Mind The Gap XXVII Preview

Dance Source Houston’s (DSH) Mind The Gap series returns to Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston (MATCH) for the program’s 27th edition on Tuesday, December 5 at 7:30pm. The evening includes 6 original works by local dancemakers, including Mark Aguilar, Brittany Nicole Bass, Adam Castañeda, Kyle Rucker, Stacy Skolnik, and Lori Yuill. The program features a mix of solo and ensemble contemporary dance works by a mix of choreographers fresh and familiar to Mind The Gap audiences. 

Mark Aguilar will make his debut Mind The Gap performance with a solo entitled “F2A/F2B.” Aguilar developed the piece while he was pursuing his BFA at New York University Tisch School of the Arts. During an assignment where students were asked to bring a significant item, Mark shared a photo of his family and detailed the story of his parents immigration from Mexico, his sisters DREAMer status, and the fact that he was the first in his family to attend a university. The response from fellow students revealed the lack of awareness of DACA and general immigration policies. “Their lack of knowledge made me astounded because as a first-generation Mexican-American, I grew up knowing this knowledge and had to always be up to date on this topic,” says Aguilar. “This solo is a way for me to educate the audience and fellow peers about the stories that happen every day in this country and how immigrants and DREAMERS are not aliens but people who are trying to find the American Dream.“ “F2A/F2B” has a deep personal meaning for Mark and his vision. “I wanted to present this work as part of the Mind the Gap series because I feel it showcases the many stories that many politicians and groups are trying to paint a negative connotation of and describe these families and people as aliens.”

Photo by Lynn Lane

Dancer / choreographer Brittany Bass presents an untitled solo on Tuesday night’s program, which also happens to be Bass’ birthday. “As I mark another year of life, I am determined to indulge in more pleasures,” she says. “This performance is an opportunity to be present to the connection that I feel to myself and others and to be mindful of the joy I feel on the stage; nothing more, nothing less.” Marking her third Mind The Gap appearance, Brittany shares, “It provides me with a secure environment to showcase my work to an audience at any point in my choreographic process where I feel comfortable sharing. This has evolved into a valuable tool for me, enabling me to document “choreographic brainstorms” as I determine whether the material I’m presenting is worth retaining or discarding.” Bass created her newest the work without a specific innernarrative or scope, but rather took the opportunity to explore and showcase movement that she enjoys. “Because this solo is being performed on my birthday it has taken a turn towards serving my ego in the best of ways,” she says. “Allowing a canvas that is truly just of celebration of myself, identifying what my movement pleasures are, and celebrating that on stage with any pressure.”

Mind The Gap veteran Adam Castan͂eda, the Executive and Artistic Director of The Pilot Dance Project, will present “Bayou People,” an original dance/music collaboration between Castan͂eda and Markus and Melissa Cone of the MMCEnsemble. “Bayou People is a way for my collaborators and I to play with worldbuilding, imagination, and futurism,” says Castan͂eda. “We want to explore what Houston would look and feel like if it had developed as an independent society with a value system very different from its oil and gas, capitalist, and consumerist cosmology. We are imagining a city that has a symbiotic relationship to the bayou, rather than an antagonistic one.” Castan͂eda first worked with the Cones on The Women of Manila in February 2020, which was one of his first large-scale pieces, and premiered at the last Houston Choreographers X6 at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center. “We felt the women introduced in our Houston Choreographers X 6 piece offered a different perspective to society, that they represented what it would look like if we were a community-focused, land-conscious, and environmentally-friendly people.”

A Mind The Gap first-timer, Kyle Rucker is in his final year of pursuing a BFA in Dance at Sam Houston State University. His ensemble work, “A Playful Listen” explores the energy of complex contemporary music by play of movement, form, and style. In his piece, music acts as a foundation guiding the viewer through a playful interpretation of the soundtrack. “‘A Playful Listen’ came to life in an effort for me to merge my background as a musician and my current artistic endeavors as a choreographer,” says Rucker. “There is a beauty and large sense of wonder that comes about when exploring contemporary soundtracks. I wanted to find a way to take that complexity, simplify the interpretation, and create a visual package that would couple the music in a playful way.” Rucker maximizes his dual background of dance and music by sharing his perspective and expertise with fellow dancers. “When I began working with other dancers people often pointed out that I could hear layers within the music that they could not. Finding ways for them to listen deeper and discover the other wonders of a given piece of music was always such a lovely feeling.” His Mind The Gap debut marks an important step for the emerging choreographer. “As an undergraduate choreographer at SHSU, it was important for me to take all that I’ve learned and start putting myself out into the world before I graduated.” 

Photo by Lynn Lane

Stacy Skolnik makes her second Mind The Gap choreographic appearance with a new solo work, “It takes Two to Tango.” In “Mosaic,” her last Mind The Gap work presented in October 2022, Skolnik performed a duet alongside Alisa Mittin. “‘Mosaic’ was a piece derived with a hint of comedic flare as a duet, but began with a solo that I wanted to grow upon more,” says Stacy. Her new work explores experiencing and navigating internal conflict with some twists, as Skonik presents the work using tango and her comical panache. Stacy developed the work as part of a residency with Houston Met Dance which provides studio and creative space. “With this residency, I wanted to go deeper with a new vision and inspiration of Tango style of dancing,” says Skolnik. “With notions of comedy, it is a vigorous piece where I show the struggle of conflict in oneself and different personas one can have. It is a personal piece of how I have been inspired by love and relationships with people.”

Photo by Lynn Lane

Choreographer and dancer Lori Yuill is collaborating with jhon r. stronks on “Archival, Revival, Reprisal,” which takes a deep dive into the archive to revive and reprise dances and phrases created over the last 3 years. Yuill’s work includes ongoing research into the in-between spaces – between narrative and abstraction, choreography and improvisation, and between performance and rehearsal. “Over the past 3 years I have created a multitude of phrases, some of which have been performed and others that have not,” says Yuill. “I decided to dive into the archive of material, to revisit old friends, introduce them to each other and see which ones get along. This work is an experiment in creating a new context for a language that has been used before to see what other meanings lie beneath the surface.” Yuill, a frequent Mind The Gap choreographer, shares that the program, “has been a great opportunity to try out an idea in front of an audience that is broader than the audience that might come to see my work alone.The feedback in this setting helps me to develop and deepen my work.”

Join Dance Source Houston for Mind The Gap XXVII on Tuesday, December 5 at 7:30pm, either in person at MATCH or via livestream. Ticket sales from each Mind The Gap program are shared between the dancemakers and tickets are available on a sliding scale range at matchouston.org.

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