Blogging Blaffer

The Museum as Music Box

When we host a traveling exhibition, we often include at least one or two Blaffer-specific components that visitors in other cities won’t see. Last year, for example, we commissioned four artworks to accompany our presentation of Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art. (One of the artists we commissioned, Miguel Amat, now has his own Blaffer exhibition, Dark Pool Knight Vision, on view through Dec. 13.)

As part of Buildering: Misbehaving the City, we’re presenting 021 Urban Songline, a performance at 7 p.m. on November 18 by Dutch artist Allard van Hoorn in collaboration with Houston-based dancers Leslie Scates, Karen Stokes, Teresa Chapman and Becky Valls.

Van Hoorn is a sound, installation and performance artist collaborating across the disciplines of architecture, design, music, dance and theater. This performance is part of his Urban Songlines series of visual, acoustic and spatial scripts and scenarios executed in and around public buildings around the world that investigate our relationship to public space. As such, it’s a great fit for our building, which since our 2012 renovation has looked amazing at night. (The image above is from van Hoorn’s 007 Urban Songline, which was performed at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York.)

Van Hoorn’s Blaffer performance will turn the building into a colorful music box. A group of dancers equipped with flashlights will move up, down, and around the staircase and hallways of the museum to create a visual and sonic description of the architecture that is simultaneously recorded, translated into a musical score, and re-interpreted in a live performance that seeks a symbiosis of movement and architecture, of structure and dynamics that allows audiences to listen to the building as well as inhabit it.

As always, the event is free and open to the public. Although we normally close at 5 p.m., we’ll stay open late for the performance, so stop by to see the rest of Buildering (or Dark Pool Knight Vision. Our gallery attendants will let you know when it’s time to head outside to watch the building light up.

Van Hoorn was born on February 29th, 1968 in Leiden, the Netherlands. His work has been shown at institutions and events including Istanbul Biennale, ISCP Open Studios November 2014, Art Rotterdam 2014 as Focus Artist, Biennale for Urbanism and Architecture 2013 in Shenzhen, Centro Centro, Madrid, MaCRO, Rosario, Rosenthal Contemporary Arts Center, de Appel arts centre, Storefront for Art and Architecture, Hear it! at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Gwangju Design Biennale, Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, Gasworks in London, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai, the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia, Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, The Moore Space in Miami, Museo de la Ciudad de México, the German Architectural Centre (DAZ) in Berlin, the Zendai Museum of Modern Art in Shanghai and CCCB in Barcelona.

About the dancers who will help van Hoorn realize 021 Urban Songline:

Leslie Scates is a member of Lower Left Performance Collective and works with Sophia Torres, Erin Reck, CORE Performance Company, and Jhon Stronks. In June 2014, the Houston Press named Leslie one of Houston’s 100 Top Creatives. She teaches Ensemble Thinking, Contact Improvisation and Choreography to performance ensembles, in educational dance programs, and to corporates in collaborative environments. She is adjunct faculty at the University of Houston, and is a coordinating committee member for The Texas Dance Improvisation Festival. Leslie spent time in Berlin, Germany this summer teaching and performing at Tanzfabrik Festival. She attended the Live Legacy Project and studied with Lisa Nelson, Deter Heintkamp and with Eva Karzag. Leslie owns a massage therapy practice at Shana Ross Fitness, and recently founded Ink Stringer, a handwritten correspondence service for executives and socials in Houston.

Karen Stokes has been choreographing original dance theater since 1988. Since 1998, Stokes has created eight evening length productions in addition to over 35 repertory (short program) works. Her work emphasizes quirky movement invention, strong rhythmic connections, text, original vocals, and concepts of community. Over the last three years, Stokes has branched out into creating video projection as an integrated part of her live theatrical productions. Stokes also has created several dance for camera projects, some of which are available online. Stokes’ choreography works strongly with setting a time and place, whether imaginary or real. Stokes is honored that her company, Karen Stokes Dance, has received recognition through awards, grants, and positive critical acclaim.. For information about the company: Stokes is grateful for the opportunity to be an active choreographer and an active dance educator. She is Professor and Director of Dance at the University of Houston.

Teresa Chapman is an Associate Professor at the University of Houston where she teaches dance technique, aesthetics, dance kinesiology, and pedagogy. As a performer in Houston, she has worked exclusively with Karen Stokes Dance and on occasion, she has performed in works by many other Houston-based choreographers. In the past, she has danced for various artists in Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC (Liz Lerman Dance Exchange), and New York (KDNY). Chapman is also an independent choreographer. Her work has been presented at DiverseWorks Art Space, Miller Outdoor Theatre, The Barn Theater, the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center, the Cunningham Studios in New York City and Brazos Contemporary Dance Festival 2012. Her work has been commissioned by the University of Nebraska, West Virginia University, UC Santa Barbara, and Bucknell University. She has received funding from the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, multiple internal UH grants, and external funding from Houston Arts Alliance Individual Artist Project and Fellowship grants to support her work. In 2010, she was the recipient of the Ross M. Lence Teaching Award for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. In 2011, she was promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure ant the University of Houston. Chapman received her MFA in Dance from California State University, Long Beach. Chapman continues to produce her work professionally under the title of Chapman Dance on a project-to-project basis. As an independent choreographer, Chapman has been producing and presenting her work professionally for nine years. Known for her full-bodied, athletic choreography, Chapman is currently focusing on making dances that celebrate the strength and vulnerability of the feminine spirit.

Becky Valls is an Associate Professor of Dance at the University of Houston where she teaches dance education, dance history, modern technique, and senior projects. She is the director of the UH Young Audiences Touring Company and a recipient of the Ross M. Lence Teaching Award in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (2013). As an independent choreographer, she produces and choreographs the Memoirs of the Sistahood series – evening-length, multi-disciplinary works based on her large Catholic family, with sculptor Babette Beaullieu of New Orleans, and film maker Deborah Schildt of Anchorage. They received a Houston Arts Alliance grant and two National Performance Network Grants to produce/tour Chapter One (2007), Chapter Two: House (2009), Chapter Three: Ave Maria (2011), and Chapter Four: Sacred Trails (2013).

As a Teaching Artist for 23 years, Valls designs movement lessons with cross curricular links for elementary schools and conducts professional development workshops for teachers titled, “Creative Dance for the Classroom”. She is the director and choreographer of Becky Valls and Company, a performing group with Young Audiences of Houston that tours three dance/science performances titled Dance of the Insects, For the Birds, and Under the Sea. Under the Sea is performed by the UH Young Audiences Touring Company, a student dance company that performs for students in K-5th grades. She is presently researching embodied learning with UH Charter School through the Science Dance Project. The project trains classroom teachers to develop science/dance curriculum for the constructivist school and documents how students construct knowledge of science concepts through dance.


Phone: 713-743-9521
Mailing Address: Blaffer Art Museum
University of Houston
120 Fine Arts Building Houston, TX 77204