“The show must go on” perfectly captures this year’s UH School of Theatre & Dance Emerging Choreographers Showcase (ECS) annual performance, which premieres 8 p.m. November 17 at Zilkha Hall, The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.
ECS faced hurdle after hurdle this year, starting with Hurricane Harvey. The disaster that wrecked and still haunts Houston also left a mark on UH’s own Lyndall Finley Wortham Theatre.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, construction workers found mold in the theatre’s walls. The fungus was more intense, widespread than SoTD faculty first thought. Toni Valle, a SoTD professor of practice, soon realized that the theatre was unserviceable.
“We may not be able to use the theatre for a whole year,” Valle says. “It wasn’t long before we were tasked with finding another theatre for the Emerging Choreography Showcase since it usually happened at the Wortham Theatre.”
The search for a working and available venue proved challenging. While ECS rented one weekend, most theatres rented two weekends. In the end, they had only one option left: Zilka Hall, for just one evening.
“We normally have three shows and two to three days to prepare, but the theatre opened for one day only, so preparation is going to be a marathon for students,” Valle says. “Still, it is a larger-scale showcase at a larger and more liberal, prestigious venue. So, students will gain a lot from this experience.”
Like Valle, students see this showcase as a chance to show what they’re made of. Professionally produced and designed by up-and-coming UH dancers, ECS is an opportunity for students to demonstrate everything they’ve learned while at UH, from their technical skills, chorographical abilities to their creativity. Elyssa Vega, a senior seeking a B.F.A in dance, for one, is raring for the debut.
“I work better under pressure, so I think the showcase will be a challenge but good for us students since it one of the most professional experiences you can get as a college student,” Vega says.
Trevonne Fedrick, a senior seeking a B.A. in dance, agrees with Vega and adds that ECS will be her debut into the world of choreography. She says the showcase will also give her the experience and credibility she needs to further her career in dance. Fedrick’s performance is also a chance to show her love of dance, what she’s learned and her cultural roots.
“My piece is called ‘Reclaim,’ and it’s about codeswitching in a society where ethnic people like me have to balance acting how the world wants us to versus how we want to,” Fedrick says. “It’s a really groovy, soulful performance that features modern techniques complementing the Africanesque movement. There’s also a breakout session, a party on stage, that’ll give audiences a good yummy feeling.”
The evening will feature a repertoire of dance styles and themes. ECS sets the stage for great entertainment jazz, sociopolitical inspired pieces, autobiographical works, all expressed through dance. Valle says audiences will love the performance.
“It’s young dancers ready to hit the pavement and show what they’ve got,” Valle says. “It’ll be a powerful and riveting performance from start to finish.”