Performing Arts

Review: Dallas Black Dance Theatre

The Dallas Black Dance Theatre refused to acknowledge any barriers in its performance Dancing Beyond Borders at the Scott Theatre on Thursday, and the result was an evening of dance that artfully tested the limits of the dancers and the space.

The concert actually offered two companies, DBDT and its auxiliary troupe, Dallas Black Dance Theatre II, a group of aspiring dancers within the company who are described as “volunteer artists from around the nation.”

While the regular, full-time pros of DBDT might have been just a bit sharper overall, DBDT II certainly held its own, offering two of the most entertaining pieces of the evening. The Art of Waiting, with its soundtrack of Latin American tunes, was the piece that most directly reflected the performance’s theme. The choreography by Nicholas Villeneuve, which included clever little touches such as a moonwalklike move that made the dancers look like a flowing river, was innovative and graced with a winning sense of humor. Its spirited finish, accompanied with a number by the guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela (all the music was recorded), was especially exciting.

Opaque, which opened the second half of the performance, offered the DBDT II dancers (male and female) in flowing black skirts, which were ultimately used as valuable props. The costumes sometimes augmented the dancers’ flowing movements, and other times were used to hold them back from a goal in this multipart work choreographed by Nycole Ray. Particularly dazzling was a flying spin where one dancer hurled another around at blurring speed, using the skirt as a handle. Like nearly all the pieces, this one used every inch of the Scott stage in a most creative fashion.

The main troupe was featured in three works that all glowed with professionalism and obvious preparation (even though two of them were world premieres). The most elaborate of the three was probably Testament, a set of five dances based on events and people in the Bible, with choreography by Katricia Eaglin. All the segments had their moments in this work from 2014. But Jacob Wrestling God, which featured Claude Alexander III and Keon K. Nickie, was one of the standouts.

The performance concluded with one of the premieres, Furtherance, which was something of a mixed bag. One segment was marred by the piercing drone of the accompaniment, but the choreography by Kirven Douthit-Boyd was nicely varied, and the work ended with some highly energetic moves performed over a driving beat that did not hurt your ears. Like the other two works performed by the main company, it was also extremely physically demanding.

Some of the dances in the various pieces worked better than others, but all had some compelling component or interesting twist. DBDT has been a pretty regular visitor to this side of the Metroplex for several years now, and this concert was further evidence of why it is always so welcome.

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