Choreographer Revisits His Childhood Home as Site for His Next Show, Premiering This Weekend

Choreographer Revisits His Childhood Home as Site for His Next Show, Premiering This Weekend

'The Delicate Space' (photo by Lynn Lane)

THE GROUNDS AND gardens of Pilot Dance Project’s executive and artistic director Adam Castañeda’s childhood home are the site for The Delicate Space, a collaboration between Castañeda and choreographer and designer Ashley Horn. The Delicate Space is part of a collaborative, multi-year initiative between Castañeda and other artists and The Greater Northside Management District to produce new, multi-disciplinary projects inspired by the now rapidly gentrifying Near Northside neighborhood. The June 30 premiere is already sold out, but there are two more performances on July 1, and tickets are going fast.

“Like most Latin families, we were a multi-generational household,” says Castañeda, 37, who grew up living with his parents, two brothers, aunt, and paternal grandparents. Castañeda’s aunt still lives in and maintains his childhood home with great care, and only after a bit of trepidation, graciously allowed her nephew to host a new work on the property.

Growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness (an experience that inspired his 2021 production, Lazarus in the Promised Land), Castañeda and his family remained very isolated from the people in their neighborhood and anyone else outside of their church. But in 2011, Castañeda purchased a house 12 blocks away from his childhood home, and in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, secured a full-time job as an English professor at Houston Community College. He attributes both events to the universe deciding to firmly root him in the neighborhood where he grew up and provide an opportunity to explore and venerate its history.

The roots of The Delicate Space began with Horn, who frequently sets work for Pilot Dance Project, and came to Castañeda last March with the concept of creating an evening-long duet, where just two dancers would carry the show. Castañeda describes the two leads in The Delicate Space as “lifelong friends” who are on a metaphysical journey to forgive their imperfections and find acceptance within themselves. The cast also includes an otherworldly trio, a sort of Greek chorus, whose movements, choreographed by Castañeda, speak to the duo’s internal dreams and regrets. The outdoor performance also features more than twenty-five costumes designed by Horn, and a soft sculpture by artist Tami Moschioni that resembles the blooms of an orchid and sits nicely with the flora of the production’s garden party atmosphere. For the audience, there will be folding chairs with ornate covers, like what you would see at a quinceañera banquet hall, handheld paper fans, and a variety of mismatched glasses and plates in various colors and patterns for drinks and food at the after-performance reception.

This fall, Castañeda and Moschioni have plans to set more works in Near Northside, a historic Latinx neighborhood Castañeda has come to appreciate and is grateful celebrate through his art. “Part of it is trying to make up for lost time and learn everything that I should have learned from the very beginning,” says Castañeda.

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