|Photo by Simon Gentry|
|Up for Air, by Recked Productions|
I was filling in my calendar for January and February, making note of the dance concerts I wanted to make sure to cover when I realized it's the start of the final month of the year. 2013 is about to close, which ends another chapter in my book of dance watching. It's been a full one, and the treasures have been plentiful. From Houston Ballet's sumptuous story ballets to the Society of the Performing Arts' megawatt Great American Dance Series to the city's cherished contemporary dance companies, Houston was overflowing with world-class dance. In closing out this year, I went through my notes and compiled a shortlist of concerts that I still find myself talking about from time to time. Here's my personal list of the best dances of 2013.
5. Up for Air, Recked Productions
Any writer compiling a 2013 retrospective of Houston dance would be hard-pressed not to include Erin Reck's enchanting site-specific work Up for Air. The Mary Gibbs and Jesse H. Jones Reflection Pool at Hermann Park is a cherished Houston landmark that belongs to so many of our childhood memories, but in Reck's hands, the site was given a new layer of purpose and meaning.
The wonder of Reck's work rests not so much in the sheer size of the concept or its angelic choreography, but its ability to breathe life into an institution while staying true to its ethos. If the spirit of the Reflection Pool was somehow conjured, Up for Air would be the shape it would take. The dancers, all dressed in life, evoked pulses of nature, from their birdlike perching at water's edge to their flutter of hands in the air amidst falling leaves. In the sun of May, the shimmering imagery approached the fleetingness of an Impressionist painting. Fleeting, but indelibly now a part of the Reflection Pool's memories.
|Photo by Margo Stutts Toombs|
|Purging Honey!, by "there...in the sunlight."|
4. Purging, Honey!, "there ... in the sunlight."
For the record, this spot might have very well have gone to B.L.K. Gurls ~n~ W.H.T. Boiz: Singin' 'bout Gawd! jhon r. stronks and his personal brand of revelatory, dance-from-the-soul movement are so intimate, yet, universal in their truths that the work of "there ... in the sunlight." can only be described as essential viewing. In Purging, Honey!, stronks dives head first into an exploration of maturation, identity, and queerness. What makes a man? And what makes him Miss Understood?
This heartfelt and heartily danced concert answered those questions and then some. Gender isn't a static label. It's a continuously morphing form of self-expression. And it's also to be celebrated in whatever shape it manifests itself. The movement of Honey! is of the dance party variety, with a street-savvy attention to rhythm and beat. In a stronks show, the hips and torso move in abundance; it's dance that really grooves. I don't think there was another dance concert this year that had so much to say, and had so much fun saying it.
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