Dancer/choreographer Farrell Dyde celebrates more than 40 years onstage with Dat is Het: Farrell Dyde Solo Dance Concert. The program takes its title from the Dutch phrase "Dat is het," which means 'That is it.' Dyde came across the phrase in reading a Van Gogh biography.
"Vincent was very much concerned with the it-ness of his paintings," Dyde tells us. "He was trying to get to a point where it was the final absolute statement. That idea grabbed me. For me, this may be it for me as far as my solo performing is concerned. It may be the last time I perform solo...but I've said that before." (We're keeping our fingers crossed that we'll see Dyde onstage in more solo work in the future.)
The program includes three pieces which are loosely linked together but not exactly as a narrative."Each piece was created as a stand alone but because its an entire evening I began to shape it so that the pieces are both complimentary and contrasting. It's just the way the energy goes since it's just me that performs in all of them, I tried to shape it in such a way that it becomes one long pieces." This story continues on the next page.
Music for the program ranges from Eric Clapton to the Ink Spots to Philip Glass. "Obviously I listen to a lot of music," he dead pans. "And I'm constantly thinking about how to use it. The way I work these days ... [I put it] together as if it were a film score. So I choose a lot of little pieces to sort of provide a quasi-narrative arch as well as an atmosphere and a mood that progresses the piece. The music keeps it moving forward while also providing, hopefully, some surprises.
It was 44 years ago that Dyde organized his company, the Farrell Dyde Dance Theatre, soon after he graduated from college. "The company was founded in August of 1974 in Raleigh, North Carolina and then we came to Houston and did our first performance here in June of 1976."
Modern dance has changed significantly over the past four decades. Dyde concedes that his work has evolved in that time, but maintains its basic goal has remained the same. "In some ways, it's exactly the same," he tells us. Dance, Dyde says, is about putting bodies in space and time, about working with energy. That was true at the beginning of his career and is true now. "Early on I formed an attitude and philosophy about [my] work...and I've kept that [attitude.]"
Dyde, who describes himself as "more like Jerome Robbins than Balanchine," counts José Limón, Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham as major influences. "Many of the approaches are similar; it's all evolved and influenced by the world we live in today. Hopefully, the work I'm doing now expresses something about a man who's a certain age in this time in history and affected by the things that are going on."
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While his attitude about dance now isn't very different from what it was when he first came to Houston, the city and its dance community certainly have," he says.
"I find a big difference in Houston from the 1970s to the mid-1980s. Houston was a great place to be doing dance. In the 1970s the CACH, which is now Houston Arts Alliance. When I first started, it didn't exists. but we were able to produce things very cheaply. And we were able to live very cheaply, too. An apartment would cost $250, which is completely unheard of today. It was a small dance community. We all lived close to each other and so there was a lot of sharing of ideas and resources. Certainly we all had our eyes on New York and what was going on there, but there was also something going on in Houston and that was very satisfying.
"Since then Houston has had its ups and downs economically and artistically. Companies have come and gone. I would say right now is a pretty good time for dance in Houston."
See Dat is Het: Farrell Dyde Solo Dance Concert at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Barn, 2201 Preston. For information, visit farrelldyde.org. $12.