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 Closeness at The Jazz Loft in New York and at the MATCH in Houston. Closeness is set to music by Charlie Haden and Alice Coltrane, as arranged by Grammy-nominated trumpeter and composer Tim Hagans, with choreography by Michele Brangwen, and featuring sections of movement and music created spontaneously in the moment. Our 2018 Season also included the New York City premiere of What Will You Do When You Feel Their Absence? at the Mark Morris Dance Center. This work explores how the treatment of immigrants in the United States affects all of us as a society. 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 features choreography, text, and costumes by Michele Brangwen, music by Thomas Helton, additional text by Peter Josyph, set design by Sandra Tapia Luna, and guest artist vocalist Danielle Reich Seale.
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. This performance was a Village Voice Choice.
We have produced three seasons of ARTCAST, and internet TV series that features new dance, music, and film from multiple cities (2013, 2014-15 & 2019). ARTCAST was designed to develop audiences for the arts and to link both audiences and artists in multiple cities.
We have been presented in New York City by Dance Theatre of Harlem, ShapeShifter Lab, and the FONT Festival; and in Chicago by the International Society of Improvised Music. In Houston, we have 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.
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 Dia de Los Muertos Festival. Confusion of Angels features a short film made at the Rothko Chapel’s Reflecting Pool.
Now entering our 19th 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.