An eclectic and diverse representation of the University of Houston Dance Program, Ensemble Dance Works features original works by guest choreographers Randall Flinn, Kim Karpanty, Matthew Neenan and Janie Yao, and UH dance faculty John Beasant III, Jacqueline Bobet, Teresa Chapman, Karen Stokes and Becky Valls.
Randall Flinn, artistic director for the Houston-based Ad Deum Dance Company, has created a three movement work entitled “Rescue To Restore” with music by rock icon Joe Cocker, contemporary Gospel artist Lauren Daigle and the ethereal operatic voices of Andrea Bocelli and his son Matteo. “Rescue To Restore” is both an authentically raw and deeply passionate work, filled with human brokenness, compassion, hope, grace and beauty. The choreography is crafted to serve a transcendent purpose and journey of encounter beyond the physical and often troubled realm of existence.
Kim Karpanty’s “Urban Soul Blues” is an ensemble jazz work for the concert stage that celebrates the soulful electric blues of Chicago music legend Buddy Guy, the improvisational, social and rhythmic characteristics of authentic jazz dance, and the incomparable style of each of the dancers. The work was chosen as an international finalist in the Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Choreography Competition in 2004.
Celebrated choreographer Matthew Neenan presents “Natasha,” an excerpt from his full-length ballet, “11:11.” Originally set on the Pennsylvania Ballet, “Natasha” is a beautiful quartet set to one of the six Rufus Wainwright songs used for the full ballet.
Dance of Asian America artists Sylvia Ngo, Yanni Su and Janie Yao, collaborated on “Whispers in the Wind,” an original work set on the UH Dance Ensemble. Blending classical Chinese fan dance technique with contemporary movement, “Whispers in the Wind” premiered at Splendid China XIII at Miller Outdoor Theatre in October 2018 for over 4,000 audience members.
“Brink” by Assistant Professor of Dance John Beasant III is an abstract narrative about a group of people who are bearing witness to inevitable change within their community. The underlying tone of the work is attempting to find solace within a smashed landscape of energetic bodies and projected digital media design, revealed slowly, as one amongst the group tries to break free. The score of the dance is a composition for cello and pre-recorded tape created by 1960s American minimal-music pioneer and composer Steve Reich.
“Moments Arriving” by UH’s Jacqueline Bobet is a playful, unusual journey through a day with four critter friends who romp and frolic from dawn to dusk to the music of British jazz band Olivia's Owls.
Associate Professor of Dance Teresa Chapman’s “Shift” explores contrasting states of movement as three dancers weave their way through the escalating score “Poucha Dass” by Francois Rabbath. The result is pure movement that celebrates strength and vulnerability.
Karen Stokes, director of the UH Dance Program, continues to explore the world of projections and dance in her new Ensemble piece, “Amplify.” Dancers are used as canvases in an energetic exploration of the columned engineering of a space underneath a Houston freeway. The austere formality of the freeway columns suggested an “amplitheater” to Stokes, and she uses this as the point of departure for this work. Stokes explores how projection and sound can amplify a theatrical dance work.
Associate Professor of Dance Becky Valls rounds out the evening with the premiere of “Les Filles.” Inspired by the French vocal artist Saint Privat, young girls stroll along the Seine River exchanging glances and walking their dogs.