'Dué' Dance Show Is a Fun Spin on Perfect Pairs Just in Time for V-Day Weekend

'Dué' Dance Show Is a Fun Spin on Perfect Pairs Just in Time for V-Day Weekend

HCDC (photo by Lauren Berrthelot)

THIS FRIDAY AND Saturday, Feb. 10 and 11, the relatively small yet stylish venue Heights Ironworks is the site for DUÉ (“TWO”). The program of duets was created by six different choreographers for the six members of Houston Contemporary Dance Company (HCDC). The choreographers were selected and commissioned by HCDC’s founding artistic and executive director, Marlana Doyle, and include Houstonian Teresa Chapman, who is an assistant professor of dance at UH, and five other artists from around the country: Alexa Capareda, Joe Celej, Brandon Coleman, Andrea Dawn Shelley and Kia Smith. Due to the size of the Heights Ironworks, seating is limited, and there are two performances each night.

When it came to pairing dancers with a choreographer, Doyle took time to consider the choreographer’s style and the strengths and performance history of her dancers, hoping to push everyone involved to do something they’d never done before. For Celej’s duet, Doyle selected Tamia Bradford and Shantelle Rush, two dancers from her company who didn’t know each other that well and had never performed as a duo before. She was delighted to see them rise to the occasion in a piece that demands they “stay connected while moving through the space.” “Sometimes, it’s challenging for dancers to understand the weight-sharing and the way that the bodies move together,” explains Doyle. “I feel these two dancers elevated the work over the time they worked together.”

Meanwhile, Smith, who is the founder and executive artistic director of the South Chicago Dance Theatre, has been working with Avery Moore and founding company member Genene Wallis McGrath, two dancers she noticed last summer while visiting HCDC for a workshop. Drawing on the skill and physical prowess of Moore and McGrath, Smith, whose father was a jazz musician, created an intense, nine-minute work where the two dancers never stop moving (and at one point, speaking), all while accompanied by a series of wildly different musical cues which blend seamlessly with the movement.

The program’s title, which means “two” in Italian, is a reference to Doyle’s Irish Italian heritage, and true to that heritage, she is unabashedly passionate in expressing her love for DUÉ. “It’s so intimate in nature,” says Doyle. “It’s so intimate with the pairings and the way it all works together.”

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