Guest blogger Danielle Marie Georgiou is a Dance Lecturer at the University of Texas at Arlington where she serves as the Assistant Director of the UT Arlington’s Dance Ensemble. She is also a member of Muscle Memory Dance Theatre – a modern dance collective. Danielle is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Arts and Humanities at UT Dallas, and her first book, The Politics of State Public Arts Funding, is out now.
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the American College Dance Festival Association’s South-Central Regional Conference at Texas A&M University with my students from the University of Texas at Arlington. We participated in one of the many adjudicated concerts and took classes from some of the finest teachers and choreographers from Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico and California.
A big congratulations goes out to Texas Woman’s University, Texas A&M, the University of Texas – El Paso, New Mexico State University, Texas Tech University, the University of Texas at Austin, Tarrant County Community College – South, Sam Houston State University and Texas Christian University, whose works were chosen for the Gala Concert. The Gala Concert showcases what the adjudicators have chosen to be the best pieces of choreography presented at the conference; and I must say that I completely agree with their decisions, especially with the pieces chosen from the North Texas schools.
Texas Woman’s University’s From Out of Nowhere (choreographed by guest artist Mark Dendy) was a feast for the eyes. From the minute the curtain rose revealing a stark stage with a half-lowered cyc colored in red to the beginning notes of Apocolyptica’s “From Out of Nowhere,” I knew this dance would be something to watch. And when those dancers exploded onto the stage with sweeping chassés, jétés and pirouettes, and never stopped moving, my expectations were fulfilled. Their dedication to the movements was inspiring. It was obvious that they completely bought into the choreographer’s intention and more than performed the piece; they lived it. From Out of Nowhere was a marathon of movement and emotion that explored the intricate and imitate details of various relationships between people. It tested not only the stamina and technical ability of the dancers, but it pushed them to explore within themselves. And it left the audience breathless and wanting more; Dendy teased us with slow moving walk downstage as the lights faded and dancers looked on helpless. Where will they go from here?
Tarrant County Community College – South presented the work of two undergraduate students, Domingo Brooks and Anthony Glover. Danced by Glover and Neiman Calvin, The Measure of a Man, is a commentary piece on the struggles of manhood. Can it be measured by how many push-ups he can do? How far he can hit a baseball? How hard he can hit? Or is it about wit? Who is the smartest? It exposed the never-ending struggle to be the best, fastest, strongest man. It began in silence with a solo male dancer pacing the stage. Dressed in long corduroy pants and a t-shirt, he walked from upstage to downstage rubbing his head and grinding his fist in a distraught manner. The second dancer runs onstage interrupting his mediation, thus, beginning their relationship. However, their relationship was ambiguous. Were they brothers, friends or more than that? After talking to a few of my peers, the interpretation was mixed, but I think that might have been the intention of the choreographers. The piece read like an illustration of the struggles of masculinity: the never-ending conflict between males.
TCU showcased its strength in ballet with guest artist Susan Jaffe’s UnCaged – aptly titled after the use of musician John Cage’s work. Just as the title indicates, the meaning behind the piece can’t be defined; it is deceptively simple and to-the-point but completely open to interpretation. The all-female cast could lead one to believe that the piece was a feminist commentary on the “caged-ness” of women; but the casting of the African-American soloist could flip that idea on its head and lean more toward a racial theme. Then again, the haughtiness of the dancers’ presence and body language could lead to a whole other idea. Nevertheless, UnCaged was absolutely enjoyable. TCU dancers are always very well trained and never fail to put on a good show, and they lived up to their reputation last week. They were charismatic and fully committed to their characters and to the work.