Choreography Professor at UH Moved by Recent Dance Award

Karen Stokes recognized by peers, receives Buffy Award for Houston tribute, “Hometown”

When Karen Stokes premiered her energetic ode to Houston, “Hometown,” dance critics and audiences cheered. Two years later, the applause continues.

Recently, Stokes, director of the University of Houston’s Center for Choreography and head of UH’s dance program, was honored for this unique dance piece that explores the city’s past and present. At Houston’s 2008 Big Range Dance Festival, she was named a Buffy Award recipient for Best Choreographer in the Evening-Length Concert category.

Since 2003, the Buffy Awards have celebrated the local dance community, and this year, recipients were selected by a panel of six Houston dance professionals.

“I am very honored to receive this award and thank the panel for their hard work in the review process,” Stokes said. “I also would like to acknowledge all of the nominees and choreographers in Houston. There are many notable dance talents in our city that deserve recognition. Thanks to all my colleagues who are envisioning, creating and producing dance.”

Performed by Travesty Dance Group-Houston, which Stokes co-founded, “Hometown” is a two-act contemporary dance show that includes a cappella singing, text and choreography. Featuring 12 performers, the show focuses on various elements that define the city of Houston. Act 1 is titled “Range, Bayou, & Weather,” and Act 2 is titled “Ranch, Traffic and Space.” The original vocal score for “Hometown” was composed by Stokes with poetry and text as lyrics.

Stokes has led the dance program at the UH School of Theatre & Dance since 1998. The school offers the city’s only degrees in dance studies. Students can earn a bachelor of arts in dance, or a bachelor’s degree in dance with secondary teacher certification.

In 2000, Stokes founded the university’s Center for Choreography, which trains aspiring choreographers through discipline-specific curriculum and brings established talents to campus to serve as visiting lecturers. Among the nationally noted choreographers who have contributed their energies to the center are Karole Armitage, Nicholas Leichter, Mary Herzog and Kirk Andrews.

In addition to Stokes, UH adjunct dance professor Jhon Stronks received Buffy Awards. For the piece “A View from the Edge,” Stronks earned the award for Best Choreographer in the Under 15 Minutes category. Stronks also received a Buffy for Best Choreographer in the 15 – 40 minutes category for “Ok, I’m here. Now what?” UH guest artist and Suchu Dance co-director Jennifer Wood also received a Buffy for Best Choreographer in the Evening-Length Concert category.

The Buffy Awards were the brainchild of Louie Saletan, managing director of Barnevelder Movement/Arts Complex, to acknowledge contemporary dance talents in Houston. Each year, Buffy categories rotate to recognize different accomplishments and personalities within Houston’s dance community. This year’s awards were the first to recognize choreography. Works acknowledged were presented in Houston between 2005 – 2008.

The Buffy Awards are presented each year as the final event of the city’s Big Range Dance Festival.

To learn more about UH’s dance program and degree programs, visit For details on the UH Center for Choreography, go to

Each season, the School of Theatre & Dance produces five plays performed in the Wortham Theatre and the Jose Quintero Theatre, two dance concerts, student productions, the New Play Festival, the Houston Shakespeare Festival and the Children's Theatre Festival. The school has benefitted from notable star faculty such as Edward Albee, Lanford Wilson, Sir Peter Hall and Jose Quintero. Among current faculty are Houston Shakespeare Festival founder Sidney Berger, Tony Award-winning playwright Medoff and Tony Award-winning producer Stuart Ostrow.

For details on UH’s School of Theatre & Dance, visit

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.