Rest of the Best 2014: Houston's Top 10 Choreographers
|Photo by Ashley Horn|
|From Persistance of Vision|
3. Ashley Horn
Ashely Horn is one of the most versatile artists on our list. She choreographs for the stage, she choreographs for film. She designs costumes and sets. She co-founded the comedy and arts newspaper Houston Entertainicle. An example of a well-rounded artist making the most of her skills in any and every medium available, Horn has proved to be a talented choreographer/filmmaker/writer/designer and an advocate for the local dance community.
2. jhon r. stronks of there in the sunlight
Photo Courtesy of jhon r. stronks jhon r. stronks (second from the left)
A 2014 MasterMind Award winner, jhon r. stronks is happily on the edge of Houston's dance scene. He acknowledges that his work is not commercial, not mainstream and not meant for a wide audience. He doesn't think about the audience's possible reactions when creating his work; instead, he focuses on expressing his ideas and paying homage to the the truth of his experience, however unconventional that experience might be or uncomfortable that might make his audiences. Bottom line, stronks has built his career by being unafraid to be himself.
1. Karen Stokes of Karen Stokes Dance
Karen Stokes Dance members in Vine Dance
Selecting the No. 1 choreographer for this list was difficult. Would it be 2013 MasterMind Award winner Karen Stokes? Or 2014 MasterMind Award winner jhon r. stronks? In the end, Stokes takes the top spot because of the longevity of her multifaceted career as a choreographer, teacher, dancer and filmmaker. The daughter of Houston dance pioneer Roberta Stokes, Karen Stokes has been choreographing original dance theater since 1988.
In 1997, she co-founded Travesty Dance Group in Ohio with colleagues Kimberly Karpanty & Rebecca Malcolm-Naibher. In June 2011, the Travesty Dance Group became Karen Stokes Dance. Stokes is a professor in the Dance Program.
The image above comes from Stokes' Vine Dance project. It's an excellent example of Stokes' ability to be visually striking, but also to insert a bit of humor and whimsy as well as drama in her work. Stokes is gifted in her ability to push the envelope of what's currently accepted as contemporary dance while remaining accessible to audiences of all interest levels.