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Art & Life with Group Acorde

Today we’d like to introduce you to Group Acorde.

The company consists of four founding members: dancers/choreographers Roberta and Lindsey, who have a classical ballet background and know each other from working on projects with independent choreographers and companies together; and musicians/composers Seth and Thomas, who actually met while working on a cruise ship 23 years ago. We have all been independent artists in Houston and beyond for many years and started to see more of each other in the community. Through some casual conversations, came the idea of creating work that was a true collaboration between improvisational jazz music and contemporary dance. Our experience as dancers and musicians had been that music and dance get created separately and only come together in the final rehearsals before the work is presented. We were all interested in being in the studio together, elaborating on an idea that either is musically driven or movement based. So from conversations, we went to the studio and created our first piece together which premiered two and a half years ago at the Barnstorm Dance Fest 2016. From then on, we have created over six original works, commissioned three pieces from choreographers and a composer, produced two full evening productions and created two site-specific works. We continue to learn from each other and challenge each artist to collaborate freely into the creative process. Administratively, Lindsey and Roberta collaborate as co-directors, producing and doing all the work required for a small nonprofit to succeed together.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Since its inception, the company has created all original collaborations between jazz music and contemporary dance that reflect the rich diversity and artistic culture of Houston. Group Acorde strives to bring together dancers, musicians, composers, choreographers, and visual artists from diverse backgrounds to create works that reflect true collaboration across art mediums. Its productions celebrate a vibrant sector of the local art culture, and we believe that in working together, the artists create a more rich and inviting experience for the audience. We believe collaborations are about listening and sharing. We work on creating space for ideas to be tried out in the studio and have learned that the process takes time as we discuss and figure things out together. The company’s message is that the art mediums can work together with the intention to enhance each other as art forms and that the collaboration between them can enhance the experience for each audience member. We have two big components of our organization that align with our mission to educate and cultivate audiences through live performances.  One is that we provide “pay what you can” classes for the community where Roberta and/or Lindsey teach ballet or contemporary dance accompanied by Thomas and Seth playing live music. These classes give local dancers the opportunity to experience the company’s collaborative spirit in a class setting, experience some company’s repertoire and it’s always followed by a community gathering over refreshments and snacks. The other component of our program is that all our self produce performances are followed by a Q & A, where audience members have the chance to engage in conversation with the artists, learning about the creative process, asking questions and sharing their experience at the performances.

Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
Dance seems to be the most underfunded art form nowadays. Our company believes that dance and art bring extreme value to each community and society, and the biggest challenge that we face is how to share our art, broaden our dance audiences and attract funding from individual donors and foundations. Our company will be three years old in May of this year and it has been very challenging to produce high quality work where all artists are compensated according to their time and talents without public funding and private foundations. Most dancers that we know have multiple jobs in order to continue dancing, which limits their time in the studio to create and develop their skills. Our city has a vibrant arts community, lots of talented artists and art organizations, and a large ethnic and diverse population, but most substantial funding for the arts seem to go to only a few large organizations. Allocating public funding for small to medium size organizations, incentivizing and educating the general population about dance and performance art can help in supporting the artist’s growth and sustainability.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
We just wrapped up a run of shows at MATCH theater a month ago. This show, titled Origins was our most ambitious project yet and had collaborations between visual art, live music, and contemporary dance. This was also the first time the company had a guest composer and visual artist as part of our process alongside a guest choreographer as well.  We are also proud to have hosted over 100 students from Crockett Elementary to watch two performances of Origins at the theater and engage in great Q & A sessions with them after the shows! People can support our work by “liking” our Facebook page, following us on Instagram, checking our webpage, attending one of our “pay what you can classes” throughout the year and donating any amount through our web page’s “donate” page.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
From top to bottom:
Lynn Lane
Lynn Lane
Yankar Gonzalez
Yankar Gonzalez

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