Pegasus Contemporary Ballet founder believes Dallas is ready for such a company
JENNY BLOCK | Dallas Voice
Diana Crowder left home in Riverside, Conn., at just 14 years old to attend Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto. She was accepted to study there at the beginning of her 9th grade year. After graduating from NBS, she began her professional dance career at 19 — and never looked back.
Now Crowder is founding a contemporary ballet company all her own in Dallas called Pegasus Contemporary Ballet.
“We use the classical technique of ballet as a tool for creativity, inspiration and progress. We foster work from the multitude of voices that are creating in this space, and we present innovative performances and artistic collaborations to engage and inspire today’s audiences,” Crowder explained.
Like many little girls, Crowder said, she was enrolled in dance classes at age 3, and “I never wanted to stop.
My mom recalls that upon seeing my first Nutcracker, I clearly stated, ‘I want to do that.’”
No matter what other activities were presented to her, she always wanted to get back to the dance studio, and “by 11, I knew I wanted to pursue it seriously and professionally. After 10 years of performing professionally, I retired in June of 2021 to start Pegasus Contemporary Ballet.”
Crowder said she doesn’t really know a time when dance wasn’t her passion. There are other facets to her life, of course, but dance has always been a part of her.
“As a kid, I can remember always wanting to do more, learn more, get stronger, be on stage. I dreamed of dancing in a professional company. I fell in love with the way you never stop learning, analyzing and perfecting and how fulfilling it is to share that work with an audience,” she said.
Crowder said there are endless ways in which she is inspired by dance, starting with the fact that “Dance is a physical expression of wordless communication in the human form. Everyone has a body, so there is something very universal about dance yet also very unique because it takes so much physical training and practice.
“The juxtaposition of this universality and very unique skill set, combined with the capacity to express ideas, emotions and music through the body without words inspires me a lot.”
While she is classically trained, Crowder said she was fortunate to perform a wide range of styles throughout her professional career. She said she’s grateful and honored to have experienced such a variety of choreographers and coaches in those multiple styles of ballet and contemporary dance and with teachers and choreographers from around the world.
“One of the things that I love about contemporary ballet is that it allows us to use the foundation of classical ballet to express contemporary perspectives,” she noted.
Prior to attending NBS, Crowder began her training at the Ballet School of Stamford, in Stamford, Conn. After graduating from NBS, she began her professional career in the Tulsa Ballet second company prior to being offered a company position at Texas Ballet Theater where she danced for five seasons. During her time with Tulsa Ballet and Texas Ballet Theater, she performed in large scale classical productions including Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella.
In 2017, Crowder left Texas Ballet Theater to pursue a full-time freelance career in Dallas. “I will always have a spot in my heart for classical ballet,” she acknowledged. “But when I started freelancing, I found so much freedom in creating new works with a more intimate group of artists. I had the opportunity to dance with several companies and projects throughout the Dallas area as well as ARC Dance in Seattle and Dances Patrelle in New York.”
Freelancing, Crowder said, re-invigorated her love for the art of dance. “I became really passionate about using my classical ballet training as a creative, inspiring, and progressive tool for expression,” she said.
Because she found that she loved doing the work of producing, facilitating and coaching dance, as well as being passionate about dance from the perspective of being a dancer, Crowder started to become more and more interested in arts management.
“I was running social media accounts, organizing marketing events and helped produce projects throughout the pandemic,” she said. “As the pandemic went on, and we were left with few performance opportunities, my love for being behind the scenes facilitating the artform grew even more.”
That’s when her vision for a thriving contemporary ballet company in Dallas started to take off.
“There was no dance company in Dallas solely dedicated to the genre of contemporary ballet, but we see fantastic companies thriving in this space in other cities,” she said. “When such companies tour through Dallas, audiences love the work. I believe Dallas is ready for its own homegrown contemporary ballet company.”
Crowder said she wants to make a place in Dallas for the multitude of brilliant dancers and choreographers in this quickly growing field to thrive. “I am passionate about presenting ballet in a way that inspires today’s audiences, and I want to foster that in our city,” she said.
Crowder said she also believes that dance has the ability to create revealing experiences: “Through movement we can explore relationships — our relationship to a group, to an individual, to music. Dance can shed light on new perspectives, and it can tell resonant stories.”
Of course, she added, dance can be purely entertaining as well. “It can be the pure pleasure of experiencing something beautiful, or fun, or quirky in a new and different way,” she said. “Dance can be serious and purposeful, and it can also simply take our breath away or make us smile. One could argue that we need both of these things in our lives right now.”
See the company perform the weekend of Nov. 19-21 at Arts Mission Oak Cliff. Tickets are available at www.pegasusballet.org.
For more information visit PegasusBallet.org.