Group Acorde Presents “adaptar: stories of adaptation”

The first time I saw Group Acorde, I was taken by the simple decision to have musicians and dancers on stage together, both facing the audience as they performed. This may not seem out of the norm, but it actually is. Usually, musicians are hidden away in an orchestra pit while they provide music for dancers. Even more often, dance is performed to recorded music. Not the case with Group Acorde. This company allows the rare opportunity to see the interplay between musicians and dancers. Upright bassist Thomas Helton, saxophonist Seth Paynter, along with dancers Roberta Paixão Cortes and Lindsey McGill are four artists who strike one single chord of collaboration. This working relationship is the origin of their namesake—acorde—a Portugese word meaning “wake up” and “chord.”

In Group Acorde’s forth evening-length production titled “adaptar: stories of adaptation,” the artists explore human experiences connected to culture and neuroscience. Audiences can see it performed March 9th – 11th at The Deluxe Theater in Houston’s historic 5th Ward.

The first half of the program is made up of a premiere work titled “Belonging(or not) Abroad.” This vulnerable autobiographic dance depicts choreographer Roberta Paixão Cortes’ immigration story from Brazil to Houston. She was brought to the Bayou City 20 years ago by way of an exchange program. She stayed in Houston to pursue a career in dance and now considers it her second home. “There is a significance around how I now understand that I was trying to fit a dance aesthetic that was not innate to me and how much I had lost who I was in that process. This whole process is and has been very emotional.”

Years ago, Paixão Cortes began working on this project with the musicians of Group Acorde, first sharing Brazilian music with Helton and Paynter. She chose significant music that expressed inspiring rhythm and evoked memories of her past. “Then organically, each of them picked songs or rhythms that inspired them to compose for the piece. They would send me their ideas, and I would send feedback. Pretty early on, I had the map of what I wanted to say in each section of the piece so once the music was shaping up, the sections were pretty clear in my head,” explained Paixão Cortes. Adding to the collaboration, Brazilian artist Andre Amaral will also contribute visual art and set design to the work.

“My story is ever-evolving as I am learning that I am processing it through the years,” adds Paixão Cortes.

The second half of the program is composed of a premiere work that explores evolution and processing through a different lens. “Neuroception” draws inspiration from the polyvagal theory—a theory pertaining to the nervous system, introduced by psychologist/neuroscientist Stephen Porges in 1994. This dance work is a six-part collaboration between the members of Group Acorde along with guest choreographers Jennifer Mabus and Spencer Gavin Hering.

“The polyvagal theory presents layers of concepts that easily allow for abstract ideas and multiple voices to coexist,” says Lindsey McGill who suggested the topic. The process for crafting “Neuroception” began with saxophonist Seth Paynter writing soundtracks inspired by the three reaction patterns illustrated in polyvagal theory—fight, flight, and freeze. “The music was constructed to be malleable so that the choreographers could choose parts that inspired them or develop certain themes they wanted to explore further,” says McGill.

Guest choreographer Jennifer Mabus is an important fixture in the Texas dance scene as well as a former, founding member of Robert Battle’s dance company BattleWorks. Guest choreographer Spencer Gavin Hering is a co-founding artistic director for touring project dance company infinite Movement Ever Evolving (iMEE). Separately, Mabus and Hering rehearsed with the artists of Group Acorde, interpreting the concept and music individually. To create a cohesive work, Group Acorde converged the separate elements into one intermingled structure that represents all voices.

“Neuroception includes [musical instruments] the shruti box, ocean drum, electronic sounds, and melodica…The music for this work contains a lot of vibrational tones, landscapes, and textures…,” explains McGill.

In alignment with Group Acorde’s mission of reaching diverse audiences, $5 tickets are available for 5th Ward residents; discounted tickets are available for artists. A question and answer session will be part of all programs, and special performances will be presented to a local 5th Ward school. “We believe these creations align with our vision to educate live audiences through thought-provoking and unique collaborations, enriching the audience’s live experience as well as challenging the artists in the creation processes,” says Group Acorde.

See “adaptar: stories of adaptation” at The Deluxe Theater, 3303 Lyons Avenue on March 9th and 10th at 8pm and March 11th at 7pm. For tickets and more information, visit

About the Author

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *