"Healthy, attractive, dance-trained individuals in lovely costumes paying homage to a glory of forests and jungles in the midst of a metropolis under the encompassing sky. I was interested in the use of what seemed to be day-for-night in the second section, and the final gesture, a salute to the city, was poignant and welcome. There's a quality in the film that reminds me of the open-hearted modern dances made when New York jazz was taking off after WWII." - Mindy Aloff"
Lovely dancers & intensely focused musicians." - Mindy Aloff
Village Voice Choice February 2017 - Elizabeth Zimmer
"A joy to watch" - Houston Press
"Beautiful instrumental monologues get a physical interpretation by the dancers and the result is, to say the least, a delight for both eye and ear, a thrilling experience.” - Piteå-Tidningen
"Sensuous & Poetic" - Arts Houston Magazine
The Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble is a contemporary dance company that specializes in commissioning new music for dance and incorporating musicians into the visual imagery. Sharing the stage and the focus, our dancers and musicians break the boundaries of traditional ensemble interaction. Performance works include original choreography and music as well as improvisation by all performers, creating a spontaneous performance environment where anything can happen.
In 20 years, every performance has included live music and the musicians as integral parts of the visual stage imagery.
For our 2020 20th Anniversary Season, for the safety of our audiences and performers, we are presenting an all digital season that includes the premiere of two new fully commissioned dance and music films that were made with all the dancers and musicians filmed separately in an outdoor location. The same personnel that would have performed in our live season are rehearsing and performing in these projects.
We believe that the artist’s role in society is to communicate, to challenge, to open a dialogue that can both unite is and inspire meaningful change.
In July 2019 we premiered Dancing The Blue Hour at Houston’s MATCH, a work which explores what happens when people come together to experience the blue hour. This is our most unique and experimental work yet, with the audience having the opportunity to engage and connect to the performance in new ways, including direct participation in the performance work in the ending section of the work. Dancing the Blue Hour seeks to conjure the magic of a special shared experience with performers and audience alike for each performance. We also performed this work at the Diego Salazar Artist Studios in Queens, NY and at the Jazz Loft in Stony Brook, NY.
In 2018 we premiered Closeness at the MATCH in Houston and at The Jazz Loft in New York. Closeness is set to music by Charlie Haden and Alice Coltrane, as arranged by Grammy-nominated trumpeter and composer Tim Hagans, with choreography by Michele Brangwen, and featuring sections of movement and music created spontaneously in the moment. Our 2018 Season also included the New York City premiere of What Will You Do When You Feel Their Absence? at the Mark Morris Dance Center. This work explores how the treatment of immigrants in the United States affects all of us as a society. Set in an intimate bar/café that could be in any city, What Will You Do When You Feel Their Absence? invites the audience to watch as stories unfold about how we are all interconnected. It featured choreography, text and costumes by Michele Brangwen, music by Thomas Helton, additional text by Peter Josyph, set design by Sandra Tapia Luna. The work also premiered in Houston in 2017 at the MATCH.
In June 2017 we premiered Juan Espresso? Tribute To Esquivel, a dance and music tribute to Mexican band leader and composer Juan Garcia Esquivel, as part of Suchu Dance’s 3rd Annual Comedy Dance Festival at MECA. The Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble performed at the Mark Morris Dance Center in February 2017, where we presented the New York premiere of In And Out Of The Shadows, inspired by John Cassevetes’ film Shadows, with music by Grammy-nominated composer and trumpeter Tim Hagans. This performance was a Village Voice Choice.
In April 2016 the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble performed the premiere of Groove-Fish with choreography by Michele Brangwen and music by the Grammy-nominated bassist and composer Rufus Reid, who also performed in the work, at the MATCH in Houston. In June 2015, we joined with the Houston Composers Salon to present the Big Two-Hearted Festival, two evenings of new music and dance, at Studio 101 Theatre in Houston. We have also been presented by the ShapeShifter Lab and the FONT Festival in NYC (2015 & 2014).
We have produced three seasons of ARTCAST, and internet TV series that features new dance, music and film from multiple cities (2013, 2014-15 & 2019). ARTCAST was designed to develop audiences for the arts and to link both audiences and artists in multiple cities.
The Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble has collaborated with FOTOFEST International on projects in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2012. The Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble has been featured at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts in Houston as part of FOTOFEST’s 10 Anniversary Biennial dedicated to the themes of The Earth and Artists Responding to Violence. We also created an evening-length site-specific work for their Vine Street Galleries as part of their 2012 Biennial.
In December 2008 the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble traveled to Sweden to create a dance and music on camera project with the Norrbotten Big Band, an internationally acclaimed jazz ensemble based in Luleå. The Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble returned to Sweden in December 2009 for live performances with the Norrbotten Big Band at the Stora Salen Theater in Luleå and the Akusticum Theater in Piteå. In 2006, the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble was commissioned by MECA to create Confusion of Angels, an altar/installation performance work that included dance, music and film for their Dia de Los Muertos Festival. Confusion of Angels features a short film made at the Rothko Chapel’s Reflecting Pool.
Now in our 20th season of performances, the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble has commissioned twenty-six new music works for dance. Composers include Tim Hagans, Seth Paynter, Thomas Helton, Brian Nelson, Carol Morgan, Reynaldo Ochoa, Arthur Gottschalk, Rufus Reid and Danielle Reich.