Cultural awareness through music, dance

DBDT Cultural Series
DBDT Cultural Series

Special to The Dallas Examiner

Internationally renowned choreographers, Bridget L. Moore and Katricia Eaglin, will premier their work during The Dallas Black Dance Theater’s annual Cultural Awareness Series. The series will be held Feb. 19 through 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora St. There will also be a Sunday matinee performance on Feb. 21 at 2:30 p.m.

Both choreographers grew up in Dallas. While Moore has choreographed a world premiere performance, Eaglin has choreographed a Dallas premiere for the dance series.

Moore is used to crisscrossing the globe enjoying the ability to work in the field of her passion – dance – between being a visiting professor at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, South Korea, creating a new dance work for Dayton Contemporary Dance Company in Dayton, Ohio, and choreographing a world premiere for DBDT.

Moore said that seeing the dance company inspired her in elementary school.

“Dallas Black Dance Theatre came to my elementary school once a week for a short period of time through an arts and education program. It was my first time ever moving in a dance class and I believe the exposure sparked my curiosity,” Moore explained.

Shee later auditioned for the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and was accepted in the music department as a pianist and eventually switched clusters to start training in dance. Bridget went on to earn a MFA from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts.

Moore has toured professionally with Ronald K. Brown’s EVIDENCE, A Dance Company, in New York City. She later returned to Dallas to teach at her alma mater Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. DBDT gave Moore her first opportunity to choreograph a dance.

Moore is a recipient of the Princess Grace Foundation Choreography Fellowship Award. She was nominated by DBDT Founder Ann Williams.

“I … received a choreography fellowship from the Princess Grace Foundation in 2012. It was an honor to be acknowledged with this prestigious award, but it was equally an honor to work with a critically acclaimed company such as Dallas Black Dance Theatre,” Moore said. “I set my first work on the company titled, ‘Southern Recollection: For Romare Bearden.’”

Bridget L. Moore created a world premiere titled “Unearthed” for DBDT. “Unearthed is a creative protest against violence and racism in America. The iconic song, Strange Fruit, is also a protest song against the inhumanity of racism,” Ms. Moore explained. “Abel Meeropol originally wrote it as a poem, after seeing a photograph of a lynching. The song first gained its notoriety through Billie Holiday.”

On Thursday evenings you will find Eaglin, an American Ballet Theatre certified instructor, at the DBDT Academy working with the 14 students in the Allegro ensemble. She is the director of the teen-performing group that gives about 10 performances a year in the community. The academy, the official school of DBDT, trains students from age 14 to 18 from Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Lake Dallas, Plano and Garland. The ensemble recently performed in Denver, Colorado, at the International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference.

Eaglin credited the company leadership with shaping her career.

She says it has been a dream that has come true to have a professional dance career at DBDT. She was a charter member of the second company, DBDT II, that was formed in 2000. She danced with DBDT’s first company from 2005 to 2015. During that time, she was assistant rehearsal director for five years and rehearsal director for the company last season. She has taught classes for DBDT Academy for 17 years. Eaglin said she first saw the DBDT while on a field trip with the West Dallas Community Center.

“It was my dream to be a part of the company since I was 14 and saw them perform at a dance festival,” Eaglin said. “At that time I did not know they were from Dallas.”

She stated that her mentor made her audition for the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and she was accepted. From there, she went to the University of North Texas and received a BFA in dance.

Eaglin’s work, “Testament,” will make its Dallas premiere during the Cultural Awareness series. “Testament” abstractly depicts five biblical themes, using a blend of modern and contemporary dance set to contemporary classical music.

“This work has allowed me to combine my two passions – faith and dance,” she said.

Eaglin earned a masters in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary while dancing with DBDT.

“During my last two years in seminary, DBDT founder Ms. Williams and Melissa Young, the DBDT Associate Artistic Director, helped me so I could go to class, tour with DBDT, and take tests online. God really worked,” Eaglin said.

Two other world premieres are included in the Cultural Awareness series. Former DBDT dancer and Southern Methodist University graduate Jamal Story choreographs “The Parts They Left Out,” a series of three gravity-defying aerial duets. Story trained as an aerial dancer during his current duties as dance captain for Cher’s “Living Proof: The Farewell Tour.” He also previously danced with Madonna.

Former Alvin Ailey dancer Kirven Douthit-Boyd choreographed Furtherance, a ballet based on overcoming a personal struggle that ends with a celebration of triumph, taking the audience on a journey from anguish to bliss. Douthit-Boyd sets the dance to a musical score of Japanese taiko drums with additional sounds and effects of Asian gongs and bells. Douthit-Boyd is the co-artistic director of Dance at the Center of Creative Arts in St. Louis, Missouri.

“Instinct 11.1” captures the essence and strength of Francesca Harper’s mother, Denise Jefferson, who was the director of The Ailey School from 1984 until her death in 2010. Harper said she felt her mother was born with a warrior spirit. She said she likes to see dancers moving with a sense of empowerment and ferocity. Through the complex layers, the dancers inhabit that power with a sense of community, even when there is a feeling of invasion at times.

After the curtain closes, audiences can stay and enjoy DBDT ALL ACCESS for a talkback with choreographers after the Friday performance and an On-stage Dance Celebration following the Saturday performance.

For more information about the performances, visit http://www.dbdt.com.

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