Uptown Dance Company Dance Infusion

Uptown Dance Centre is a hothouse where dance flourishes on many levels. How could the dancers not grow wildly in an environment where there are kindergartners sharing studios with pros, and the pre-professional company trains for 30 hours, 6 days a week?  Beth Gulledge-Brown, who opened the studio after dancing in New York and South Africa, describes herself as wearing many hats, not the least of which is a big cheerleader one.


Dance Infusion is the fall concert Gulledge-Brown has presented for the last ten years. The 2012 edition, which takes place at 2 and 7 pm on October 13 at IW Marks Theatre Center/Kaplan Theater Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center, will, like the previous concerts, showcase her professional company of six dancers, as well as the ten dancers currently in the second company. Exemplifying the multi-genre curriculum offered at the school, the concert will also feature examples of classical ballet, contemporary dance and jazz on the program.


Gulledge-Brown choreographed two new works for the concert. The first, a contemporary ballet set to the B minor violin concerti by Vivaldi, uses an idea the choreographer had that male dancers more closely resemble the wooden frame of a violin, while the females are more like the strings.  A second piece, Break the Mold, has a bit of autobiography to it, as the choreographer explained in a telephone interview.


“I was inspired by a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts,” she said. “After spending some time just looking at the art, I sat down and wrote out a synopsis for the piece. It looks at how you can break out of a busy life and do what you really want to do.” The dance is a modern-jazz work with music by the East-enders Singers.


Also choreographing for the concert is Marcello de sa Martins, a Brazilian dancer who once worked in Brussels and is currently in the Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company. His piece, which Gulledge-Brown calls a playful modern piece, takes a look at how technology is taking over our lives. “Are you there?” includes text which is spoken by the dancers during the piece, and points out the ways that email, texting, Skype and other machines have made existence somewhat faceless.


Ironically, Brazilian music was chosen by a non-Brazilian choreographer, Caleb Mitchell, who is a professor of dance at Belhaven University. His dance, The Colors That Remind us of the Sun, features the music of Sérgio Mendes & Brazil´66, lots of Brazilian rhythms, and images of the color and beautiful beaches of that country.


If the dances seem to have a wide-ranging flair, so does the makeup of the faculty at Uptown Dance Center, several of whom have contributed original choreography to the concert. Florin Adrian Ciobanu, who is the co-director of the company, hails from Romania. He danced with both the Romanian and Hungarian Opera Ballets and was a principal dancer at the Sarasota Ballet where he now serves as Ballet Master.


Alexander Pandiscio, the Ballet Master at Uptown, is originally from Massachusetts, but studied in New York and San Francisco before landing a job dancing with Houston Ballet. Pandiscio has choreographed a condensed version of Coppelia for the younger dancers who will perform at Dance Infusion.


“It’s really about coming to see different styles and different choreographers on one bill,” said Gulledge-Brown, who can boast, with a mother and sister on the payroll, that her studio is truly a family affair. “It challenges dancers to have so many different styles to master. You have to be an all-around mover to make it work.”



Dance Infusion 2012

2 and 7 p.m., Saturday, October 13

Performances at IW Marks Theatre Center/Kaplan Theater,  Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center.

5601 S. Braeswood
. Houston, TX 77096

Tickets $25-30. Order online: www.uptowndancecenter.com

About the Author

Michael Wade Simpson is editor of culturevulture.net. He writes about the performing arts for the Santa Fe New Mexican. Previously, he reviewed dance for the "San Francisco Chronicle." MFA dance, Smith College. Founder, "Small City Dance Project," Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Post a Reply

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