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!
The 13th Annual Plano Dance Festival delivers fine technique and a diverse array of dance styles with the aid of some local dance companies.
Plano — It’s always nice to step away from the professional dance scene in Dallas and see what the local dance community is up to. And if the Plano Dance Festival on Saturday afternoon was any indication, these pre-professional groups have been busy exposing their dancers to different techniques to add to their wheelhouse and build self-confidence. The festival, which took place at the Courtyard Theater in Plano, had an even balance of traditional and contemporary ballet pieces intermixed with other dance styles, including tap, modern and Chinese folk dance.
For hardcore balletomanes there was Marius Petipa’s La Bayadere solo performed by Avant Ballet Chamber company member Yulia Ilina, as well as Mikhail Fokine’s memorable Dying Swan solo performed by guest dancer Melian Izotova from Colorado-based Premiere Ballet. Ilina’s supple feet and lethal legs were a perfect match for Petipa’s slow, controlled bourres, alternating promenades and multiple arabesque holds. And Izotova completely embodied the role of the swan with her exacting point work and rippling arm movements resembling a swan’s wings.
Dallas-based professional dancers Lea Zablocki and Shea Johnson gave a spot on performance with August Bournonville’s Flower Festival in Genzano. Like all classic story ballets, the movement in this pas de deux consisted of exaggerated gesturing and heart-felt embraces. Johnson’s control over his landings has improved, adding polish to his already clean technique. Zablocki excelled in her turning sections executing multiple pirouettes in quick succession without a hitch. The press-up lifts from the knees in the Romeo and Juliet piece proved challenging for Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet’s David Sanders, but he recovered to complete the passionate number with fellow company member Katie Stasse.
The most surprising classical performance of the afternoon came from the festival’s host company, Plano Metropolitan Ballet (PMB), in the opening number pointe number Meridian. Dressed in deep blue leotards and white tutus, the 14 dancers showed both technical and musical growth in this invigorating piece set to The Vitamin String Quartet and choreographed by Madelaine Boyce. Standard ballet phrases such as tombe pas de bourre soutenu, pirouettes, and alternating epaulement(shoulder, head and neck) positions were livened up with continuous formation changes and musically-timed cannon arrangements. Boyce’s choreography also adequately displayed the dancers’ proficiency in both allegro and adagio movement and was well received by the audience.
In the realm of contemporary ballet there was Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet’s You Are a Memory and Avant Chamber Ballet’s Endless Arc, a new work by Artistic Director Katie Puder. In the first, dancers Katie Stasse, Laura Pearson and Emily Gnatt performed a series of rudimentary ballet steps mixed with more contemporary movements such as flat-footed walks, hand gestures and body contractions. The two dancers dressed in white pulled the third, dressed in red, through a number of interweaving body positions before finally pulling away from one another. Music by Ryuichi Sakamoto and dim lighting only added to the somber tone of the piece. Puder’s Endless Arc was more aggressive compared to previous works, but still contained all the elements that we admire about her, including continuous traveling movements, abrupt direction changes and dynamic partnering skills. Both pieces were just peaking when they suddenly ended in a blackout.
The Gaudium Dance Movement captured the audience’s attention with its star-spotted back lighting and pillow props in Gina Lee’s Midnight. The dance started out promising with the four dancers traveling across the space on their backs using the pillows as leverage. The dancers then travelled around the pillows as they resisted the space with arm reaches and open-chested releases. The pillows are re-introduced at the end when the dancers pulled chains and rope from the pillowcases before the lights faded out, leaving the audience to question their significance.
Epiphany DanceArts performed excerpts from Balanchine’s Diamonds in which they acted out the effects bullying has on society through their signature lyrical movements blended with more sultry and staccato steps to music by The XX and The Piano Guys. Collin College’s Collin Dance Ensemble and Dallas Black Dance Academy’s Senior Performing Ensemble both demonstrated basic modern dance techniques (i.e. Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham) in Tread and This Place is a Shelter. The Dallas Black Dance Academy Seniors also performed a rhythmic African-infused piece entitled Confluence.
The program also included some wickedly fly and fun footwork from Dallas-based Rhythmic Souls Youth Residency and Choreo Records Tap Ensemble as well as some beautifully intricate Chinese folk dance from Jiaping Shi Dance School.
Festival coordinator and Plano Metropolitan Ballet Artistic Director Cindi Lawrence Hanson should be pleased with how her group and the festival have grown over the last 13 years. Audiences should look forward to what she has in store for next year’s event.