CounterCurrent Returns With Groundbreaking Arts Programming
With audio and visual installations, dance performances, theatrical productions, and performance lectures by artists from across the world, CounterCurrent has truly set itself apart from the city’s arts festivals. The annual event — organized by the University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts — includes a comprehensive schedule for patrons to experience world-class arts programming like never before.
While a large portion of the festival takes place at the Midtown Arts & Theater Center (MATCH), the festival takes place at locations across the city like The Brandon, Post HTX and the Eldorado Ballroom.
With such impressive programming scheduled for the festival between April 18 and 23, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to the festival’s can’t-miss events.
Ten Tiny Dances
Ten choreographers present ten short dances over the span of an hour, all executed in a 4′ x 4′ stage. Ten Tiny Dancers showcases a mix of artists from varying disciplines, including contemporary and ballet dancers and choreographers, and is known to be a festival favorite. Co-curated by Nancy Wozny, editor-in-chief of Arts + Culture Texas, the performance takes place on April 19 at Post HTX (401 Franklin) at 8 pm and free tickets are available online.
A theatrical adaptation of an experimental novel by the late postmodern novelist Donald Barthelme, The Catastrophic Theatre presents Snow White, a contemporary take on the classic tale. Snow White is tired of being a bored housewife to seven men, who “only add up to the equivalent of about two real men.” She spends her days drinking screwdrivers, reading communist literature and waiting for her prince. Reworked for stage with the notes of Barthelme, the production will be hosted at MATCH-BOX 3 on April 20, 21 and 22 at 8 pm with free tickets available online.
Stories of Refuge
This video installation leads viewers on the story of three Syrian refugees who fled the country to seek refuge in Munich. One narrowly survived a sinking ship, another walked with their children from Syria to Turkey, and the third was smuggled in a truck. Each refugee was given a discreet camera to record what it was like to live one day in their lives in a refugee camp. The installation, which itself is fitted out with bunkbeds so that the audience can feel as if they are living what they are seeing, will run at MATCH Gallery (3400 Main) from April 18 to 23 from noon to 8 pm each day.
Follow the stories of four Palestinian refugees with this fully immersive experience. Films are projected onto the four walls of a gallery with each following a single person. Headphones in the center of the room provide audiences with one of the four stories told by the refugees, yet with view of all of them at once. The entire space allows the viewer to experience a moment in the Rashidieh Refugee Camp on the coast of Lebanon. The installation will run at The Brandon (1709 Westheimer) from April 18 to 23 from noon to 8 pm each day.
At last year’s CounterCurrent, the Ghana ThinkTank posed the question, “What’s your Houston diversity problem?” The response was largely related to cultural and ethnic identity, and now think tanks in India, Iran, Indonesia, Morocco, Gaza, Serbia and Germany are looking for solutions for Houston’s problems. Through one-on-one conversation and installations, Ghana ThinkTank will introduce audiences to the journey of our city’s diversity problems from here to the think tanks and back again. The Ghana ThinkTank will be traveling throughout Houston during the run of the festival, check the CounterCurrent website for location updates.
Incorporating elements of kabuki, flamenco and contemporary dance, this interdisciplinary performance is the work of Argentinian-born Daniel Proietto, trained in kabuki, and 76-year old Shōji Kojima, who moved from Japan to Spain to become a master of flamenco. The two award-winning dancers present a two-hour performance created by Norwegian company winter guests and its choreographer Alan Lucien Øyen. Performances take place through April 18 to 20 at 7 pm each day at MATCH-BOX 2 with free tickets available online.
Movement V: Ballroom
A site specific sculptural and sound installation at the Eldorado Ballroom (2310 Elgin), which has served the Third Ward as a legendary venue for blues and jazz players from the 1940s through the 1970s, artist Kevin Beasley presents Movement V: Ballroom. Exploring cultural, personal and historical contexts, Beasley will feature sixteen sculptural works to amplify the sounds produced by visitors’ movement, the installation exists only with the movement of people and their physical engagement with the largely darkened space. The installation will be on view from April 18 to 23 from noon to 8 pm each day, and Beasley will also perform and engage with the installation on April 22 at 8 pm.
Illusions of Urbanscape
This performance lecture from Chicano artist-activist Harry Gamboa Jr. revolves around the myth of contemporary society based on the artist’s experiences in Los Angeles and “its subtle layering of codes, rules, and visual markers that contribute to making a sophisticated living space for millions of people.” He will discuss the many works he’s directed with his current performance troupe, Visual Vérité, as well as works he produced with a group of young Chicano artists in the ’70s and ’80s. The performance will take place at the Quintero Theatre at the University of Houston on April 20 at 6:30 pm and free tickets are available online.
Using test, song, costume, film and projections, Lili Taylor performs Suzanne Bocanegra’s most recent lecture on life at her grandparents’ farm in La Grange, existing across the road from the Chicken Ranch, also known as “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” “Through the lens of the farm and the brothel, a story emerges that considers the invention of the pastoral in art, the homesteading movement, hippie communes in the 1960s and the idea of the prostitute in art and theater.” Taylor will perform at MATCH-BOX 1 on April 21 at 7 pm and on April 22 at 3 and 7 pm with free tickets available online.