The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Señorita Cinema Film Festival, Storm Front and More

What’s a Latina film? According to Stephanie Saint Sanchez, founder of the Señorita Cinema Film Festival, a Latina film is “anything made by a Latina!” Over the last five years, the festival has received an amazing variety in subject matter. Yes, many of the films deal with issues or traditions specific to the Hispanic community, but some have been more universal in their themes.

This year Sanchez and the festival honor Josefina Lopez, the filmmaker behind Real Women Have Curves. It was Lopez that inspired Sanchez to start Señorita Cinema. She screened her short The Legend of La Llorona at The Boyle Heights Latina Independent Film Extravaganza, a festival foundered by Lopez. “The experience was life-changing,” Sanchez tells us. “As filmmakers we were treated with such respect and this was a gathering to celebrate what we could do. This festival really saved me and gave me a clear focus on the power of community and sharing our voices. I knew I wanted to bring that feeling to Houston.”

Señorita Cinema Film Festival has a spectacular opening night presentation with An Evening with Josefina Lopez on Friday. There's a reception with Lopez at 6:30 p.m. ; Lopez introduces her latest film, the controversial Detained in the Desert at 7:30 p.m. A Q&A/Talkback session follows the screening. An Evening with Josefina Lopez is scheduled for the Rice Media Center. 

The festival also  includes Super Shorts (a screening of shorts), Mystery Matinee (a video and performance art event), “Viva la Vida! Viva la Mujer!” (an art exhibit) and a Mercado (a craft market). There’s a screening of Juliana Fanjul’s documentary about domestic workers in Mexico, Muchachas, and Lopez  leads a filmmaker workshop.

Times and locations vary. For a complete schedule, visit Free to $75. 

 “It’s a huge dance. The fact that it rains at the end of the piece, the cleanup is substantial.” Andy Noble, co-artistic director and choreographer for NobleMotion Dance, is talking about Tower from Storm Front: Experience the Elements which has a Friday - Saturday run at The Hobby Center. “I tried to create waves of bodies coming at the audience: one, three, five, seven, nine and by the end of the dance, you have 33 people dancing very physically, taking over the entire space. It’s watching the storm come in, the violence, the intensity — the rain is a release.” Co-choreographed by Laura Harrell and with lighting design by David Deveau, the dance is preceded by several cutting-edge performances.

KinkyKool Fan Blowing Hard is one of the first works we presented in Houston, and is what helped us gain traction as a dance company. We use huge industrial fans,” said Noble. “My favorite part is a duet with two boys. We haven’t seen two boys be athletic and brotherly like that — they could be more than that — but there’s something very touching about it.”

“[Flash Burn is] a beautiful work that has a lot of juxtaposition. The snow falling is a little more reminiscent of ash being blown around. The music is a gorgeous score of sirens,” said Dionne Sparkman Noble, co-artistic director and choreographer. “It’s a gorgeously dangerous piece.”

Wasteland, choreographed by Noble and Jennifer Mabus, uses leaf blowers. “When the stage opens up, there is trash all over,” said Sparkman Noble. “The dance happens through the trash; dancers are flying through the air. [It asks the question] do we discard our friends like we discard our trash?”

7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. NobleMotion Dance at The Hobby Center, Zilkha Hall, 800 Bagby. For information call 713-315-2525 or visit $25 to $35. 

A year ago, Reyie Delgado (also known as Reyie Nal) moved his contemporary circus company from Los Angeles to Houston. He wanted to work in a city with a budding scene and plenty of potential opportunities for the troupe. “Now, [Cirque La Vie is] proud to say we are Houston’s very own top contemporary circus company with the best talent around,” says Delgado. The artists’ backgrounds and training include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. Cirque La Vie’s newest show, CIRCO, seen Friday night at Frenetic Theater, encourages interaction between the audience and the performers. CIRCO will showcase aerial work, hand balancing, juggling, trapeze and partner acrobatics, among other acts. The production’s layout will include an outdoor rig on the Frenetic Theater patio, transforming the space into a contemporary circus. “We want [the circus-goers] to play and have fun doing all kinds of activities. Meanwhile, the artists and guest artists of CLV will perform small acts throughout the entire night,” says Delgado.

This will be Cirque La Vie’s first interactive show; Delgado hopes for this to become an annual program, eventually pulling visitors and talent from across the globe. The company is urging the audience to wear costumes and to bring instruments, yoga mats, hula hoops and juggling balls. “As venue manager, it’s exciting to have such an innovative group in the space for their rehearsals, classes and their full-length productions.” Delgado’s full-length projects have previously been shown at the Houston Fringe Festival.

7:30 pm.  Friday. 5102 Navigation. For information, visit 

The Houston Fringe Festival is coming up next month, so that must mean it’s time for FrenetiCore Dance’s annual Apocalypse Ball. The main fundraiser for the festival, the ball has a 1920s theme this year. On Saturday,  Frenetic Theater will be turned into a full-fledged speakeasy complete with booze, dancing and entertainment. (Translation: This is a blow-out party!)

Live fire-dancing will be supplied by ChinaCat Dance. The company’s participation in the ball is now something of a staple as the group has been showcased annually since the event’s inception in 2012. “While we do many fire performances throughout the year, the Apocalypse Ball is always a highlight because we have a big space, plus sound and lighting components to create a larger production with big dancing and a lot of fire,” explains ChinaCat Dance’s artistic director, Maggie Lasher.

FrenetiCore Dance will also perform Film Noir — Rebecca French’s latest choreographic work, which was recently presented at the Wortham Center Cullen Theater in a full-length program. The piece is set to music by Houston singer/songwriter Andrew Karnavas.

In case you haven’t guessed, the Apocalypse Ball is an adult-only event.

8 pm. Saturday. 5102 Navigation. For information, visit $25 to $65. 

On Sunday, you can get an up-close sneak peek at the upcoming performing arts season at the 22nd Annual TransCanada Theater District Open House when Houston’s downtown arts venues — that is the Alley Theatre, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Wortham Theater Center, Jones Hall for the Performing Arts and Bayou Music Center — collectively throw open their doors for an afternoon of live performances, backstage tours, behind-the-scenes experiences and giveaways. (The Alley Theatre remains under construction, but you’ll have a chance to tour scene shops, where they make sets, costumes and props, and visitors will see stage combat dem-onstrations on the Neuhaus Stage.)

The district’s resident companies — Alley Theatre, Broadway at the Hobby Center, Da Camera of Houston, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Ballet, Theatre Under The Stars, Houston Symphony, Uniquely Houston® and Society for the Performing Arts, Houston — and the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, which is moving into the area in 2017, will each have representatives on hand to discuss season highlights and subscription bargains.

Trolleys will take visitors from venue to venue, but if you opt to walk, there’ll be misting stations for cooling off, street artists and pop-up performances by Young Audiences of Houston. There’s even an opportunity to take a 30-minute boat ride, courtesy of Buffalo Bayou Partnership. The afternoon will culminate in a full-length Houston Symphony concert at Jones Hall.

Noon to 4 p.m. open house; 4 p.m. concert. For information, visit Free. 

Susie Tommaney and Ashley Clos contributed to this post. 
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