While we all work to prefect our respective disciplines, performing is ultimately not about how the dancers dance or the musicians play, but about how we communicate together.
My vision for my company is for it to be like a jazz band, where the collective energy and creativity fuels the work and all members have opportunity for individual expression.
- Michele Brangwen
One of the top ten choreographers working in Houston - Houston Press, 2014
Panelist/Presenter Interdisciplinary Collaboration - Chamber Music American Annual Conference, NYC
Guest Lecturer Long Island University, Hutten House
Dance Critics Association Gary Parks Scholar
Dance USA Emerging Leader 2009
Michele Brangwen is a dancer, choreographer and filmmaker, whose performing ensemble specializes in dance to live music, the commissioning of new music for dance, and the incorporation of musicians into the visual stage imagery. Ms. Brangwen’s work has been presented in New York at the Mark Morris Dance Center; the Dance Theatre of Harlem Sunday Matinee Concert Series, The Village Zendo Arts; the Shapeshifter Lab, and Creative Women New York; at Lutkin Hall in Chicago by the International Society of Improvised Music; and in venues throughout Texas, including the Cullen Theater, Wortham Center; Stude Concert Hall, Moores Opera House, DiverseWorks Artspace, and Barnevelder Theater. She created the film Get Outside in collaboration with composer Tim Hagans, filmmaker Yunuen Perez Vertti, and the Norrbotten Big Band, in Sweden in 2008. In December 2009 her company premiered Get Outside, a live full-length work that included the film, in two cities in Sweden. Her Black Rain, a work created in collaboration with composer Thomas Helton, was featured at the Hobby Center as part of FOTOFEST’s 2006 International Biennial dedicated to the themes of the Earth and Artists Responding to Violence. Her dance films have been shown in Naples and Rome as part of Il Coreografo Elettronico; Long Island Film Festival; Amelia Earhart Birthday Centennial Celebration; Regional Arts Center; and on KUHT, Houston's PBS affiliate. She has been commissioned by International Women's History Month in New York and awarded grants for her choreography from the Cultural Arts Council of Houston. She created, curated and produced three seasons of ARTCAST, an Internet TV Series on YouTube that features new dance, music and film from multiple cities. ARTCAST was designed to put non-commercial artistic content on the web and to link both audiences and artists in multiple cities. She hosts FLY OVER THE GROOVE, the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble's podcast.
A native of New York, Ms. Brangwen trained at The Martha Graham Center for Contemporary Dance and with noted ballet teacher Nancy Bielski at the David Howard School. Her choreography blends classical, modern, and avant-garde dance elements in innovative contexts. Ms. Brangwen’s artistic vision is centered on exploring the physical and emotional connectedness of dancers and musicians in performance.
Grammy-nominated Composer and Trumpeter Tim Hagans is one of the most unique and influential modern voices in jazz. Tim Hagans performs and records with the Tim Hagans Quartet. THE MOON IS WAITING (Palmetto Records, 2011), features his quartet performing all original compositions by Hagans. THE MOON IS WAITING has been heralded by JazzTimes as “scrumptious madness,” and Downbeat as “an artistic success,” and described by the Philadelphia Inquirer as “free jazz with constant drive and passion.” THE MOON IS WAITING contains 3 tracks originally commissioned by the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble. He was nominated for Grammy awards for Best Instrumental Composition for “Box of Cannoli” from THE AVATAR SESSIONS (2010 Fuzzy Music); Best Contemporary Jazz CD for Re: Animation (2000 Blue Note) and Animation*Imagination (1999 Blue Note). In 2012 he was awarded an honorary doctorate of music from the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. Tim Hagans has performed and recorded with Thad Jones, Ernie Wilkins and Dexter Gordon. Tim Hagans is the featured soloist on the soundtrack by Howard Shore for the movie The Score, starring Robert DeNiro and Marlon Brando. In 2001 he was the subject of an hour-long documentary made for Swedish television entitled Boogaloo Road. Tim Hagans began collaborating with the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble as a composer and performer in 2007. He wrote music for the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble's Get Outside a short film made with the Norrbotten Big Band in Sweden in 2008. He then created an evening-length score of the same title for an evening-length performance work that incorporated the film for the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble and the Norrbotten Big Band. This project toured Sweden in 2009. He has served as the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble's music director since 2009.
Composer and bassist Thomas Helton has received seven commissions from the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble and has worked with us as a performer and composer since 2003, performing with them in Houston, New York, Chicago and cities in Sweden. "What Will You Do When You Feel Their Absence," his most recent commission from the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble, premiered at the MATCH in August 2017, and received its New York City Premiere at the Mark Morris Dance Center in May 2018. In 2016, we commissioned legendary bassist Rufus Reid to compose a work for dancers and two bassists that premiered at the MATCH in 2016. Desesperados (Commissioned by Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble in 2005), a suite of tangos, is featured on Houston Public Radio’s CD The Best of the Front Row and Black Rain (2005),a work for saxophone, guitar, string bass, percussion and dancers, was
performed as part of FotoFest’s 2006 Anniversary Biennial. Thomas Helton performs with his own ensemble, The Core Trio, as well as with many celebrated jazz artists including Tim Hagans, Milt Jackson, Daniel Carter, Monty Alexander, Frank Gratowski and Ernie Watts. He has performed and recorded with Matthew Shipp, Steve Swell and Jamie Branch, appearing in venues throughout Houston and New York, most recently at the Stone in the work of bassist/composer Mark Dresser. Mr. Helton was awarded a Houston Arts Alliance Individual Artist Fellowship Grant in 2007 for the commission and performance of works for improvising chamber orchestra. He received a DiverseWorks artist residency and was a Takt Artist Resident in Berlin. He is the Artistic Director of the Houston Composers Salon. Mr. Helton also leads the Boomtown Brass Band, a performing ensemble specializing in music performing in the style of Hot New Orleans Jazz from the 1920's. Upcoming projects include an artist residency at the prestigious Atlantic Center Artist Residency in Florida.
Dancer Robin Gilbert Campos joined the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble in 2011. She has performed in the premieres of What Will You Do When You Feel Their Absence?, Skamato, Groove-Fish, In And Out Of The Shadows, Unending, and Rain Girl, a work created by the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble as a feature for her and trumpeter Tim Hagans. Rain Girl was also filmed and made into an episode of ARTCAST. She has performed with us at the Village Zendo, Mark Morris Dance Center, ShapeShifter Lab, and Dance Theatre of Harlem in NYC; MATCH and Studio 101 Theatre in Houston; and The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook, NY. She is also a featured dancer in the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble's short film What I'll Tell Her Later Tonight. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Ms. Gilbert is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts. Her credits include Connecticut Ballet Theatre, Ballet Verite, Atlantic Contemporary Dance Theatre, Dallas Ballet, Ballet Santa Barbara, Peter Pucci Plus Dancers, Felice Lesser Dance Theatre, Christopher Caines Dance, Collective Body Dance Lab, and BALAM Dance Theatre withwhom she has toured nationally as well as to Bali, Indonesia. Mr. Gilbert is also a professional drummer with the band The Generators.
Yuritzi Govea joined the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble in January 2017. She has performed with us in the premiere of What Will You Do When You Feel Their Absence? at the MATCH in Houston, and in the New York premieres of In And Out Of The Shadows, What Will You Do When You Feel Their Absence? and Unending at the Mark Morris Dance Center and the ShapeShifter Lab. Originally from Mexico, she graduated on a scholarship from Colegio Nacional de Danza Contemporanea in Queretaro City, and began her career dancing with jazz companies in Mexico. She moved to New York City to continue her studies at the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance. She has danced with Epicentro Ensemble, Nijinzki Jazz Company, Millenium Dance Ensemble, Edgar Cortes Dance Theater, MB II and performed in works by diverse choreographers such as Mauricio Nava, Alejandro Chavez, Yasmin Hernandez, Luis Resendiz, Miguel Braganza, Whitney Hunter, Richard Pierlon, and Kristy Sutton. She is currently working with Calpulli Mexican Dance Company for their upcoming season. In addition to her dance education, Ms. Govea also holds a medical massage therapy degree from the Swedish Institute, and specializes in lymphedema therapy based on the philosophies of the Vodder School.
Dancer Cristian Laverde König is featured in the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble’s short film What I’ll Tell Her later Tonight set to the music of Tim Hagans. He has been working with the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble since 2012 and has performed in the premieres of In And Out Of The Shadows, What Will You Do When You feel Their Absence? and Unending at the Mark Morris Dance Center and The Jazz Loft. He is also the voice of The River in Rain Girl. Mr. König was born in Cali, Colombia and received his professional training at The Instituto Colombiano de Ballet (Incolballet) and The Escuela Nacional de Ballet de Cuba under a full scholarship. He has been a soloist for The Ballet Nacional de Cuba, Ballet de Cali, Hartford Ballet and Ballet Internationale, and has served as principal dancer for the Maximum Dance Company, the Milwaukee Ballet and the Slovak National Ballet. Mr. König's repertoire includes principal roles in classical ballets such as Basilio in Don Quixote, Franz in Coppélia, Siegfried in Swan Lake, and the Grand Pas de Deux from Corsaire among others. He has also performed works by world-renowned choreographers such as George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp and Martha Graham. Mr. König has been the recipient of various prestigious national and international awards.
Drummer Joe Hertenstein began working with the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble in 2014. He is featured in their short film In And Out Of The Shadows and has performed with them at the Mark Morris Dance Center and the ShapeShifter Lab in New York City; the Jazz Loft in Stony Brook, NY; and the MATCH, Studio 101 and Barnavelder Theatre in Houston. Mr. Hertenstein records and performs with his own band HNH, as well as with Space Pilot and the Tim Hagans Quartet, with whom he has performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola. Mr. Hertenstein has performed at the Philharmony in Cologne and the Moers Festival in Germany, the Congress Hall in Warsaw, Bush Hall London for BBC, the Opera House in Toronto, the World Trade Center in Dubai, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC, as well as Carnegie Hall, Roulette, Issue Project Room and The Stone in New York City. In 2009, the German government honored the further development of his trio “HNH” with a composition stipend to fund the recording their “POLYLEMMA” which was released on the Canadian label Red Toucan in June 2011. In May 2015, the Portuguese label Clean Feed Records released his fifth album as a leader and composer with his band “HNH.”.
Dancer Lindsey McGill has been performing with the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble since 2003. She has danced in the premieres of In And Out Of The Shawdows, Qunatum Bass, No Standing Any Time, Get Outside, Sanctuary Moon, Katsu, Checkpoint, Petrified, A Note From Guantanamo, Confusion of Angels, Sweet Land, and Talk to Me. She has performed with the ensemble in works such as Madrid and Desesperados in venues throughout Houston including the Cullen Theater, Wortham Center; Stude Concert Hall, Barnevelder Theater, and Miller Outdoor Theatre; in Chicago in Lutkin Hall; the Village Zendo in New York City; and in serveral cities in Sweden. She has performed in the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble's films Confusion of Angels, Sanctuary Moon, Get Outside, and In And Out Of The Shadows. Her choreography is featured in the Quantum Bass episodes of ARTCAST. Ms. McGill won the 2007 Buffy award for Houston’s Best Contemporary Dance Artist. She is a performer with Northwest Dance Project, with whom she has debuted at the Joyce Theater and Jacob's Pillow. She is has also performed with Hope Stone and Dominic Walsh Dance Theater. Her choreography has been performed by Dominic Walsh Dance Theater at Zilkha Hall in the Hobby Center and at Miller Outdoor Theater. Her collaboration with composer Tsin-Jung Tsai will be premiere on an upcoming performance by the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble. She co-leads a performing ensemble with Roberta Paixao called Group Acorde.
Dancer Roberta Paixo Cortes joined the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble in 2013. She has performed in the premieres of Skamato, Groove Fish, Unending, No Standing Any Time and in Invitation from Sanctuary Moon. She has performed with the us in New York at the Mark Morris Dance Center and the ShapeShifter Lab and in Houston at the MATCH, Barnevelder Theater, and Studio 101 Theatre. She danced a featured role in the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble's film "In And Out Of The Shadows," and was featured in their performances at the Quantum Bass Center in Houston. Ms. Cortes was born and raised in Brazil and received her classical ballet training there. She has been in numerous dance performances both in Brazil and the United States where she has had the opportunity to work with a number of independent choreographers including jhon r. stronks, Lisa Gonsales, Amy Ell’s Vault, Stephen Koplowitz, where she participated in the site specific work “Natural Acts in Artificial Waters”, and Toni Valle, Catalina Molnari and Lynn Lane being a part of their collaboration “Regifting Lions”. Roberta has also worked with Psophonia Dance Company, Earthen Vessels Dance, and Hope Stone Dance. She has an Associate’s Degree in Arts from Houston Community College, where she received the Heinen Scholarship for the Performing Arts in 2005. In 2016 she founded her own performing ensemble with Lindsey McGill called Group Acorde.
Saxophonist and Composer Seth Paynter has been working with the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble since 2005. He was commissioned by the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble in 2008 to create Sanctuary Moon, a multiple movement work for saxophone, trumpet, contrabass and percussion that included more than 20 gongs of varying sizes and countries of origin, Burma bells, chimes, snaps, and wood blocks. Sanctuary Moon featuring choreography by Michele Brangwen and video by Yunuen Perez Vertti premiered at Barnevelder Theater and the Performing Arts Center in Houston and at the Village Zendo and the ShapeShifter Lab in New York City. Excerpts from the score were performed on KUHF Houston Public Radio. Mr. Paynter has also performed with the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble in the premieres of Skamato, Unending, In and Out Of the Shadows, A Note From Guantánamo, Confusion of Angels and Black Rain. He has performed with us at the Mark Morris Dance Center, Village Zendo, ShapeShifter Lab, and Dance Theatre of Harlem in New York and at the MATCH, Zilkha Hall in the Hobby Center, Barnevelder Theater, Theater 101, Quantum Bass Center, FOTOFEST Galleries, and the Performing Arts Center in Houston. He can be heard performing in various venues throughout Houston. He has been a featured composer on DiverseWorks Sunday’s Sonorities series. He studied classical and jazz music at the University of Houston from 1992 to 1995. Mr. Paynter has also studied tae p'yung so, a Korean shawm-like traditional instrument in Cunju, South Korea. He is a member of The Core Trio and has released six CD's as a leader. He is a founding member of Group Acorde.
The winner of the 2008 Thelonious Monk Saxophone Competition, Jon Irabagon has since topped both the Rising Star Alto Saxophone and the Rising Star Tenor Saxophone categories in the DownBeat Magazine Critics’ Poll and been named one of Time Out New York’s 25 New York City Jazz Icons. He has performed with the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble in the New York premieres of In And Out Of The Shadows and Unending at the Mark Morris Dance Center and The Jazz Loft. Jon was named 2012 Musician of the Year in The New York City Jazz Record and is an integral member of such high-profile ensembles as the Mary Halvorson Quintet, the Dave Douglas Quintet and Barry Altschul’s 3Dom Factor, as well as an established bandleader in his own right. In addition, Jon has received a 2012 Mabuhay Award by the National Association of Filipino-Americans and a 2014 Philippine Presidential Award. Jon’s own record label, Irabbagast Records, has currently released five of his efforts, including last year's Jazz quartet album Behind the Sky as well as Jon’s first solo saxophone recording, Inaction is an Action.
Bassist/composer James Ilgenfritz has performed with the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble in the New York premieres of In and Out Of The Shadows and Unending at the Mark Morris Dance Center, and in No Standing Any Time and Sanctuary Moon at the ShapeShifter Lab in New York City. He has worked in New York’s experimental music community for ten years, interacting with visual artists, improvisers, composers, and literary figures. James has worked with Anthony Braxton, Elliott Sharp, John Zorn, and Pauline Oliveros. Recent recordings include Hypercolor (Tzadik), The Ticket That Exploded (Con D’Or Records), MiND GAMeS (OutNow Records), Compositions (Braxton) 2011, and Floorplan I (both on Infrequent Seams). James has commissioned solo bass works from Elliott Sharp, Annie Gosfield, JG Thirlwell, Gordon Beeferman, and Miya Masaoka, and has released a new solo recording of works for bass by composers from New York’s Downtown scene. In 2015 he performed with Hypercolor at the Vicenza Jazz Festival in Italy, and gave the European premiere of Elliott Sharp’s solo work ‘Aletheia’ at the Ostrava New Music Days in the Czech Republic. In October 2015 James presented a weeklong residency at John Zorn’s venue The Stone.
Filmmaker Yunuen Perez Vertti is the chief cinematographer for ARTCAST, the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble's Internet Television Series that features new dance, music and film from multiple cities on YouTube. The first season premiered in 2013 and consisted of 4 episodes created in New York and Houston. The second Season premiered in 2014 and consisted of 8 episodes created in New York, Houston, Los Angeles and Vancouver. She is also a contributor of documentary shorts to the series, and created the opening ARTCAST credit animation. The third Season will premiere in 2017. Ms. Perez Vertti collaborated with the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble on their short films: Get Outside, filmed on location in Sweden with the Norrbotten Big Band; Confusion of Angels, filmed at the Rothko Chapel in Houston; and Sanctuary Moon. She has created video projections of dance on camera designed to overlap with sections of live dance in the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble’s A Note from Guantánamo and Sweet Land. Up coming projects with the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble include a 3rd Season of ARTCAST. Her video created to accompany composer Arthur Gottschalk’s work for percussion and electro-acoustic sound environment, Voices in My Head, was described by Linda Phenix in her review for Dance Source Houston as: “an elegant pairing of music with visual art.” This collaboration was featured as part of FotoFest’s 2006 Biennial dedicated to the themes of The Earth & Artists Responding to Violence. Originally from Mexico City, Ms. Vertti moved to Houston and completed an associate’s degree in video production at the Art Institute of Houston, graduating with honors in December 2000. She has worked with many companies and non-profit organizations including the University of Houston, XL films, the Editing Company, AV1 Productions, Nilam Video, Azteca Video, Society of Iranian American Women for Education, and Voices Breaking Boundaries.
Lighting Designer Kris Phelps has designed lights for the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble's In And Out Of The Shadows, No Standing Any Time, Skamato, Unending, Black Rain, Desesperados, Sweet Land, Talk to Me, Madrid, Louie's Key West, Cello Fishing at Antibes, and American Night among many others. Ms. Phelps has designed lights for the Dance Salad Festival and the Annual Weekend of Texas Contemporary Dance, as well as for many dance companies in Houston, including the Sandra Organ Dance Company, The Met, and Ad Deum. She has designed for Several Dancers Core in Atlanta, Mexico and Houston, and Fly Dance Company's performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Also a designer for theater, Ms. Phelps has won three awards for best lighting design from the Ensemble Theater Company of Houston. She has also worked with the Houston Ballet and many independent choreographers including Becky Valls, Priscilla Nathan-Murphy and Leslie Skates.
Jeremy Choate was a lighting designer, photographer, and filmmaker. He has designed lights and for the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble’s films Confusion of Angels, Sanctuary Moon, and Get Outside, as well as their live suites of dances of the same titles. He has designed lights for the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble’s Petrified and A Note From Guantanamo. Mr. Choate has also worked as a cameraman on the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble’s films Get Outside and Sanctuary Moon. He was a cameraman and performer in Katsu, a site specific work by the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble commissioned by FOTOFEST International for their Vine Street Galleries. As a lighting designer he has worked with many performing arts companies including Suchu Dance, Musiqua, Big Range Dance Festival, Infinite Movement Ever Evolving, and the Weekend of Texas Contemporary Dance. He collaborated with composer Stephen Vitiello on Four Color Sound, a sound and light installation commissioned by DiverseWorks Artspace that toured to MC Gallery in Los Angeles and the Project Gallery in New York City. In February 2010 Mr. Choate’s installation entitled Fireworks opened at the Davis Museum in Boston. He was a multitalented artist with a unique vision, a flawless work ethic, and a kind and generous nature. He was taken from us by a drunk driver in August 2012.
Robin Verheyen has performed with the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble in the New York premieres of What Will You Do When You Feel Their Absence? No Standing Any Time and Closeness at the Mark Morris Dance Center, the Jazz Loft and the ShapeShifter Lab. Born in Belgium, Mr. Verheyen performs regularly in both the US and Europe. He has worked with Gary Peacock, Marc Copland, Ralph Alessi, Bill Carrothers, Joey Baron and many others. 'A Look Beyond', released with his NY quartet, received critical acclaim and he was awarded a New Jazz Works grant by Chamber Music America in 2013 to write new music for this group. For this piece he traveled to Senegal to immerse himself in the local music scene and brought together West African rhythm with the modernistic harmonies of French composer Olivier Messiaen. This is rather representative of Verheyen’s cross-genre approach to music, something that has become a mainstay in his oeuvre. In January 2018 Verheyen released a new album 'When The Birds Leave' on Universal Music as a quartet withMarc Copland, Drew Gress and Billy Hart. Since 2017 Verheyen has been an Artist in Residence for the KMSKA (Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp). This residency runs for 5 years and the first piece premiered in fall 2018 at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
Photo by John Wang
Vocalist Danielle Reich Seale has performed with the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble in the premieres of Dancing The Blue Hour, Closeness and What Will You Do When You Feel Their Absence? at the Mark Morris Dance Center in New York City, the MATCH in Houston, and at The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook, NY. She has also performed with the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble in Checkpoint, a site specific work created for Trinity Church, and with the Tim Hagans Quartet. She is a classically trained jazz vocalist having studied classical vocal performance at Stetson University and the University of Florida. She performed with the Houston Grand Opera Chorus for two seasons before shifting her musical attentions to jazz. She has been performing jazz, gypsy jazz, and her own brand of eclectijazzpop in the Houston areas for the past ten years; her most recent Houston project is gypsy jazz quintet Swing Rendezvous. In 2011 she expanded her repertoire to include French chanson and later cofounded a Western Swing band (Lady Be Good) with Austin/NYC composer/pianist Peggy Stern. She has released two jazz-focused studio albums, and will be soon be appearing on a Western Swing/pop album by Peggy Stern, as well as a jazz-influenced rock album by Austin guitarist/composer Russell Scanlon.