Relaunch of Frame|Work [Blog]

Relaunch of Frame|Work [Blog]

News & Updates

Hello, and welcome to Frame|Work, the revamped blog representing Frame Dance Productions. I am Kerri Lyons Neimeyer, and I sit on the board and dance in the Multi-Generational Ensemble. I am also involved in the new blog formatting. We intend this blog to be a connection and a frame (get it?!) of reference for content on modern dance, dance education, arts events in Houston, and other topics that uplift us here at Frame Dance.

Let me tell you why I am involved with this dance company, and give you an idea of the work we wish to share with our community.

In 2006 Kurt Vonnegut declined a request to speak at a New York high school by sending a letter of thanks that included the message he would have delivered in person. “To wit,” writes Vonnegut, “Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or how badly, not to get money or fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.”

Executive and Artistic Director of Frame Dance Productions Lydia Hance is of the Vonnegut school of arts practice. In her interview for the initial post of Frame|Work, Lydia says:

I want to help people get their heart back in their bodies, and use that to move, and to find out more about themselves, about who they were made to be, about understanding each other, with the understanding and the belief that they don’t need to change who they are to be better dancers. I mean, technically we want to grow and everything, but dance is this gift, and I want everyone to experience it. I think that in a lot of ways dance has become for a select few, and that makes me really sad because we find out so much about who we are and the world that we live in through moving and through dancing. This is how we are on earth; we are in a body. The capacity for the body to move, and do incredible things, small or big, changes how we think, changes how we see each other, and it changes how we feel about ourselves (emphasis added).

Lydia is more generous than Kurt Vonnegut. I am not. I practice arts because I discovered that these practices enrich and satisfy me; they make my soul grow. And, for the most part, I practice arts as an amateur, which is to say that I do it for love of the practice or field, not for mastery of the practice or field. Lydia, on the other hand, is a degree-holding, working dance artist who is respected, celebrated, and promoted by her peers. She created a professional company to realize her vision of artistic production, and then, seeing a need, she developed curricula for dance education with the same open yet specific spirit as her performance practice. Do you see in the quotes above how Lydia took the idea of practising art for self-discovery, for soul-growing, and expanded it to include community, the connection and interaction of souls, and the kind of understanding about oneself and one’s world that can only come from practices that are communal? Dance is a gift, and it can grow souls, and it can grow communities. This is what Frame Dance Productions offers its dancers, professional and amateur. This is what I get out of being a Framer. I hope you will join us; in classes, in audiences, and in our social media communications, which includes this re-imagined blog. Talk to us, here and anywhere. Be part of the community, part of the communication. Build this Frame|Work with us.

Looking ahead, Frame|Work will feature more interviews with Framers from the professional company, dance classes, youth and multi-generational ensembles, as well as behind-the-scenes folks and what I like to call Frame-adjacent creatives and professionals. There will be articles about the arts working in people, in education, and in the community. It will also offer a curated look at Houston-specific happenings, and some of our favorite places on the World Wide Web. Let us know what you like. Let us know what you need. We look forward to working with you.

Just Keep Swimming

MFA Mondays


photo by  Lynn Lane
photo by Lynn Lane

Hi, I am a small dancing fish in a big dance pond. I am discovering that in order to create a healthy “ecosystem” for that dance pond (or community), that pond must value support over competition; this is a necessary characteristic of a healthy, thriving dance community. Some competition is normal; its natural for an iridescent blue angel fish to be a little envious of the willowy fins of the beta fish and vise versa, but there is enough room in the big dance sea for all of us.

We are all, emerging or established, experiencing a time with little to no funding available for the arts, but like I said in my last blog, “just keep swimming.” We as artists have an opportunity to band together and move towards a self-supportive dance community. Regardless of funds available, we can support one another in the pursuit to create top-notch work. The more dance produced here in Houston will bring attention, and thus bring additional funding in the long run.

As I’ve been thinking, a certain level of competition is healthy, and necessary; in many ways it helps us be our best self. On my own artistic path, I am continually competing with myself through each project and creation to make it better than the one before. On the flip side, competition is unhealthy when it creates negative feelings between dancers or choreographers. How can we reframe this way of thinking to be less destructive and more constructive? How can we mentor one another? How can we allow the success of strong talented dancers or established companies to inspire us and not defeat us? How can we be of service to each other instead of ego-driven? In the words of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, she reminds us “… there is more than enough to go around…” If we so choose, the one thing that there will never be a shortage of is love and support.


photo by  Salted Heart Photography
photo by Salted Heart Photography

My drive to help build a strong dance community, or pond, comes from who I am as a person. I am a team player and my philosophy boils down to this: If “Company X” has a fantastic show with a packed house, while it may not affect me directly (i.e. I was not a participating choreographer), it does affect me indirectly. “Company X” having a successful show highlights the Houston dance scene, and I am a part that scene. It also means that if an audience member attends this show and has a positive experience, the likelihood of them attending another dance concert in the future grows; this future show could be your show, or my show, or a collaborative evening of works. This philosophy drives me to encourage all Houston artists. I strongly feel that we all need to share each other’s successes as if they were our own.

So, in order to practice what I preach, I have created a checklist of things that I do in order to help grow and strengthen my role in this community, and hopefully the community as a whole.

Mini Self-Guide to being a Community Grower


  1. Volunteer your time for performances. Not only does it help the presenter in a big way and build connections, it also usually means a free ticket to see the show.

    Share on Facebook, it takes two seconds! We live in a time where that is one of the most effective ways to promote. If you are excited to see a concert, tell us; if you enjoyed a concert, tell us; if you know of upcoming events, tell us. You never know whom it might reach.

  3. Set a goal to attend at least 1 dance concert/event/class a month, if not more. I know scheduling is sometimes difficult, but make it a priority.
  4. Set aside $20 a month to browse online funding campaigns and donate! I’m not always successful with this one, money is tighter some months than others, but I’ve discovered that even $5 can make a difference in a funding campaign, and I continually strive to do this.
  5. Celebrate art, not just your art.


    There are several programs currently happening in Houston that I believe share the goal to thrive through community and not competition, and I truly hope they continue to blossom. Find your own ways to be a community builder, or try some of the things listed above! Also, don’t be too proud to take the support of others; it is not a sign of weakness. We need each other. The more we allow ourselves to give and receive support, the more we create a cycle of good karma and growth towards a stronger and more unified dance pond.


Laura Harrell is currently an adjunct professor at Houston Community College, Lone Star College, and San Jacinto College. Laura has presented choreography at The Dance Gallery Festival (Texas and New York City), the Fringe Festival (Houston), and most recently, in the first ever, Art Saves Lives: A Cultural Conversation performance and educational outreach program in Nice, France. Additionally, she has set work at Sam Houston State University, the American College Dance Festival, Booker T. Washington High School, Lone Star College, San Jacinto College, and was assistant choreographer for Recked Productions site-specific project, Up For Air. This past February, Harrell was a featured emerging artist by NobleMotion Dance, where she presented “Stuck Between a Rug and a Hard Place” in the first ever Next Step Series: HOMEgrown.

MFA Monday: Lauren Ashlee Small

MFA Mondays

MFA rightPart 3 After a year and a half in New York City I knew it was time to go. I missed my family and having a community I could go to when I needed a hug or a pause from the daily grind. I missed academic study. The intense focus on the physical aspect of my training and performance left me feeling underdeveloped. The analytical, question-asking side of my dance experience was not being explored to its fullest and had not been since college. I moved home to Illinois once again and asked myself if it was time to go back to school. I had been studying various graduate programs since senior year. I knew that I wanted an MFA in Dance… until I moved home to apply for the fall semester. All of a sudden a billion questions surfaced that had never before been an issue for me. I questioned whether dance was for me at all. If I had not stayed in New York City and sustained a life of prominence within an elite professional company was I cut out to dance at all? Was I getting too old?

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