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Tips for the Undergrad: Dance Entrepreneur Joshua Peugh Brings His Company to America

Meadows alum and co-founder of Dark Circles Dance Company says "be curious, be open"

Dancer Jennifer Mabus and Artistic Director Joshua L. Peugh rehearsing Cosmic Sword. Photos are by Tania Jordan.

by Nick Rallo
SMU alumni Jennifer Mabus and Joshua Peugh rehearsing Cosmic Sword

It wasn’t Peugh's plan to end up in South Korea. Before graduating from SMU’s dance program in 2006, his plan was to be a professional ballet dancer. It was here at Meadows that Peugh morphed his curiosity into a passion for modern dance. That passion led him to Seoul, South Korea, where he co-founded Dark Circles Contemporary Dance Company.

The company was founded during late nights drinking coffee and chewing the fat about the world of dance, as a recent Culturemap piece points out. Since then, DCCD has produced 17 award-winning works in five countries.

“The kind of work I am interested in creating will hopefully connect with people on an instinctual level, one that’s Universal to all humans, regardless of the culture they come from,” says Peugh in a release.

Well, the piece he’s referring to is coming with him to the States for the first time. Straight from Seoul, Peugh’s Jigae (among a night of programming that also includes the audience favorite Cosmic Sword) is directly influenced by the six years he spent living in South Korea. It’s a “meditation on the coexistence of pleasure in pain, elegance in distress, and beauty in surrender.”

Dark Circles Contemporary Dance’s show opens Thursday, September 26 at the Hardy and Betty Sanders Theatre in the Fort Worth Community Arts Center (tickets are on sale now) and runs through Saturday, September 28. Before his show, we caught up with Peugh and talked advice for the undergraduate, being a freelancer, and heading out into the world:

What advice would you give freelance artists looking to build an idea into career?
I would encourage freelance artists to keep after it. Following your passion is not at all an easy path, but there are so many beautiful discoveries to be made along the way. Stay curious. Try to wonder about things. Keep your mind and heart open to things outside your understanding.

Was there a moment at Meadows that shaped your future post-college?
When I was preparing to audition for dance companies the spring of my senior year, all of the graduating dance majors met with the dance faculty one night for dinner. Professor Myra Woodruff encouraged us to say "yes" to every opportunity that presented itself in the professional world. Remembering that, I ended up having a rich career in South Korea. I ended up in fashion shows, in magazines, in commercials, and eventually with my own dance company. It's worth noting, that was not my plan (my plan was to be a professional ballet dancer in the United States), but I've learned that doors close when it's time and others open to push you to follow your own personal path.

If you had a soapbox in front of incoming freshmen, what advice would you give?
I would give incoming freshmen the same advice I give friends much further along their paths (and myself every day): be curious, be open.

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