Movers and shakers

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Denton-based Simple Sparrow Dance Company is a portal for emerging choreographers and a launchpad for modern dancers who go big on the stage, but without sacrificing the subtleties of movement. The company returns to “Collage 2013: Denton Dance Festival” on Friday and Saturday at the Campus Theatre.
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Independent dance gets its turn onstage

“Collage: Denton Dance Festival” is a local tradition by now.

Presented by host company Denton City Contemporary Ballet, “Collage” is precisely what its title says. In two evenings, emerging dancers share the stage with professional and semiprofessional performers. What’s meaningful about the 2013 fest this weekend is the return of a company alumna.

Lisa Racina-Torre, the artistic director of Denton City Contemporary Ballet and the founder of “Collage,” has taken advantage of the event to show her students from Denton Dance Conservatory where their hard work could take them. More rehearsals, charisma and commitment could pave a young dancer’s way to a spot in a company that tours or creates dance in North Texas.

Over the years, Racina-Torre has also clued local audiences into another significant finding: The region’s dance scene has grown. And that’s with neither the fanfare nor the media support afforded to indie music in North Texas.

The regional dance scene has refused to be cowed by the economic downturn, which has shuttered a number of performing arts nonprofits. Denton in particular has enjoyed a number of successful upstarts — Big Rig Dance Collective and CholoRock Dance Theatre chief among them, with GreenSpace Dance still chugging along with plenty of creative ingenuity.

“Collage” is also a good time. It’s an evening to spend in the presence of people who can’t help but move when the time comes to express the silly, the soulful and the sensuous.

This weekend, “Collage” brings Denton City Contemporary Ballet back to the local stage, where the dancers will speak a peculiar and provocative language that has both ballet’s regal bearing and modern dance’s unsinkable joy.

Simple Sparrow Dance Company returns to the festival, bringing its blend of classically trained dancers and postmodern moves and ideas. The small but plucky company promotes new work by Dallas-Fort Worth dancers and choreographers, so freshness is a part of this group’s bag of tricks.

Also on the program: imPULSE Dance Project from Fort Worth. The small, young dance company takes modern dance out of the hall and plunges it into the the everyday environment. The company just performed at the Out of the Loop Festival at the Water Tower Theatre in Addison.

Company member Rachel Cummings is an alumna of Denton Dance Conservatory and a former member of DancExpress, which is now Denton City Contemporary Ballet. Cummings, who has acted as the assistant artistic director of the contemporary ballet, earned her bachelor’s degree in dance from Texas Christian University.

FireWalk Dance is the brainchild of North Texas choreographer and dreamer Leslie Graves. The company is anything but fussy. Graves’ mission seems to be bottling joy in buoyant bodies, then letting them play and fly when the music starts or the mood strikes.

Denton City Contemporary Ballet will perform new and developing choreography — expect jazz, modern and ballet. GreenSpace Dance, a frequent stage partner with the contemporary ballet, will show off some of its latest work.



“Collage 2013: Denton Dance Festival” includes two guest artists: Russian ballerina Yulia Ilina and pianist Kostyantyn Travinskyy.

The award-winning Ukrainian pianist moved to Denton in 2003 after accepting an invitation to study with University of North Texas College of Music piano faculty member Vladimir Viardo. Travinskyy earned his master’s degree in 2010 and is now pursuing a doctorate in piano performance. Travinskyy is a Toulouse Graduate School scholarship recipient as well as College of Music and Viardo Fellowship Foundation scholarship recipient.

In addition to his competition accomplishments, the artist made his Chicago debut in the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, which was broadcast live on the city’s classical radio station, WFMT. His orchestral performances include appearances with the Domenico Cimarosa Symphony Orchestra in Italy, the National Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, the UNT Symphony Orchestra and the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra.


What: Denton City Contemporary Ballet’s annual dance festival, with FireWalk Dance, GreenSpace Dance, Simple Sparrow Dance Company and imPULSE Dance Project

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Where: Campus Theatre, 214 W. Hickory St.

Details: Tickets cost $17 for adults, $13 for students and seniors. For reservations, call 940-382-1915 or visit .


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