Much More Than Good Dance

Ad Deum presents From One Heart

Ad Deum Dance Company presents From One Heart. Photo by Scott Morrow.

Ad Deum Dance Company presents From One Heart. Photo by Scott Morrow.

In the 14 years since Randall Flinn founded Ad Deum Dance Company, it has quietly and humbly grown into one of Houston’s largest small, contemporary dance ensembles. Known worldwide for their faith-based mission, the company members are a multi-national and very skilled group of dancers who hail from all over the U.S. Japan, Norway, and Brazil.

On May 31 and June 1, Ad Deum Dance Company will perform the “best of their season” for Houston fans in From One Heart at The Barn.

There is certainly work to choose from. Five new works by guest choreographers have been set on the company this season, in addition to six new works by Flinn; a pretty typical season, according to dancer and 4-year company veteran, Tiffany Schrepferman. While figuring the number of performances given by Ad Deum this year, Schrepferman was astounded to count 30 shows both locally and abroad.

“And, that’s not even including the outreach to various hospitals, women’s shelters, elderly care homes, and children’s cancer centers that we do,” she exclaims.

Ad Deum does get around. They were recently the first professional dance company ever to perform at the world’s largest Christian college, Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Virginia, and are fresh from their annual New York City tour and participation in the city’s Project Dance festival, which was founded in the wake of 9-11 and with which the company has been associated since its inception.

This year, Ad Deum was also in New York City for a performance at Alvin Ailey Center for Dance, an electrifying experience for the entire troupe.

“To our delight, in walks Ailey superstar, Renee Robinson,” enthuses Flinn. “Also in the audience was Steve Rooks, ormer principal dancer with Martha Graham and regular Ad Deum teacher/choreographer, dancers from Doug Varone and Paul Taylor, and dancers at Ailey. For us this was a truly ‘wow’ time.”

According to Flinn, many in the audience were moved by the Ailey performance, including Robinson, who wants to work with the company in the future. The showcase presented a handful of selections in Ad Deum’s current repertoire, many of which Houston audiences will experience in From One Heart. It was also a collaborative performance with Footprints Dance Company, a group founded by Ailey faculty and former dancer, Freddie Moore.

In addition to being “brothers in faith,” Flinn explains that his friendship with Moore has grown and blazed with vision since they first met six years ago.

“Freddie is a man with a heart for eternal things and a realization that they have to be embraced in the present to live out their promises.”

Ad Deum will present the Houston premiere of Moore’s work, “My Soul,” during From One Heart.

From One Heart will also feature “Love in Blood,” a new work by Limón Dance Company dancer/choreographer Durell Ron Comedy, and premiere dances by 10-year Ad Deum dancer, Shizu Yasuda and alumni dancer, Christina Schanta, as well as a new Graham-styled solo created by Flinn for dancer, Dani Stinger. Stinger is an HSPVA and Southern Methodist University graduate who has just been hired for the fall in Graham’s second company.

One familiar with Flinn’s work might expect to see the influence of Graham on the program. Sacrifice, in particular, includes the signature angles and aplomb of Graham’s work, and echoes the modern dance pioneer’s attention to line and silhouette of costuming. Praise and joyfulness are also sure to be present throughout the evening for this Christian dance company, as are works of meaning, restoration, and hope, such as Ryan Corriston’s “Exodus,” a piece highlighting the struggles of human sex trafficking victims.

“I seek people with purpose and passion for their artistry,” says Flinn of his guest artists. I believe that artistry is a significantly powerful endowment by the Creator and has greater potential and purpose than we can possibly imagine.”

It is this purpose, power, and pulse that draws a strong community around Ad Deum, including its continually growing network of choreographers and collaborators, its main company of eleven members, the 16-strong secondary company, interns from Holland and Switzerland, where the company now holds a summer intensive in addition to the well-attended Spring and Summer intensives they’ve produced annually in Houston, and a global fanbase online and off.

“I realized that here was a company whose heartbeat was very similar to what I felt made my own heart come alive with purpose and mission, so I started to deliberately pursue joining them,” recalls Schrepferman of her early interaction with Ad Deum. “I feel so blessed to be a part of something that is bigger than all of us, and has a purpose in this life that is so much more than just ‘dancing good.’”

About the Author

Nichelle Suzanne is frequently found running but usually after deadlines and two small children. She also teaches dance in the Houston area and is the founder/editor of the popular dance blog, danceadvantage.net.

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