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

Get to know the Dancer // Patrick Griggs


Get to know the dancers of DCCD, their inspirations, and where their training began. We would like to introduce Patrick Griggs!

1.   How long have you been dancing? Close to ten years now of serious dance. More than just the stuff you get when you’re little.

2.   Why did you start dancing? I started dancing because I enjoyed moving my body around. I liked making strange shapes and being on stage. Performing for others entertainment was something I discovered I enjoyed, so it made sense to me to get into dancing.

3.   Who or what is your biggest dancing inspiration? My biggest inspiration is any dance pioneer. I find that a lot of the pioneers of dance had a huge passion for the work they were doing and gave wholly and completely of themselves. That passion still comes through today and I hope that if I throw myself into the work I am doing that my passion will come through in the work that I do and inspire others.

4.   What is your proudest dance achievement so far? Completing my BFA in dance from the University of North Texas has been my proudest moment in dance. Getting a degree in dance requires so much work and sacrifice and it’s something that I have always wanted so it’s something that I’m very proud to have accomplished.

5.   Tell us about your hobbies outside of dance. I like to collect old vinyl records, I arm knit and crochet, I play video games and binge watch different TV shows. I like to travel to new places and explore new cities. I’m a big bibliophile too. I try to read a new book a week.

6.   Choose one word to describe your dancing. Undulated

7.   What is your favorite dance quote? "To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking.” –Agnes de Mille

Aimless Young Girl, Aimless Young World

Dancer and recent SMU alum Kelsey Rohr writes about the creation of Joshua L. Peugh’s Aimless Young Man


As we get ready to present our first free, interactive, behind-the-scenes program this Saturday called DCCD Undressed, I have never felt so naked—emotionally, of course. Besides the typical feelings of aimlessness associated with my recent alumnae status, I am also involved in the creation of Josh’s new work titled Aimless Young Man.

We are in the studio six days a week working. But, this work feels different from any other of Josh’s creation processes. This one has a very specific story where I am required to play more than just the role of dancer. Especially in Josh’s work, sharing a story through dance comes naturally, but when the story is about martyrdom in the 21st century I must dig a little bit deeper. So, from five to ten o'clock, I am not just a dancer but also a researcher, an investigator. On our breaks, and as a group, we excavate information, uncovering images and articles that might help us communicate this story.

We work with a heightened level of sensitivity because the material that we collect requires it. We record our emotional reactions to images of torn and battered bodies and try to rely those reactions through movement. Just last rehearsal, we watched a video of a mourning ritual where the mourners repeatedly beat on their chests. As we tried to copy their movement, we questioned: how does this make me feel? How can I communicate this feeling to the audience? And in most instances, the movement material that Josh creates for this piece makes me feel naked, undressed, and vulnerable.

And, as I take on this new journey in my life post-graduation, I remain open to these vulnerable experiences. I look forward to the Undressed performance where I can wonder around aimlessly some more exposing myself, the creation process, and the world around me but this time, in front of an audience.

DCCD Undressed | Saturday, May 23 | Preston Center Dance | 2PM

Aimless Young Man | World Premiere | October 9-11 | Erma Lowe Hall, Studio Theatre 

Backstory: Dancer Emily Bernet writes about the creation of Mike Esperanza's 'NUCLEUS'

As we approach the start of our second season in the US, the last couple of months have been both busy and exciting for Dark Circles Contemporary Dance. We are currently in the middle of a two-week residency with Mike Esperanza, New York based choreographer and artistic director of BARE dance company, and it has been a whirlwind of creation and exploration. 
Mike began the process with clear ideas and images that continue to develop as the piece progresses. Along with Mike’s unique movement, the piece will incorporate lighting and projections that reflect images of sunlight, the heart, and the cosmos. He moves quickly, following a constant stream of inspiration. As he creates he keeps us involved, following his every weight shift and direction change. The piece incorporates a range of dynamics, and Mike is helping us discover how to make the energy of the work build and fall like a wave, bringing the images together into one idea.
Mike encourages us to personalize the movement and keep it alive so that no two runs are exactly alike. Though we focus on clarity in both the movement and the message, he doesn’t want the work to become routine or robotic. I appreciate the trust Mike has for us as dancers, and I feel fresh and fully engaged in the work with every rehearsal.  
The images Mike has created are complex in organization and phrasing, creating dynamic relationships between each of us and exploring the motion of action and reaction. Like Chadi El-Koury’s work Words in Motion, which will be also be presented in our Fall Concert, Mike Esperanza’s choreography requires us to listen to each other as we dance. The piece relies on our connections, both physical and mental. While working with Mike, I feel that our trust in each other is growing. The height of the piece includes complex series of lifts and moments in which we are launched across the stage into another dancer’s arms. I see that we are slowly starting to take more risks, and Mike encourages us to keep taking these risks further every day. 
Mike’s residency has provided us with an opportunity to continue our artistic growth, and as always, has been a lot of fun. Mike’s creativity has challenged me to move in new ways and brought us closer as a company. I am extremely excited to premiere this new work in our Fall Series in September.

Fall Series will take place September 4-6 at the Hardy and Betty Sanders Theatre at 8:00 PM. Tickets are $12-20.

GET TICKETS: http://www.darkcirclescontemporarydance.com/