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.”





Wellness Wednesday: cook with me tonight

Eat Well Wednesday Uncategorized

0Hi Framers,

I have recently rediscovered the crock pot meal (after a wonderful reminder from #FrameMom.)  So both Monday and Tuesday, I’ve made different slow cooker dishes, and tonight I will try a third.  Will you join me?

Monday, I made orange glazed turkey meatballs. The recipe calls for regular, beef meatballs, but I wanted to try something a little lower in fat and still high in protein.  The recipe I used is here.  They were pretty delicious, better than I thought.  I do think they are best for a buffet or appetizer.

Tuesday, I made a taco pulled chicken salad.  It called for taco shells or tostadas, but I broke up a few blue corn chips and put it on a bed of lettuce and made it a taco salad.  This was VERY good and I would recommend it.  I also made my own seasonings instead of buying the packets.  Made me feel a little bit healthier.  I am always a fan of knowing what exactly is in my food.  (control freak?)

Tonight, I plan to make Sesame Chicken and serve it over spinach.  I’ll be following this recipe.  Join me?  Ingredients: chicken breasts, salt and pepper, honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, olive oil, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, cornstarch, sesame seeds.


Tuesday Tunes

Tuesday Tunes

Performer Profiles!


The next Framer up telling us about her performing rituals is…


Name: Laura Gutierrezlaura

First Frame Dance : To the Brim (Director’s note: Laura! You were in Quiver first!)

One thing you always do when preparing for a performance: 

It’s important for me to get a good nights sleep, eat a healthy meal and if I don’t make it to a technique class I will definitely go to yoga.

After performance : 

Stretch, eat, shower and I try to make it a point to journal my performance experience. What felt good and how to achieve that feeling again if possible and if something didn’t go as planned how to work on it for the next performance.

Fave moment in performance:

photo by David deHoyos from Frame Dance performing Steve Reich's 2x5 with Liminal Space
photo by David deHoyos from Frame Dance performing Steve Reich’s 2×5 with Liminal Space

I was performing my senior solo in NYC both my sister and niece flew up from Houston to come to the performances. As I was performing my solo (which was about my niece) there was a moment that I looked into the audience and my niece was looking right back at me smiling and reaching towards me. It has happened a few times since where I perform and I make eye contact with family members or friends unplanned its a special feeling seeing those you love supporting you.


Thanks Laura!










The Framers head to Aggie Land!


After a fantastic performance in Austin, we’re packing up our costumes and heading to College Station to perform in the Brazos Contemporary Dance Festival.  We’re excited to be in a festival environment to see the other dance performances and meet new artists.  We’ve been resetting “Divide by Five” on three new dancers, and our veteran Dance Captain Jackie.  (Please know my terminology is used with the largest sense of sarcasm you can handle.)  May I say, it is looking gooood.

This music is composed by Robert McClure and was the 2013 winner of our annual Frame Dance Composition Competition.

Get your tickets now and hit the road with us. Houston, see Aggies in their natural habitats.

Here’s Divide by Five with Luke Hubley, gyil when we performed it in Ecouter, June 2013:

Costumes by the talented Ashley Horn.


Divide By Five from Frame Dance Productions on Vimeo.

Tuesday Tunes: Priscilla Rivas

Tuesday Tunes

Tuesday Tunes: Priscilla Rivas

headshot R: How do you see the future of dance?

P: I think that dance will continue to change, shrink, and grow as it has done in the past.  I feel that Dance reflects, many times, how our economy is doing.  The better people are doing financially, the more chances we see children being put into dance classes and movement classes.  So on a home level, I think we will see an influx of kids taking formal dance classes.  Sadly, we will see the opposite in public schools.  Each year, more and more emphasis is placed on high stakes testing and less on developing the “whole child.”  Schools find themselves cornered and having to make cuts and losing artist teachers in the schools because the budget cannot support them. I think families will have to make the extra effort to seek opportunities to expose their children to the arts. As for dance itself, the smaller our world becomes through technology, the more we will see other cultures and styles influencing all types of dance.  I think that is really exciting!  It is so interesting to watch contemporary pieces and recognize elements of hip hop, folklore, and even language incorporation.    Continue reading

Tuesday Tunes: Dance Teachers and Their Tunes

Tuesday Tunes
Happy Tuesday, Framers! For today’s Tuesday Tunes, we are joined by our very own Lydia Hance! 

Tuesday Tunes: Lydia Hance

R: How do you envision the future of dance?

Lydia Blog

L:  I envision the future of dance as being a larger part of everyday life—people “getting it” more.  I see people looking at me with understanding instead of confusion when I tell them I am a dance artist.  I see the definitions between genres of art continuing to blur and morph.  I see dance in every classroom in America, because people will finally understand it’s the perfect synthesis of mind, body, and emotion.  And as artists, we have to remember that we’re on the forefront as innovators.  We have to approach the world as art ambassadors.  It takes time.  We have to be confident, humble, and clear.  The way things are, we have to make our work, find out how to fund our work and defend our work.  It’s hard, it’s exhausting, but it’s the way it is right now.  We have to be consistent art warriors to get the future. (photo by Ashley Horn)

R: What has been the biggest dance challenge to overcome, in teaching or performing?

L: My biggest challenge has been my fear of making mistakes.  I take the privilege of teaching seriously and that fear was quite paralyzing when I started teaching.  But the more I observed great teachers, and the more I Facebook-20140707-044948learned from teachers who were playful and humble, the more confident I became that it is totally legit (and preferable) to know that you don’t know everything and the classroom is a place for teachers to learn as well.

R: What inspired you to form Frame Dance Productions?

L: Frame Dance Productions was formed out of my desire to connect dance with technology and create collaborative works.  I wanted to see culturally relevant, exciting dance that continued to innovate and shed the confines of what everyone expected of a dance company. I wanted to create a context that could evolve and adapt but could remain clear and organized.  The moment you stop DDH_5585changing is the moment you go backwards.  Just because it’s supposed to work, doesn’t mean it will—and we can create art that changes society from within, it shouldn’t exist outside of the system we’re in.

R: What music do you prefer to use when teaching a class?

L: When I teach I try to make sure there’s a variety of music— from Bach to Bob Dylan, and new American music to traditional Chinese music.  I try to make sure not all of my music is in 3’s or 4’s, but that students (and children, especially) learn to hear music in 7’s and 9’s.  It is about variety.  Children love Rusted Root’s “Send me on my Way” and REM’s “Shiny Happy People.”  Then I’ll play some yogic chanting and then some chamber choral ensemble’s work.  I’ll use music that spans from new electronic music to Corelli.  The music you choose impacts your students immensely.  Their ears are young, they haven’t heard all that much.  And, unfortunately, it may be a lot of kiddie music (gag.)  I used to look forward to ballet class because of how I felt when I danced to a certain piece of music.  I was better friends with the pianist than my classmates.  Don’t be lazy with your music.  Be curious.  (Photo by David DeHoyos)

*Interview by Frame Dance’s social media intern, Rachel Kaminiski.

imgresLydia Hance is the Artistic and Executive Director of Frame Dance Productions (, founded in 2010.  In the past four years, her work has been performed at the Contemporary Art Museum, Miller Outdoor Theater, Jones Plaza, the Pennzoil Place building, the Photobooth on Montrose, the Port Boliver ferry, Big Range Dance Festival, clawfoot bathtubs, art galleries, and on screens in film festivals all over Houston, Virginia, and Berlin. Before that, her works were performed in San Francisco, Time Square and Malaysia.

In 2012, Hance was named Dance/USA Emerging Leader through acceptance into the Dance/USA Institute of Leadership Training.  She has been named a top 100 Creative by the Houston Press and Arts + Culture Magazine dubbed her Houston’s “queen of curious locations.”

From 2012-14 she was the Education Director of Hope Stone, Inc., and she is a curator of Third Coast Film Festival.  She graduated magna cum laude from Southern Methodist University with degrees in Dance Performance and English Literature.  She trained at the Taylor School, Graham School, Tisch School of the Arts, Limon Institute and SMU.

MFA Monday: Rebekah Chappell

MFA Mondays

Hi Framers!  A very happy summer Monday to you!  We are embarking on some exciting and fresh MFA Monday contributions this summer, and we are thrilled to begin with Rebekah Chappell.  She is about to leave Houston for an MFA program and tells us here about how she chose a program.  Reading this, I was impressed by how thoroughly she searched for the right program, and her very wise steps to get to her final choice.  What do you think?

photo by Simon Gentry
photo by Simon Gentry


MFA Monday Part I:

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to pursue my MFA in Dance. I love school. I love the community of learning, the diversity of disciplines and perspectives, the atmosphere of inquiry and exploration, the smell of new books, the hustle and bustle of the campus, and the fresh start every semester. Most of all I love the relationships that are built through discussion and inquiry. I have been researching Graduate Schools for years, taking notes, making lists, and asking every MFA graduate I know about the process.  This past winter I auditioned at Smith College, The University of Maryland, and The University of Iowa.  I accepted an offer at The University of Iowa, and will begin Fall 2014.  Here are a few things I learned in the process and questions I encourage you to ask if you are considering returning to school.


 Researching programs:

 What are you looking for in a program?  As I began my research, I had a short list of must haves including the opportunity to teach, as well as emphasis on improvisation, somatic practices, and choreography for alternative spaces. My deal breaker was financial aid. I only applied to programs that offered a full tuition waiver to ALL students accepted into the program.  While this greatly reduced my options and made the programs extremely competitive, I knew that if I was accepted into a school without financial assistance, I would be too tempted to take out loans. Tuition waivers are generally part of package labeled as a scholarship, fellowship, and/or assistantship. These appointments can include different responsibilities in the dance department such as teaching and administrative work.  At The University of Iowa, I will be responsible for teaching three classes a year.  In the fall, I am currently scheduled to teach Continuing Ballet to non-majors.

 Many MFA programs have an emphasis in either performance or choreography.  Some programs offer tracks in both areas, allowing you to select the track that meets your goals.  Regardless of your preference, take a very close look at the required and elective courses offered at each school, and gage your interest in each class. For example, I was not excited about taking mandatory ballet classes.  I wanted the freedom to decide what my movement practice entailed.  I ruled out schools that required mandatory technique classes in ballet.

 Most programs also have a MFA handbook that contains specific details about expectations, timelines, and descriptions of required assignments and coursework.  Some schools post these handbooks on their websites, if the handbook is not readily available online, check to see if the school would be willing to email you a copy.  This detailed document will let you know what to expect of each program, and what each semester may look like.  Personally, I was able to rule out a program on my short list after I examined the required summer reading list.  I realized that the faculties’ interest did not match my own.

 Lastly, at most schools there is a professor assigned to graduate recruiting. I contacted these professors and had a Skype conversation to further discuss their programs the summer before auditions.  I found that during the summer, faculty had more time available to converse.  In my experience, how you are able to interact with your teachers is a key component in learning.  I wanted to see how we might get along and relate before applying. I was grateful that I had this opportunity as the audition experience is condensed into one or two days, and it is difficult to have in depth conversation.


The application and audition process:

 Why do you want to go to graduate school at this time? Why did you apply to our program? What do you hope to research / explore / learn while you are in school? Every program I looked into asked these three questions at one point or another.  These are the crucial questions that help determine whether you are accepted.  More and more artists are returning to Graduate School; the pool of candidates I encountered were driven, successful and had a diversity of talents and experiences. Schools are looking for applicants who are going to be a good fit for their specific program.  It is important to tailor your answers to each program and be specific and clear with your intentions.

 In retrospect I wish I had answered those last two questions differently.  I noticed while auditioning that most programs have their “claim to fame”, something they are proud of and that sets them apart from other schools. For me, that was the thing that had drawn me to their program.  I felt silly sharing details about their program in my application, as I felt it was redundant.  If I had to do it again, I would be more specific in mentioning those strengths and how they would help me accomplish my goals in a tangible way.  Make sure you address in your application how their program will help you achieve a specific goal as it shows that you did research and that your interest and goals align with the program.  Remember that a MFA program is two- three years long; be realistic about what you can do in that amount of time.

 Some schools offer the option of staying with a current graduate student during your audition visit.  I highly recommend this experience. While the accommodations may not be private or luxurious, it provides valuable insight into your potential quality of life.  All three of the places I auditioned would have resulted in relocating to a new region of the US.  I learned a lot about the lifestyles of each area. For example, at The University of Iowa most students walk or take public bus transportation to school due to parking difficulties.  This played a big part in the housing my husband and I end up selecting.  Staying with a graduate student also provides a deeper insight into the dance department, and allows you to get to know a potential cohort better.  I found that both parties were more honest in the privacy of the home.

 Finally, don’t forget that your entire visit is an interview. While this may seem obvious, be sure to bring professional dress clothing to change into after dancing or teaching.  I would recommend being able to walk outside comfortably in whatever shoes you select.  I spent quite a bit of time trekking through the snow! Be professional, everything you do and say may be passed on to the selection committee. It can be difficult to have grace and poise when you are in unfamiliar territory and full of nerves!  Do your best to stay positive, patient, calm, and open to the experience and whatever it may entail. Don’t forget to smile, breath, and have fun!


” I am looking forward to sharing my perspective again in the fall

after I have started school.  In the meantime, I’d love to hear

from you with questions or your viewpoint! ”

Rebekah Chappell is from Williamsburg, Virginia. She holds a BFA in Dance, Summa Cum Laude (2009) from Shenandoah University.  She has also studied at the summer intensives of American Dance Festival, Dance New Amsterdam, and North Carolina Dance Theater. After graduating from Shenandoah, Rebekah lived in Costa Rica where she taught and choreographed at Danceworks Costa Rica and Promethean Spark: Danza par la Vida. She then moved to Houston, Texas, where she has had the delight of dancing for choreographers Jennifer Wood, Karen Stokes, Sandra Organ Solis, Erin Reck, Jane Weiner, Steve Rooks, Stephen Koplowitz, Roxanne Claire, and Ashley Horn.  Currently she is Adjunct Faculty at San Jacinto College South and teaches at Claire School of Dance.  Her choreography has been presented in Costa Rica in Cartago, Escazu, and San Jose, and in Texas at The Dance Gathering, Big Range Dance Festival, San Jacinto College South, Fieldworks Showcases, Venturing Out, 12 Minutes Max!, and Houston Choreographers X6. Rebekah will be starting her MFA Dance coursework, fall 2014, at The University of Iowa. You can learn more about Rebekah here: