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.

Frame Composers: Where are they now?

Composers Tuesday Tunes

D. Edward Davis 2014 Film Score WinnerDAVIS-karst-headshot

Since Shamed, currently in production with Frame Dance, Eddie has been busy with a number of creative projects. In July and August 2014, he studied composition with Wandelweiser founder Antoine Beuger in Düsseldorf, Germany (where he also attended concerts and looked for birds). His work has been recently performed by the Da Capo Chamber Players (for philip von zweck), Dalia Chin and Kate McDuffie (when we try to pick out anything by itself we find it hitched to everything else in the universe), and the Callithumpian Consort (curving tide). His current projects include new pieces for the Laramie County Community College New Music Ensemble (Cheyenne, Wyoming) and Musica Nova (Tel Aviv, Israel).



In January 2015, Eddie co-founded the Experimental Music Study Group, which curates discussions and performances in the Durham/Chapel Hill-area. He is completing his dissertation work at Duke University, where he currently teaches a class about Sonic Ecology.




Frame Composers: What are they up to now?


Charles Halka, Winner of the Frame Dance Music Composition Competition 2012

“After the birth of my beautiful daughter at the end of the summer, I started a new job teaching composition and music theory at Stephen F. Austin State University.  Around that same time I was chosen as Musiqa‘s first “Composer+Intern”, a kind of composer-in-residence position through which I was commissioned to write three new works for their current season (the next one is at the CAMH on February 26!).  It was a joy to finally be able to bring to life Imaginary Spaces, which debuted as METRODances, with Frame Dance Productions.  The project had been in the works for quite some time, so it was really great to have it come alive and to get support from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.  Most recently, my orchestra work Impact got its U.S. premiere by the Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra, and my opera collaboration with composer-librettist (and Houston native!) Impact got its world premiere by the Mexican National Symphony in the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City in May 2014. John Grimmett and I were selected by Fort Worth Opera for its prestigious Frontiers program and showcase.  Our opera, And Jill Came Tumbling After, will be workshopped and performed in Fort Worth in May.”





Winners Announced


We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 Frame Dance Music Composition Competition!  Their work will be presented by Frame Dance throughout 2015.  Many thanks to all who submitted and our incredible panel.

First Place: Alex Freeman


for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussionAlex Freeman

Alex Freeman (b. 28 April 1972) is a recipient of the 2014 McKnight Composer Fellowship. His music has garnered acclaim and commissions from the Jerome Foundation, ASCAP, The American Scandinavian Foundation, the Sibelius Academy, American Composers Forum and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Born in Raleigh, NC, He holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, Boston University’s School of Fine Arts, and the Juilliard School, where he completed his doctoral studies in 2004. His doctoral research led him to Finland, via Fulbright Fellowship, where he lived for six years, studying at The Sibelius Academy and freelancing, before he assumed his current position of Assistant Professor of Music in Composition at Carleton College in Northfield, MN. His chamber works and choral music are performed regularly in the US and abroad.

Recordings of his music have been released by Albany Records, Innova Recordings, and Navona Records, including, most recently, a CD of complete his piano works by Albany Records, Inner Voice, a recording of his chamber work, Blueshift, by Parma Recordings, and internationally acclaimed recordings of his choral works by The HOL Choir and Tapiola Children’s Choir. His degrees are from The Juilliard School, Boston University, and The Eastman School of Music.


Second Place: Gabriel José Bolaños Chamorro


For Steel String Guitar Duet

Gabriel José Bolaños Chamorro (b.1984 Bogotá, Colombia) is a Nicaraguan-American composer and guitarist. He is pursuing his PhD at UC bolanosDavis, and is currently studying with Mika Pelo.

He received a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University in 2007 where he studied composition with Fabien Lévy and Sebastian Currier, and orchestration with Tristan Murail. He has also worked as a freelance musician in New Haven, CT, and was a professor of theory, analysis and guitar at the Casa de los 3mundos music academy in Granada, Nicaragua. His work draws upon a variety of interests including linguistics, spectralism and the physical properties of sound, psychoacoustics and geology.


Third Place: Joel Love


for string quartet

Joel-Love_webThe music of Joel Love explores an eclectic mix of genres, from short video pieces to works for chamber and large ensembles. It creates colorful landscapes of sound through the use of image, melody, and extended tonality, and seeks to reveal the connection between music and spirituality.

Joel was recently commissioned to compose a new work, Lightscape, for the opening of light artist James Turrell’s The Color Inside, which was unveiled in October of 2013.  Molly Glentzer from the Houston Chronicle wrote that the music evocatively captures the emotion of The Color Inside.” PARMA Recordings selected Lux and Synchronicity in Purple Minor for publication in their 2013 and 2012 Anthology, respectively.  In May of 2013, Aurora Borealis was selected as a finalist in the 3rd International Franck Ticheli Composition Contest.  In 2010, Real Fiction received a Compositional Excellence Citation by the New York Youth Symphony. In 2009, Da Camera of Houston presented Joel with an Aspiring Artist Award and the commission of Just One Person.

Joel’s works have been performed by The Aura Contemporary Music Ensemble, The California State University Los Angeles Wind Ensemble, Da Camera of Houston’s Young ArtistsThe Boston New Music Initiative, the Ohio State University Wind Symphony, the Texas A&M University Symphonic Winds , the Lamar University A Capella Choir and Wind Ensemble, the University of Texas Wind Symphony, and exhibited at many art galleries throughout the United States.  Joel’s first work for wind ensemble, Aurora Borealis, was recently selected for performance at the 2013 SCI National Conference.  In a recent review of 2013 SXSW events, Capital Public Radio’s Nick Brunner commented that “The Peace of Wild Things” was a “gorgeous piece of music, wafting along into the ether.”

His film scores include the documentary film Stitched, official selection at the 2011 Carmel Art and Film Festival, as well as a short film Kidfellas, “Best Musical Score” at Houston’s 2011 48-Hour Film Project. Other notable collaborations with artists from other disciplines feature a city-wide public art exhibit with artist Karyn Olivier, Inboud: Houstonand a 3-month installation by Prince V. Thomas, On Joy, On Sorrow at the Houston Center for Photography, praised by the Houston Chronicle as ”a beautiful piece that feels cleansing to watch.”  

Joel recently completed a DMA in Composition from the University of Texas at Austin and holds degrees from The University of Houston’s Moores School of Music (M.Music) and Lamar University’s Mary Morgan Department of Music (B.Music).


Film Score Winner: Leah Reid

Ring, Resonate, Resound

7 channel acousmatic compositionReid

Leah Reid (b. 1985, New Hampshire) writes vibrant compositions that examine the innermost nature of sounds. Reid’s work is noted for its exploration of time, timbre and texture. Reid holds a D.M.A. and M.A. in composition from Stanford University and a B.Mus in composition from McGill University. She was awarded the Pauline Oliveros Prize for her piece “Pressure” for viola and electroacoustic media. Reid has had works performed in the United States, Canada and Europe with premieres by Livia Sohn, Geoff Nuttall, the Jack Quartet, Sound Gear, Talea, Seth Josel, the Pheonix String Quartet and McGill’s Contemporary Music Ensemble. Reid’s principal teachers include Mark Applebaum, Jonathan Berger, Brian Ferneyhough, and Sean Ferguson.

Reid currently teaches at the University of the Pacific and continues her research on the compositional applications of multidimensional timbre representations.




The Panel included Robert Honstein, Robert McClure, Charles Halka, Micah Clark and Frame Dance Artistic Director Lydia Hance.

Tuesday Tunes

Composers Tuesday Tunes

musiccLast week for submissions to the Frame Dance Music Composition Competition!

We’re calling all composers to submit to our annual music competition to find a collaborator for one of our live dances, and/or one of our dance films. We’ll be using the winner’s music in one of our pieces for the Spring season.

We do not accept works previously licensed to third-party publishing companies.  This requirement, of course, does not limit works that are self-published where the composer has not entered into a licensing relationship with a third party.music3

The entry fee is $15.00. Composers may submit one, two, or three pieces for the single entry fee.

Submission Guidelines
Works may be written for solo, duet, trio, quartet, or quintet.
Acoustic works that utilize electronic playback are also acceptable.
Electronic music is accepted and encouraged.

Deadline is January 9, 2015

Winner will be announced January 30, 2015 


Frame Dance’s Annual Music Competition

Composers Tuesday Tunes

It’s back!

Frame Dance Music Composition Competition

Photo by Sil Azavedo
Photo by Sil Azavedo

We’re calling all composers to submit to our annual music competition, for a chance to find a collaborator for one of our  live dances, and/or one of our dance films. We’ll be using the winner’s music in one of our pieces for the Spring season.

We do not accept works previously licensed to third-party publishing companies.  This requirement, of course, does not limit works that are self-published where the composer has not entered into a licensing relationship with a third party.blanton_musicians

The entry fee is $15.00. Composers may submit one, two, or three pieces.

Submission Guidelines
Works may be written for solo, duet, trio, quartet, or quintet.
Acoustic works that utilize electronic playback are also acceptable.
Electronic music is accepted and encouraged.

Deadline is January 9, 2015

Winner will be announced January 30, 2015 

Submit here.



Past Winners:music2


First Place

Robert Honstein

an index of possibility, for percussion trio



Second Place

Matthew Peterson

Rain Dances, for quadrophonic mixed media


Third Placemusic3

Jonathan Russell

Five Two Tango, for two violins


Film Score Winner*

D. Edward Davis

cliff nesting, for alto saxophone with the sounds of Black-legged Kittiwakes near Seward, Alaska

*Frame Dance is currently in production for an upcoming film, and has selected cliff nesting, as the musical score for the film


Shannon Adams2013 Winner

Robert McClure

2012 Winner


Charles Halka

2011 Winner

Micah Clark




image David DeHoyos
image David DeHoyos



Good Luck! We look forward to presenting your music!








2015 Frame Dance Music Composition Competition




Frame Dance Productions announces its competition to select a piece of music for its upcoming Spring season. Its two-fold purpose is to offer outstanding emerging composers a forum for their recognition as well as an opportunity to collaborate with the dance performance company, Frame Dance Productions. We are looking for completed pieces, or for samples in consideration for a future work.

Award and Performance
The winning composer’s music will be the basis of a new original work– film and/or live performance, and your music will be exposed to new audiences. The composer and music will be featured prominently as a collaborator with Frame Dance Productions. There are often press opportunities to increase the composer’s visibility as well as the possibility of future commissions. The composer will, in essence, have a fully produced evening centered around his/her work.

All composers, who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, are eligible.

Submission Guidelines
Works may be written for solo, duo, trio, quartet, or quintet.
Acoustic works that utilize electronic playback are also acceptable.
Electronic music is accepted and encouraged.

*HINT: We’ve been working a lot with percussion lately; we can’t say for sure, but it’s probably not likely we will select a percussion piece this year.

All music must be unpublished.

Interested composers should submit:

• a recording of the piece(s)
• a biography

Entry Fee and Deadline
The entry fee is $15.00. Composers may submit one, two, or three pieces for the single entry fee.

To apply, click “SUBMIT” above.

The deadline is Friday, January 9, 2015.

The winning composition will be announced at FrameDance.org on Friday, January 30, 2015.

For more information on Frame Dance Productions, please visit FrameDance.org.


Past Winners

2014 Robert Honstein

2nd Place- Matthew Peterson

3rd Place- Jonathan Russell

Film Score Winner- D. Edward Davis

2013 Robert McClure

2012 Charles Halka

2011 Micah Clark