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Breathtaking Modern Dance lands at the MATCH this weekend!

ISHIDA Dance Company is bringing its modern dance showcase named "stirs up still things" to the MATCH complex from January 5th through the 8th. Their last performance in Houston was a breathtaking journey through modern dance which became one of the highlights of my year as a performing arts critic. If the past is any indication, this is one you do not want to miss! The level of skill is amazing, and on par with any professional Houston dance company. And the choreographers brought in to work on the pieces are world renowned. I got a chance to ask questions of the company's founder and artistic director Brett Ishida, and this this what followed:

What are ISHIDA's roots here in Houston?

I first connected with the Houston dance scene when I was a very young teen attending Houston Ballet's summer intensive. When I formed ISHIDA, I wanted to go back to Houston to perform, because I recognized how appreciative the Houston community is for dance. During the pandemic we had several performances canceled in 2020 and 2021 in Houston. We finally performed in Houston in March and August of 2022. Many of our dancers have roots growing up in Houston and we also work with Houston Ballet dancers.

What is the inspiration for this show and why is it named "stirs up still things"?

"stirs up still things" is indebted to a fragment by Sappho from over 2500 years ago. Sappho was a lyric poet from the island of Lesbos in Greece who ran an academy and had a family. She wrote about things that were happening in her time and about intimacy. Her fragments are evocative just like the pieces in this program.

How do you work on these pieces with choreographers from all over? Are they present for the rehearsal process, or is a lot done over remote instructions through Zoom or something similar?

This unique program includes 4 world premieres. For creations, the choreographers are always here in person working with our talented team of dancers.

When did the company form, and what is its mission?

We formed in 2019 and had our first performances which sold out right before the pandemic in January 2020. The Mission of ISHIDA Dance Company is to transform everyday being through meaning-filled, world-class contemporary dance and in collaboration with local organizations to bring the healing nature of dance to underserved communities.

ISHIDA Dance presents original ISHIDA poetic narratives as well as works by exciting new choreographers working with some of the most sought-after dancers (Houston Ballet, Juilliard, Ballet BC, LINES, Nederlands Dans Theater, GöteborgsOperans Danskompani, English National Ballet) from Texas and around the world. These unique works aim to invite empathy and introspection to lead to greater kindness towards oneself and the community.

ISHIDA also provides free educational outreach performances and workshops to at-risk youth and underserved communities to cultivate and enrich appreciation for contemporary dance and to provide engagement opportunities with the art form that nurture self-esteem and social and emotional wellbeing.

What are your plans for becoming a part of the Houston dance scene?

As we become a full time company, we plan to expand our performances to 5 different programs a year, deepen our commitment with working with local nonprofits in Houston, sponsor galas and all the other special events that one would anticipate from a major player in the Houston arts scene.

"stirs up still things" will run at the MATCH Theater Complex in Midtown from January 5th through the 8th. Tickets are available through the MATCH website through the link provided.

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