Bruce Wood Dance
Bruce Wood Dance began in 1994 and became an official non-profit organization in 2010. Its namesake and founding choreographer, Bruce Wood, created a body of new work, mentored professional dancers, and produced shows at the Dallas City Performance Hall. Wood’s favorite saying was, “It’s about the work.” His choreography draws from human nature, distilling the ups and downs, the loves and the losses of daily life into pieces that are at times dramatic and at other times comic, psychological to pedestrian. All the elements—dancers, movements, lights, music, costumes—work seamlessly. Wood’s productions seek to be transformative; they resonate with audiences and leave lasting memories. He was particular about the transition from studio to stage, and for BWD, Wood renewed his collaborations with renowned lighting designer Tony Tucci, costume designer John Ahrens, and production director Deborah Barr.
BWDP has received outstanding commendations and also was selected to be among the Top Dance Lists of 2012: #2 on The Dallas Morning News List and TheaterJones.com List; #1 on DFW.com; D Magazine’s Best of awards for 2013 and 2014.
Joy Bollinger is a resident choreographer and rehearsal director for BWD. Bollinger trained at the Fort Worth School of Ballet under Victoria Fedine and Paul Mejia. As a student, she performed in productions of The Nutcracker and Cinderella with The Fort Worth Ballet Company and studied with Suzanne Farrell for two consecutive summers at Cedar Island. She went on to earn a BFA in ballet at Texas Christian University and performed in pieces by Fernando Bujones, Li-Chou Cheng, and Elizabeth Gillaspy. She began to work with the Bruce Wood Dance Company in 2002 where she danced for four years. Bollinger also performed as a guest artist for Irving Ballet, Metropolitan Classical Ballet, and Madison Ballet. From 2007 to 2013, Bollinger co-directed the Arlington Heights High School Dance Department. In 2010, Bollinger performed for Wood’s lifetime achievement award ceremony and became a founding member of BWD. She has danced in over 30 of Wood’s works and debuted her first full-length dance on the company last year. Her piece, titled “Carved In Stone,” was named “the single best dance in 2016….deeply emotional and striking in its stillness” by Mark Lowry of the Star-Telegram. This year Bollinger set a new piece, “The Calling,” for TCU’s Spring Dance Concert. She continues to restage Wood’s work on the company and will design her second full-length dance for BWD this fall.
Albert Drake is a resident choreographer and BWD artistic associate. Originally from Houston, he earned a BFA in Dance Performance from Southern Methodist University Meadows School of the Arts. As a founding dancer of BWD, was featured in 20 of Bruce Wood®’s works, and he has restaged 6 works from Wood’s repertoire. He began his choreographic career with the company in 2015 with the creation of “Whispers,” a 25-minute work premiered by BWD at Dallas City Performance Hall. In 2016, the TACA Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund endowed BWD with an unprecedented $70,000 for a new commission choreographed by Drake with an original score by award-winning New York composer Joseph Thalken. The new work, premiering in June 2017, delves into the struggles, hopes, fears, and dreams of displaced peoples. As an artist-in-residence for Dance Council of North Texas’ Youth Dance Council, he created works for more than 70 middle and high school students from seven Dallas Independent School District for performances at the 2014, 2015, 2016 Dance Planet Festivals, and his teaching engagements within DISD are ongoing. Other teaching credits include Southern Methodist University Meadows School of the Arts Dance Division and Park Cities Studios. As a freelance performer, Drake has been a guest artist with Dallas Metropolitan Ballet, Chamberlain School of Performing Arts, Collin County Ballet Theatre, and Dallas Repertoire Ballet. He is also an original cast member of “Rules of the Game,” a collaboration with choreography by Jonah Bokaer, scenography by Daniel Arsham, and original music by Pharrell Williams. He continues to tour nationally and internationally with “Rules of the Game.”
Wood’s professional dance career spanned 35 years. He began his training at the Gayle Corkery School in Fort Worth. At age 16, he received a scholarship to a summer intensive in New York at the School of American Ballet under the direction of George Balanchine. Among the companies he went on to perform with are New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal, Twyla Tharp Dance Company, and Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. He toured the world 10 times with Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal. As a guest artist, he performed internationally with DV8 Physical Dance in London, Contemporary Dance Canada, and in Canada with Margie Gillis.
Wood returned to Texas, creating his first work in Austin in 1994. He then moved home to Fort Worth and founded the Bruce Wood Dance Company, where he was artistic director and sole choreographer from 1996 to 2007. BWDC presented annual seasons at Bass Hall in Fort Worth; was on the Texas Commission on the Arts Touring Roster; and went on three national tours. Wood created works to a vast range of music—from Bach, Beethoven, Ravel, and Gershwin, to Philip Glass, Lyle Lovett, and Grace Slick. Proud of his Texas heritage, he created Lovett!; Dust, Texas; and Cowboy Songs. The latter was a full-evening work set to live music by country/western singer Michael Martin Murphey. In 2004, Wood was commissioned to create a work in honor of the United States Army infantry. Follow Me premiered at the RiverCenter in Columbus, Georgia. Among Wood’s many commissions are Orlando Ballet; Dallas Black Dance Theatre; Texas Ballet Theater; SMU Meadows School of the Arts; and TITAS Command Performance.
Wood received numerous awards, including the 2010 Mary McLarry Bywaters Award for Lifetime Contribution to Dance from Dance Council North Texas. The Mary Award honored his extraordinary impact on the cultural life and growth of dance audiences in the greater North Texas region. Wood was honored by his high school alma mater, Richland High School, with induction into its inaugural Hall of Fame in April 2013. Wood was honored posthumously by the Senate of The State of Texas Proclamation No. 962 in June 2014.