre in Lewisville. For audiences in the Richardson and Plano area the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts is hosting multiple Nutcracker performances the next two months, including Chamberlain Performing Arts, Dallas Repertoire Ballet and Tuzer Ballet. For Garland residents there is Dallas Ballet Company’s annual production at the Granville Arts Center and for Irving patrons Ballet Ensembles of Texas’ showing of the holiday classic at the Irving Arts Center. If you prefer live music, check out LakeCities Ballet Theatre, Allen Civic Ballet and Collin County Ballet Theatre’s Nutcracker productions. For those looking for something a little different there’s 8&1 Dance Company’s In The Spirit and Ballet Concerto’s Holiday Special.
Full list and ticket information below:
Ballet Frontier of Texas presents The Nutcracker with choreography by Chung-Lin Tseng at Will Rogers Auditorium in Fort Worth. Tickets $40-50. Call 817.689.7310 or visitwww.balletfrontier.org
Moscow Ballet return to Dallas with its rendition of The Great Russian Nutcracker at Southern Methodist University’s McFarlin Auditorium. Tickets $28-88. Call 800.745.3000 or visit www.tickmaster.com
Colleyville Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker for one-night only at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, TX. Tickets $35-40 Call 972.744.4650 or visitwww.eisemanncenter.com
The Angelika Film Centers in Dallas and Plano screen Getting to The Nutcracker, a documentary about what it takes to produce a production of the Nut, at 2 p.m. in both locations. www.angelikafilmcenter.com
Chamberlain Performing Arts annual showing of The Nutcracker featuring New York City Ballet Principal’s Maria Kowroski and Tyler Angle at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, TX. Tickets $12-100. Call 972.744.4650 or visit www.eisemanncenter.com
Nov. 28-Dec. 27
Texas Ballet Theater takes the stage with Ben Stevenson’s version of The Nutcracker, with the same extravagant sets and effects that we saw last year. Call 877.828.9200 or visit http://www.texasballettheater.org
Nov. 28-Dec.7 at the AT&T Performing Arts Center, Winspear Opera House
Dec. 12-27 at Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth
The Nutty Nutcracker is Dec. 19 at Bass Performance Hall
LakeCities Ballet Theatre’s annual production of The Nutcracker features live music from Lewisville Lake Symphony and guest artists Sarah Lane of American Ballet Theater and Daniel Ulbricht of New York City Ballet. Tickets: $20-45. Call 972.317.7987 or visitwww.lakecitiesballet.org
Dallas Ballet Company celebrates its 28th annual performance of The Nutcracker featuring guest artists April Daly and Miguel Blanco from Joffrey Ballet at the Granville Arts Center in Garland, TX. Tickets: $23-24. Call 972.205.2790 or visit www.garlandarts.com
North Central Civic Ballet’s rendition of The Nutcracker at the Will Rogers Auditorium in Fort Worth. Tickets: $30. Visit www.nutcrackertickets.com
Ballet Ensemble of Texas presents the holiday classic with guest artist Dallas Blagg and Gabriela Gonzalez from Tulsa Ballet at the Irving Arts Center. Tickets: $25-30. Call 972.252.2787 or visit www.irvingartscenter.com
Rowlett Dance Academy presents its version of The Nutcracker at Garland High School. Tickets $10. Call 972.475.8269 or visit www.rowlettdanceacademy.com
Royale Ballet Dance Academy offering of The Nutcracker at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, TX. Call 972.744.4650 or visit www.eisemanncenter.com
Dallas Repertoire Ballet brings its rendition of the beloved holiday tale to the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, TX. Tickets: $15-50. Call 972.744.4650 or visit www.eisemanncenter.com
Festival Ballet of North Central Texas showing of The Nutcracker at Texas Woman’s University, Margo Jones Performance Hall in Denton, TX. Tickets: $11-36. Call 940.891.0830 or visit www.festivalballet.net
Tuzer Ballet presents The Nutcracker at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, TX. Tickets: $15-50. Call 972.744.4650 or visit www.eisemanncenter.com
The Allen Civic Ballet presents its annual production of the holiday favorite with live musical accompaniment by the Allen Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra. Allen High School Performing Arts Center in Allen TX. Tickets: $15-30. Visitwww.allencivicballet.org/nutcracker
Colin County Ballet Theatre’s annual production of The Nutcracker features live music from Plano Symphony Orchestra at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, TX. Tickets: $32-52. Call 972.744.4650 or visitwww.eisemanncenter.com
Other Holiday Dance
Denton City Contemporary Ballet presents A Gift for Emma at Krum High School Performance Center in Krum, TX. Tickets: $12-18. Visit www.dentondance.com
8&1 Dance Company’s annual In The Spirit holiday celebration at the Quixotic Word in Dallas. Visitwww.8and1dance.com
Ballet Concerto presents its annual A Holiday Special, with school performances at 10:30a.m. and 12:15p.m., and public performances at 7p.m. at Will Rogers Auditorium in Fort Worth. Tickets: $5-20. Call 817.738.7915 or visitwww.balletconcerto.com
Indique Dance Company co-founder Sarita Venkatraman talks about the city’s growing Indian dance community and partaking in the reinvigorated Dallas DanceFest this weekend.
Dallas — From far away the Dallas dancescape appears to consist mostly of ballet and modern dance companies, but if you look closer there are also several cultural dance groups pushing their way to the forefront, including classical Indian dance group Indique Dance Company. Formed in 2008 by Sarita Venkatraman, Shalini Varghese, Latha Shrivasta, Anu Sury, Kruti Patel, Bhuvana Venkatraman and Shilpi Mehta, Indique Dance Company fuses Indian classical, folk and modern dance styles with contemporary themes to create an enjoyable and enlightening cultural experience.
And through its collaboration with the Indian Cultural Heritage Foundation (ICHF), the company has had the chance to perform in some of the most popular venues in the Dallas Arts Districts, including Klyde Warren Park, the Crow Collection of Asian Art and Dallas City Performance Hall. “We are so thankful for all the opportunities Dallas has provided for Indique,” Venkatraman says. “Over the last six years we have been welcomed by both Indian and non-Indian audiences which has just been incredible.”
For Venkatraman dance has always been a calling. “Growing up in India my Dad was really into Indian classical music so I was exposed to the arts at a very young age. I joined a dance school in Mumbai at the age of 10 and have been dancing ever since.” Under the tutelage of Guru Shri Mani, Venkatraman began her Bharatanatyam dance training and after a couple of years moved on to learn Kathak from Smt. Guru Asha Joglekar. “In Sanskrit, guru means teacher and becoming a teacher is more of a calling than a profession. A teacher guides a student towards a margam or path. Some students choose to perform an Arangetram, also known as ascending the stage, which should not be considered a graduation performance but rather a beginning.”
Even moving to Dallas in 1995 to work on her doctorate in Physics at the University of Texas at Dallas couldn’t deter Venkatraman from continuing her Bharatanatyam training. Taking a friend’s suggestion Venkatraman went to take class at Arathi School of Dance where she met Guru Smt. Revathi Satyu. “My Guru Revathi Satyu is an amazing individual. As a guru she has taught me to love and appreciate the art not just as a student but also as a teacher. She is extremely patient, always smiling and most importantly always willing to share the art wholeheartedly.” Venkatraman has been teaching at Arathi for several years and her students have performed throughout the DFW area.
Venkatraman adds that if it wasn’t for Satyu Dallas audiences would know very little about Indian dance and the Indian culture. “Revathi is a pioneer in bringing the art of Bharatanatyam to Dallas. She started the Arathi School of Dance in Dallas in 1980 and has graduated over a 100 students. She has been responsible for spreading the awareness of Indian classical dance among Indian and non-Indian audiences. Through workshops, presentations and performances she continues to touch more and more people in the DFW metroplex.”
Since its conception, Indique Dance Company has presented several productions, including Roots, Maa: The Many faces of Motherhood and Jeeva: Synergy in Nature. The company will present a dance from Jeeva: Synergy in Nature called Thillana at the inaugural Dallas DanceFest happening this weekend at DCPH. The three-day event is being put on by the Dance Council of North Texas. Choreographed by Shalini Varghese and Bhuvana Venkatraman with music by Indian Rock band AGAM, Thillana features quick foot work, complex rhythms and intricate body poses. “Thillana is a classical Indian dance that has no storytelling. It’s a very happy, brisk dance that involves a lot of complex foot work and body movements.”
And while Dallas DanceFest will be the first time for many local dance companies to perform in the two-year-old City Performance Hall, that is not the case for Indique Dance Company who just performed there two weeks ago. “The DCPH is one of our favorite in-door performance spaces. The intimate setting is something we really enjoy. It makes it easier for us to have a conversation with the audience.”
» Indique Dance Company will perform at the Friday night showcase, 8 p.m. Aug. 29, at Dallas City Performance Hall. The other companies performing Friday are: Dallas Ballet Company, Ewert & Company, Rhythmic Souls, Dallas Black Dance Theatre II, Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, Texas Ballet Theater, Southern Methodist University Meadows Dance Ensemble, Dallas Black Dance Theatre.
» Companies performing Saturday are: Chamberlain Performing Arts, Chado Danse, Houston METdance, Avant Chamber Ballet, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts Rep I and II companies, Tarrant County College Movers Unlimited, Mejia Ballet International, Bruce Wood Dance Project
» The Dance Council Honors are Sunday at 2 p.m., honoring Nita Braun, Ann Briggs-Cutaia and Joe Cutaia, Buster Cooper, Dylis Croman, Suzie Jary and Beth Wortley, with performances by Ballet Ensemble of Texas, Bruce Wood Dance Project and 2014 Dance Council Scholarship Recipients.
Hundreds of ballerinas from Texas and neighboring states took part in the 2014 Regional Dance America/Southwest Festival at the Eisemann Center in Richardson.
Richardson — A lone dancer dressed in country western wear (fringe top, black bottoms and cowboy hat) executes a series of slow leg extensions and turns on pointe in front of the silhouette of a gigantic cowboy hat. As the stage lights lift, the 30×15 foot cowboy hat is flown up revealing 20 or so dancers dressed in the same country attire. All together they performed a high energy Texas tribute complete with heel clicks, knee slaps, doe-se-does and hat tilts.
Top Hat, choreographed by Judy Klopfenstein and Cyndi Jones Littlejohn and performed by Dallas Ballet Company (DBC), kicked off the Emerging Choreographers showcase, part of the 2014 Regional Dance America/Southwest (RDA/SW) Festival which took place March 21-23 at the Renaissance Hotel and Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson.
As the evening went on, dancers from companies including Houston Dance Theatre, San Antonio Metropolitan Ballet, Midland Festival Ballet, Corpus Christi Ballet, Twin City Ballet and City Ballet of Houston just to name a few, took to the stage and gave engaging performances that highlighted their strengths which ranged from classical ballet and contemporary to more theatrical and jazz-based numbers.
These talented dancers travelled from Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas just to be able to take class from some of ballet’s best in addition to performing in front of their peers and auditioning for scholarships. “The dancers understand that the festival is not just about performance, but the complete experience,” says Collin County Ballet Theatre Co-Director Kirt Hathaway. “Excellent classes, being among like-minded young artists in an extended period, performing, watching performances, admiring others and wanting to become more than they are and challenging oneself is really what the RDA/SW festival is all about.”
For the faculty roster, event organizers and DBC directors Judy and Brent Klopfenstein used a lot of teachers who are either from or currently working in Dallas, including Jason Fowler (repetiteur for Christopher Wheeldon and former DBC student), Chris Koehl (So You Think You Can Dance Season 8 and former DBC student), Kim Abel (consultant with the dance department at Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts), Thom Clower (former member of Dallas Ballet), Leslie Peck (Associate Professor at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts) and Nycole Ray (member of Dallas Black Dance Theatre).
Ballet royalty Christine Spizzo, Mary Margaret Holt and Jock Soto were also on the schedule as well as Kurt A. Douglas (modern) and Tyler Hanes (theater dance). “I knew these teachers would be great, but in the end they were even better than I could’ve ever imagined,” Judy Klopfenstein says. “I knew I wanted a diverse faculty within the different styles of ballet, but I also wanted to throw in something new and different like African.”
She adds, “We also had between 25 and 35 scholarships to hand out this year. There were scholarships given by American Ballet Theatre, BalletMet, Colorado Ballet, Oklahoma City Ballet, Alonzo King LINES Ballet as well as scholarships given by multiple local companies.”
The local pre-professional ballet companies participating in the festival included Collin County Ballet Theatre (CCBT), Ballet Ensemble of Texas (BET), Dallas Metropolitan Ballet (DMB) and of course DBC. “It was an amazing festival,” Hathaway says. “In speaking with my dancers the classes were so exciting for them and the faculty was awesome. They felt that the instructors could relate to them while at the same time not expecting anything less than their full effort.”
Many other festival participants felt the same way. After learning a vigorous George Balanchine variation from Jason Fowler, BalletForte company member Schuyler Buckler says that even though the variation was tough, Fowler was very encouraging. “He’s the good kind of strict that makes you want to do your best every time.”
Kristen Wright with BET adds, “The way he teaches is just so fun and he is very motivating.”
It also helps when the teachers are just as passionate and excited to work with the students. “I have always wanted to be a teacher,” Spizzo says. “Throughout my career I have honed my teaching skills and I have found a nice balance between verbiage and execution. I have learned that if you throw too much verbiage at younger dancers they won’t be able to process it. To me, teaching is the highest esteem.”
In addition to the variations class students also took partnering, ballet, pointe, modern, Pilates, theater, African and hip-hop. “I really liked Chris Koehl’s hip-hop class,” says BET company member Jimena Flores-Sanchez. “He really helps you break out of your shell.”
Buckler of BalletForte also enjoyed Koehl’s class, but admitted it takes her a little longer to pick up hip-hop movement than ballet choreography. “I just think hip-hop takes a lot more brain power whereas ballet has a lot more to do with muscle memory.”
When asked about the competitiveness of their career choice the students all agreed that the bar has definitely been raised higher in terms of technique and training. “The level of competition out there is really high,” Buckler says. “Today you’re expected to be able to do it all. You really have to be diverse in all styles of dance and the RDA/SW festival helps prepare us for that.”
Approximately 750 bunheads from Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas will converge at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, TX, this weekend for the 2014 Regional Dance America/Southwest Festival, hosted by Dallas Ballet Company.
Aptly named Deep in the Heart…There’s Dance!, this year’s RDA/SW Festival features a variety of master classes from ballet, pointe and partnering to theater and hip-hop as well as an emerging choreography concert, showcase performance and a closing gala happening each evening at 7:30pm at the Eisemann.
Some of our local talent will be in attendance, including Collin County Ballet Theatre, Ballet Ensemble of Texas and Dallas Metropolitan Ballet.
And of course there will also be some amazing guests artists teaching at the festival, including Jason Fowler, Tyler Hanes, Kim Abel, Jock Soto, Kurt A. Douglas, Mary Margaret Holt and Thom Clower, just to name a few.
I will be there all weekend observing classes and watching performances. Come on by and say HI!
The theme for this year’s event is Deep in the Heart…There’s Dance! and there will be plenty of that to go around.
The festival runs March 21-23, 2014 and is being hosted by Dallas Ballet Company and its Directors Brent and Judy Klopfenstein. The couple has been a source of inspiration for hundreds of aspiring ballet dancers in the Dallas area.
The event includes master classes, an emerging choreography concert, showcase
performance and a closing gala which will take place at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, TX.
Twenty-three dance companies from a five-state region are expected to come, including locals like Ballet Ensemble of Texas, Collin County Dance Theatre, Dallas Metropolitan Ballet and Dallas Ballet Company. I have seen all of these companies perform and I am excited to see what they have in store at RDA/SW!
The holiday season is upon us, and you know what that means: The Nutcracker. Here’s our round-up of local Nutcrackers, plus non-Nut holiday dance.
It’s the holidays, and in the dance world, that means nuts are about to be crackin’ all over the place. North Texas will be filled with performances of The Nutcracker, which means box offices will be singing, parents and grandparents will be thrilled at seeing their kids in the party scene, and little girls will see the Sugar Plum Fairy and be inspired to take ballet lessons.
Beginning this weekend, as the Moscow Ballet returns, you can see at least one performance of The Nutcracker each weekend if you like, right up through a few days before Christmas. We’ve also included some pretty different takes on The Nut, as the dancers call it, from theater outfits Dallas Children’s Theater (marionettes!) and MBS Productions (burlesque!).
And, because there are a few brave dance companies out there willing to do a holiday dance production sans the Snow Queen, we’ve also included the few non-Nut shows.
LET’S START WITH THOSE:
Denton City Contemporary Ballet presents A Gift for Emma Nov. 22 – 24 at Krum High School Performance Center in Krum, Texas. Ticket Office: www.dentondance.com
Contemporary Ballet Dallas presents a Boogie Woogie Christmas Carol, inspired by the Dickens tale, Dec. 7 at Southern Methodist University’s McFarlin Auditorium. Ticket Office:www.contemporaryballetdallas.com
Dallas Metropolitan Ballet presents The Night Before Christmas Dec. 14 – Dec. 15 at Southern Methodist University’s McFarlin Auditorium in Dallas. Tickets: $10 – $40. Ticket Office: www.ticketmaster.com or call 214-631-2787 or 817-467-2787
Epiphany DanceArts presents Christmas Memories Dec. 20-21 at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, Texas. Tickets: $15 – $29. Ticket Office:www.epiphanydancearts.org or call 972-744-4650
AND NOW, THE NUTCRACKERS:
Moscow Ballet brings back The Great Russian Nutcracker to Dallas Nov. 15 and Nov. 17 at Southern Methodist University’s McFarlin Auditorium. Tickets: $28. Ticket Office: www.nutcracker.com or call 800-320-1733
Ballet Frontier of Texas presents its rendition of The Nutcracker Nov. 22 – 23 at the Will Rogers Auditorium in Fort Worth, Texas. Tickets: $25. Ticket Office: www.balletfrontier.org
MBS Productions returns with its annual revival of the comedy The Beulaville Baptist Book Club Presents a Bur-Less-Q Nutcracker, in which a burlesque troupe saves the day in a small Texas town by performing the holiday classic. Nov 23-Dec. 29 at the Stone Cottage on the campus of the Addison Theatre Centere. Tickets: $18-$27. Ticket Office: www.mbsproductions.net
Chamberlain Performing Arts presents The Nutcracker featuring New York City Ballet principal dancers Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle Nov. 29 – Dec. 1 at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, Texas. Ticket Office: www.eisemanncenter.com or call 972-744-4650
Texas Ballet Theater presents Ben Stevenson’s The Nutcracker which runs Nov. 29 – Dec. 8 at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas and Dec. 13 – 27 at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth. Ticket Office: www.texasballettheater.org
Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Art’s presents its interpretation of The Nutcracker Nov. 29 – Dec. 22 at the Dallas Children’s Theater in Dallas. Tickets: $13 – $40. Ticket Office: www.dct.org or call 214-740-0051
LakeCities Ballet Theatre’s rendition of The Nutcracker runs Nov. 30 – Dec. 1 at Marcus High School in Flower Mound, Texas, and Dec. 14 – 15 at Little Elem Recreation Center. Ticket Office: www.lakecitiesballet.com
Momentum Dance Company does The Nutcracker with guests Michele Gifford, Shea Johnson and Bruce Coleman. Nov. 29-Dec. 1 at the Irving Arts Center. Tickets: $15-$25. Ticket Office: www.irvingartscenter or call 972-252-2787
Dallas Ballet Company will be celebrating its 27th annual performance of The Nutcracker Dec. 6 – Dec. 8 at the Granville Arts Center in Garland, Texas. Tickets: $23. Ticket Office: www.garlandarts.com or call 972-205-2790
The Dallas Youth Ballet presents The Nutcracker Dec. 7 at the new Dallas City Performance Hall in the Dallas Arts District. Tickets: $15 – $35. Ticket Office: www.thedallasconservatory.org or call 214-357-8888
The Ballet Ensemble of Texas brings its rendition of The Nutcracker to the Irving Arts Center Dec. 7 – 8. Tickets: $21-$26. Ticket Office: www.irvingartscenter or call 972-252-2787
The Dallas Repertoire Ballet presents The Nutcracker Dec.13-15 at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, Texas. Tickets: $15 – $50. Ticket Office: www.eisemanncenter.com or call 972-744-4650
Festival Ballet of North Central Texas will be performing The Nutcracker Dec. 14 – 15 at the Margo Jones Performance Hall at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas. Tickets: $11 – $36. Ticket Office: www.festivalballet.net or call 940-891-0830
For a more adult Nutcracker performance Texas Ballet Theater offers The Nutty Nutcracker, a collaborative work between artistic staff and dancers featuring hot topics of the past 12 months. The performance is slated for Dec. 20 at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth. Ticket Office: www.texasballettheater.org
Tuzer Ballet presents The Nutcracker Dec. 21-22 at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, Texas. Tickets: $15 – $50. Ticket Office: www.eisemanncenter.com or call 972-744-4650
The Allen Civic Ballet presents its 15th anniversary production of The Nutcracker Dec. 21 – Dec. 22 at the Performing Arts Center at Allen High School. Tickets: $15 – $30. Ticket Office: www.allencivicballet.org
Collin County Ballet Theatre presents The Nutcracker Dec. 23-24 at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, Texas. Tickets: $15 – $75. Ticket Office: www.eisemanncenter.com or call 972-744-4650