Need a weekly dose of dance? Houston Ballet's got you covered with In Good Company, a new eight-week program that releases a new dance film weekly for free on its social media channels.
Set to music by The Dead South and generously underwritten by Leticia Loya, In Good Company premiered on March 10 and promises at least one new video per week through the end of April.
"For us, this time has really become about connection," says Stanton Welch AM, Houston Ballet's artistic director. "Everything we are offering stems from our desire to connect with our Houston Ballet family and community."
The pieces are meant to feel as familiar and lively as a family gathering, with the audience being pulled into the journey through the filming techniques, choreography, and varying emotional stories.
"I've spent a lot of this pandemic trying to learn about dance on film," says Welch. "I really focused on how the technical and directorial aspects relate to the dancers. Hopefully, you will see it in this work, giving you the feeling of a pas de deux between each dancer and the camera."
The new work consists of 11 songs by The Death South, courtesy of Six Shooter Records. The tracks include "Achilles," "Ballad for Janoski," "Banjo Odyssey," "Down That Road," "Honey You," "In Hell I'll Be In Good Company," "Long Gone," "Manly Way," "That Bastard Son," "The Dead South," and "The Recap," all from the album Good Company.
Native of Saskatchewan, The Dead South is an acoustic quartet comprised of the gnarled baritone of Nate Hilts, Scott Pringle on mandolin, whistling cellist Danny Kenyon, and virtuosic banjo player Colton Crawford. The gritty folk sounds of this four-piece are quickly gaining popularity, and their single "In Hell I'll Be In Good Company" appears on the second season of Netflix's The Umbrella Academy.
"Through In Good Company, we continue to expand our community by trying to reach more people with this exceptional music," says Welch. "We hope ballet lovers will enjoy exploring the band's music with us and The Dead South's fans might find something new in ballet as well. The band has been so wonderful to work with and so supportive of us creating with their music. We hope there will ultimately be more opportunities to collaborate when we return to performing onstage."
Houston Ballet continues to work with Houston Methodist to ensure safe practices when creating its projects, including throughout the filming of In Good Company. A micro-sized film crew minimized risk of exposure to staff and dancers. Each dancer was filmed one at a time with only Welch, lighting designer Lisa J. Pinkham, associate director of audio/visual services David Rivera, audio/visual associate Nicole Foreman, and one ballet master in attendance.
In addition to masked staff and shield barriers throughout the space, the Margaret Alkek Williams Dance Lab at the Houston Ballet Center for Dance was fully disinfected, and the air underwent a purification process between dancers.