Review: Dark Circles Contemporary Dance

Posted Thursday, Sep. 04, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Dark Circles Contemporary Dance

Fall Series

8 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday

Fort Worth Community Arts Center, Sanders Theater, 1300 Gendy St., Fort Worth


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In just a year of public performances in North Texas, Dark Circles Contemporary Dance has made it clear that it’s best when audiences are kept guessing. While certain terms of artistic director Joshua L. Peugh’s dance vocabulary are peeking through, the dances he has produced last fall, in the spring and in the current Fall Series concert have been refreshingly diverse. Yet there’s a mischievous whimsy that’s delightful.

For his latest, Beautiful Knuckleheads, the music is four impossibly catchy songs from recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, pop/R&B duo Hall & Oates. The dancers wear black tights, white tank tops and either white or powder blue linen jackets like you might have seen in an H&O ’80s video.

It starts with a rather dorky, and gloriously non-ironic, group dance to Kiss On My List. Sometimes the movement is so literal (and at one point nodding to Robert Palmer’s video girls) you can’t help but smile.

In Maneater, a very ’80s backdrop of geometric shapes and god-awful colors and patterns gets rolled (yes, with toilet paper) by the dancers as a more serious dance happens on the side. Sara Smile is more serious, with Sarah Hammonds sitting on Dexter Green’s shoulders as Peugh and Alex Karigan engage in a lovely pas de deux. In Private Eyes, goofiness once again takes over.

As the final dance of the evening, Knuckleheads follows two much more reverent works.

Chadi El-Khoury’s Words in Motion has six dancers moving in almost slow motion, mostly symmetrical formations. Every once in a while, a lone dancer breaks out of the group. Movement is all about angular limbs attached to expressionless faces. When the music (from Hunter Long) ends, the dancers keep moving until the lights fade.

The most interesting work on the program comes from New York-based choreographer Mike Esperanza. In the lengthy piece (25 minutes), the dancers (dressed in all white) move in a series of scenes backdropped by an interesting collage of music that has modern pops and science-inspired noise over bits of songs sung by Nina Simone, but layered so that she sounds distant, as if in an echo-inducing tunnel — from an era long ago.

The work was inspired by solar panels and the idea of using the sun to create energy. In one movement, the dancers move methodically; in another, they moving as if at a dance club, on the walls of the theater, behind lights hanging on vertical poles. The most intriguing section has Kelsey Rohr lip synching to I Put a Spell on You as another dancer shines a small flashlight on her.

It’s probably a comment on how specific objects can draw energy from the sun, but it also evokes a videographer staying focused on one performer as she commands the spotlight.

Other times in the work, there’s a feeling that some dancers are in a laboratory being observed by scientists; elsewhere there are hints of chain reactions and questioning the properties of chemistry and physics. Some of the dancers occasionally expose a piece of skin beneath their costumes of white tank tops and tight bathing suit bottoms.

In the end, two dancers embrace as if about to waltz, and they’re turned by other dancers forming a circle around them.

Pretty powerful, that sun.

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