The Top 5 Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: NobleMotion Unplugged, New Work by David A. Brown and More

NobleMotion Dancers
NobleMotion Dancers
Photo by Lynn Lane

NobleMotion Dance, led by husband-and-wife co-artistic directors Andy Noble and Dionne Sparkman Noble, is known for its innovative use of technology and frequent collaborations. The group sheds its multi-media tools for NobleMotion Unplugged which is an "acoustic" show, says Andy Noble. Unplugged runs on Friday and Saturday.

"Folks are used to seeing us with a substantial amount of technology or light design, and a lot of our work is really focused in collaboration," he tells us. "These things are our hallmarks, and that's what we've become known for. This time we wanted to show just straight-up, raw dancing, intimate, in-your-face and fun. Dionne and I have been working together for 15 years, and we came to technology later in our careers. At the root, our work has always been about storytelling, about choosing movement that showcases the dancers well and that conveys some kind of message. So even though we're not using a lot of the technology we usually use, we don't feel like we're a fish out of water."

On the program for this production is Harvest, a collaboration between NobleMotion and Musiqa, a music group. The two-year project is the first between the two groups and will result in an evening-length production in the spring of 2015. "We're taking a lot of time and slow-cooking it," Noble laughs. "We're revealing bits of it over the two years, but the whole work won't be seen for a couple of years yet."

See NobleMotion Unplugged at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Barn (formerly Barnevelder Arts Center), 2201 Preston. For information, call 832‑627‑9663 or visit $20 to $25.

Detail from an image in "New Work by David A. Brown: trying to find my way..."
Detail from an image in "New Work by David A. Brown: trying to find my way..."
David A. Brown

The photographs we see in "New Works by David A. Brown: trying to find my way...", which is opening on Saturday, capture a multitude of images, all simultaneously seen in the same space. The windows of an office building lobby, for example, become a canvas for dozens of reflections, all layered over one another. This isn't trick photography. Brown isn't using double exposures. He's just looking for reflections. Reflections, he tells us, that are there but that people normally overlook. "The idea that I'm trying to talk about is universality, how we're all the same," he says. "Everybody has the option to take a moment to stop and look at what's around them. If I'm in a business center and I'm surrounded by glass, I'm [seeing] all these different [reflections] that are happening at the exact same time. People don't normally do that; they look for the door of the office they're going to...and that's all they see. But there are reflections of all sorts of other images there, too."

Named Best Photographer in the 2010 Houston Press Best Of Awards, Brown says the Jung Center of Houston, a participating space for the FotoFest International 2015 Biennial, is the perfect venue for his show. "Jungian analysis speaks to that [same idea]. We project what we want to see. It's all there, but it's like it's too much information to process at once, so we just focus on one thing. The rest of it's still there; we just aren't seeing it."

There's an opening reception with the artist from 5 to 7 p.m. on March 8. Regular viewing hours are 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Through March 28. The Jung Center of Houston, 5200 Montrose. For information, call 713‑524‑8253 or visit Free.

The Top 5 Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: NobleMotion Unplugged, New Work by David A. Brown and More
Courtesy of Spring Street Studios

On Saturday, you can get the first look at some of the works in the citywide exhibit "FotoFest 2014 Biennial -- Contemporary Arab Photographic Art" at this month's Spring Street Studios Second Saturdays Open Studios. "FotoFest will be in the building," Sara Jackson, spokesperson for the studios, tells us. "It doesn't officially start until [March 15], but folks can get a sneak peek at the pieces that will be throughout all three of our buildings." (The monthly Open Studios event includes Spring Street Studios' sister buildings, Winter Street Studios and Silver Street Studios.) "About 20 or 30 studios will be open in each building," says Jackson. " A lot of people are intimidated by a gallery setting. This is a great chance for people to see artists and their work in a casual setting, to meet the artists and develop a relationship. This is a unique opportunity to get gallery-quality and museum-quality pieces at [non‑gallery prices]." Jackson estimates that prices for work on sale during the open house will be between $50 and $2,500.

Tour the Spring Street Studios 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday. 1824 Spring. For information, call 713‑862‑0082 or visit Free.


From A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra by Stanton Welch
From A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra by Stanton Welch
Courtesy of Houston Ballet

On Sunday Texas actor Jaston Williams (Greater Tuna and A Tuna Christmas) narrates the world premiere of Stanton Welch's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra in a mixed-repertory program of the same name. (See a video preview of the program.) Via press materials, Welch says the work "marks a very significant collaboration between our dances and the orchestra." The program celebrates Welch's tenth anniversary as the Houston Ballet's artistic director.

The schedule also includes Maninyas: A Process of Unveiling, a series of pas de deux and pas de trois set to Ross Edwards's Maninyas Concerto for Violin and Orchestra. The dancers, in fragile costumes designed by Welch, move in, out and around a series of veils or curtains. Welch says, "The piece is a process of unveiling. It examines how in relationships you gradually unlayer yourself, and how scary, dark and open it is to reveal yourself to another without pro-tection. The dancers are undressing themselves spiritually as well as physically." Of Blessed Memory, which Welch created for his mother, famed ballerina Marilyn Jones, rounds out the program.

Houston Ballet presents A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. March 8, 14 and 15, 2 p.m. March 9 and 16. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713‑227-2787 or visit $19 to $190.

It's a weekend in the Swedish countryside in 1900 and hostess and actress Desiree Armfeldt is entertaining an old flame and his young wife, as well as her former lover's son, who is a divinity student. A current lover and his wife pop in, and, of course, everyone is mismatched and out of sorts with one another. As with much of Stephen Sondheim's work, A Little Night Music, one of our picks for Sunday, blends comedy with heartbreaking moments.

The role of Desiree Armfeldt doesn't call on well-known coloratura soprano Elizabeth Futral to draw upon all her famous tricks -- the trills and runs -- but does give her the chance to act in a role both poignant and comic. And she gets to sing "Send in the Clowns," which she hopes audience members won't sing along to no matter how many times they've heard it before. Describing her character, Futral says, "She's more complex than might be apparent at first. She's very strong and independent and in control, and yet she is searching and wishing for something she doesn't have."

Futral is known for originating a number of roles (Stella in Andre Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire, Laura Jesson in Previn's Brief Encounter), and says taking on something that's a modern-day classic isn't that different, except that "the composer is not going to be there by my side saying, 'Oh, this is what I intended.' I guess I could have called up -Stephen Sondheim, 'Can we do this an octave higher, please?'" Still, although she listened to the original Broadway recording, Futral didn't study previous efforts. "It's really about finding my way. It's not been my method to ever try to imitate someone else."

Enjoy A Little Night Music at 8 p.m. March 7, 13, 15, 18, 19, 20 and 22, 2:30 p.m. March 9 and 23. Through March 23. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-228-6737 or visit $30 to $120.

Margaret Downing contributed to this post.

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