Since arriving in Houston three years ago, infinite Movement Ever Evolving (iMEE) has presented stunning contemporary ballet that has awed audiences with innovative and intelligent choreography. True to its name, the company is on the move; starting on June 3, Artistic Director Spencer Gavin Hering takes up his new post as associate artistic director and ballet master of Island Moving Company (IMC), thus moving iMEE to Newport, Rhode Island. The announcement comes after iMEE's recent European debut at the Rassenga Palcoscenio Danza Festival in Torino, Italy.
Hering was commissioned by IMC last December to set a new work on the company for its May program. The dance, heart vignettes, proved to be a success with audiences and critics when it premiered at the Casino Theatre earlier this month. Hering's invitation to serve as IMC's associate artistic director also brought the opportunity for iMEE to benefit from a yearlong residency in Newport. IMC's Great Friends Touring Project will enable both companies to partake in a creative exchange, which will include the production of new works.
iMEE Associate Artistic Director Andrea Dawn Shelley will serve as the company's acting artistic director for the 2013-2014 season.
The sheer beauty and choreographic ingenuity of Hering's and Shelley's work will be greatly missed. My favorite iMEE moment is when the company performed "Unbeknownst" at the 2010 Weekend of Texas Contemporary Dance. The piece made use of Tchaikovsky's ubiquitous Swan Lake music, but it was anything but a White Swan/Black Swan showdown.
Five dancers, suggestive of birds with broken wings, flapped their arms, swirled on the floor and twitched in un-balletic isolations. They looked like pained creatures forever moored to the earth despite relentless attempts at flight. As Tchaikovsky's score increases in bombast, the poor things finally do find their wings in leaps and pirouettes. For me, this piece characterizes iMEE's best work in that it is not only visually beautiful with intriguing movement, but it also hits on a deeper, emotional level.
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In its three years, iMEE has had many highlights, but Andrea Dawn Shelley counts its presentation of new works to Houston audiences as its greatest contributions. "We are especially proud, that with the appointment of Maurice Casey as our resident choreographer in 2012, iMEE was able to introduce his work to Houston audiences for the first time. We are also incredibly proud that we co-founded, along with the directors of Hope Stone Dance and NobleMotion Dance, the Houston Dance Festival: Here & Now."
Just because iMEE will no longer reside in the Bayou City doesn't mean that ties to the Houston dance community are severed. According to Shelley, the move will only further the company's work with local dance artists and organizations. "We will continue our relationships with Houston dance companies through collaboration, the staging of new work, and, of course, teaching," she explains. "iMEE will also continue to feature our favorite incredibly talented dancers from Houston with whom we have been working intimately with for the past three years."
Both Hering and Shelley have work planned in Houston in the near future. Shelley will set a new work on the Vitacca Dance Project in August, and she has also been commissioned by the Houston Metropolitan Dance Company to choreograph a piece for their spring 2014 concert. This program will also mark the Houston debut of Island Moving Company; they are set to perform Hering's heart vignettes as well as work by IMC's artistic director Miki Ohlsen.
According to a press release, "future planning between both entities is underway for the development of a possible bi-coastal collaboration." However that works out, we just hope to see more of iMEE on Houston stages both large and small.