100 Creatives: No. 10 Joshua Peugh, Choreographer to Watch

Joshua Peugh and Alex Karigan Farrior
Joshua Peugh and Alex Karigan Farrior
Sharen Bradford

Joshua Peugh's name is becoming familiar to those in the dance scene both here in Dallas and the wider world. With the amount of recognition he has received over the last year, it's safe to say that Peugh and his dance company, Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, are having a pretty good year so far.

Peugh, a graduate of Southern Methodist University's dance program, was recently named one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch" for in 2015 and was on every "Best of 2014" list in Dallas. Needless to say, Peugh has garnered quite the following and his company's recent show at the newly renovated Erma Lowe Hall at Texas Christian University had a sold-out weekend. So what's next for Peugh, aside from his teaching responsibilities at his alma mater? He will be choreographing Colossal at the Dallas Theater Center.

How did you first find your way into your craft? When I was about 3, my parents took me to The Nutcracker. Apparently, I was mesmerized, and they signed me up for classes at our local dance academy.

What has been your motivation to pursue the career you have chosen? Ever since I was a little boy, I have always wanted to put on a show. My parents constantly had to tell me, "No show today." I guess I'm motivated by the need to tell stories through movement. I've never been able to sit still, which is ultimately why I left the Universal Ballet Company [which is based in Seoul, South Korea] where I was dancing professionally, and founded Dark Circles. I wanted to tell more "undressed" human stories.

If you had to describe your aesthetic in five words or fewer, what would they be? Simple, pure, transparent. This is my mantra. I repeat it to myself constantly. If I had to add two more words, I'd add authentic and human. Movement is the most basic form of human communication. It is the perfect language to communicate with when words are unavailable or insufficient. It allowed me to communicate while I lived in South Korea and it has allowed Dark Circles to share stories with people all over the world.

What in your daily life inspires you? Everything! I get inspiration from the music playing at my favorite coffee shop, from street signs, from people watching. I get a lot of ideas from photography; I try to imagine what surrounds the moment that was captured.

What brought you to Dallas, and what is keeping you living, working and creating here? Southern Methodist University brought me to Dallas as an undergrad. Bruce Wood brought me back to Dallas as an adult. Dallas is an exciting place to be right now. There are quite a few of us both in Dallas and in Fort Worth making a real effort to build the local dance community and make the area a hub for new, innovative ideas as well as for artistic excellence. I think it's very important to push locally made and produced work.

What's one art trend you want to see die this year? There are plenty of trends (particularly in dance) that upset me, but I wonder if what I like would be as likable without the trash to balance it?

What is your biggest dream for the Dallas dance scene? That we would be able to pay artists a good enough salary to keep them in the area (or draw them to it); one large enough that they would be able to concentrate on their art as their primary source of income. Creating fantasies for people to get lost in is important work. People love people and people love stories. Creating these sorts of jobs shouldn't be as difficult as it seems to be.

If a mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life, what will you do with it? The first thing I'd do is pay my dancers the salary they deserve for their passionate, generous work. The second is continue to create more programming that reaches broader audiences both locally and internationally. I'd take the company back to Korea to show the dancers where its roots are and reconnect with our Korean branch. I'd keep creating and wondering about why we do what we do.

100 Creatives: 100. Theater Mastermind Matt Posey 99. Comedy Queen Amanda Austin 98. Deep Ellum Enterpriser Brandon Castillo 97. Humanitarian Artist Willie Baronet 96. Funny Man Paul Varghese 95. Painting Provocateur Art Peña 94. Magic Man Trigg Watson 93. Enigmatic Musician George Quartz 92. Artistic Luminary Joshua King 91. Inventive Director Rene Moreno 90. Color Mavens Marianne Newsom and Sunny Sliger 89. Literary Lion Thea Temple 88. Movie Maestro Eric Steele 87. Storytelling Dynamo Nicole Stewart 86. Collaborative Artist Ryder Richards 85. Party Planning Print maker Raymond Butler 84. Avant-gardist Publisher Javier Valadez 83. Movie Nerd James Wallace 82. Artistic Tastemakers Elissa & Erin Stafford 81. Pioneering Arts Advocates Mark Lowry & Michael Warner 80. Imaginative Director Jeremy Bartel 79. Behind-the-Scenes Teacher Rachel Hull 78. Kaleidoscopic Artist Taylor "Effin" Cleveland 77. Filmmaker & Environmentalist Michael Cain 76. Music Activist Salim Nourallah 75. Underground Entrepreneur Daniel Yanez 74. Original Talent Celia Eberle 73. Comic Artist Aaron Aryanpur 72. Classical Thespian Raphael Parry 71. Dance Captain Valerie Shelton Tabor 70. Underground Culture Mainstay Karen X. Minzer 69. Effervescent Gallerist Brandy Michele Adams 68. Birthday Party Enthusiast Paige Chenault 67. Community Architect Monica Diodati 66. Intrepid Publisher Will Evans 65. Writerly Wit Noa Gavin 64. Maverick Artist Roberto Munguia 63. Fresh Perspective Kelsey Leigh Ervi 62. Virtuosic Violinist Nathan Olson 61. Open Classical's Dynamic Duo Mark Landson & Patricia Yakesch 60. Rising Talent Michelle Rawlings 59. Adventurous Filmmaker Toby Halbrooks 58. Man of Mystery Edward Ruiz 57. Inquisitive Sculptor Val Curry 56. Offbeat Intellect Thomas Riccio 55. Doers and Makers Shannon Driscoll & Kayli House Cusick 54. Performance Pioneer Katherine Owens 53. Experimental Filmmaker and Video Artist Mike Morris 52. Flowering Fashioner Lucy Dang 51. Insightful Artist Stephen Lapthisophon 50. Dallas Arts District 49. Farmer's Market Localvore Sarah Perry 48. Technological Painter John Pomara 47. Progressive Playmakers Christopher Carlos & Tina Parker 46. Purposive Chef Chad Houser 45. Absorbing Artist Jeff Gibbons 44. Artistic Integrator Erica Felicella 43. Multi-talented Director Tre Garrett 42. Anachronistic Musician Matt Tolentino 41. Emerging Veteran Actor Van Quattro 40. Festival Orchestrator Anna Sophia van Zweden 39. Literary Framer Karen Weiner 38. Man Behind the Music Gavin Mulloy 37. The Godfather of Dallas Art Frank Campagna 36. Rising Star Adam A. Anderson 35. Artist Organizer Heyd Fontenot 34. Music Innovator Stefan Gonzalez 33. Triple Threat Giovanni Valderas 32. Cultural Connector Lauren Cross 31. Critical Artist Thor Johnson 30. Delicate Touch Margaret Meehan 29. Fashion Forward Charles Smith II 28. Dedicated Artist Carolyn Sortor 27. Political Cyber Banksy Wylie H Dallas 26. Dance Preserver Lisa Mesa Rogers 25. Rob 'Ain't No Creative Like A Bow-Tie-Wearing Creative' Shearer 24. Scholar of the Stage Susan Sargeant 23. Photographer of Record Justin Terveen 22. Music Man Jeffrey Liles 21. Keeper of the Safe Room Lauren Gray 20. Playwright Jonathan Norton, Man of Many Words 19. Filmmaker and Funniest Comic in Texas Linda Stogner 18. Gallerist Jordan Roth, the Art Scene Cheerleader 17. Artful Advocate Vicki Meek 16. Ballet Queen Katie Puder 15. Carlos Alejandro Guajardo-Molina, the Book Guy 14. Janeil Engelstad, an Artist with Purpose 13. Will Power, Playwright and Mentor 12. Gallerists Gina & Dustin Orlando, Boundary Pushers 11. Moody Fuqua, Music Community Organizer

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