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Farrell Dyde Dance Theatre


Farrell Dyde Dance Theatre was founded to facilitate the creation and presentation of new dance theater works by Farrell Dyde and other like-minded choreographers as well as to educate the public about dance as an art form. 

The company creates and presents original, imaginative works that spring from new forms of 20th century advanced dance, theatre and visual art while maintaining a strong awareness with the traditions of those forms. 

Goals are:

  • To present, through the medium of adventurous dance theater, a clear message that provokes and challenges existing values and perceptions, while at the same time offering the hope of change.
  • To represent through a disciplined, ordered and inspired physical medium an idealized spirit that is supportive and replenishing.
  • To educate audiences primarily through the art itself, but also with programs designed to meet the awareness level of specific targeted groups.
  • To provide historical perspective by presenting works that relate to the past in ways that illuminate the present.
  • To reaffirm values that have been lost in an era of rapidly advancing technology while utilizing that technology to enlarge the human spirit.

What We Bring to the Community:

  • A sustained vision in Houston of modern dance since 1975 as a unique American art form based upon a foundation that perceives dance as an exploration and demonstration of the human spirit expressed through disciplined, adventurous, rigorous physical movement. 

Farrell Dyde Dance Theatre currently works on a project to project basis, not maintaining a permanent company of dancers. Plans for innovative performances and educational initiatives are in formation for the 2017-18 Season. 

Additionally, the company would like to make the over 100 works created by Farrell Dyde known and available through the company’s website. The past several years have afforded Mr. Dyde the time to review and analyze much of his past work on video and while much of the work is only of historical value, there are many works that are worthy of restaging both for the current company and other companies for whom they would be a good fit.

Farrell Dyde Dance Theatre is best known for its pioneering efforts in Houston, Texas during the late 1970’s and 80’s at a time when dance all over the country was experiencing unprecedented growth and the Houston economy was booming.  At that time, Farrell Dyde was among Texas’s best-known choreographers and the company was notable for iit'sadventurous, often experimental programming of both proscenium and site-specific works as well as presenting significant contemporary minded guest artists. Dyde spent those years developing his own voice and style achieving a number of breakthroughs in his efforts to synthesize a narrative storyline with his evolving, abstract, hypnotic dance vocabulary. Successful performances in New York and works created for Houston Ballet and others gave Farrell Dyde exposure beyond the state of Texas and his career and the company appeared headed for national recognition of significance.

A confluence of problems, however, including the radical downturn of both the local and the national economy forced the company to suspend operations and in 1991 the group of permanent dancers was disbanded.

Over the next several years, the company continued to work on a project basis presenting performances that were designed to stimulate audience growth and new perceptions.  During that time, Farrell Dyde dedicated himself to deepening his knowledge of the business side of dance and in so doing worked in various capacities for other businesses and dance companies including Global Enterprises (to introduce modern dance to SKD – a 90 year old performance company in Tokyo, Japan), Dayton Ballet as school director, for Arts America (to introduce new ideas in Western modern dance to the emerging city of Kiev, Ukraine) and as executive director of Helander and Company in Boulder, Colorado. 

In 1999, Farrell Dyde decided to re-locate to New York in order to maintain contact with new developments on both the artistic and business side of contemporary dance.  At that time, he began work as Director of External Affairs for Lar Lubovitch Dance Company --- writing grants, instigating various technology initiatives and starting an educational outreach program for all five boroughs of New York City.

Farrell Dyde Dance Theatre was founded by choreographer, dancer, teacher, Farrell Dyde and writer/philosopher James Rosenfield as The Carolina Contemporary Dance Theatre in Raleigh, NC August 4, 1974.  Programs were presented around the state under sponsorship of the State Department of Instruction. In 1976 the company re-located to Houston, Texas and became Theatre Dance Unlimited, presenting its first concert in June. In 1977 Rosenfield left to pursue his writing career in Atlanta and dancer/choreographer, Laura Fly, became co-director.

In 1980 the company moved into what became 3221 Milam, an alternative art space presenting new music, dance, performance art and regular art shows in its gallery curated by Jon Powel .  The name of the dance company was changed to The Farrell Dyde Dance Theatre and a new era began. Fly, meanwhile, had moved on to create work in Boston.

Over the next five years the company achieved considerable success, receiving grants for performances (3-4 concert series per year), presenting visiting guest companies, soloists and teachers, touring and special events.  Sources for these revenues came from The Cultural Arts Council of Houston, The Texas Commission on the Arts, Exxon, Tenneco, Texas Eastern, Criterion Money Management, First City Bank, The Hershey Foundation, The Coca-Cola Foundation, and numerous others including prominent individuals, most notably Earl Douglas Mitchell.

In 1986 the company was reorganized with a new board and a new format that focused initially on events with a major impact and later with a smaller company comprised of three women and three men, streamlined for touring.  New levels of funding were achieved with breakthrough grants from Louisa Stude Sarofim, Harris Masterson, The Brown Foundation, The Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts and across the board increases from individuals. In 1991, however, the company was disbanded when the goal of paying union scale salaries to dancers could not be reached.

In 1991, the company became Novodada Dance Theatre with Farrell Dyde as Executive Director and long time collaborator, Sarah Irwin as Artistic Director. The company turned its focus to producing projects with a high level of visibility while not continuing to maintain a permanent company of dancers. Several successful concerts were presented including A History of Luminous Thinking (new Dyde solo works at DiverseWorks), Certified Meat (featuring Houston’s best known veteran modern dance choreographers) and Arena Dancing (a dance series featuring works in progress by emerging and veteran choreographers in an informal venue designed to stimulate greater interaction between performers and the audience.)

In 1997, the company initiated a Modern Dance Focus Group that brought together a large number of respected arts leaders to discuss problems and solutions associated with fundraising and marketing modern dance in Houston. That group eventually became folded into efforts of the Houston Dance Initiative headed by Christina Giannelli after Farrell Dyde made his decision to move back to New York.

In 2003 Dyde returned to Houston and since then has produced a number of low key solo and fine arts projects including Corrective Measures (2005), Persona Non Gratis (2006), An Anatomy of the Night (2008),  Aerial Views, Grids & Excursions (2009) and Useless Activities (2011) while slowly building a new foundation for the company to ensure future stability and to preserve the archival history of the company.

Farrell Dyde is an American choreographer, dancer, actor and poet who has created over 100 original modern and post modern movement theater works of varying dimension and approach and that cover a broad spectrum of both narrative and non-narrative for his own company and many other companies and institutions. Farrell has concentrated on evolving dance forms that explore new movement and foster a spontaneous release of energy. As a soloist he is known for his improvisation.

An original member of the CAM (Contemporary Arts Museum) choreographers in Houston, he created two world premiere ballets for Houston Ballet (1983 & 1985). Firmly dedicated to new music, Farrell has employed the music of many of the best known contemporary composers including his having commissioned renowned British composer Michael Nyman (of The Piano fame) to create an original score to accompany his second work for Houston Ballet, Basic Black (1985). Farrell has also created a considerable number of sound collages from sampled materials that form the basis of group or solo works most notably Freeforall (1972), Tell Tale Hearts (1984) and Stigmata (1989).

A former athlete and actor, Farrell taught modern dance for over 30 years at his own studio and for other companies and institutions both in the US and abroad. He also taught Pilates based conditioning for 9 years at the Physical Conditioning Centre in Houston directed by Elizabeth Jones Boswell. In 1994 he was selected by the United States Information Agency/Arts America to teach, choreograph and perform in Kiev, Ukraine as a Cultural Specialist opening doors for better relations between that country and the U.S. In 1991 Global Enterprises chose him to introduce modern dance to SKD, a 90 year old performing company in Tokyo, Japan. He toured extensively as a soloist and has presented work in New York (at The Cubiculo, Dance Theatre Workshop and other venues) and other parts of the U S. and abroad.

The Farrell Dyde Dance Theatre has received support from such agencies as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Texas Commission on the Arts, The Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County (now Houston Arts Alliance), The Brown Foundation, The Cullen Performing Arts Trust, Exxon, Tenneco and many others.

Farrell was born in New York City and grew up in Denver, Colorado. He initially dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player, but gave that up in high school to become an actor. After being named best actor at Littleton High School, he attended and graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a degree in theatre appearing in over thirty productions -- including work as a scholarship actor with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. While there, he studied modern dance with Charolette Irey (Short), Marilyn Cohen and Nancy Spanier. In Denver he worked with Al Brooks and Maxine Munt at theChanging Scene Theatre, where in 1970, he presented his first independent concert of choreography -- almost by chance -- when a scheduled group canceled out its dates. The concert was a revelation and after that, he decided that he would devote his life to becoming a choreographer. 

After a stint of intensive ballet study with Valerie Roche in Omaha, Farrell went to New York where he took classes from a variety of well-known teachers (including the famed Maggie Black, Gus Solomons Jr., Dan Wagoner and others) -- eventually winning a scholarship to the Martha Graham School. Graham herself was present at the audition. At the end she sat queen-like with all the attendees gathered at her feet. She gave a lecture on how to become a star. She then asked if anyone wished to do an improvisation. Only one person volunteered and that was Farrell. His impromptu dance made Graham laugh and probably was one factor that led to the scholarship and a provisional invitation to join the company for its next series of performances. 

He stayed at the school for only a short while, however, finding that philosophically he was not in the Graham camp  - having been deeply influenced by a summer of study with Merce Cunningham in 1968 (including classes with Carolyn Brown and Sandra Neels) and Don Redlich and Elina Mooney in 1970. He had also been profoundly affected by study with post-modernist, Rudy Perez, whose highly charged, emotional minimalism and no-nonsense, everyman approach ignited something new, while re-connecting Farrell with his theater background. In 1974 he founded what is now Farrell Dyde Dance Theatre and in that same year he won his first choreography fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. 

In 1975 the company moved to Houston, Texas and it is there that Farrell Dyde was afforded the time and support to find his own creative voice and choreographic style -- one that synthesized ideas and techniques gleaned from both theater and dance augmented by voracious reading on a variety of subjects from art history to Zen. 

In 1980 Dyde founded 3221 Milam , one of Houston's first alternative art spaces. 3221 had a performance space that served small dance companies, choreographers, compoers and other performance artists doing independent projects and an art gallery first curated by print maker Dave Folkman and later artist, Jon Powell. 3221 Milam which lasted just over 5 years, giving way to places like Diverse Works, gave artist's of all kinds an opportunity to present their work in an informal, accessible venue as well as serving as an inexpensive theatre for Farrell Dyde Dance Theatre.

In 1981, Farrell married physician, Dr. Marrie Richards with whom he had two sons (Oliver & Lukas Richards -- now both lawyers: Lukas in NY, Oliver in San Diego). They divorced in 1986.

Farrell has additionally served the dance field as an associate professor in dance at the University of Houston at Clear Lakeunder the direction of Jan Stockman Simonds , as director of Dayton Ballet School, as executive director of Helander & Company in Boulder, Colorado, and more recently as director of external affairs for Lar Lubovitch Dance Company in New York.

In 2004, Farrell returned to Houston to continue his artistic work: exploring new ways of making dances that express inwardly driven motivations as they are affected by the outside forces of an evolving world while seeking original new forms to contain these dance ideas. In March 2005 he presented Corrective Measures, a solo work celebrating 3221 Milam.

Since then, he has created five full evening solo dance theatre works: Persona Non Gratis (2006) presented at Barnevelder Movement Arts Center, An Anatomy of the Night (2008) presented at Houston Met Dance Center, Useless Activities (2011) and Dat Is Het (2014) at what was The Barn. In February 2017 he presented a short three act full evening work entitled Mountains Are Mountains at the MATCH/Houston.

He is currently at work planning and fundraising for various new projects To that end, he works alone in the studio several times per week exploring new ideas and listening to all kinds of new music.