Society for the Performing Arts offers a range of public programs often facilitated by the world-class artists SPA brings to Houston. Pre-professionals and families are welcomed to participate in the many opportunities we provide throughout the season.
Houston Artist Commissioning Project Virtual Winners
In July 2020, Society for the Performing Arts announced a new commissioning project for Houston artists—the SPA Houston Artist Commissioning Project (HACP).
Created to promote and sustain Houston’s working artists and artist communities by supporting the creation of new works across all performing arts disciplines, HACP features virtual commissions by local performing artists. See the premieres below, organized by date.
Premiere Date: JULY 15, 2021
Westwood Trust Creative Chat featuring Vivalda Ndula
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born and raised in Luanda, Angola, Vivalda (N)Dula become one of the voices of the new generation of Angolan musicians that creates a significant cultural and international impact on today’s Angolan music. (N)Dula is an activist, singer-songwriter, percussionist and dancer. She is a multi-award winning, nominated/finalist of StarAfrica Sound, (ISC) International Songwriting Competition and Angola Music Awards (AMA). (N)Dula sings mostly about love and social inequality, particularly in Angola. Through her music, Vivalda raises social awareness against child labor, modern slavery, and human trafficking including her award nominated song ´Mázui´(voices) and ´Monandengue´(children). As a young child she was influenced by her grandfather António Domingos, a storyteller and her great grandfather Dia Lobilo, a master instrumentalist of the Madimba (African Xylophone) and the Kisanji (Thumb Piano). After forming the Afro-contemporary Dance and Percussion company “Karapinha Dura“ in 2009, Vivalda started working with classic Chilean guitarist Dr. Marcelo Vilches-Robert, and began experimenting with the fusion of Angolan traditional sound and classical music. This creative musical relationship between Vivalda and MV-Robert, gave birth to her first musical “MUJÍTU” or “The Guest“ in 2010. The MUJÍTU Afro-contemporary musical premiered in 2011 in Luanda, Angola at the prestigious LAASP, and then in Houston, USA in 2013 during the 6th Akwaaba Dance and Drum Festival. Later Dula relocated to USA to pursue a solo music career. Throughout her career, (N)Dula shared the stage with well-known world music artists and bands such as Salif Keita, Cheick Hamala Diabate, Allen Toussaint, Ruth Foster , Beat & Wind from Japanasia, Cassandra Wilson and Gabriel Tchiema.
Premiere Date: JUNE 24, 2021
Westwood Trust Creative Chat featuring Erin Rodgers
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Erin Elizabeth Rodgers is a multidisciplinary artist from Houston, Texas. Erin’s hallmark is her ability to distill complex emotions and concepts into elegant and effective storytelling. She brings this lyricism to all of her work, which includes writing, composition, multimedia, and textile work. She is a classically trained clarinetist, but she also has her own voice and likes to use it outside of that context. She plays the clarinet in most of her compositions, including her indie stuff. As a performer, Erin currently contributes some combination of clarinet, piano, guitar, accordion, and vocals to several groups, including Houston indie rock band The Wheel Workers, Houston’s premier accordion cover band Houston’s A.S.S., and National Pleasure, her own project. She also frequently works with The Catastrophic Theatre and as part of the Drama Squad. She loves collaborations of all kinds. Sometimes her best works come from the ones that don’t make sense to her immediately, because she’s not limited by where it is expected to go. Since discovering a penchant for video and multimedia work, Erin has created videos for The Catastrophic Theatre and National Pleasure, among other projects. Her most widely known video work to date is the first installment of Traffic Jams, which also features original musical composition.
Premiere Date: JUNE 3, 2021
Westwood Trust Creative Chat featuring Roderick George
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born and raised in Houston, TX, Roderick George began his classical training at Ben Stevenson’s Houston Ballet Academy and explored modern technique at the Alvin Ailey School. After graduating from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts he moved to New York where he studied at SUNY Purchase and later joined Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in 2005, engraving the beginning of his footprints in the dance world. Roderick moved abroad to Switzerland to join Basel Ballet/ Theater Basel in 2007 and later to join The Forsythe Company in Frankfurt, Germany, under the direction of William Forsythe. Along with his talent as a dancer, Roderick also has had a passion for choreography since the early years, showcasing his work across Europe and the United States where he continues to use prior knowledge and experiences to not only improve his choreographic work but also his talent and development as a contemporary performer. Coming from an underprivileged segment of society, Roderick has constantly had to figure out ways to gain access to esteemed artistic institutions where he could learn codified forms of dance. The struggle to obtain knowledge pushed him to thrive in his formative years—in large part due to a scrappy relentlessness developed in his pursuit of excellence.
Premiere Date: DEC 17, 2020
Westwood Trust Creative Chat featuring WindSync & Akshaya Avril Tucker
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Since the ensemble’s founding in 2009, WindSync has built a reputation as one of the finest North American wind quintets, backed by national and international-level prizes in chamber music performance from the Concert Artists Guild, Fischoff, and M-Prize Chamber Arts competitions. WindSync infuses their traditional genre of Western classical chamber music with relevancy and energy by focusing on innovation, collaboration, and special programming for children and families. In Houston, they curate and perform a three-concert series each season and present the Onstage Offstage Chamber Music Festival, designed to connect the people and neighborhoods of Houston through music education and music in public spaces. WindSync has appeared in recital at the Library of Congress, Shanghai Oriental Arts Center, Ravinia, and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, and they have been named three times to the touring roster of the Texas Commission on the Arts.
Akshaya Avril Tucker is a composer drawing inspiration from the music and dance traditions of South Asia, who trained as a cellist and Odissi dancer from a young age. Commissions and projects include works for Johnny Gandelsman (Brooklyn Rider), WindSync, Marianne Gedigian, Hindustani vocalist Saili Oak, Duo Cortona, Englewinds, invoke string quartet, Thalea String Quartet and Density512. She holds an M.M. in Composition from the University of Texas at Austin and a B.A. in Music from Brown University. In 2019, she won an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award. She received an honorable mention from ASCAP in 2018 and was a finalist for the award again in 2020. In 2017, she received a Rainwater Innovation Grant from the University of Texas, and in 2015, she received a Brown University Distinguished Senior Thesis Award.
The Light Years
Premiere Date: DEC 3, 2020
Westwood Trust Creative Chat featuring Felipe Lopez
360-degree views can be experienced by using the arrows on the top left of the screen (on desktop) or by moving your phone or swiping your fingers across your screen (on mobile). The video is optimized for Virtual Reality, so if you have VR goggles, we invite you to hook them up to this video to truly immerse yourself
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Felipe Lopez is a multidimensional self-taught visual artist based in Houston, Texas. Born in New York, Lopez’s career began with mixed media drawings & paintings. He has exhibited work at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Art Miami, Houston Fine Art Fair, the Texas Contemporary Art Fair, Sculpture Month Houston, and many notable galleries across the nation and the world. Felipe is also an Artist Facilitator for the Artist INC program through Fresh Arts. In 2019 he was awarded a Support for Artists and Creative Individuals grant through Houston Arts Alliance which helped to fund his largest bulb work. 2020 has brought opportunities including a solo exhibition at Deborah Colton Gallery and inclusion in the 21st Texas A & M Corpus Christi Oso Bay Biennial.
Bringing 15 plus years of classical and contemporary music performance along with composition, Meghan Hendley – Chapel in the Sky has established herself as a multifaceted musician. Studying classical piano and composition at Rice University Shepherd School of Music along with the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music/Honors College, Hendley’s strong classical roots have allowed her to compose chamber, choral, theater, film, and electronic music for a variety of performances. Hendley has also performed in multiple bands including at SXSW as an official artist, Free Press Summer Fest, and Bonnaroo.
2017 Mayors Office of Cultural Affairs Artist in Resident and 2016 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and The Idea Fund recipient, Emanuelee Outspoken Bean is a performance poet, writer, compassionate mentor, electric entertainer, and educator. Bean uses poetry to collaborate with other mediums and institutions such as being the first poet to perform on a main stage production of Houston Ballet’s PLAY. Bean has also worked with many youth organizations from across the country. While balancing a very busy touring schedule, in Houston Bean serves as the Project Coordinator, Lead Coach, and mentor for Meta-Four Houston, a project of Writers in the Schools (WITS).
Premiere Date: NOV 19, 2020
Westwood Trust Creative Chat featuring Chris Thomas
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Christopher Thomas began dancing and entertaining at a very young age, by the time he reached 11, Thomas was already being featured in commercials. After taking a break during his teen years to focus on sports and college Thomas returned to his true love, dance, and in 2007 began traveling the world. Thomas has visited 25 countries as a teacher, competitor, choreographer, and performer. Through dance and entertainment Thomas has performed along side Steven Tyler, Keith Urban, Sugar Ray, Life House, Natasha Bedingfield 69 Boyz, Flo Rida, Kendrick Lamar, Erykah Badu and more.
In 2010 Thomas relocated to Bangkok, Thailand to explore dance abroad. There he trained local pop stars while hosting and performing at events throughout Southeast Asia. Thomas moved back home to Houston a year later and started his own dance company, Sonkiss’d Dance Theater. With Sonkiss’d Thomas mentored dancers. He also provided opportunities for them to expand their talents to become more valuable in the competitive market of entertainment.
Thomas now has past dancers who work and tour with Sam Smith, Taylor Swift, and Beyoncé. When it comes to entertainment Thomas believes he can achieve anything. His motto: “God gave you a talent. Use it. That is your gift to the world.”
Jacquelyne Boe & David Janesko
Premiere Date: NOV 12, 2020
Westwood Trust Creative Chat featuring Jacquelyne Boe & David Janesko
Original music by Houston composer Jeremy Nuncio.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Boe and Janesko have an ongoing collaboration as part of their 2019 to 2021 residency at the Lawndale Art Center in Houston, Texas. Boe is Houston based professional choreographer, dancer, and educator interested in collaboration and experimentation. Janesko is an artist exploring the emergence of complexity using an experimental approach that encompasses a wide array of mediums, technology and subject matter. Together they are exploring movement and drawing through sets of rule-based actions in multiple media types.
David Janesko grew up in Western Pennsylvania and worked for a number of years as a geologist before attending the San Francisco Art Institute (MFA, 2013). From 2013 to 2015 David was a Graduate Fellow then Affiliate Artist at the Headlands Center for the Artist in Sausalito California, and the curator for Flatland Gallery in Houston from 2017 to 2019. Janesko has presented his work in numerous exhibitions around the US in a wide variety of both indoor and outdoor spaces.
Jacquelyne Boe has been creating original works since 2014 and is a founding member of Perspective Exchange, an annual cross-country dance festival by choreographers from Austin, New York, San Francisco, Denver and Houston. With a BFA in Modern Dance Performance, she is currently a company member of Erick Hawkins Dance, Frame Dance, and Hopestone Dance. Boe has also worked with organizations and individual artists such as Houston Grand Opera, Sean Curran, and Rob Ashford.
Trouble in the Melting Pot
Premiere Date: OCT 29, 2020
Westwood Trust Creative Chat featuring Tazeen Zahida
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in Karachi and raised in Saudi Arabia, poetry and literature played a major role in Tazeen Zahida‘s upbringing. She grew up immersed in the writings of Ghalib, Iqbal, Faiz, Shakespeare, Shaw, Wilde and Poe. She eventually found her voice in playwriting. As an unapologetic bilingual, she writes plays and articles both in English and Urdu. Tazeen’s work is inspired by current affairs, social issues, family dynamics and her experiences of living in the Middle East and America. Her work aims to represent the unrepresented and tell the untold stories in an authentic and meaningful way. She has been working under the banner of her company Tee Zee Productions. Some of her recent plays in Houston include, “A Rearranged Marriage,” “Blood Test” and “Mohabbat Fatehay Aalam (Love Conquers All).”
Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton
Hold the Light
Premiere Date: OCT 15, 2020
Westwood Trust Creative Chat featuring Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton is an internationally known writer, educator, activist, and the first Black Poet Laureate of Houston. Her work has appeared in Houston Noir by Akashic Press (2019), Black Girl Magic by Haymarket Books (2019), Fjords Journal, Crab Orchard Review, and on such platforms as NPR, BBC, ABC, Apple News, Blavity, Upworthy, and across the TedX circuit. She serves as a contributing writer to Texas Monthly and Glamour. Her most recent poetry collection, Newsworthy, won honorable mention for the Summerlee Book Prize. A German translation, under the title SayTheirNames, is set to be released in Fall 2021 by Elif Verlag. D.E.E.P. holds two Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor, in English and African American Studies respectively. She also holds a M.Ed from the University of ST. Thomas. She is a certified teacher with the State of Texas and has dedicated over 15 years towards the education of young minds, the expansion of literacy, and the dismantling of literary racism.