Contemporary ballet

Dallas Contemporary Ballet changes name to Ballet Dallas

In 2000, there weren’t many avenues for dancers and choreographers in Dallas, but that same year Contemporary Ballet Dallas expanded the pool when it opened its doors. Today, after 18 years, one of Dallas’ oldest ballet companies is changing its brand and mission. Beginning with their season-closing performances on Thursday and Friday, the company will henceforth be known as Ballet Dallas.

The name change is an issue that, according to Valerie Tabor, co-founder of CBD and artistic director of Ballet Dallas, has been in the works for a year and a half. She says the move is partly a way to differentiate the professional ballet company formerly known as Contemporary Ballet Dallas from the dance school of the same name. Ballet Dallas will always be associated with the school and will remain the home of its professional company.

“People weren’t sure, quite frankly, whether they were coming to see the pro company or the youth ensemble,” Tabor says. As the popularity of the dance school grew, they also began to hold their own shows. “It’s a brand change and we’re trying to convey that [Ballet Dallas is] formerly CBD and the school obviously continues as CBD and we are still the professional company that houses Contemporary Ballet Dallas.

However, more than the name changes. Over the past two years, says Tabor, they’ve showcased the work of better-known choreographers, a notable departure from the company’s former focus on emerging choreographers when it opened in 2000. But the dance scene in Dallas has been radically changed over the past 18 years, thanks in part to Ballet Dallas’ former focus on local emerging artists. Founders of local troupes like Danielle Georgiou Dance Group and 8&1 Dance Company are just a few examples of artists who have already “emerged” from Dallas Ballet. Tabor sees change as a necessary and long-awaited development.

“[The change] started mostly with me and when I started talking with people in the company saying, “I don’t think I want to do this anymore,” Tabor says. “I don’t want to give up this idea that we are here for emerging choreographers, but I need something more. I want something more.”

“It was a big change that happened for everyone and it got everyone on the same page and moving in the right direction.” – Valerie Tabor

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The rest of the group agreed, heralding a new era for a group that has championed a broader appreciation of dance since its inception. The move to better-known names in choreography will be a breath of fresh air for a leaner troupe of 10 dancers and will also give Tabor some extra leeway, she says. Although she was one of the founders of the group, her responsibilities within the organization were greatly expanded following the departure of fellow founder Kelly Calhoun.

“Really, the whole reason Kelly started the business was so she could be a choreographer because there were no platforms to be a choreographer,” she says. .”

Tabor says that although she never expected to have such a hands-on role, she eventually discovered her passion and talent for choreography. She took the reins on the heels of Calhoun’s departure, becoming artistic director in 2009. However, she adds that she also later inherited Calhoun’s original vision for the company. This name change represents in part a shift towards Tabor’s aesthetic and artistic vision.

“It’s just a different animal because I was doing a bit of everything,” she says. “I’m 44, I’m married, I have two children, I’m a lawyer by day, I couldn’t do it anymore. Mom was tired and everyone could see I was tired and didn’t appreciate more really this mission that we had. It was a big change that happened for everyone and it put everyone on the same page and moved in the right direction.