Our women reflect on their time at Girls Inc.

Joshua L. Peugh and the dancers of Dark Circles Contemporary Dance have spent the last three weeks working on a very special project. They have collaborated with the young women of Girls, Inc. to create a new choreographic work. The project will culminate in a public performance of a brand new choreographic work titled Gal Friday at NorthPark Center's NorthCourt this Saturday, August 6 at 3 PM. The event is FREE and open to the public. The project has inspired new art by Peugh and nurtures creativity and passion for the arts in the young women of Girls, Inc. by affording them direct involvement with the creative process and access to professional artists.

Here, our dancers have taken a few minutes to reflect on their experience with the strong, smart, and bold young women of Girls Inc. 


Dancing with the girls at Girls Inc. was a blast. The girls are so creative and full of energy; each unafraid to let their unique personality shine. Beyond the fun dance moves we shared, these girls inspired me with wisdom and confidence beyond their age. Many of them shared that one of their favorite things about being a girl is the opportunity to prove that girls can do anything. It is easy to see gender inequality as a negative part of being a woman, but they see it as an exciting challenge.

We played a lot of movement generation games with the girls to not only share with them our love of dance, but bring them into the creative process we use in DCCD rehearsals, and in our last class with the girls, we showed them rehearsal videos of our progress on Gal Friday. Watching the girls watch Gal Friday was so much fun. They were so excited to see some of the steps they had created in the piece. Many unique voices have contributed to the creation of Gal Friday, and I think that makes it an incredibly special piece. I am very excited to share it!


This creation process has been a unique and especially exciting one because of our opportunity to work with the vibrant young girls of Girls, Inc. We knew very little of what to expect on the first day; would the girls be receptive and curious, or would we need to push very hard for that cooperation and openness? As the two hours of dancing passed, the girls grew comfortable with us, and we began to see lights of creativity shine through. During our two hours together, I saw each and every one of them (a few with a bit more coercion than others) burst with self confidence. I was reminded that dance can do so much more for young girls than just keep them busy or start a career. Dancing fills youth with joy and a positive sense of self. I realize now that there's nothing better I could have done growing up, and sharing the gift of dance with girls who otherwise wouldn't have had the opportunity is beautiful beyond measure.


The experience at Girls Inc. was fulfilling and gratifying. It reaffirmed my belief that dance is an extraordinary medium which connects, inspires, and transforms people of all ages. In the short two-hour visits that we had with the girls, I witnessed the power that movement had in bringing individual personalities and creative voices forward. You cannot hide when you move your body; you’re exposed and vulnerable to judgment and criticism. What was so rewarding about the time with the girls was watching each young artist’s confidence and support for one another grow as we moved together. They were encouraged to contribute individually to the whole, and as a result, felt important and valued—especially when they could reflect on the process and their contributions that made it possible to choreograph a short dance phrase. Thanks to the creative, collaborative effort of the girls, DCCD built multiple phrases and worked them into the company rehearsals of Gal Friday.

The most moving moment for me was the last day at Girls Inc. when we showed them footage of the company rehearsals and their faces lit up—eyes widened—jaws dropped—when they recognized “their move” a company dancer performed. Girls Inc.’s ultimate goal is “to empower girls to become strong, smart and bold women who positively contribute to our communities and who understand, value and assert their rights.” Our time with the girls did just that, and through dance—through moving and sharing our unique characters in a supportive, positive environment—I am hopeful that these girls will carry forward a newfound creative conviction that will embolden them to discover new potentials as young women.

Queen Girls?

Dancer Kelsey Rohr reflects on Joshua L. Peugh’s new The Rite of Spring premiering this Friday in Dallas.

So, I just cut my hair. Short. Like really short. As in I-feel-like-I-need-to-wear-pink-because-I-look-like-a-boy short. And, honestly, I really love the concept of it: low maintenance, quick drying, inexpensive. But, in reality, I’m still getting used to it. It took a great leap of feminine faith for me to chop it off and only twenty three years of existence to feel comfortable enough to go through with it. Any sooner and my high school years would have been spent a little differently. After all, this tomboy trim would have been what Regina George could compare to joining the “Mathletes” in high school—“social suicide.”

Lately, we’ve been quoting Mean Girls a little too much in rehearsal. I think being asked to channel our inner high schooler in Joshua L. Peugh’s new The Rite of Spring brings out the “She doesn’t even go here!” references in all of us. With the iconic (and overwhelmingly complex) Stravinsky score, The Rite of Spring celebrates a rebirth of seasons. The narrative features one “Chosen One” who is plucked from the group as a sacrifice to the gods of spring. Characteristically blooming with the ideas of virginity and lust, the piece has multiple versions made by many different choreographers. For the March 4th Dallas premiere and the April 29-May 1st Fort Worth runs, Josh chose to tackle a new version of The Rite of Spring, selecting a setting that definitely suits the birds and the bees of springtime. It is one where you can hear the hormones buzzing from a football field away: a 1950’s prom night.

As I dancer, I am asked to recollect my teenage years. I remember sharing code names for crushes with my best friends, sitting in segregated social circles that presented themselves in the cafeteria lunch tables, and feeling way too desperate as I waited for anyone with male parts to ask me to prom. Josh has a unique way of physicalizing all these memories. Within the first chords of the music, we separate into cliques. Boys versus Girls. “You can’t sit with us!” Instantly, I am back in high school searching for a date. As we pair up, I am pulled, whipped, and slung across the room. The men’s manipulation over the women is apparent yet there is still an angsty, sexual energy that causes the women to run back and attach themselves to their date once again.

Even with all of this, the real question driving the dance is: “Who will be prom queen?” Here, this 1950’s version has a modern twist. With one woman dressed as a man and one man dressed as a woman, Josh dances with society’s current fascination with drag and the transgender movement. The connection is subtle at first but a gradual shift in partnering and gender pairing creates tension that leads to a solo and eventually a “social suicide.” A combustion of dance and sounds closes the ballet, crowning the title of “prom queen” with a completely new meaning.

With the premiere less than a week away, I am still learning and understanding what this new meaning entails and how it relates to my character in the work. But, suddenly, I am finding that my new hairdo feels a lot more relevant. To me, it has become a small-scale test of my own gender identity that has allowed me to reconnect with all my petty high school insecurities. Suddenly, I am the new girl, Cady, from Mean Girls: trying to fit in with a clique, only wearing pink on Wednesdays, and secretly hoping to be crowned high school prom queen.

GET TICKETS TODAY: http://www.darkcirclescontemporarydance.com/upcoming.html

Meet Sarah Elizabeth Stockman


1.   How long have you been dancing?   22 years.

2.   Why did you start dancing?   I was three and do not remember why; probably the same reason so many other little girls want to dance.

3.   Who or what is your biggest inspiration?   Music and people; both are limitless in numbers and qualities. In music, I can discover and appreciate the different layers of instruments and rhythms, and in people, the complex layers built from each person’s unique history.

4.   What is your proudest achievement so far?   Being able to survive and thrive through my three winters in Chicago! (It really is cold)

5.   Tell us about your hobbies.   I love: being in nature, hiking, and backpacking; reading, currently on Reclaiming Conversation by sociologist Sherry Turkle, which discusses the effects of electronic communication on conversation; movies, new and old but never horror; trying to keep my plants alive, although barely surviving my black thumb; cooking, finding a recipe and completely changing it.

6.   Choose one word to describe you.   Curious.

7.   What is your favorite quote?

“Every atom you possess has almost certainly passed through several stars and been part of millions of organisms on its way to becoming you.”
From Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything

Photo by Brian Guilliaux