SMU ballroom dancers shine in performance piece, ‘Eyes as Bright as Diamonds’

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What happens when you take a New York-based performing artist, a folk-rock artist, the musicians of the Dallas Symphony Orquestra, a drumline, color guard and ballroom dancers? You get Jen Ray’s latest performance piece, “Eyes as Bright as Diamonds.

On April 11, kicking off Soluna International Music & Arts Festival and this past weekend’s Dallas Art Fair, Ray gathered musician Sarah Jaffe to create a “punk-rock spectacular” in the foyer of the Meyerson Symphony Center. A “spectacular” it was, including a multimedia arrangement of music, dance, atmosphere and fashion.

Artist Ray and performer Jaffe have been preparing for this for quite some time, teasing the homemade costumes and the set on Instagram. Ray says her inspiration behind the piece stems from both the patriotic ballad, “The Yellow Rose of Texas” and the current political climate and social issues our country is experiencing. More specifically, it delves into the subject of feminism and the #metoo movement.

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Dillon Weir and Stejara Dinulescu of SMU Ballroom perform with artist Sarah Jaffe at the leg of "Eyes as Bright as Diamonds"

SMU got to make a mark on the performance, as the SMU Ballroom dancers were personally recruited by Ray to take part. During the final song “Waltz Across Texas,” SMU students appeared draped in bright, billowing ballgowns and pin-striped tuxes as they glided across the stage. A dramatic exit directly through the crowd made for an astonishing end to a performance that was a surge of all the senses.

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