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Critic’s Choice: A Big Loss, New Choreographers Kept Dance Writer Manny Mendoza On His Toes In 2014
by Anne Bothwell 24 Dec 2014

The death of Bruce Wood and retirement of Ann Williams were big losses in the dance community, but emerging choreographers are exciting to watch. Our series on the year in the arts continues.

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    • Manny Mendoza’s Top 10 list of dance favorites from 2014 in the DMN.
    • Critic’s Choice continues Friday, when Jerome Weeks chats with Mark Lamster about the year in architecture.
    • Critic’s Choice: Theater Mark Lowry, TheaterJones.com.
    • Listen to the report that aired on KERA FM:

[audio:http://artandseek.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/criticschoicemannymp3.mp3]

One of the biggest stories of this year is also the saddest, the death of choreographer Bruce Wood.

Bruce died unexpectedly last May, two weeks before his company was going to perform again. I really do think, in his quiet way, it wasn’t just that he raised the bar that other companies then had to try to get over, but he was a mentor to other dance choreographers in town, to young dancers. He kind of created this environment where dance can grow and thrive. And it has.

How is his company recovering?

It’s terrible to lose somebody like Bruce. But I also like to look at it like we have 80 or so dances that he made over his career. At least ofr hte time being the Bruce Wood Dance Project is going to be able to continue to perform those. So I think we’re going to be able to continue to enjoy Bruce’s work.

Another changing of the guard: Dallas Black Dance Theater founder Ann Williams retired this year. What’s next for the company?

They’ve hired a really interesting person, April Barry, she was a very important dancer at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. And since she retired from dancing, she’s been doing education and outreach.

So it kind of remains to be seen. I don’t think she’s going to be doing a ton of choreographing herself.  But I think she’s going to be looking for new choreographic talent out there. And they’ll continue to do the work of Alvin Ailey and Ulysses Dove and people like that.

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Danielle Georgiou.

There’s so much emerging talent in the North Texas dance community. Who’s rising to the top?

There are two choreographers in town who I think are really the cream of the crop. One of them is Joshua L. Peugh who runs Dark Circles Contemporary Dance and the other is Danielle Georgiou, who has the Danielle Georgiou Dance Group.

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Joshua L. Peugh. Photo: Dark Circles Contemporary Dance

Joshua Peugh, really great work, has some similarities to Bruce Wood. They share a very well developed sense of humor. His stuff can really be deceptive because you’re going to laugh while you’re watching it and   He shows people acting really strangely. Really what’s behind that is a real love of humanity and how strange human behavior can be. His dances are all really about that.

Danielle is a really interesting choreographer in town. There’s really no one else doing what she’s doing.  She had two really great shows in 2014. The first was called “Dirty Filthy Diamonds” which just the name alone is wonderful.   The second piece was called “Nice.” She’s really interested in the ways we try to control people in society. And there’s really nobody else doing this kind of performance art, European-style dance in town. A lot of people don’t know what to make of her, but I think that’s a great thing.

What are you looking forward to in 2015?

There’s an interesting group called Diavolo out of Los Angeles, who like to work with really large sets. When they were here last, they did two pieces. One of them was on this giant wooden galleon that rocked. Diavolo is being brought in by TITAS. They do these really physical pieces that are kind of meant to look dangerous. I like very, very physical dance, so I’m looking forward to Diavolo.

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