ISHIDA Dance Company Finally About to Debut in Houston

changeling Photo by Amitava Sarkarh

Originally from Houston, now with a home base in Montreal, Zack Tang is back to perform with ISHIDA Dance Company when it debuts Houston and U.S. premiere contemporary dance works at the MATCH this week.

In addition to work by founder Brett Ishida, the 90-minute, no intermission program entitled you could release me will feature a U.S. and Houston premiere work by Finnish choreographer Kristian Lever as well as a work by Paris-based choreographer Emilie Lerick.

Originally Ishida was supposed to premiere a new work in Houston last August, but the pandemic cancelled those plans. Then they hoped to return this January but that didn't work out either. If the third time is truly the charm then this will be the chance for Houston audiences to see creations from Ishida, a former dancer for Boston Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens who is now based in Austin.

Tang, a graduate of The High School for Performing and Visual Arts and The Julliard School, moved to Montreal to be part of the RUBBERBANDDANCE GROUP where he danced for seven years. A resident of Canada now, he has worked as a guest artist for a number of companies including Cirque du Soleil. He'll be performing a piece called changeling.

He took up dance initially because after school he would accompany a younger sister to her dance class , and his mother suggested that instead of just waiting around for herself or his father to pick him up to take him on to hockey, why not take a class as well. "I was like 'No, no,' and then I took a class and it was great," he says laughing.

"I think that first of all I  think an artist’s relationship with dance is extremely personal. There are lots of different genres that involve dance work," he says. "I think what drove me to continue with dance was finding that relationship and finding the right movement style, the right choreographers, the right companies that would nurture what I'm interested in."

These days he says he's a bit more of a hybrid. After he graduated from college he did neoclassical ballet before moving to Montreal where he worked with RUBBERBANDDANCE GROUP  which he described as "a hip hop, breakdance, contemporary-influenced company. For me it's not necessarily it's always the process."

The piece he will be performing in — changeling— is a mix of duets and trios and solos, he says. "A lot of us are working with ISHIDADance for the first time." This is not a like a story ballet but there is underlying narrative guiding the movement in the piece, he says.

His parents and two sisters still live in the Houston area and have been to see the major dancing milestones in his career. This chance to dance with Brett Ishida's group is special in its own right, he says. 

"This is the very first time I’m going to be performing in Houston since I graduated high school. So I thought this was a really nice circle moment to come back  more than 15 years later and perform."

Performances are scheduled March 17-20 at 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday at MATCH, 3400 Main. For more information visit $50-$110.
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