The 2nd annual festival of Texas Latinx choreography signals hope for more diversity in dance – and continued recovery from the pandemic

MVMT Dance, choreography by Amberly Altamirano Daniels / Photo by Badshooting Photography

When I interviewed Houston dancer-choreographer Adam Castañeda in March 2021, he was getting ready to launch his inaugural Texas Latino/a/x Contemporary Dance Festival, which in some ways became a statement of resilience.

At that time, Castañeda, who is director of Pilot Dance Project, called the festival a culmination of a year of “trying to survive” and rallying his fellow dance makers, amidst feelings of anger and resentment caused by the loss of performance opportunities and health inequities during COVID-19.

But this year, he says he’s in a much better place.

“Since I last spoke to you, I’ve produced three evening-length dance works, two of which were sold out. Our annual Houston Fringe Festival [produced by Pilot Dance] happened, and now we are gearing up for an even fuller 2022,” said Castañeda.

“The opportunities as a choreographer have just continued to flow with new commissions that I haven’t announced yet. I’m just so grateful,” he said.

Castañeda is now about to present his 2nd annual Texas Latino/a/x Contemporary Dance Festival, March 11 – 13 at the Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (MATCH).

His efforts and resilience have paid off, as seen in the growth of that festival.

Held virtually as a digital dance concert last year, the inaugural edition included 11 works by local Latinx choreographers.

This year, it’s turned into three nights of unique programs with more than 20 works by artists from Houston, Dallas, Denton, and San Antonio, as well as Atlanta – and it’s finally able to be held in person, as COVID rates decline locally following the omicron variant wave.

Alas Dance Company / Photo by Ulisses Rivera

Castañeda says he was “overwhelmed by applications” this year, signaling that Texas artists are eager to get back to making dance and performing it – and having paid opportunities, which his festival has always offered.

“With the funding we have been awarded for our season, including a Festival Grant from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, we are paying each choreographer a stipend,” he said. “Dance festivals are nothing new, but it’s still a surprise to find a festival that pays in 2022.”

All of this leads to a positive contribution to the arts ecosystem, says Castañeda, in particular making a needed impact on Latinx choreographers – whose diverse, layered identities have not been fully explored on stage in contemporary dance, but will be centerstage at this festival.

“There are so many intersections when we talk about present-day identity,” said Castañeda.

From LGBTQ+ artists to Indigenous artists to those who embody the crossroads of Indigenous and European heritages, he wants the festival “to dig a little into all of those identities and holistically show how they make up this category of Latino/a/x.”

De La Rosa Dance Company / Photo by Matthew Rood

Castañeda also says he’s excited to spark a local conversation about ableism in dance.

“[Atlanta dancer-choreographer] Mark Travis Rivera works with bodies that have been traditionally considered disabled,” Castañeda said. Rivera is presenting a solo set on a dancer with a limb difference.

“What he’s doing is so important because we really haven’t had this discussion in Texas,” he said. “There are great organizations, like Axis Dance Company, which Mark previously worked for in San Francisco, but we don’t really see dance extended to the disabled here in Houston. It’s going to be significant having him on this year’s program.”

Choreography by Mark Travis Rivera / Photo by Andrew Fassbender

The Houston dance community is “slowly re-emerging” from the pandemic, according to Castañeda.

The expansion of his festival is one sign of that, and he says that new works are being presented more regularly these days, while also acknowledging that the pre-COVID challenges of funding and producing dance still remain.

Mollie Haven Miller is the Executive Director of Dance Source Houston, a dance resource and advocacy nonprofit, and she agrees, adding: “Live dance performance is re-emerging, but it’s a slow process because of how dance works are created. It’s not an on/off switch, as works take months to develop.”

“Companies are strategically creating and presenting work, as they’re used to limited resources even in the best of times, but it’s even more of a challenge right now even as we re-emerge from the omicron surge,” Miller said.

Still, Castañeda is forging ahead with the goal of sustaining an annual presence for his Texas Latino/a/x Contemporary Dance Festival, and he has other big plans.

“We also want to broaden the scope of what we mean by contemporary,” said Castañeda.

“I want to know what folklórico choreographers are doing, what salsa and merengue looks like on a concert stage. I want to see contemporary hip-hop and Latin ballroom in the mix,” he continued. “We’ve already started this conversation, as we have two Aztec dance groups on the roster this year. Latinx is a broad category, and so are our dances. Eventually I’d like the festival to encapsulate all of that diversity.”

Updated March 13, 2022: The word “impairment” has been changed to “difference” to be more inclusive and aligned with disability culture.

Houston’s new BIPOC Arts Network and Fund awards $2 million to 120 local arts groups serving communities of color

TEATRX, a Latinx theater company and BANF grantee [pictured from left to right: Fabiola Andujar, Michael Sifuentes, Matthew Ruiz and Matthew Martinez] / photo by Melissa Taylor

In its first round of funding, the BIPOC Arts Network and Fund (BANF) has announced that it is awarding a combined $2 million to 120 Houston-area arts groups serving Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern and other communities of color.

The grants range from $5,000 to $50,000 for 59 artist collectives and 61 arts organizations – with support from the Ford Foundation, Houston Endowment, The Brown Foundation, Inc., The Cullen Foundation, Kinder Foundation, and The Powell Foundation.

“This is a moving moment because there are many grantees who are being funded for the first time, despite having a strong and lengthy track record of work in their communities,” said Marissa Castillo, co-founder of TEATRX, in a press release. The Latinx theater company is the recipient of a $7,500 BANF grant.

“This grant helps TEATRX advance our mission of making Latinx performance arts a vital and prominent part of the artistic identity of Houston by representing and supporting the Latinx community, its artists, and its stories,” Castillo said.

While Houston is the most racially and ethnically diverse city in an increasingly diverse country, 90% of local arts philanthropy goes to 27 mostly white-led organizations, according to a 2017 study by Houston Endowment.

Only about 7% of local public funding goes to Latinx organizations, per a Houston report that was released in 2018 by the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture.

Nationally, the 20 largest mainstream arts organizations have a median budget of $61 million – 16 times the median budget of the 20 largest organizations of color at $3.8 million, according to a 2015 Diversity in the Arts study by the DeVos Institute.

BANF was launched in September 2021 to address these inequities locally. The multi-year initiative aims to support BIPOC-led nonprofits that provide arts and culture programming, as well as fiscally-sponsored artist collectives, across the nine counties of Greater Houston (Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, and Waller counties).

The groundwork for the effort was laid by the Ford Foundation’s America’s Cultural Treasures initiative, which in September 2020 committed an unprecedented $156 million to support BIPOC arts communities nationwide in response to the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of that amount, $5 million was invested in the Greater Houston region and combined with contributions from local foundations to create BANF.

Alief Art House, a BANF grantee, was founded and organized by Houston Filipinx artist Matt Manalo. A shipping container that houses free art exhibits and events, it brings art into the one of the most diverse neighborhoods within Greater Houston and serves as an outlet to showcase Alief artists. The collective is in the process of expanding to two shipping containers to house offices and workshops. / courtesy of Alief Art House

Of the 155 grant applicants in this inaugural round, 77% were funded after going through a review process by a panel of creatives, arts administrators, and arts and community leaders from Houston’s BIPOC communities.

“We took the opportunity to prioritize learning and abundance and to de-emphasize competition in our grantmaking process,” said Sixto Wagan, BANF Project Director, in a statement.

“We saw this as an opportunity to learn from the written and spoken words of applicants what our communities’ strengths and challenges are as they face the current economic, social, and health realities of today,” Wagan said.

Organizers say that this community-learning approach that centers BIPOC voices will continue to guide BANF as it develops ways to assist artists beyond financial investment – such as by “broadening networks or expanding development opportunities.”

In this coming year, the initiative will host a series of information sessions with grantees and the arts community at large to identify how BIPOC arts organizations and artists want to be supported specifically to meet challenges and needs.

A full list of grantees can be found here.

NEA announces over $33 million in project funding nationally, including $1.7 million for Texas arts

Photo credit: Young Audiences of Houston / Facebook

The National Endowment for the Arts is awarding 1,498 grants totaling nearly $33.2 million for its first round of funding for fiscal year 2022.

Of that amount, $1,746,000 is going to 77 institutions in Texas, with 22 Houston arts organizations receiving $632,000.

The overall funding spans every state, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. The types of grants awarded include Grants for Arts Projects, which represent 15 artistic disciplines; Challenge America grants, “for projects that extend the reach of the arts to populations that have limited access to the arts due to geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability”; Literature Fellowships in creative writing and translation; and Arts Research grants.

“These National Endowment for the Arts grants underscore the resilience of our nation’s artists and arts organizations, will support efforts to provide access to the arts, and rebuild the creative economy,” said Ann Eilers, NEA Acting Chair, in a press release.

“The supported projects demonstrate how the arts are a source of strength and well-being for communities and individuals, and can open doors to conversations that address complex issues of our time,” Eilers said.

Among local grantees, Young Audiences of Houston will receive $50,000 for its Neighborhoods, Identity, and Diversity Project, which aims to increase arts access and equity. By providing free programs across 10 communities, the project works to amplify youth voices, infuse local cultures and traditions into arts-based learning, and collaborate with teaching artists and schools.

“We look forward to sharing over the next year the progress of this exciting project, unique to Houston and the communities that create our region’s vibrancy,” said Mary Mettenbrink, Young Audiences of Houston’s Executive Director, in a statement. “This project will support Acres Homes, Alief-Westwood, Fort Bend Houston, Gulfton, Kashmere Gardens, Magnolia-Park Manchester, Near Northside, Second Ward, Sunnyside, and Third Ward.”

Houston’s Discovery Green Conservancy will receive a $15,000 NEA grant in support of its project, Tejas Got Soul: Celebrating Houston’s Tejano Roots Music Legacy.

Initiated by East End residents Pat Jasper, Nick Gaitan, Isaac Rodriguez, Robert Rodriguez, and Angel Quesada, the project includes 3 free concerts in fall 2022 that feature traditional music genres popular in the Chicano community, from orquesta to conjunto and Tejano to Brown-Eyed Soul. There will also be panel discussions about the history of the local Chicano music scene and a social media campaign to add historical and cultural context about the music, musicians, and the community.

“Part of Discovery Green Conservancy’s mission is to shine a light on the diversity of traditions that exist in Houston,” said Barry Mandel, Discovery Green Conservancy President, in a statement. “The Conservancy is very proud to work with talented Houstonians to present these concerts and is very grateful for the National Endowment of Arts support.”

A full state-by-state listing of grants is available here.

A full list of Houston grantees follows:

Alley Theatre
$20,000
Grants for Arts Projects – Theater

Arts Connect Houston
$100,000
Grants for Arts Projects – Arts Education

Aurora Picture Show (aka Aurora)
$15,000
Grants for Arts Projects – Media Arts

Da Camera Society of Texas (aka Da Camera chamber music & jazz)
$25,000
Grants for Arts Projects – Music

Discovery Green Conservancy (aka Discovery Green)
$15,000
Grants for Arts Projects – Folk & Traditional Arts

FotoFest, Inc.
$25,000
Grants for Arts Projects – Visual Arts

Guez, Julia
$10,000
Literature Fellowships: Translation Projects – Literary Arts

Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature & Fine Arts (aka Gulf Coast)
$15,000
Grants for Arts Projects – Literary Arts

Houston Architecture Foundation (aka Architecture Center Houston)
$12,000
Grants for Arts Projects – Design

Houston Arts Alliance (aka HAA)
$35,000
Grants for Arts Projects – Local Arts Agencies

Houston Cinema Arts Society
$20,000
Grants for Arts Projects – Media Arts

Houston Grand Opera Association, Inc.
$65,000
Grants for Arts Projects – Opera

Houston Symphony Society (aka Houston Symphony)
$15,000
Grants for Arts Projects – Music

Musiqa Inc.
$10,000
Grants for Arts Projects – Music

Nameless Sound
$20,000
Grants for Arts Projects – Music

Open Dance Project Inc.
$10,000
Grants for Arts Projects – Dance

Rothko Chapel
$35,000
Grants for Arts Projects – Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works

Society for the Performing Arts (aka SPA)
$35,000
Grants for Arts Projects – Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works

Theatre Under The Stars, Inc.
$10,000
Grants for Arts Projects – Musical Theater

University of Houston (on behalf of Arte Publico Press)
$60,000
Grants for Arts Projects – Literary Arts

University of Houston (on behalf of Blaffer Art Museum)
$30,000
Grants for Arts Projects – Museums

Young Audiences Inc of Houston (aka Houston Arts Partners)
$50,000
Grants for Arts Projects – Arts Education

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and Radom Capital launch a local artist residency in Montrose

Frame Dance Productions will be a CAMHLAB artist-in-residence at Montrose Collective in spring 2022. / photo courtesy of Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

During the pandemic, in the fall of 2020, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston created the CAMHLAB initiative, an artists’ residency based at the museum’s newly renovated upstairs Brown Foundation Gallery.

It was implemented in response to the impact of COVID on Houston artists – in particular, to offset the loss of performance and rehearsal space, and to provide a safe way to connect artists and audiences.

CAMH is now expanding that residency program through a partnership with real estate developer Radom Capital, which has offered to house it in a new gallery space at Montrose Collective – a shopping center that includes chefs, merchants, wellness services, and creative offices. Located adjacent to the Museum District, Montrose is considered by many to be among the city’s most creative, culturally rich, and inclusive areas.

“Walking though Montrose inspires curiosity, wonder, and discovery. In the spirit of our neighborhood, we are honored to announce our curatorial and programming partnership with CAMH,” said Steve Radom, managing principal of Radom Capital, in a press release.

CAMHLAB x MC is a light-filled gallery providing neighbors and visitors with access to an exciting and eclectic lineup of local artists curated by CAMH,” Radom said.

Montrose Collective / photo courtesy of Contemporary Art Museum Houston

Through this re-envisioned residency, local artists will have the opportunity to create new and timely works, while aiming to foster community interaction and connection following nearly two years of social distancing and isolation brought on by the pandemic.

“We are living through wild times and the world is a strange place these days. CAMHLAB is making space for artists to process and interpret,” said Eepi Chaad, artist-in-residence, in a statement. “Each residency is like a capsule of a moment during an extraordinary period of acceleration in the human timeline.”

According to reporting by Glasstire,“artists will receive an honorarium, opportunities to host programming, support for communications and marketing, and additional support as needed from CAMH.”

The gallery is family friendly and free.

“This is an opportunity for artists to move not just beyond the walls of the Museum, but to directly share their creative process with the public,” said Hesse McGraw, CAMH Executive Director, in a statement.

Four artists-in-residence have been selected and will rotate through the space (project descriptions and photos provided by CAMH):

Eepi Chaad

December 15, 2021–January 30, 2022

Artist Eepi Chaad’s “Soft Space” is an installation that celebrates the soft surfaces we associate with our homes. Visitors are invited to learn about surface design, take part in the process of making, and engage with the transformed space created out of handkerchiefs, bandanas, scarfs, afghans, throws, and security blankets. “Soft Space” aims to provide a safe and welcoming space for visitors to create, heal, and connect with one another through a communal project.

Two Star Symphony

February 2–March 27, 2022

Two Star Symphony will utilize the space to create new performance and sound works. The group is often inspired by the movement of dancers, silent film, and other visual mediums. The ensemble will offer regular open studio hours to connect with their audience and make their process visible.

March 30–May 25, 2022

Frame Dance will present “The Family Mantra,” an installation-based participatory performance that explores generational psychological shifts in the Houston community. The group aims to create an environment that will invite interaction with marbles, toy tops, pathways on the floor, pipe cleaner dolls to manipulate, and puppets. Frame Dance will host family dance parties with the goal of building bonding and creative expression.

Dana Caldera

June 1–30, 2022

Artist Dana Caldera’s project, “Paper to Fabric,” will explore the intersection of quilt and collage. An important component of this work is a community sewing circle event, which aims to offer a place for community, organizing for political or social causes, and education that is open to everyone. Caldera’s residency embraces the artist/caretaker role in order to model a family-friendly environment that welcomes children and ensures they are safely included in all events.

Society for the Performing Arts announces new COVID safety protocol

Fran Lebowitz, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Drum Tao 2022 are among the artists on Society for the Performing Arts’ February calendar.

Society for the Performing Arts has announced that it will expand its COVID-19 safety requirements from masks to proof of a negative COVID test or proof of vaccination for all patrons ages 5 and older, starting in February.

By doing so, SPA joins four other major arts organizations in Houston’s Theater District that currently have similar COVID safety protocol – including the Alley Theatre, Broadway at The Hobby Center, and Theatre Under The Stars (which require proof of negative results or vaccination for ages 12 and older), as well as Da Camera.

As “the largest nonprofit presenting organization of its kind in the Southwest,” SPA brings internationally acclaimed artists, musicians, dancers, actors, and speakers to Houston, and champions local artists through its Houston Artist Commissioning Project.

“With the amount of travel [SPA touring artists] are doing, more and more are requiring increased health and safety protocols,” the organization stated in its January newsletter as the impetus for the change.

Beginning next month, all audience members ages 5 and older will be required to show proof of a negative PCR or rapid antigen COVID-19 test, taken within 72 hours prior to the performance. SPA also requires that that the negative result be from a professionally administered test, not an at-home self-test.

Alternatively, patrons may choose to show proof of vaccination in the form of either 1) a CDC designated vaccine card that has two vaccine dates for the Pfizer/Moderna vaccine or one vaccine date for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, with the date of the final dose at least 14 days prior to the performance, or 2) a photo or digital copy of the card.

Patrons also need to present ID that matches the name on the test or vaccination card. Children may be accompanied by an adult who can provide identification. 

Masks will continue to be required inside the theater for all attendees ages 3 and older.

According to SPA, current ticket holders who cannot or do not wish to participate in these guidelines may contact the box office or email info@spahouston.org by January 28 to exchange their tickets for credit, to donate tickets, or to request a full refund.

Here’s a look at current COVID safety protocol for 8 major arts organizations in downtown Houston’s Theater District, subject to change:

Alley Theatre

  • Proof of negative COVID-19 test result or vaccination for patrons ages 12 and older
  • Masks required for all ages
  • All staff, artists, creative teams, crews, and ushers required to be vaccinated

Broadway at The Hobby Center

  • Proof of negative COVID-19 test result or vaccination for guests ages 12 and older
  • Masks required for all ages

Da Camera

  • Proof of negative COVID-19 test result or vaccination for all patrons
  • Masks required for all patrons

Houston Ballet

  • Masks required for all patrons
  • All staff and ushers fully vaccinated and masked at all times

Houston Grand Opera

  • Masks required for all patrons
  • All guests attending HGO Special Event dinners required to show proof of negative COVID-19 test result or vaccination, with masks also required at these events

Houston Symphony

  • Masks required for all patrons
  • All staff, ushers, musicians vaccinated; all ushers and staff in Jones Hall masked
  • Mix of full capacity and socially distanced areas in Jones Hall

Society for the Performing Arts

  • Masks required for all patrons
  • Starting February 2022, proof of negative COVID-19 test result or vaccination for patrons ages 5 and older

Theatre Under The Stars

  • Proof of negative COVID-19 test result or vaccination for patrons ages 12 and older
  • Masks required for all ages
  • On-site COVID testing available

How is COVID-19 affecting Houston’s holiday performing arts?

Delphi Borich as Ariel in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” from Theatre Under The Stars, which has canceled remaining performances of the show due to COVID / photo credit: Melissa Taylor

This article has been updated to reflect developments [12/22/21, 9:30pm]

As the U.S. faces a new wave of COVID – fueled by the highly transmissible omicron variant, making up 73% of new infections last week, according to the CDC – NPR reported via The Associated Press:

Many stages on both Broadway and the West End have been forced to go dark once more as the live theater community grapples with backstage outbreaks of the coronavirus and its variants, temporarily closing everything from London’s revival of Cabaret starring Eddie Redmayne to mighty Hamilton in New York.

At one point last week, according to the report, five of 32 Broadway shows were dealing with canceled performances. This week, producers of the Broadway musical Jagged Little Pill announced that it would close that show because of multiple positive COVID-19 cases within the company.

Update: Today NPR reported that nine Broadway musicals have announced that they will be on haitus until after Christmas because of breakthrough infections.

Here in Houston – where hospital officials say that positive omicron cases are doubling every two to three days and the Harris County threat level has been raised to “orange” (significant) as of Monday – local performing arts groups have been impacted by COVID. So far there have not been a large number of canceled performances or productions, though the situation is developing.

The only production that has closed, based on Houston Arts Journal’s review of local companies, is Disney’s The Little Mermaid by Theatre Under The Stars.

Originally scheduled to run through December 24 at The Hobby Center, TUTS announced on December 20, that it would cancel all remaining performances due to COVID among cast and crew:

Update: This evening, the Ensemble Theatre announced that breakthrough COVID cases have forced the company to cancel the December 23 performance of A Motown Christmas – with remaining performances in the run to be determined.

Last week, Stages Theatre canceled performances of Panto Little Mermaid because of a positive COVID test in the cast, according to an email from Dancie Perugini Ware Public Relations. That production has now been cleared to resume on December 22 and will continue, with additional shows scheduled, through January 2.

Stages’ concurrent production of Sister’s Christmas Catechism has not been disrupted and continues to run as scheduled through December 31.

Another show that has coped with COVID is A Christmas Carol at The Alley Theatre, which canceled performances on December 19:

The Alley has since resumed its scheduled run of A Christmas Carol through December 29.

Among other local holiday offerings, the following productions are currently running without disruption:

You can find COVID safety protocol for each company on their respective websites.

Read more here:

COVID surge cancels Houston theater performances, basketball games and holiday parties (via Houston Chronicle)

Latest COVID surge hits Broadway duruing the lucrative holiday season (via NPR)

How one local arts company survived the pandemic

Houston Contemporary Dance Company / courtesy of Marlana Doyle

This story originally appeared in and was produced for Houston Public Media. Listen to the interview here.

The last time Marlana Doyle visited Houston Public Media for an interview, it was January 2020.

The longtime Houston dancer and arts leader had just founded her first very own company – Houston Contemporary Dance Company, which had made its debut in the fall.

She was finalizing plans for a new physical studio – the Institute for Contemporary Dance, which was scheduled to open to the public in the spring of 2020.

Then, the pandemic hit.

Over the next several months, Doyle navigated financial setbacks, worked to keep her dancers and herself physically and mentally healthy, developed research-based COVID safety protocol for her new studio – and never stopped dancing.

Both her studio and dance company, now in its third season, survived the pandemic and continue to grow and recover.

In this extensive interview with Catherine Lu for Houston Matters, Marlana Doyle talks about:

  • Her organizations’ pandemic story and timeline
  • Overcoming financial challenges
  • Impact of the pandemic on a small, independent arts group
  • Future of her company
  • How the pandemic has changed dance

Doyle also previews Terra Firma, a program that the Houston Contemporary Dance Company will present on Saturday, November 20 at The Hobby Center. That performance will mark the company’s first time back on stage since the pandemic began.

Listen to the interview here.

Frame Dance has kept dance films alive and well, before and during the pandemic – and now, as we come out of it

SPACE LEFT BLANK by Travis Clausen-Knight / courtesy of Frame x Frame Film Fest

While dance-on-film is a decades old genre, dance films saw an increase and became mainstream offerings during the pandemic.

“Every organization and individual dance artist had to embrace the concept of sharing dance digitally to keep it alive to share with those who enjoy and support the art form,” according to Dance/USA in a recent article that examined the impact of COVID-19 on the dance field.

Some artists saw the pandemic as an opportunity to launch full-fledged digital projects. In August 2020, choreographer and former Houstonian Trey McIntyre founded FLTPK (pronounced “flatpack”), a platform for streaming and crowd-funding dance films created around the world.

Locally, companies like Houston Ballet produced a series of digital dances for social media, in order to overcome the initial lockdowns and later the social distancing required for COVID safety – which made in-person dance, an art form that requires close contact, impossible.

But long before the pandemic made virtual dance performances a necessity, Frame Dance Productions had already been creating, supporting, and presenting dance films in Houston.

Founded in 2010 by Lydia Hance, the contemporary dance company also choreographs site-specific performances, collaborates with community partners, and offers classes.

Its annual Frame x Frame Film Fest was established in 2018 to showcase the best international dance works created for film. With an on-screen format seemingly perfect for quarantine, last year’s festival proceeded in the midst of COVID – held outdoors at the makeshift Houston Ballet Drive-In.

The 2021 Frame x Frame Film Fest will take place November 4 – 13 at the newly opened Frame Dance Studio, 2426 Bartlett St, Suite D in Houston.

With different programs curated for various nights, this year’s festival will include 40 screen dances from Australia, France, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States – including several by Houston choreographers.

The short films range from 28 seconds to 15 minutes, with dances imagined in the water, in the womb, in libraries and galleries, in drainpipes, and in suspended animation.

With the “widespread popularity of video and performance arts, and the recent dance and dance film acquisitions made by venerable arts institutions,” organizers said in a press release that they believe that dance for film will continue to see growth and significance.

And however artists and companies continue to embrace or evolve the use of digital dance works post-pandemic, dance films have had an unprecedented moment to give many people, who might not otherwise have attended a live performance, access to the art form.