Before she presented choreography and motion pictures at the Houston Fringe Festival, performed with FrenetiCore, and designed costumes for Sol Y Luna Dance, Ashley Horn took a left turn, then a right, then another left and another right and so on.
"My freshman year of college, I went to a very conservative and intense Christian theology university [Oral Roberts University] and knew right away that it wasn't for me," says the choreographer, filmmaker, costume designer and dancer. "Having danced from childhood through high school, I came home [to Houston] and enrolled in some dance classes at community college until I could figure out what I wanted to study.
"I changed my major eight times while I was in college (I took the scenic route to graduation), but never quit taking dance. I was smitten with the opportunity to move every day and experience sensations and images that most people don't get to."
What she does: Horn's choreography and films have been featured at the University of Houston, Big Range Dance Festival, the Texas Weekend of Contemporary Dance and many more events and venues.
"My choreography is typically athletic, intricate and designed to be both aesthetically interesting and support the narrative structure of my work," she explains. "My films reference my interest in fantasy and surrealism."
Additionally, Horn has performed with Easy Credit Theatre, Slump and Dancepatheatre; co-founded the comedy and arts newspaper Houston Entertainicle with Keith Reynolds; and designed costumes for FrenetiCore and Frame Dance Productions.
"I love making costumes that are at once fashion-forward, referential and movement-oriented. I love taking pieces that are period-specific and updating them to become more architectural and exaggerated."
Why she likes it: She loves making things. All sorts of things.
Horn says, "The most amazing moment is when I'm in the middle of a project and I wake up in the morning and think, 'I get to make something today!'
"I don't ever want to feel like I'm limited to only making one type of work. One of the things that defines my work is that I am unafraid to experiment with new mediums and methods to create pieces that are true to their unique vision," she says.
"I've made dance, film, musicals, publications, visual art, costumes, sets and writings and they haven't always worked, but I've come out of every project happy that I've learned something."
What inspires her: "Storytellers of any kind," says Horn. "Anything ridiculous, absurd, surprising or dreamlike. Artists that start with little or nothing and invent and innovate to make their ideas a reality. People that are wholeheartedly committed to their making what they want to make the way they want to make it."
Unusual settings inspire Horn's film work. For instance, Horn says that Drain was filmed in the tunnels of the Houston underground runoff water drainage system while her short film Jazzland was shot in the abandoned, Hurricane Katrina-flooded Six Flags in New Orleans.
"I love working in places that look like whole other worlds. And I have been lucky enough to work with dancers who aren't afraid to travel off the beaten path and get their hands dirty."
If not this, then what: "I've had at least a passing interest in almost every profession I can think of. My day job is teaching dance to kids, so if I didn't make dance and films, I would probably find more time to teach," she says. "When I was young I wanted to be a fight choreographer for movies or a music video director, so I've always been interested in movement and short films."
If not here, then where: Houston is, no doubt, her home base. "Honestly, I love Houston. I feel like I haven't even scratched the surface of all the amazing, bizarre, talented artists and companies here."
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What's next: Her next major project will be a dance film inspired by Georges Méliès's 1902 film A Trip to the Moon. Horn says that her film "will include fanciful costumes inspired by the early 1900s and multiple painted backdrops and set pieces that will fly in and out. It will be shot over the summer and will be shown next fall."
On February 24, April 7 and May 19, Horn will screen a series of short works at "Venturing Out," an informal performance series presented by jhon r. stronks. On March 3, 10 and 17 at 7 p.m., she'll perform in ShadowPlace, a performance installation by Breath and Bones/Orts Performance at The PhotoBooth on Montrose. And on April 19, she'll dance with and design some costumes for FrenetiCore's reprisal of The Sacred Harp at Miller Outdoor Theatre.
More Creatives for 2013 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Amanda Stevens, scary book author Peter Lucas, film and video curator, music lover and self-described culture-slinger Ana María Otamendi, collaborative pianist and vocal coach Billy D. Washington, comedian Michele Brangwen, choreographer and dancer Kristin Warren, actress and choreographer Kelly Sears, animator and film maker Colton Berry, Bayou City Theatrics' artistic director jhon r. stronks,dance-maker Joe Grisaffi, actor, director, writer, cinematographer Jordan "Monster Mac" McMahon, artist, designer