Stylistic diversity is a goal of the Dance Council of North Texas’ Dallas DanceFest, and it made a promising effort at the Friday and Saturday night performances — although there could be more.
There was pre-professional classical ballet, with Ballet Ensemble of Texas doing a competent “Friends Dance” from Coppelia; Chamberlain Performing Arts with a very pretty excerpt from Balanchine’s Serenade; and the Texas Ballet Theater School with a beautiful short ballet by TBT principal dancer Jiyan Dai called Classical Theme B, the dancers excelling at technique and drawing smiles with their watery arm movements.
The folklorico outfit Mosaic Dance Project did a high-energy Amores Jaliscienses, the women’s colorful skirts perfectly in sync and the entire company with spot-on, percussive foot work. Alabama’s Natyananda: Joy of Dance had dancer Smriti Krishnan in Adinaye Kanna, an Indian classical dance narrative solo. Both were outstanding.
On video, the Dallas Cowboys’ Rhythm & Blue, a hip-hop outfit, showed promise, but Will “WilldaBeast” Adams’ On to the Next One gave us none of the showy, complicated breakdancing moves that would have taken this pep-rally warm-up to the next level.
For modern, there was A.J. Garcia in Gina Lewis’ haunting Inevitable Displacement, with her laser focused on following a diagonal pathway of light across the stage; and Austin’s Amy Morrow’s whimsical, moving Carry On (an etude on effort), danced with two members of Oklahoma’s Bell House, with all three carrying backpacks and using an actual voicemail from Morrow’s grandmother, as well as a humorous bit with Siri. Houston Repertory Dance Ensemble’s Where Angels Dwell was pretty enough. LaQuet Sharnell Pringle’s What It Is What It Ain’t involved her own poetry, spoken by her, and a fantastic ensemble piece.
Exquisite contemporary dance came from Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, reprising Joshua Peugh’s contemplative White Day, with his unique vocabulary and a vision for asymmetrical patterns and couple and ensemble work. Equally exciting was Houston’s NobleMotion Dance with Andy Noble’s lightning-fast, kinetic A Motorcycle for Moses, with enviable precision and form from his six-member ensemble.
Noble was a standout, as his 9/Tenths of the Law was a thrillingly danced work for the large ensemble of Booker T. Washington HSPVA Repertory II, with many of the dancers shining on rubber-limbed solos. The high school’s Repertory I did a more conventional ballet piece, Jessica Lang’s lovely Solo in Nine Parts, displaying terrific young dancers. SMU’s Meadows Dance Ensemble used music from Nina Simone, Duke Ellington and others for Shauna Davis’ entertaining and nicely danced Pour Out the Contents.
Dallas Black Dance Theatre II stunned with Nycole Ray’s ritualistic Opaque, the men and women in floor-length black skirts and accompanied by the music of Max Richter. And the main DBDT company matched it with Garfield Lemonius’ mesmerizing Memoirs, also set to Richter.
Bruce Wood Dance Project presented Wood’s Requiem, the dancers in black athletic gear and skull caps doing highly skilled and evocative contemporary ballet, set to Mozart’s Requiem. There’s no other contemporary dance company in North Texas with this level of precision and vision.
The DanceFest highlight came from METdance of Houston. Kate Skarpetowska’s Consumed, beginning with an awesomely frenetic solo and then into a brilliant ensemble number, with the dancers in black business suits and white shirts, displaying quickly contorted body movements and jaw-dropping cohesion, was out-of-this-world thrilling.
The Fest closes Sunday with the Dance Council Honors, which will have performances by Dallas Black Dance Theatre, LaQuet Sharnell Pringle and Rhythmic Souls. Tanju and Pat Tuzer of Tuzer Ballet will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award.