Choreographer Kathy Dunn Hamrick invited the Dallas-based Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, a youthful troupe that has appeared at Hamrick's Austin Dance Festival, to share the program for her company's winter show. For the first half of the performance, Hamrick's company presented her new The Four (3) Seasons, danced to a recording of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons as recomposed by Max Richter. For the second half, the Dark Circles danced company director Joshua L. Peugh's The Rite of Spring, set to a recording of the Stravinsky, with its scratches amplified.
Maybe it’s November. Maybe it’s the election. Whatever it is that stirred up Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, it’s certainly wasn’t cake and ale.
Dark Circles Contemporary Dance once again doesn't shy away from commentary and comedy in their new program: The Great American Sh*t Show. Comprised of four pieces (in order "The Great American Sh*t Show", "For Allen", "Coyotes Tip-Toe", and "Gal Friday"), the evening's performances range from solemn to joyous, as Artistic Director and Choreographer Joshua L. Peugh and Guest Choreographers Jonathan Campbell & Austin Diaz ("For Allen") explore modern life, loss, and deceptively - love.
Artistic director Joshua L. Peugh's politically charged program was well-timed, particularly The Great American Sh*t Show, his interpretation of our culture's excesses. The dancers wore surgical gloves, groping their way through a garbage-strewn landscape. Earlier in the year, Peugh unveiled his gender-bending, darkly humorous version of The Rite of Spring, set at a 1950s prom.
Dallas choreographer Joshua L. Peugh says he rarely knows what his dance pieces mean or even what they're about until after an audience has seen them. Not this time.
One minute the five female dancers are motionless and the next they are a flurry of heavy-footed traveling steps, concaved shapes, hip undulations and subtle hand gestures which are emphasized by the musical nuances in Leroy Anderson’s “The Typewriter.” The dancers’ rigorous modern and balletic moves are layered with continuous shifts in speed, level and texture as well as moments of stillness punctuated with repetitive body ticks such as head tilts and pelvic thrusts.
Choreographer Joshua Peugh may have thoroughly wrecked his right knee two months ago — leaving his leg in a geared-and-strapped, black plastic rig. But that doesn’t mean Dark Circles isn’t in the last days of rehearsal for its new fall show next week. It does mean, though, that Peugh just has tweaks and reminders for them as he stands, gingerly, in front of the dancers.
The term "Gal Friday," slang for a female office secretary, originated in the '40s. But on Saturday Dark Circles Contemporary Dance (DCCD) will place it in an entirely new context. The company's artist director, Joshua L. Peugh has given that name to a collaboration with Girls Inc., a nonprofit that teaches leadership skills to young women. The dance performance will explore the American woman’s experience in the home and workplace.
It was at Dallas DanceFest in 2013 where I first spotted the work that Dallas native Jonathan Campbell had set on the students of Booker T. Washington. I went mad over Confetti & Razor Blades before knowing he was half of the two-man team known as MADBOOTS Dance (his collaboration with Austin Diaz), which I would later see at Jacob’s Pillow. It was also at the very same show that I first set eyes on Joshua L. Peugh’s work, Marshmallow, performed by his company, Dark Circles Contemporary Dance. I was so struck by his idiosyncratic style that I named him one of “25 to Watch” in Dance Magazine in 2015. I was filled with joy when I heard the MADBOOTS team was setting a new work on Dark Circles, which will be performed Nov. 18 & 20, 2016. Peugh happened upon MADBOOTS while he was still in Korea and kept track of them via social media. “The work Jonathan and Austin have created for us revolves around the poem, Tears written by Allen Ginsberg in 1956. It excavates humanity in a really beautiful way,” says Peugh. “Their work is a great match for our existing repertory and complements our dancers and mission.”
In 1913, Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring and Nijinsky’s choreography for Ballet Russes nearly caused a riot in Paris. The music, with its jarring experiments in meter, tonality and dissonance, along with themes of human sacrifices and pagan rituals, was a bit much for audiences.
More than a century later, hundreds of choreographers have created their own ballets to that music (for its centennial in 2013, there were dozens), and now you can add Joshua L. Peugh and his Dark Circles Contemporary Dance to that list.