University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance Presents Ensemble Dance Works


March 3, 2014

Toni Valle


University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance presents

Ensemble Dance Works

Houston, Texas– University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance presentsEnsemble Dance Works on March 28 and 29, 2014 at 7:30p.m and March 30, 2014 at 1:30 pm.  Ensemble Dance Works showcases works by University of Houston’s award-winning dance faculty and other Houston-based professional  guest choreographers.  The works are performed by the pre-professional company, the UH Dance Ensemble, directed by Teresa Chapman. This year’s performance displays premier and restaged works by contemporary dance choreographers Teresa Chapman, Melissa Noble, Jackie Nalett, Karen Stokes, Toni Valle, Becky Valls, and Jennifer Wood.

Teresa Chapman premieres a solo titled Unfolding inspired by various concepts of folding and unfolding. Chapman explores a range of dynamics while showcasing student dancer Brittany Bass’ unique performance style and sense of physicality. The music, Ascent by Hildur Gudnadottir provides a captivating soundscape for a dance that hints at understated emotions and delicate complexities.

Karen Stokes restages Just Us, a work originally choreographed for the UH Dance Ensemble in 2007.  Just Us, a large group piece, combines Stokes’ signature quirky gestures with levity, vocal sound effects, and joyful hopscotch inspired dancing to create a community of playful support and trust. Gentle walks and subtle hips sways are the backdrop for Stokes’ generous partnering and fast-paced maneuvers. Set to the wonderful music of Stephen Montague, squeaks, coughs, and sputters are layered over stomps and claps adding a live rhythmic sound component.

Melissa Noble, first year professor at the University of Houston, premieres Life and Works, a modern dance based on the life of Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), a remarkable woman who produced major works of theology, healing and natural history that came from her visionary experiences. Using portions of the music written by von Bingen, Noble explores ideas of faith, vision, choice and sacrifice.

In They Come To DanceJackie Nalett uses the images and movement behaviors of pink flamingoes to explore a luscious, bird-inspired movement vocabulary. Set to music by legendary dance musicians Peter Jones and Terrence Karn, this piece asks the viewer to imagine a place where flamingoes gather together to dance.

Toni Valle premieres Lollygag, Lickety-split, and Wabbit, which translates into “slow, fast, and very tired.” Lollygag is a comedic take on coping with the never-ending burden of housework and the insanity of small children.  “Much of the movement is stolen directly from silly things I do with my son,” remarks Valle.   Set to 1950 children’s audio tapes mixed with stomping beats and strange sound effects by Ruckus Roboticus’, the soundscape is the perfect accompaniment to blissful chaos in the house where surrender is often the only way to win.

Becky Valls‘ dance, Drift, has a sense of floating through space as well as “emotionally drifting along.” Repetition of movement phrases and patterns in the dance is also reflected in the music of Max Richter and Philip Glass.  Slow meditative movement phrasing performed by the dancers with an inner focus, begins and ends the piece.

Jennifer Wood premieres The Heavy, a work for a large ensemble of 12 dancers. With sustained high energy dancing to Fescennine’s A History of Kem Cho, the piece has a circular structure, ending where it started. Movements are derived from two sources:  a phrase provided by the choreographer and a set of poses created by the dancers themselves. The poses were modified by adding layer on layer of movements with the intent of destabilizing the performer, thereby creating a riskier performance.

University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance presents Ensemble Dance Workson March 28 and 29, 2014, at 7:30 pm, and March 30, 2014 at 1:30 pm at Lindall Finley Wortham Theatre, 133 CWM Center for the Arts, Houston, TX 77204. Tickets are $12 – $20 General. For tickets,visit the UH Box Office at For more information, contact Toni Valle at 713-409-2838 or visit


High resolution photos may be downloaded at


WHAT: Ensemble Dance Works

WHO: University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance

WHEN: March 28-29, 2014 at 7:30 pm

March 30, 2014 at 1:30 pm

WHERE: Wortham Theatre

133  CWM Center for the Arts

Houston, TX 77204

TICKETS: $12-20

Purchase online
CONTACT: Toni Valle


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