Dance Source Houston Announces Spark Dance Grant Recipients
Dance Source Houston || May 4th, 2021
Mollie Haven Miller,
Dance Source Houston
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Dance Source Houston Announces Spark Dance Grant Recipients
Dance Source Houston (DSH) is excited to announce the 7 recipients of Spark Dance Grants to support dance-based projects. Grantees were selected through a peer panel process facilitated by DSH with panelists Donald Shorter, Lizzy Tan, and Toni Valle. Awardees include Stacey Allen, Donna Crump, Rivkah French, Kemi OG, Kalpana Subbarao, Ke’Ron Wilson, and Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton in collaboration with Harrison Guy and Dominic Walsh. Each grantee will receive a $3,000 project support award.
The Spark program is DSH’s newest funding source for the Greater Houston dance community, and the organization received an overwhelming response from interested applicants. “Even after a year of so much collective struggle, artists are still creating, moving forward, and imagining new realities,” said Dance Source Houston Executive Director Mollie Haven Miller. “We are excited to support a few of the many artists making dynamic work happen in our city, especially during a time when we all need the shared connection, impact, and knowledge that dance can cultivate in our communities.”
Meet the Grantees
Stacey Allen, a native Houstonian, has been cultivating a career in dance upon earning her BA in Dance from Sam Houston State University and her MA in Cross-Cultural Studies for the University of Houston Clear Lake, where her research focus includes dance anthropology. In addition to a plethora of freelance opportunities, she was most notably a company member for Urban Souls Dance Company. She began pursuing her own artistic visions and co-founded Pretty Cultured, an artistic collaborative that uses art to voice dialogue and healing. With Pretty Cultured, Stacey also co-created “Movement Passport,” which exposes students to cultural dance. In 2019, Stacey co-created the installation “Formed in My Grandmother’s Womb” for Project Row Houses’ Round 50: Race, Health, and Motherhood. From various life experiences, including motherhood, Stacey began her newest artistic endeavor- Nia’s Daughters Movement Collective.
Stacey’s choreographic perspective is to create works that are culturally competent and incorporate social justice and activism. She wants her choreography to speak for marginalized people- giving voice to the voiceless. It is of great importance for her to create works that embrace non-traditional dance and theatergoers.
In addition to choreography and performance, Stacey is passionate about sharing the historical, cultural, and physical aspects of dance. Stacey gives presentations on her original research, “Dancing beyond Aesthetics,” that aids educators with incorporating social justice and multicultural education into their pedagogy. She has presented at conferences such as National Dance Educators Organization, Texas Dance Educators Association, and Houston Arts Partners.
Donna Crump is an award-winning choreographer, actress, and performing artist from New Orleans, Louisiana, who has been dancing for over 30 years. She holds a BFA in Dance from Tulane University and has also studied and created dance in New York, South Africa, with the First Physical Dance Theatre and in Brazil with the country’s premier dance company Grupo Corpo. Photo by Jafar M Pierre
Donna served as the resident choreographer for the Marigny Opera Ballet in New Orleans and is Artistic Director of her contemporary dance company, Good Dance, Since 1984. Good Dance has performed nationally in New Orleans, Houston, Boston, Alabama, and more, receiving several art awards for Best Choreography and Outstanding New Work.
Since founding Good Dance in 2012, Donna has produced several full-length works, started the pre-professional division of Good Dance, and starred in several commercials and films alongside Oscar-winning and nominated directors Spike Lee and Garrett Bradley. Crump played a lead role in the film America by Garrett Bradley, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019. Donna quickly found her lead role touring several film festivals and museum openings, including Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, The New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
Since moving to Houston almost 4 years ago, Donna has premiered work at MATCH and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.
Rivkah French is an award-winning queer dance choreographer and community leader based in Houston, Texas. French embodies freedom in movement by breaking dance, gender, and societal norms–merging multiple dance styles, powerful themes, and innovative technologies. Rivkah engages audiences and participants in a journey of transformational discovery and expression through both performance and social practice events. Photo by Angie Uhegwu
Throughout their twenty-five year career, French has created over 30 full-length dance and multimedia performances, founded and directed the non-profit dance theatre FrenetiCore, built and managed the organization’s black box theatrical venue, founded and produced the Houston Fringe Festival, and taught movement arts to at-risk children and adults, as well as homeless and incarcerated teens.
Rivkah is currently focused on developing both spaces and experiences that foster healing and empowerment through self-expression for the LGBTQ+ community, expanding the field of Queer Dance Theory, and creating new movement techniques that fuse global dance styles with contemporary Western dance. French’s career exemplifies their endless belief in the power of art on individuals and society at large.
Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton, in collaboration with Harrison Guy & Dominic Walsh
Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton is an internationally-known writer, educator, activist, performer, and the first Black Poet Laureate of Houston, Texas. Formerly ranked the #2 Best Female Performance Poet in the World, Her recent poetry collection, Newsworthy, garnered her a Pushcart nomination, was named a finalist for the 2019 Writer’s League of Texas Book Award and received honorable mention for the Summerlee Book Prize.
Photo by Paula Luu
Its German translation, under the title “Berichtenswert,” is set to be released in Fall 2021 by Elif Verlag. The opera Marian’s Song, for which she wrote the libretto, debuted in 2020 to roaring reviews. As a finalist for Texas State Poet Laureate, a Kennedy Center Citizen fellowship, and the prestigious Breadloaf Retreat, her work has been highlighted and studied in Canada, England, New Zealand, and Germany. She recently performed as a part of the Kennedy Center’s Arts Across America virtual performance and was named a Houston Artist Commissioning Project award winner by the Society for the Performing Arts Houston. Her second book, Black Chameleon, is set to release in 2022 by Henry Holt & Co. A storybook opera entitled “Lula, the Mighty Warrior,” which reinterprets one of the stories from Black Chameleon, is set to debut in early 2021 with the Houston Grand Opera. She lives and creates in Houston, TX. For more information, visit www.LiveLifedeep.com.
Harrison Guy has captivated audiences across the nation through his inspirational and unique works of passion, beauty, and activism that are rooted in African American history & culture. He began his dance journey in the small town of La Marque, TX, and building on his love for social dance and Hip-Hop, he affirmed his purpose and calling by studying dance at Prairie View A&M University. He continued his studies at the Houston Metropolitan Dance Center, Sam Houston State University, Deeply Rooted Productions in Chicago, Dallas Black Dance Theater, and The Ailey School in New York. He was a founding member of both Exclamation Dance Company and Dorrel Martin’s Dance Fusion in Houston. In 2004, he debuted his dance company Urban Souls Dance Company at the city-wide dance festival, Dance Houston.
Harrison has gained a reputation for creating soul-stirring works that shift the audience's consciousness and inspire a response. He has facilitated a cultural exchange in Kigali, Rwanda, and was commissioned to create a work at Vanderbilt University in the Spring of 2015 to honor one of America’s most prominent composers, John Harbison. In 2016 he launched Houston’s first African American Dance Festival, and he has also founded Black Arts Movement Houston, a gathering space for local creatives and Brave Bodies, a space dedicated to Black dancers. Harrison is the inaugural Artist in Residence at Rice University through the CERCL Department, presenting a project for Black students and community called Black Bodies in White Spaces. He has won numerous awards, including Best Choreography for his work as Movement Director with Rec Room’s presentation of The Royale. He is the Founder of the Charles Law Community Archive through the Black LGBTQ History & Heritage Project with the African American Library at The Gregory School. Mr. Guy has been teaching dance for 18 years. He has taught on the campuses of Codwell Elementary, Gregory-Lincoln Fine Arts Academy, Hamilton Middle School, and Waltrip High School. Harrison has served the city on the Mayor’s Quality of Life Committee. He has also chaired the Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Board and is currently serving on the Mayor’s Policing Task Force. Harrison is the Director of Arts and Culture at the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation.
Dominic Walsh, a former Principal Dancer and Choreographer with Houston Ballet, was born in Elgin, Illinois, and started his training at an early age with Lisa Boehm, Frank Boehm, Warren Conover, and Larry Long in Chicago. He joined Houston Ballet in 1989 and was promoted to soloist in 1993 and principal dancer in 1996. Walsh danced throughout Asia, Europe, and North America, receiving praise from critics such as Anna Kisselgoff of the New York Times, who called him “impressively virtuosic.”
Walsh has performed all the major classics, including Swan Lake, Giselle, Don Quixote, Romeo & Juliet, and Manon, with international stars such as Nina Ananiashvili and Alessandra Ferri. He danced Houston Ballet’s entire contemporary repertoire, and Ben Stevenson created numerous roles for him, including Marc Antony in Cleopatra. In 1998, Walsh’s work Flames of Eros for Houston Ballet won the prestigious Choo-San Goh Award for Choreography. He won a second Choo-San Goh Award in 2007 for Amadeus for Anita, a 2008 Princess Grace Award for Mozart, and numerous other choreography awards.
From 2002 to 2014, Walsh directed his contemporary ballet company, Dominic Walsh Dance Theater. After the company’s debut in February 2003, Dance Magazine said, “At last Houston has a contemporary dance company on par with its symphony, opera, and ballet companies.” Since then, the company has accumulated honors and built a reputation for taking the techniques and skills of classical ballet into groundbreaking territory. The company’s repertoire features works by Walsh and such iconic choreographers as Mats Ek, Jiří Kylián, Mauro Bigonzetti, and Matthew Bourne.
Kemi OG is a structural engineer, dance artist, choreographer, fitness instructor, and creative director. She is the Afrodance Instructor for the Institute of Contemporary Dance and founder of Afrobeats with Kemi OG; an Afrodance program focused on teaching technique and fusion choreography. Since 2012, She has trained and taught Afrodance, produced several shows, and curated multimedia performance pieces. In 2015, She founded AFROBEAT at JHU, a Zumba-inspired Afrodance fitness program focused on African, Caribbean, and other diasporic rhythms, and worked as its main instructor for the first 3 years at Johns Hopkins University, where she also received a certificate in dance. In 2019, She hosted an 8 city Afrodance tour for beginners, which raised over $1000 for a children’s camp in Nigeria. She has performed for artists such as Tiwa Savage, Oritse Femi, Toofan, Yemi Alade, Eddy Kenzo, Afro B, Mr. Eazi, Kizz Daniel, etc. In addition to teaching, She is currently working as the executive producer of “Femme: Through the Inner Eye of A Westernized African Girl,” a creative project focused on empowering women and creatives of color. Kemi has a passion for learning and sharing African culture and history through dance and using the dance form as a medium for talking about social issues while encouraging mental wellness and self-worth through movement.
Kalpana Subbarao is an artist with over 20 years of experience in Indian classical dance forms, Kathak and Bharatanatyam. As a 2018-2019 Artist in Residence for Dance Source Houston,
she produced a collaborative show on Kathak-Flamenco with 7 Photo by Lynn Lane
other artists from Houston. In 2017, she was a solo artist in the Barnstorm Dance Festival. She is a certified Teaching Artist through Young Audiences of Houston/University of Houston.
She studied Bharatanatyam in a traditional setting in India. A recipient of a 3-year scholarship from the Sangeet Nritya Academy, she holds the 1st rank in the Senior and Vidwat (Proficiency) exams. Currently, she practices Kathak and is a disciple of Pandit Sontosh for the past 9 years. She is a student of rhythm with Pandit Divyang Vakil for the past 2 years. In 2021, she completed a 15-day workshop on Navarasa Sadhana, a system of acting methodology for dancers, conducted by Guru G. Venu. She has performed in the USA, India, and Malaysia. She has conceptualized, co-created, co-choreographed, and directed an evening-length production of Kathak-Flamenco, A Celebration of Cultures. As a choreographer, she showcased her work, Beloved, at the Mind The Gap show in 2017. She was the lead choreographer for Kathak in Silambam Houston Dance Company’s production, Kāvya: Poetry in Motion, staged at Miller Outdoor Theater (2018) and MATCH (2017) in Houston. Kalpana teaches Kathak for Silambam Houston at their Pearland and Heights locations. She has a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Houston and has previously worked as an engineer.
Ke’Ron Wilson, B.F.A., is a non-binary dance artist, poet, and healer currently based in Houston, Texas. Their art, being heavily influenced by their activism, pulls from a wide range of disciplines and seeks to cultivate a shared sensitivity towards the human condition. Each piece of art and movement exploration is designed to invite the audience, or student, into a realm in which mind, body, and spirit are unified towards personal and collective liberation. Ultimately, they aspire to expand our collective perception of gender, sexuality, race, and Spirit as they relate to movement, healing, and the arts.
About Dance Source Houston
Dance Source Houston is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering the diverse individuals and organizations working in the field of dance throughout the Greater Houston region by means of advocacy, inclusive community engagement, and support services. Founded in 2005, Dance Source Houston is a resource for all things dance in the Greater Houston area and provides programs and services to address the evolving needs of the local dance community. Dance Source Houston is funded in part support from The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, the Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts, the Heimbinder Family Foundation, Houston Endowment, Mid America Arts Alliance, and Texas Commission on the Arts. www.dancesourcehouston.org