The Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble is a contemporary dance company that specializes in commissioning new music for dance and incorporating musicians into the visual imagery. Sharing the stage and the focus, our dancers and musicians break the boundaries of traditional ensemble interaction. Performance works include original choreography and music as well as improvisation by all performers, creating a spontaneous performance environment where anything can happen.
In 18 years, every performance has included live music and the musicians as integral parts of the visual stage imagery.
We believe that the artist's role in society is to communicate, to challenge, to open a dialogue that can both unite us and inspire meaningful change.
We function like a jazz band, and along with sections of choreographed movements and written music, we use improvisation that comes out of the form, concept, and emotional life of the work.
"Lovely dancers & intensely focused musicians." - Mindy Aloff
Village Voice Choice February 2017
"A joy to watch" - Houston Press
"Beautiful instrumental monologues get a physical interpretation by the dancers and the result is, to say the least, a delight for both eye and ear, a thrilling experience.” - Piteå-Tidningen
"Sensuous & Poetic" - Arts Houston Magazine
Recent performances include the premiere of What Will You Do When You Feel Their Absence?, a work that explores how the treatment of immigrants in the United States affects all of us as a society, at the Midtown Arts & Theater Complex Houston (MATCH) and the Mark Morris Dance Center in NYC. Set in an intimate bar/café that could be in any city What Will You Do When You Feel Their Absence? invites the audience to watch as stories unfold about how we are all interconnected. It featured guest artist vocalist Danielle Reich Seale. In June 2017 we premiered Juan Espresso? Tribute To Esquivel, a dance and music tribute to Mexican band leader and composer Juan Garcia Esquivel, as part of Suchu Dance’s 3rd Annual Comedy Dance Festival at MECA. In September 2017 we were presented by the Jazz Loft, a new venue in Stony Brook, NY. The Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble performed at the Mark Morris Dance Center in February 2017, where we presented the New York premiere of In And Out Of The Shadows, inspired by John Cassevetes’ film Shadows, with music by Grammy-nominated composer and trumpeter Tim Hagans
In April 2016 the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble performed at the MATCH Center. The program featured the premiere of Groove-Fish with choreography by Michele Brangwen and music by the Grammy-nominated bassist and composer Rufus Reid, who traveled to Houston to premiere the work. In October 2015, the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble performed at the Mark Morris Dance Center, and in May 2015 we were presented by the ShapeShifter Lab in New York City. In June 2015, we joined with the Houston Composers Salon to present the Big Two-Hearted Festival, featuring new music and dance, at Studio 101 Theatre in Houston. In Fall 2014 we premiered the second season of ARTCAST, our Internet Television Series that features new dance, music and film from Houston, New York, Los Angeles and Vancouver on YouTube. In 2014, the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble was presented by the FONT Festival at the Village Zendo in NYC. In June 2013 the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble premiered ARTCAST Season 1, with episodes of new dance, music and film created in Houston & New York City.
The Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble has collaborated with FOTOFEST International on projects in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2012. The Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble has been featured at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts in Houston as part of FOTOFEST’s 10 Anniversary Biennial dedicated to the themes of The Earth and Artists Responding to Violence. We also created an evening-length site-specific work for their Vine Street Galleries as part of their 2012 Biennial.
Notable collaborations include the premiere of two new works with legendary bassist and composer Rufus Reid at Barnevelder Theater in Houston in 2010. In December 2008 the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble traveled to Sweden to create a dance and music on camera project with the Norrbotten Big Band, an internationally acclaimed jazz ensemble based in Luleå. The Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble returned to Sweden in December 2009 for live performances with the Norrbotten Big Band at the Stora Salen Theater in Luleå and the Akusticum Theater in Piteå. In 2006, the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble was commissioned by MECA to create Confusion of Angels, an altar/installation performance work that included dance, music and film for their Dio de Los Muertos Festival. Confusion of Angels features a short film made at the Rothko Chapel.
We have been presented at Northwestern University by the International Society of Improvised Music; the Interart Annex in New York City by Creative Women New York, and three times at the Miller Outdoor Theater as part of the Annual Weekend of Texas Contemporary Dance. Now in our 18th season of performances, the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble has commissioned twenty-five new music works for dance. Composers include Tim Hagans, Seth Paynter, Thomas Helton, Brian Nelson, Carol Morgan, Reynaldo Ochoa, Arthur Gottschalk and Rufus Reid.