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A Bruce Wood choreographer 'Slumps' to Korea

Posted 8:33am on Wednesday, Sep. 19, 2012

For a look at the zany 'Slump,' be sure to check out the video clips below.

I settled into my seat in the Montgomery Arts Theater in Dallas one night last June, not sure what to expect. I was among several hundred other Bruce Wood fans who had come to witness the second season of his new dance troupe, and we were salivating at what was in store from Wood, that mad Jedi of dance.

But the question mark was the first piece in that night's program ... something called Slump. It was the creation of Joshua L. Peugh, the new associate choreographer that Wood had personally selected to join the Bruce Wood Dance Project.

Set to mambo and Klezmer music, with dancers clad in 1950s-era plaids and prints, Slump turned out to be a quirky, funny and sometimes aggressive study in mating rituals: one dancer had feathers pop out of his mouth, men flexed and preened; a woman clung to and crawled after her partner. Most people in the audience wouldn't have known it then, but Slump was destined to travel across the world. That was Peugh's plan all along.

When Peugh, now 28, graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, he left the states for South Korea to pursue his art, dancing with Universal Ballet. Two and a half years ago, he and a partner started a small, contemporary company in Seoul: Dark Circles Contemporary Dance.

Wood knew of Peugh's work, and says "he's the real deal."

"He's completely different from me, but we have the same viewpoints on dance and art," Wood told me in June.

Even before Peugh returned to North Texas, he had already inked a Korean performance date for Slump - which was then still titled Bad Faith.

"I knew before I was moving back to the States that I had that obligation to take care of," Peugh said. "So when I got here and started working with these dancers on the piece, I thought it would be cool if I could give these people the experience of dancing as part of the Korean dance community."

But how to make that happen? The trip for seven people would cost thousands, and dance is hardly the cash cow of the performing arts scene.

Bruce Wood Dance Project, meet Kickstarter.

Peugh put together a "Slump-in-Korea" campaign to raise $10,000 on the popular website that helps artists and entrepreneurs drum up money for their projects.

With several days to spare, 85 people kicked in for the campaign -- some big donations, some as small as $1 -- and they hit their goal.

That means the cast of Slump will perform at HanPAC Daehangno Arts Theater in Seoul on Sept. 26-28. (The piece had its U.S. premiere in June at Montgomery Arts Theater at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts in the Dallas Arts District.) Slump will be part of a production called "Two Sides," produced by Dark Circles Contemporary Dance.

The cast includes three current SMU students (Albert Drake, Harry Feril, and Mallory Ketch) and two SMU alumni and dance educators (Jennifer Mabus and Peugh); plus the director of the Arlington Heights High School dance department, Joy Atkins, and long time Bruce Wood dancer Kimi Nikaidoh, as well as Korean native Dong Hyoung Kim, who danced with BWDP this past season as a guest artist.

It's a proud moment for North Texas dance.

"It's major because it's putting Dallas on the map as a place to dance," said Danielle Georgiou, who has her own local dance company, and writes about dance for several publications, including DFW.com content partner TheaterJones.

"People think: 'I have to go to L.A. or New York if I want to have a career,' but you don't. You can be a Dallas dancer and have a really enriching career, and this just proves it," Georgiou said.

Peugh was thrilled by the Kickstarter response.

"I was incredibly surprised by A) how generous some people were, but B) how generous some people were that Bruce Wood or I had no connection to specifically," he said. Those 85 donors are "sending seven people they have no connection to, other than their love for the art, or for what we're trying to accomplish."

A quick, but delightful teaser video to The Bruce Wood Dance Project's performance of Slump, choreographed by Joshua Peugh:

Bruce Wood Dance Project - Slump (Teaser) from DigiBees on Vimeo.

Here's the video Peugh & Co. created for their Kickstarter campaign:

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