Although the 24- to 28-member Houston Chamber Choir resists categorization, there may be one thing that defines the group: flexibility. Equally comfortable performing Bach's B minor mass with period instruments or singing along with Dave Brubeck and his quartet for an evening of choral jazz, it's no wonder Everett Evans of the Houston Chronicle dubbed the choir "one of the jewels of the city's cultural scene." And together they're a jewel that shares its sparkle with the world. The choir's concerts have spanned from the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City all the way to Wales while taking special care to promote the music of Texas composers.
Professional photographer Daniel Moreno has had an eye for images since the birth of his first son, which imbued him with the passion to pursue photography as a career. Though he still snaps precious shots of his two children, he now shares his gift with other families, harnessing natural light and the pastoral backgrounds of local parks to frame unposed photos of newborns, babies, and children. He also takes his equipment on the road to capture maternity portraits, quinceañeras, engagements, and graduation sessions for high-school seniors or dogs that have completed clown college.
Owner Valerie Johnson leads a team of dynamic dance and fitness instructors dedicated to keeping bodies energized and elegant with classes ranging from ballet and pointe to hip-hop and tap. In addition to teaching feet the difference between tangos and two-steps, the studio’s instructors nurture tuneful talents with music lessons in disciplines including drum, guitar, piano, and voice. The 3,400-square-foot studio also hosts Kindermusik programs, which inspire creativity in toddlers with song, dance, and alphabet recitation set to the overture of Don Giovanni.
Pecos showcases three distinct pieces. With a specially commissioned score from Matthew Pierce, Stanton Welch's whimsical Pecos Bill is a folkloric romance between an idealized Texas cowboy and Sluefoot Sue, a perfectly matched sassy tomboy. Ballo della Regina is a bel-canto-esque set of variations created by Balanchine and set to music that was once cut from Verdi's Don Carlos. Enjoy brilliantly crafted movements and perfectly timed humor choreographed by dance superstar Mark Morris in Sandpaper Ballet, a performance that gleams amid green and white costumes designed by Isaac Mizrahi.
Fred Astaire Dance Studio's retinue of step-savvy instructors transforms clunky feet into sashaying instruments through a quartet of private and group dance classes. During the 45-minute private lessons, students and their optional partners learn basic footwork while building the confidence necessary to take a spin on the dance floor or backflip into a corporate rival's cubicle. Covering the basics of Latin, ballroom, swing, and country-western dancing, individual lessons cater to a student’s specific needs before letting them loose during the 45-minute group classes. Accompanied by 8–30 other amateur rug cutters, these communal dance lessons bolster partnership, timing, and rhythm, and keep feet agile enough to maneuver the punch-bowl stampedes of modern dance floors.
At Soundbox Studios, the human body is the preferred artistic medium. Owners and brothers Andrew and Duy Nguyen, along with Calvin Eata, have created an encouraging space that supports the Houston dance community. Skilled instructors oversee hip-hop classes for all levels, teaching basic moves and rhythm patterns that students will later modify and make their own as they progress through the curriculum. The Soundbox also sports their own sharply dressed crop of performance teams, including The Lady Rascals, Riot Squad, and Lunchbox, a preadolescent crew capable of breakdancing their ABCs.