As legacy is inherent in the dance world,
it is fitting that Joy Bollinger has assumed the role of artistic director of Bruce Wood Dance.
Bollinger, a long-time company member, succeeds Kimi Nikaidoh, who took its helm following founder Bruce Wood’s untimely death in 2014. Nikaidoh’s new role is as artistic advisor.
The company stays true to Wood’s original choreography as much as possible. It is one in which Bollinger is well versed.
As a former company dancer, she has performed in over 50 of Wood’s works. Prior to becoming artistic director, she oversaw the restaging of his bold repertoire.
One of the challenges, she realized, was that Wood often shifted the work during rehearsal based upon his dancers.
In working through this, she realized, “Simple is better. Usually we can strip something down closer to what he would have wanted.”
The company will follow this compass as it moves forward. “Whoever restages the work has performed it and ideally was in a cast with Bruce,” Bollinger explains.
In assembling his company, Wood looked beyond the stereotypical ideal of a dancer. “Bruce loved older dancers and those of different shapes and sizes,” Bollinger says.
It is a tradition that continues among the roughly dozen company members. The current season welcomed four new dancers as well as one new apprentice.
Eric Coudron, another former company member, succeeded Bollinger as the rehearsal director. Bruce Wood Dance is clearly in good hands.
They received widespread acclaim at the prestigious Jacob’s Pillow dance festival last summer.
As part of their current season, they will perform at the SOLUNA International Music & Arts Festival. Plans are also afoot to commission new work in the coming year.
And Bollinger, who has already choreographed several new works for the company, plans to create another one for the spring season.
Through all this, Bollinger says, “The mission is still exactly the same. We want to keep our hands on Bruce’s work.
There is a timeless character to his choreography that doesn’t date itself.
Bruce was true to himself, the human and humane. It will always work because it was genuine.”
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