Beautiful Knuckleheads Opens Season for Dark Circles Contemporary Dance

Dark Circles Contemporary Dance has already scheduled an additional performance this weekend. Saturday night sold out quickly. The season premiere of one of Dallas' top emerging companies expects full houses at the Sanders Theatre in Fort Worth.

Originally founded in Seoul, South Korea in 2010, DCCD moved state-side in 2013, when choreographer/artistic director Joshua Peugh moved back to the city that helped launch his pursuit of an artistic career, Dallas. Ready to give back to the community that helped shape him, and quickly welcomed him back with typical Texan hospitality, Peugh debuted his company to critical reviews. Now, DCCD lands at the top of people's "to watch/don't miss this" lists. That's where we find them again, with the latest offering, Beautiful Knuckleheads.

But where did this title come from? What does it mean, and why did Peugh name not only his piece this, but the entire show? Well, it all started with the music.

"We begin almost every rehearsal with a guided improvisation," Peugh says. "One day, I used Hall & Oates for our improvisation and it gives me pleasure. I get a strong sense of nostalgia and it makes me want to move. It's playful and lends itself well to fantasy."

It is also really accessible. Don't deny that you haven't called up the Hall & Oates Hotline at least once in your life. If you haven't, do it now: 719-26-OATES (Note: That's NOT a toll-free number. But I warned you). That familiarity was part of the draw for Peugh. "One of our missions as a company to demonstrate how universal dance is as a language, as a way to communicate."

He practices that communication process with his dancers; finding an organic way to move is at the basis of his choreographic process. "If I find a movement that feels interesting or nice to me, I start with that and build from it, allowing the choreography to emerge organically," he says. "My dancers and their curiosity are a huge part of my creative process."

It's in that melding of ideas that the butting of heads can occur, as well as those awkward moments of figuring out to relate to another person, and then how translate that into something understandable. Yet, it's from that liminal state that something beautiful can emerge, for in times of collaboration, every artist becomes a "beautiful knucklehead" just trying to negotiate the landscape of creating with others, and with their season opener, Peugh has invited two guest choreographers to place their movement vocabulary on his dancers.

Mike Esperanza, a New York-based choreographer and Director of BARE Dance Company, and emerging choreographer Chadi El-Khoury, who just presented a duet at the Dallas DanceFest, will both premiere works this weekend, and each is so very different in mood and in movement that the dancers are being pushed their creative and performative limits.

"Chadi's work is very deliberate and controlled, and it's infused with yoga poses and the accompanying sensibility," says Peugh, while on the other hand, "Mike's work is more abstract and manipulates light and sound to create the atmosphere. His choreography is intriguing and sensual."

Then there is Peugh's own work, which much like his past offerings, has a unique sense of humor. "It's full of foolishness, and hopefully, the audience can find themselves in the story and be reminded of the beautiful humanity in the silliness of the things we all do in life."

While the works sounds disparate on paper, they have the opportunity to balance each other out and offer the audience three specialized takes on contemporary dance. If you are a visual person, then El-Khoury's work might resonate with you. If you are attracted to music, then Peugh's might take you back to a simpler time. If you prefer watching the body move in and out of space and time, then Esperanza might be your man. Yet, if you like all three, then each of these choreographers are ready to please.

Beautiful Knuckleheads opens at 8 p.m. Thursday, September 4, with shows at 8 p.m. Friday, September 5 and Saturday, September 6, and special matinee performance at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Hardy and Betty Sanders Theatre, 1300 Gendy Street, Fort Worth. $20; $12 student rush tickets will be available at the door beginning one hour before each performance.

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Danielle Georgiou