Free for All: SHIFT, Korean Festival, "John Slaby: Inappropriate for a Public Space" and From My Mother's Mother
Photo by John Ramspott
There's a good reason why CORE Performance Company, with 32 seasons to its credit, is one of the city's longest-running contemporary dance troupes -- each of the company's members has a passion for innovative movement. The group's latest evening-length program, SHIFT, which runs Friday and Saturday, is built on that passion. SHIFT consists of three world premieres by three choreographers. Leslie Scates, a local practitioner of improvisational dance, contributes herd, a piece that explores the dynamics of existing as an individual within a group context. The quartet of four women performs to an original score by Andy Russ. By contrast, Lori Teague's I felt my life with both hands focuses on the individual and constant preoccupation with the unknown. Finally, during Schroeder's meditative STILL, a quintet dances to the music of Christian Meyer.
8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Barnevelder Movement/Arts Complex, 2201 Preston. For information, visit the company's website or call 713-862-5530.
On Saturday, you can get a taste of K-pop, which is the music of South Korea, at the Korean Festival 2012. The event will host an army of talented K-pop performers. Kim Tae Woo, lead singer of the mega-popular g.o.d., will rock a star spot at the festival. His album T-virus was a runaway success featuring the catchy-as-all-get-out R&B breakup tune "Love Rain." Houston's own Korean rap sensation J.U. will also take the stage. You might have seen him opening for the likes of Chamillionaire and Slim Thug recently. Not into K-pop? No problem; the festival also features traditional Korean music and arts as well as an exhibition of tae kwon do.
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. For information, visit the festival's website.
John Slaby's The Prison shows the artist with a length of white fabric covering his eyes, ears, nose and mouth and also binding his hands together. The work is part of his "Inappropriate for a Public Space" exhibit, opening on Saturday at Archway Gallery. The show examines sex, violence, religion and death. "I thought it would be interesting to have a show centered on these topics because most people don't display -- at least not commercially -- work that might in any way be controversial," Slaby tells us. It's not that Slaby wants to shock his audiences, but he doesn't want to not shock them either.
"[The Prison] started with my frustration with the limitations to my senses, my inability to taste certain things or hear certain things, but it became more than that. A lot of my work has to do with death and aging. It seems the binds that tie us get tighter as we get older. Our senses become more dull, our mind slows down. Basically, life takes its toll. But The Prison is also about the struggle of the spirit with the body. We want to be free, but we're stuck in a body that won't let us."
Other works in the show include the painting Jesus Christmas, which shows a small statue of Christ on a crucifix that has been deco-rated with multicolored Christmas lights. There's also Sunset, in which a beautiful evening sky fills the top half of the painting, while a series of mono-toned images of war fill the bottom, each showing soldiers shooting at bound captives.
There's an opening reception with the artist at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. Through November 29. 2305 Dunlavy. For information, visit the gallery's website or call 713‑522‑2409.
On Sunday, you can see From My Mother's Mother, the latest effort from Houston Grand Opera's HGOco, a young Korean-American woman goes into the hospital to give birth and is confronted by not only her mother and grandmother but their traditions calling for her to eat seaweed soup. A lot of it. According to Korean custom, a new mother should eat the soup every day for 21 days after her baby is born. Trouble is, the main character in this 30-minute operetta (commissioned as part of HGOco's Song of Houston: East+West Initiative) doesn't like the taste of the soup.
With a libretto by University of Houston PhD candidate Janine Joseph and music by composer Jeeyoung Kim, this is the fifth in a series of compositions attempting to show how immigrants in Houston come to terms with all aspects of their cultural lives. "It is a unique story about the passing down of culture to your own children," says Sandra Bernhard, HGOco's director. Joseph, who specializes in poetry and had never thought of writing an opera libretto before, says she called on her own immigrant experience -- she moved here from the Philippines when she was nine -- to try to understand all the factors going on in the relationship between these three women. "I grew up watching musicals and having an interest in opera, but it was not the kind of writing I was accustomed to doing," Joseph says. "It is rare that something like this comes your way. I knew enough about incorporating music into my own work to take on the task."
Mezzo-soprano Mika Shigematsu plays the mother (Om-Ma), and mezzo-soprano Hyo Na Kim appears as the grandmother (Hal-Mo-Ni). Soprano Hana Park performs as the daughter (Soo-Yun), while baritone -- and Houstonian -- Lee Gregory tackles the role of her husband (Jensen).
After its world premiere during the Korean Festival at 1 p.m. Saturday, November 3, at Discovery Green, From My Mother's Mother, which is sung in English, is also performed at 2 p.m. Sunday, November 4, at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet; 6 p.m. Wednesday, November 7, at the Houston Public Library, 500 McKinney; noon and 7 p.m. on Friday, November 9, at the University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun. For information, visit the HGOco website or call 713-546-0230.
Jef with One F, Adam Castañeda and Margaret Downing contributed to this post.
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