In the summer of 2011, choreographer Bruce Wood sat in a small glass walled studio in the back of a Dallas house, counting off his dancers as they nervously performed for a group of critics. It was the first showing of his new work, and his new group of dancers, the Bruce Wood Dance Project (BWDP) coming five years after the closing of his company in Fort Worth.
From 1996 to 2006, there were only two full-time professional modern dance companies in North Texas: Dallas Black Dance Theater and the Bruce Wood Dance Company (BWDC). At that time, BWDC played a key roll in absorbing the talent that was graduating from the local university dance departments, and boosting the eco-system of local dance. When it shut it doors in 2006, the dance community lost a beloved member, and those dancers lost their jobs. But as in any industry, it bounced back, with smaller companies opening up; however, there was still only one full-time professional modern dance company to audition for. With only so many spots open, dancers start looking for jobs outside of Dallas.
Fast-forward five years, at the prodding of Gayle Halperin (a board member of the Dance Council of North Texas), Wood came back. It was supposed to be a trial run, a small show consisting of two new works and an old favorite, Bolero, to be performed at the Montgomery Arts Theater at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
It sold out. Both nights had packed houses, and people demanding more. So, they made more; thus, was born the Bruce Wood Dance Project. Now, celebrating its third birthday, BWDP presents RED + 2, an evening of three original works that are slated to be emotionally evocative (as per the press release).
While assembling this show, Wood set out to explore the American spirit, and ended up with red, white, and blue: a revival of Woods popular RED (2001), the world premiere of White Rabbit a new work and a revival of the romantic Rhapsody in Blue (1999).
RED is a seemingly abstract work that reveals an underlying physical and emotional layer while tracking a tragic time in U.S. history. Well see if this 2001 piece is still as relevant today as it was then.
The world premiere of White Rabbit pays tribute to the fortitude of the contemporary American spirit with a 60s rock mash-up and a surprise twist.
Rhapsody in Blue, set to Gershwins quintessential American musical creation by the same name, culminates in what the Fort Worth Star-Telegram once called one of the most striking moments in all of 20th century choreography.
Together, Wood says these works aim to capture the dynamism of the American spirit. A part of that spirit is overcoming adversity and adapting to change, something that BWDP will face head-on this summer.
First, it will be adjusting to a new location, the Dallas City Performance Hall. Since they came back on the scene in 2011, their home as been at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts Montgomery Arts Theatre. But now, they will be moving across the street to larger venue. Will they be able to fill the house as they have in the past for two nights in a row? Will this new venue work for a full-length dance event? BDWP will be its guinea pig.
Secondly, they will have to adjust to the resignation of associate choreographer and dancer Joshua L. Peugh. Peugh has had a significant impact on the growth of BWDP, from his unique choreography and outstanding performances. His contributions will be missed, but it will be interesting to see how the group bounces back and where they go from here.
RED + 2 is an important show for the Bruce Wood Dance Project. It marks their third season, the moment after the honeymoon period ends, and will be a demonstration of their strength as a company if they can overcome the hurdles in front of them.
Danielle Georgiou is the Artistic Director of the DGDG (the Danielle Georgiou Dance Group). She is also the Visiting Scholar in Dance at Eastfield College and the Director of the UT Arlington Dance Ensemble.
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