Years In the Making – Uptown Dance Company Infusion 2014
As Artistic Director of Uptown Dance Company and the director of her own school, Uptown Dance Centre, Beth Gulledge-Brown has officially been doing double-duty in the Houston dance community for 10 seasons.
On October 11th at the I. W. Marks Theatre Center’s Kaplan Theatre, Uptown Dance Company will present its annual season-opener, Dance Infusion.
Originally founded in 1999 to provide pre-professional performance experience for Uptown Dance Centre’s most advanced students, Uptown Dance Company received its non-profit status in 2004. Since then, the company has become an entirely professional one, growing in number and artistic strength. Meanwhile, Uptown Dance Company II was established to carry on Gulledge-Brown’s aims for training the next generation.
Both companies will perform separately and united in this year’s Dance Infusion show, which as usual, provides a multi-genre program. To be presented are excerpts from Petipa’s Don Quioxte, restaged by Co-Director and company member, Adrian Ciobanu; two new works by Gulledge-Brown; choreography by company members, Emily Roy, Eric Glenn, and UDC’s Ballet Master and former Houston Ballet dancer, Alex Pandiscio; and a work by Guest Choreographer, Tina Kay Bohnstedt. Bohnstedt has been Ballet Master for Houston Ballet for three years. Her work, On the Edge depicts the frantic intricacies of scheduling our busy lives.
Gulledge-Brown can surely relate. We caught up with her to talk about her own busy life and Uptown Dance Company’s growth and successes throughout the last 10 years.
Beth Gulledge-Brown: Surrounding myself with a talented team that works towards common goals such as continuous syllabus improvement, stronger communication with dancers and faculty, and never compromising artistic integrity and intent has proven to be the keys to success while wearing many hats. I surround myself with people that share the joy of the art form and I believe my unwavering commitment to continuos learning has been instrumental in my ability to balance.
DSH: Do you ever fantasize about what it might be like to focus on just one or the other?
BGB: Truthfully, I have not because I enjoy doing both. I get gratification watching students develop as dancers and artists. There is a great sense of pride when one of your students becomes a professional dancer. On the other hand I enjoy the opportunity of working with professionals because I can create without limitations.
DSH: Your new work, Collide, was created for the professional company. Does your creative process change when you are including Company II dancers, as you’ve done in Reflection, your other piece on the program?
BGB: The process is the same, I am just working with a less experienced dancer. I believe it to be critical to create choreography that is appropriate for every level of dancer. When the professional dancers work with Company II dancers it elevates the level of work.
DSH: How has running the school contributed to the success of the company?
BGB: Uptown Dance Centre is the home base for the dance company. I have had several dancers in the company that trained at the studio and quite frankly this generates interest and enthusiasm amongst our studio dancers. Last but not least, the studio generates a core audience base for our endeavors. They both help each other.
DSH: Your pre-professional company has traveled internationally. Has this been important to your growth and mission?
BGB: Traveling abroad has enabled us to get our product to more diverse audiences while promoting the love of dance. We pride ourselves on performing a myriad of different styles of dance that tend to resonate with a broad spectrum of people.
DSH: What happens behind-the-scenes to keep your dancers’ bodies equipped and injury-free for when switching between genres?
BGB: These dancers take class before their rehearsals, which ultimately helps prevent injuries. I also believe working [both] turned out and turned in is better for the body.
DSH: What is coming up for UDC after Infusion?
BGB: Our annual performance of The Nutcracker Suite, followed by Spring Fusion, 4×4 for Evelyn Rubenstein JCC’s Dance Month, and our Spring Show.
Uptown Dance Company and Uptown Dance Company II present Dance Infusion 2014 Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at I.W. Marks Theatre Center –Kaplan Theatre, 5601 South Braeswood Blvd. For tickets and information call 713-686-0334 or visit www.uptowndance.org.