Ambassador Outlook – October 2021

Dance Source Houston will be sharing a series of informal interviews with our Fall Dance Ambassadors Brian Buck, Adam Castañeda, Sharieka Hall, and Loren Homes over the next few months to keep the community connected to their time in the program and to give cohort an opportunity to share out. In late September the DSH team asked the artists a series of questions to find out more about what they want to elevate during their ambassadorship, what impacts they feel the last 18 months have made on the dance field, and what their favorite recent dance experience has been. 

Have a question you would like us to ask the cohort? Send it to us at


DSH: What are you looking to explore/investigate with your hosted community call? 

Sharieka Hall: I am exploring somatic and alternative healing practices. I want to investigate other avenues we as people can take in order to heal instead of consuming pharmaceuticals. I will be pulling from my own experiences and journey in regard to mental health and movement.

Adam Castañeda: I will be planning a community call that seeks to identify what community members, including both dancers and lay persons, want to see in a “perfect” dance organization. We will be brainstorming the ideal mission and programming for this “perfect” dance company with no limits to possibility. I seek to understand how dance operates within contemporary Western culture at both the personal and societal levels. The findings of this workshop-style community call will be used to direct my intentions as a dance leader, creator, and arts producer, and problem-solve my way out of working in a field that is historically exclusionary and elitist. I want to create dance works that live beyond the stage and performance realm to have a long-lasting impact for myself, collaborators, and audience members. 

DSH: What are 2 of the biggest issues or needs within the local dance community from your perspective?

SH: One issue I’ve discovered is lack of awareness and communication in the dance community when it comes to newcomers. I know a few people who have moved to Houston specifically for jobs and creative endeavors who’ve asked me a native Houstonian where they can start. I feel that unless you’ve been apart of the community from the start and/or already dancing professionally on some level you aren’t privy to everything Houston has to offer. My goal is to break down those barriers and create safe spaces for those who dance recreationally. A need I’ve come across is healing spaces for children and adolescents as well. Sometimes we forget that they need resources just as well as the adults after experiencing what’s going on in the world today. I’ve noticed that most spaces aren’t as accommodating for children and working mothers. I feel there should be more opportunities for families collectively. Lack of childcare is a real issue. 

Loren Holmes: I feel that one issue is the type of work that is highlighted. In the past, I’ve noticed a lot of the same groups or individuals being awarded grants, opportunities, etc. and there is a huge amount of groups and individuals who deserve the same attention. Another thing that we need is for more attention to be paid to our mental health and wellness. The pandemic affected all of us in some sort of way and even before the pandemic, many of us struggled with issues that are mostly swept under the rug. A dancer has many things that they have to deal with from lack of work to body image issues. There needs to be a space where dancers can come, share and get help with those things. 

DSH: How do you feel dance changed over the past 18 months, either for you personally or how you see the field as a whole? 

SH: Dance has taken center in my life. It’s my form of meditation so it’s become part of my daily practice/routine. In chasing my dreams I’ve been blessed with opportunity after opportunity. I plan to take full advantage of them all and pay it forward.

LH: Dance changed by just becoming more accessible to a broader range of audience. This is great as it gives people an opportunity to see work that they otherwise wouldn’t, however, this also can and has hurt the world of dance. With virtual being mostly free, it now makes me skeptical to see if these same people will pay what it actually costs to see shows and festivals that they otherwise would have free access to during the pandemic. 

AC: Over the last eighteen months, I have been in the middle of a creative tempest. I’m currently working on an evening-length project, “Lazarus in the Promised Land.” Once that show is complete, I will have made very near two hours of choreography that has been presented or produced over the course of the pandemic. I have realized that my choreographic process is how I interpret the world around me. It’s no secret that I often cast dancers that I have a personal connection to. I have learned that the rehearsal process is also how I connect to other human beings. It’s how I show my best qualities as a human being, and receive the best qualities from the participants in the rehearsal. 

DSH: What was your favorite dance experience (class, live or virtual performance, dance film, etc.) from the past year?

SH: My favorite dance experience was watching Beyoncé and Jay Z perform at the last concert held here in Houston. From start to finish I watched my childhood dream play out on that stage. I was mesmerized by the artistry of it all. 

BB: My favorite dance experience was Open Dance Project’s “Tempest in the Galapagos.” It’s unique approach to live performance for the camera to be streamed was invigorating. The ever roaming approach of the viewer felt like a journey, creating a unique experience streamed or live. The live aspect allowed for one to appreciate the amount of effort that goes into a performance, especially the bow which allowed each performer to address the audience both as a group and individually.

AC: I have two favorite experiences. The first was meeting and becoming friends with Karen Imas, an artist I presented alongside with at the last Mind the Gap before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. We created a short dance film together, “In Our Company,” and it was our way of having a seven-month dialogue about the pandemic by doing what we do best: character-building, movement exploration, and idea facilitation. My other favorite experience was juggling the multiple hats that went into “Tether,” The Pilot Dance Project’s first live, evening-length work in a year-and-a-half. As a dancer, I loved performing Ashley Horn’s luxurious, full-bodied movement. I also created two sections for the show, and I’m very proud of the resulting dances. As a producer, it was a challenge furiously writing grants in such an intense time for the arts, but the result was big, beautiful, and profound.

Stay tuned for our next Ambassador Outlook edition in early November 2021! 

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