Ballet Frontier of Texas keeps upping its game. In its season-opening performance on Saturday, Director’s Choice, three performances by Fort Worth’s rising ballet company were on par with the visiting companies.
That’s saying a lot considering that two of them were among the finest contemporary dance outfits in North Texas: DBDT: Encore! (formerly Dallas Black Dance Theatre II, the second company of that DBDT) and Dark Circles Contemporary Dance.
DBDT: Encore! restaged Richard A. Freeman-Carter’s Unsettled Thoughts, which premiered in Dallas in April. It’s visually arresting as a deep red piece of fabric runs across the stage, perpendicular to the floor, creating a short wall which a single dancer crawls in front of, writhing as hands from behind position her head. Then a couple, the male wrapped around another swath of fabric, slowly dance across the stage with gorgeous lifts and lines. Sometimes she becomes entangled, and then is freed. Then the cloths disappear and the company moves in fast unison. Music by Kronos Quartet, Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer lent a profound sadness.
Dancers Kirsten Reynolds and Aldrin Vendt of DanceTCU performed Caroline Morales’ Seeking Ground, using angular arms and robotic movements against a soundtrack of percussion and tick-tocking clocks.
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In Joshua L. Peugh’s Coyotes Tip-Toe for Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, Emily Bernet and Taylor Rodman are two creatures that frolic, love, fight and play, with Peugh’s trademark humor and use of disparate music, from Bach to carnival sounds to Etta James. The ending reminds why the work has this name.
The other three works were from Ballet Frontier. Jay Kim’s Remembrance uses 10 apprentice dancers smartly, in a triangular formation with military and ballet moves.
The late Roy Tobias’s Mozart K. 379 holds special significance for this company, which explains why Artistic Director Chung-Lin Tseng, who retired from dancing last season, danced the lead couple role with BF favorite Anastacia Snyder. They were flanked by four other couples, all in white (men with black cummerbunds and women in black chokers), with the best precision seen from this company.
Guest dancer Dan Westfield was a standout in that piece, but younger men Mason Anders, Kenta Taniguchi and Aldrin Vendt held their own.
Westfield and Carly Hammond were the stars of Chung-Lin Tseng’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, using 10 dancers and a subtle but still dramatic costume change for the lead women, from white to black. Technique and athleticism were strong and effortless.
The professional dancers Ballet Frontier has been grooming in recent season are growing in quality, a good sign for a company aspiring to be one of the leading ballet companies in North Texas.