Foto: Marius Fiskum / Nordlysfestivalen

All Together Now: Unexpected premieres and cherished favorites blend in TITAS/Dance Unbound’s new season

For more than 40 years, TITAS/Dance Unbound has been bringing in dance companies that entertain, educate, and inspire Dallas audiences, and its 2024-25 season is no exception. With two Texas premieres, one world premiere, and a lineup that hails from Spain, New Zealand, and America, the nine-company season, titled “Unexpected,” is a sumptuous buffet of innovative dance.

Artistic director Charles Santos is doubling down on last year’s idea that nothing replaces live performance. “You need to be in the room to have that shared, visceral experience,” he explains. “That energy that happens … you can’t replace that with a TV or an iPad.” To further heighten that in-person electricity, three of this season’s performances will be backed by live music.

The season opener will even make a personal appearance, adding yet another layer of live excitement. Twyla Tharp’s longstanding relationship with TITAS and Santos means that she’ll be stopping by when her company performs on September 20, 2024, at the Winspear Opera House. To celebrate her 60th anniversary, Tharp is presenting a revival of her 1975 piece Ocean’s Motion, featuring music by rock-and-roll pioneer Chuck Berry, and two new works: Brel, an homage to the Belgian vocalist Jacques Brel, and The Ballet Master, which mingles composer Simeon ten Holt’s signature minimalist style in Bi-Ba-Bo with Vivaldi’s Baroque score.

There couldn’t be a more appropriate city in which to present Noche Flamenca’s Searching for Goya, given the Meadows Museum’s extensive collection of the Spanish painter’s works.

“All the sections are linked to a particular Goya painting, so we’re looking at how we can incorporate QR codes into the program so that the inspiration is fresh in your mind,” says Santos. One of his famous pre-show Santos Salons is also likely, hosted in collaboration with a curator at the SMU museum. The flamenco community in North Texas is big, Santos adds, and the addition of live music will make the October 4-5, 2024, performances at Moody Performance Hall even more thrilling.

Women, specifically indigenous women, are in the spotlight for Okareka’s Mana Wahine [Powerful Women] November 1-2, 2024, at Moody Performance Hall. The 70-minute, multi-media performance incorporates projections, chant, original music, traditional implements, historical motifs, and costuming that draws from Maori (the indigenous people of New Zealand) culture. The piece is inspired by the historic true story of a young Maori heroine, as well as by women’s stories from the dancers’ families, with choreographers Taane Mete, Taiaroa Royal, and Malia Johnston being guided by Maori elder Tui Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield. “It’s time to celebrate that part of global culture and I’m so happy to welcome them here,” says Santos. “I hope to reach out to our own indigenous community and do a traditional greeting outside the theater prior to the performances.”

On November 23, 2024, Mark Morris Dance Group returns to the Winspear with his new work The Look of Love, an homage to the late Burt Bacharach. Broadway star Marcy Harriell—known for Rent and In The Heights—will be backed by live musicians as she croons Bacharach’s iconic, chart-topping pop songs. Alonzo King LINES Ballet also returns December 13, 2024, to provide an ethereal work that Santos calls “a beautiful Nutcracker alternative” for the holiday season.

The New Year begins with three performances, January 24-25, 2025, of a world-premiere add-on from Ballet Hispánico. Originally a 20-minute piece, CARMEN.maquia is currently being extended into a full-evening experience that puts a contemporary, Picasso-inspired spin on Bizet’s beloved classic.

Hailed as “the discovery of the year” is the Texas debut of Whim W’Him, a Seattle-based company founded by former Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer and choreographer Olivier Wevers. “TITAS is always excited when we find a new company that is bursting onto the international touring scene,” says Santos. “This company will be a surprise hit of the season.” They perform one night only, April 11, 2025, at the Winspear Opera House.

“The Trocks,” as Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is affectionately known, bring their artistic hilarity to Moody Performance Hall May 2-3, 2025. Santos says this all-male troupe is “perhaps the most requested from our audiences,” thanks to their clever, fun-filled, and anything-but-serious approach to ballet.

The season closes at the Winspear on May 23, 2025, with Doug Varone and Dancers’ To My Arms / Restore. Set to a suite of exquisite arias by G. F. Handel, the two-part work embodies Varone’s fascination with the interplay between the deeply emotional and the immensely physical. Driven by the 21st-century sound Handel Remixed, arranged by the London Festival Voices and composer Nico Bentley, the score fuses Handel’s 18th-century choral score Dixit Dominus with global nightclub beats. In other words, the very definition of unexpected.