Bruce Wood Dance Company
Margie Gillis and Bruce Wood in I Came So Far for Beauty.
Photo by Mary Ann Fitipaldi
Bruce Wood Dance Company
Bass Performance Hall
Fort Worth, Texas
October 26, 1998
Reviewed by Margaret Putnam
Everybody knows that dance funding is in a bad way, but the news hasn’t reached Bruce Wood. Dreamer that he is, he’s started a new dance company–in Fort Worth, no less. Good for him, and good for us, who usually get dance of this caliber only when it flies into Dallas/Fort Worth Airport from the East and flies out three days later. (Except, of course, for Fort Worth Dallas Ballet.
The new company gave a smashing performance at our newest, ritziest hall, which is named for some billionaire Bass couple or other, I forget which. (We have lots of rich Basses, and downtown Fort Worth shows the evidence.) Only a year old, the Bruce Wood Dance Company is sleek, polished andpossessed of a first-rate repertory–so far, all by Wood. The style is a mixture of Lar Lubovitch fluidity (Wood danced with Lubovitch) and a tango-like, knifing sharpness and clarity. The dancers move like quicksilver. Two ensemble works, Rumors of a Big Wave and The Only Way Through is Through, unfold like mysterious, modern-day rituals. The first is set to an assortment of dramatic musical pieces, mostly wild and Irish, and is danced by men in long, flowing skirts and women in long dresses. They sweep onstage, sit regally on metal chairs, and make big, dramatic gestures with their arms. Alone, the women pound the floor in unison and later whip about the stage, stepping up onto chairs so that their skirts churn like crashing waves. The men return with staffs and move with the solemnity of druid priests.
The Only Way Through is Through, a premiere, is darker, bleaker and tightly fashioned. Accompanied by a highly charged Philip Glass piece (the funeral march from the opera Akhnaten) six dancers form lines that knot up and stretch out and break. A seventh dancer slinks around the stage in a leggy, ballerina walk. She’s the outsider, coolly indifferent to the rest. She eventually merges with the group, and another outsider takes her place.
Guest artist Margie Gillis performed a passionate, ecstatic solo, Torn Roots, Broken Branches, that looked particularly raw and impetuous in this context. In I Came So Far for Beauty, the closing work that expanded an earlier duet called Take This Waltz, she danced with Wood amid a corps of ballroom dancers. Here, her intensity and deliberately awkward gestures–legs splayed out with feet flexed in one memorable lift–broke through the atmosphere of studied grace and sophistication. The other dancers wore smart black-and-white evening dress; she and Wood wore fusty, old-fashioned garments. The two looked like time travelers straight out of Wuthering Heights, dancing with the sorrowful, tender harmony of twin souls. At the end, she bolts and runs. He stands alone, forlorn, hand to chest. Together they make a great pair, romantics to the core, brimming with feeling and fervor.