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Professors, Husband-Wife Duo To Premier 'Unique' Work At Hobby Center

Aug. 15, 2013
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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A glimpse at one of Andy and Dionne Noble's "Collision" pieces that will be part of their Hobby Center showcase Sept. 6-7. The couple's choreography strives to be among Houston's "unique" in its incorporation of athleticism, light and technology that adds to the "ferociousness" of their company's dancers. —All photos by Lynn Lane

 

It seems more than appropriate that the first concert Andy Noble and Dionne Sparkman Noble will present at Houston’s The Hobby Center will be called “Collide.”

"Collide: An Evening of Collaborations"

Sept. 6-7, at 8 p.m. in
The Hobby Center's Zilkha Hall.

Tickets are on sale for $25-35 online at TheHobbyCenter.org
or by calling 713.315.2525.

Their partnership, both professional and personal, has been a collision of many things: dance and athleticism, multiple disciplines, and even animosity and love.

When NobleMotion Dance, the husband-and-wife duo’s Houston-based company, presents its “evening of collaborations” on Sept. 6-7 in Zilkha Hall as part of the center’s “Uniquely Houston” program, the assistant professors of dance at Sam Houston State University will highlight all of the “collisions” that make their partnership unique.

Performances will include the “physically daring” and “visually stunning” choreography that has become part of the NobleMotion brand and has earned the couple critical acclaim as one of Houston’s “A-list” dance companies.

“We like to refer to our dancers as sensitive athletes. They’re pretty ferocious in how they attack the movement,” Andy said. “We have break dancers, contemporary dancers, and modern dancers, and we push them to their limits, both in their technique and the tricks that they do. But those are all in service of trying to say something meaningful with our work.”

This dance style, combined with the visual element of light and technology, will emphasize five different collaborations, including the premier of “With All Your Might,” which will feature a score composed by the Austin-based, “post-rock” band My Education specifically for the piece that utilizes black box recordings from an airplane crash augmented into unrecognizable, haunting tones. It also will bring the seven musicians on stage with the dancers.

“The Grid,” another premier, is a collaboration with technology artist David J. Deveau that will be a real-time projection design presented around 12, 4x8-foot movable walls that are manipulated to shape “perilous environments such as shrinking rooms, cliff side drop-offs, and cat-and-mouse mazes.”

“The white walls also serve as projectable surfaces for real-time video editing that reflect what is going on inside of the characters’ minds,” Dionne said.

An encore presentation of the critically acclaimed, 2010 production “Photo Box D” will pay homage to lighting artist Jeremy Choate, who died last year in an automobile accident.

“His dad told me that if there’s one work he’d like to see again, this would be it, so we’re doing it,” Andy said. “One of our missions is to keep his work alive.”

Finally, “Maelstrom” will present a whirlwind of testosterone on the stage as 15 male dancers take part in an “intense and athletic dance” described as “Fight Club meets contemporary dance.”

As a dance that is unique in many ways for NobleMotion, it is one that Andy is particularly proud of. It is not only one of the few pieces Andy has choreographed without Dionne since the two formed NobleMotion in 2009, but its performers, 15 of the area’s top male contemporary dancers—including several SHSU dancers—represent many of Houston’s companies coming together for one piece.

“Men are more of a commodity in this field, and that’s what makes this piece unique, that we have 15 strong male dancers on stage together,” Andy said. “I’ve not seen that in Houston in the five years I’ve been here; I actually can’t think of too many times I’ve ever seen that, so it’s pretty rare.”

It is in large part because of Andy’s personal experiences and the stigma he saw attached to male dancers that he now places emphasis on men within their company.

More 'Collisions'

Collision Couple
Collide
Collision couple 3

“In NobleMotion, we have four very strong male dancers; we’re known for our male dancers,” he said. “Being a male choreographer myself, I’ve put a premium on making sure we have very strong men in the company. And, of course, our women are stunning too.”

Andy said his introduction to dance came through break dancing, which was first breaking out in his youth.

“My parents were divorced and life was complicated when I was a kid, so dance was an outlet for me to express myself that I didn’t have (otherwise),” he said. “It brought a lot of comfort and meaning to me.”

Focusing on street dancing, Andy had never actually taken a dance class until he entered college at the University of South Florida, where he said he decided to take a class for fun and to “maybe meet a girl.”

With the encouragement of the faculty there, he quickly fell in love with dancing, and he even met a girl, Dionne, a ballet major who had been dancing since childhood. But neither fell in love with each other as quickly as they fell in love with dance.

“We didn’t like each other at first,” Andy said. “We were paired together in a choreography class and we had to do an assignment together. We did the assignment and the assignment went really well.

“We realized we had something here, and that was one of the turning points of our relationship,” he said. “Eventually, we fell in love.”

“I’m always trying to follow the rules, and he’s always trying to break them, so I guess that’s the attraction,” she said of their story, with a laugh.

After graduate school the Nobles moved to Salt Lake City, where Andy worked for eight years with Repertory Dance Theatre, one of the oldest living modern dance rep companies in the world, where he danced masterworks and learned about modern dance from some of its founders, including Graham, Cunningham and Limón. While there, Dionne went to graduate school and did guest work with both RDT and individual artists in the area.

The Nobles moved to Texas in 2008, after Andy injured his back, and Andy joined the SHSU faculty that fall. Dionne joined the faculty the following semester, leaving a teaching position in Florida.

The two formed their current collaboration, NobleMotion, in 2009, where their propensity to follow the “rules” is much like it was when they were in college.

“I bring more of a classical approach to the form and maybe a little more emphasis on line than Andy does. Andy is more about getting down and low and breaking the rules. He’ll break the rules and I go back and fix it; it’s a give and take, in a way,” Dionne said. “I’m a little quirky in my decisions, and he’s a little more raw and daring. Somehow the two come together to create something special.”

Their excitement about the work they do at SHSU is evident through their commitment to include SHSU alumni in their company and their current Hobby Center production. Of their eight core NobleMotion dancers, most either studied at Sam or are currently graduate students at SHSU.

“Because we trained them, they move the way we want them to move and they’re used to working the way that we desire,” Dionne said. “By providing these wonderful dancers Sam has trained with performance opportunities, we help keep good dancers working in the Houston area.

“I think you will be able to see what Sam’s dance department can produce when you see the show,” she said. “Some of the larger works of the evening required guest dancers, so we’ve invited some really talented young artists from the SHSU dance program to perform with the company. It is a great opportunity for them.

“There’s a huge Sam presence in the show, which I’m very proud of.”

Tickets for the two-night “Collide: An Evening of Collaborations” event, which will begin at 8 p.m. on both days, range between $25 and $35 and can be purchased online at TheHobbyCenter.org or by calling 713.315.2525.

 

 

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