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.
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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.
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