Brittany Bass in Karen Stokes’ Safe  at Ten Tiny Dances® as part of CounterCurrent 2015.
Photos by dabfoto creative, courtesy of University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts.

Karen Stokes, Brittany Bass and Toni Veago.

Karen Stokes, Brittany Bass and Toni Veago.

Mitchell Center’s CounterCurrent Festival Closes on a Dance-y Note

Ten Tiny Dances® wrapped up the 2015 CounterCurrent festival on April 19 under a big white tent in the 13 Celsius parking lot on a perfectly sunny Sunday morning after a weekend of torrential floods. Funny how the clouds break for dance.

The University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts presented their second CounterCurrent festival from April 14-19, 2015, which included visual and performing arts at a variety of locations throughout the city.

Ten Tiny Dances® was created by Mike Barber in Portland, Oregon, in 2002 and the format is used all over the country. For CounterCurrent, the event was organized by the Mitchell Center with assistance from Dance Source Houston executive director Stephanie Wong.

TTD may be the perfect festival closer, as it allows visiting and local artists to participate, while creating a high impact event in a low impact setting (dances are short and take place on a raised 4 X 4 platform).  In addition to dance artists, it was open to artists who include performance in their practice, such as Janet Biggs and Autumn Knight. The format is divinely flexible, and I sure hope the Mitchell Center makes this an annual event.

brunchfromWeights+Measures

Brunch from Weights + Measures.

A scrumptious brunch from Weights + Measures and mimosas from 13 Celsius, along with time to mingle before and after, added to the celebratory nature of the morning. The event was free, and a standing room only crowd showed up, including most the local dance community.

With the audience seated around the small raised platform, the makeshift theater galvanized our attention on the pieces in front of us. In fact, TTD is a fabulous showcase for the performer/choreographer. It’s rare that we see much in the way of solo form in Houston, and this was a great way to catch up on those who work in this highly sustainable format. And kudos to those who had to negotiate tricky traffic on a tiny stage in group works.

Each of the 10 pieces had something unique to offer, with artists drawing us into their worlds in seconds, showcasing their movement personalities and using the small space in inventive ways. Food, dance, drink, friends, sunshine—this could be the future of arts events. In the spirit of the 4 x 4 constraint, I offer ten tiny reviews.


LeaveMELeave Me

Choreography by Janet Biggs

Danced by Tina Shariffskul, Danile Adame, Shanon Adams and Prudence Sun

Biggs models memory loss in a moving tangle of bodies as Gregory Brigham sings “If Ever I Would Leave You,” with the words slowly dropping off each line.


MomentumMomentum

Choreographed and performed by Sari Nordman

The Finish choreographer conjured her homeland in this eerie but elegant solo.

 


Resurrection-inDResurrection in D

Choreographed and performed by Jhon R. Stronks

No one sings in a striped jersey and print skirt like Jhon R. Stronks; here he does so with passion and purpose, tinged with gentle reverence.

 


UntiledTahniHoltUntitled

Choreographed and performed by Tahni Holt

Sass, mischief and some pop culture flash, along with punchy commentary about putting a microphone down, made Holt’s piece memorable.

 


SafeSafe

Choreography by Karen Stokes

Performed by Brittany Bass

Brittany Bass moved through Karen Stokes’ earthy but fluid choreography mixing tradition and grace on a bed of red rose petals.


Landscape2Landscape 2

Choreographed and performed by Lori Yuill

Yuill’s gentle smile had a way of coaxing even the most reluctant audience into motion in her dreamy gestural patterns.

 


UntitledAutumnKnightUntitled

Choreographed by Autumn Knight

Performed by Abijan Johnson

Johnson taught us to never underestimate the power of a floppy hat, a Sunday dress and the gesture to ask for help when stepping down from a steep platform.

 


themostofusthe most of us

Choreographed and performed by Jasmine Hearn

Jasmine Hearn’s velvety space carving, sinewy shape making and expressive complexity commanded attention.

 


threadThread

Choreographed by Rebecca French

Performed by Lauren Burke, Adam Castaneda, Holly Duran and Mollie Miller

French wins the physical risk taking award in this group work complete with some daredevil partnering.

 


boxstudylauragutierrez

Box Study

Choreographed and performed by Laura Gutierrez

Mistress of minimalism Laura Gutierrez is the ultimate outsider with her track suit and detached demeanor, alternating between stillness and exploding action as PTAF bellows “Boss Ass Bitch.”

—NANCY WOZNY