Suchu Dance – How to Absorb the Colorama Format

How to Absorb the Colorama Format

Suchu Dance’s second premiere of the 2008-09 season, features six newly recruited and four veteran Suchu Dance performing artists in this breathtaking and unusual dance theatre premiere conceived and crafted by Suchu Dance founder and artistic director Jennifer Wood.   Set inside one continuous, 45-foot diameter circle of 13-foot tall translucent panels enveloping both performers and audience alike, with dramatic lighting by Suchu Dance resident light designer Jeremy Choate, the scale of this production is at once intimate and gargantuan, with imagery that is bold, colorful, at times surreal.   Wood’s cutting-edge, powerful, and highly inventive choreography is complemented by even more of her unique creative contributions:  original stop-frame video animation, a dazzling array of costumes, her signature humor and twists, and a few select Wood original musical compositions.

Thursday, March 5: dinner at 7 pm catered by Huynh, Houston’s hottest, most critically-acclaimed new Vietnamese restaurant, followed by Sneak Preview show at 8 pm — $29.99 (or show only for just $14)
Friday, March 6: show at 8 pm — $16
Saturday, March 7: show at 8 pm — $18
Thursday, March 12: show at 8 pm — $14
Friday, March 13: show at 8 pm — $16
Saturday, March 14: show at 8 pm — $18

Additional $4 discount per ticket if purchased 24 hrs in advance or student/senior at door.

Artistic direction, choreography, costuming: Jennifer Wood

Light design: Jeremy Choate

Performers: Stephanie Beall, Chelsea Books, Kristen Frankiewicz, Lydia Hance, Ashley Horn, Leo Muñoz, Jessica Prachyl, Tina Shariffskul, LaKesha Sowell, Nichelle Strzepek

Yes, that’s me!

As always, a week before a show opens, it feels like there is so much to try and pull together. There are certainly a lot of elements in this show. As mentioned above, a huge curtain of panels surrounds the stage and audience. Entrances and exits can come from just about anywhere! The lighting is sure to be inventive (I haven’t seen it yet) but Jeremy always has something up his sleeve! The music includes an eclectic mix of styles and soundscapes. And, for this show, Jennifer has created some colorful and whimsical animations that will fascinate and amuse. Oh yeah! There’s dancing too! The work is imaginative and often juxtapositions elements that are unexpectedly cohesive – well, I think so anyway – but you’ll have to see for yourself!

So what’s it all about anyway?

Well, if you’re looking for a story, there isn’t one. Unlike ballet or other narrative dance works, there are no characters or plots (not in the traditional sense, anyway). In this case, the work allows the viewer to look for their own meaning or story, and understand the relationships between people, or music choices, or video segments in their own way. Often the movement exists simply for movement’s sake without much intention to express something. Therefore, each audience member is free to interpret for themselves what they see in the dance. Or not! They are also free to watch, enjoy, laugh, cry, and just be present – witnesses to theatrical magic and mystery!

The elements of the production don’t exist in a vacuum, however. There are relationships (though you may have to search to find them). And, certainly the inspiration for these components come from somewhere. In fact, if you’re wondering about the title, I suspect… yes, even the dancers are typically kept in the dark… that the Kodak Coloramas were an influence in the naming and design of this particular show. But, again, you’ll have to see for yourself to determine if I’m right!

We are excited to premiere this new work so I hope you’ll come out and see it. Jennifer Wood’s choreography is always creative and a bit zany. You are sure to chuckle and maybe even guffaw! And, seriously, how often do you get to do that at a dance performance? (not enough!)


Returning and Readjusting


While living in Waco I had little opportunity to perform and spent almost five years teaching dance at private studios, a community college, and other organizations. I am passionate about teaching but I missed the creative and physical challenge of dancing within a company.

We moved back to Houston while I was eight months pregnant. Needless to say, although I was happy to be back in the city and was looking forward to enjoying the dance scene here, my intense focus was on this new addition to our family. My new role is that of a stay-at-home mom and it is a “job” that I love. But, certainly in the beginning, it was a job that required much of my time day and night. Now that my son is over a year old (and I am no longer breastfeeding), responsibilities regarding my son are more equally shared between my husband and I. Therefore, I have taken on the challenge of returning to the performance aspect of my dance career.

Work in Contemporary Dance Art is rarely available as a full-time pursuit unless one is dancing with multiple organizations. At this moment in my life this is actually an advantage as my interest is currently in performing “part-time.” I have returned to dancing with Suchu Dance, a company I have worked with in the past. I enjoy the collaborative process of choreographer, Jennifer Wood, and I like being part of the creation of new, original work. So three evenings a week and on Saturdays I get to take a break from my suburban mommy lifestyle and address that little part of me that has been neglected for the past several years.


The return has not been easy. Teaching is certainly not the same as dancing and I found it difficult to maintain my athleticism while instructing full-time in Waco. Also, pregnancy and the resulting time away from dance certainly took its toll on my core, supporting muscles. I return to dance with a slightly different body – a little older, a bit less malleable, weaker in areas that I used to be very strong. It is an adjustment physically as I work in company class and within the choreography. However, the demands motivate me toward self-improvement. Unfortunately, the biggest hurdle in my return has been my confidence. It is something with which I’ve always struggled but moreso now that my body feels different than my younger, post-baby self. There are body image concerns that weren’t there before and I find I have to deal with these emotional barriers while overcoming new limitations in my movement.

Despite the difficulties and insecurities I am truly enjoying my participation in the creative process once again. Although perhaps not the most physically adept member of the company, I do feel my history and well-seasoned qualities offer something unique in this mix of individuals coming together to construct original movement art. Also, doing something “for myself” is rewarding and improves interaction with my family. I am a better mom for addressing and following my own interests and passions, even if it does take me out of the house for periods of time.

I hope to write more about my experiences, the process of creating dance art, and my roll as a dancing mama in this space. Feel free to comment with your own thoughts or experiences – encouragement is also most welcome! 🙂