While the biggest dance sensation of the year was, by far, Bristol Palin flaunting her limited dance expertise on the set of ABC’s Dancing With The Stars, followed closely by the young talents on the hit FOX series So You Think You Can Dance, the popularity of these hit shows has been reflected in local auditoriums. It was wonderful to see the packed house at the newly minted AT&T Performing Arts Center when Texas Ballet Theater performed The Sleeping Beauty and at the Dallas Black Dance Theater’s Dance Africa Festival with Baba Chuck Davis.
Many of the year’s dance highlights can be attributed to TITAS, which, for 28 years, has brought the best of dance to our city. In 2010 TITAS showcased Mark Morris, Hubbard Street, MOMIX, Dominic Walsh, and the ever popular “Command Performance,” featuring international ballet stars. Unfortunately, one trend through the year was the sense that our local contemporary dance companies continue to tread water, while two new ballet companies, Texas Dance Theater and Ballet Frontier, eked out a couple of decent performances at the rather drab Scott Theater in Fort Worth.
Looking back, 2010 was a great year for dance in North Texas. Here are my top five performances:
5. Muscle Memory Dance Theater, “Stranger Than Fiction: A Series of Rocks and Feathers” April 30, 2010
The empowering spirit of this all-female company dominated this performance at the tiny little Hub Theater in Deep Elum, which, alas, has since closed. The performance was laced with experimental and absurd content with a strong group dynamic, rather than individual prowess — a welcome change to the constant stream of solos usually associated with modern dance theater. What M2DT does, it does together.
4. MOMIX, “Botanical” September 10, 2010
A spectacular, evening-long feast for the eyes. Choreographer Moses Pendleton’s extensive use of large props and technical production elements did not overshadow the dancers’ ability to soar effortlessly under their own power. Images from this will remain etched in my mind forever.
3. Dallas Black Dance Theater, “Winter Series” December 8, 2010
These magnificent physical beings manage to turn every moment onstage into a testament for living. DBDT may not be cutting-edge modern dance, but it’s exactly the right combination of entertainment, choreographic variety, and full-throttle dancing to build audiences and make people happy.
2. Dominic Walsh Dance Theater, “Mixed Rep” March 17, 2010
Fans of ballet and modern dance were treated to a wonderful mélange of these two dance forms, as Houston-based choreographer and dancer Dominic Walsh presented his innovative works at the Winspear back in March. I do hope TITAS brings this gem of a company back to Dallas-Fort Worth in the near future.
1. Texas Ballet Theater, Romeo and Juliet March 13, 2010
Doomed lovers, garish harlots, townspeople, and sword fighting: all came together in an exciting theatrical performance of Shakespearean dance drama by the Texas Ballet Theater. Brilliant storytelling, finely trained dancers, and polished ensemble sections made this performance my No. 1 pick of 2010.
Main photo: MOMIX