The pilot dance project presents Beneath the Surface

If you’re interested in the arts, you might notice some thematic similarities, and that’s no coincidence according to dancer and choreographer Ashley Horn.

Although reluctant to use the ‘T’ word, trauma, Horn says, “If you look across the spectrum of what dancers and many artists are presenting right now, the themes are so common” and “it’s because that we had this collective and terrible experience that we all need to talk about with our art.

Horn finds it interesting that so many post-pandemic artists “come to the same place uninvited” and produce work “about loss, people and connection”, which includes his own new work, “Little Things, Tiny Things “, which will premiere during The Dance Pilot Projectthe next concert of Beneath the surface.

“Little Things, Tiny Things” is one of six original works on the program. It joins pieces by artists from the Pilot Dance Project company, including Lori Yuill, Ke’Ron Wilson, CholoRock Dance Theater’s Jose Zamora, and two premieres by Adam Castaneda, artistic director and executive of the Pilot Dance Project.

Although Horn says the pandemic made her think about the loss “in a more pressing way,” she thought about it long before COVID-19 became a household name. “I feel like the last five years, maybe, of my life, ten years of my life has been something like an exodus of people that I loved,” Horn says. “I’m much more of an island now than I’ve ever been, and so I wanted to think back to those people and the little things they left for me and how I remember them.”

Horn describes the dance as “a few little snapshots”, with each of the three sections of the piece representing and revisiting “tiny encapsulated memories”. One such memory, shared by Horn, is of a small stop-motion butterfly she created with a friend, Rob Bridges, who died suddenly. It was a moment when Horn says she realized the two were “kindred spirits,” and it opens up the work.

“We were both very proud of it,” says Horn. “I knew in that tiny moment doing that little thing that we were speaking the same language.”

Although Horn describes her work overall as vulnerable, she says that in her creative process she continually abstracts it so that “it doesn’t feel as vulnerable.” But that’s not the case with “Little Things, Tiny Things.”

“With this piece, I didn’t do it on purpose,” says Horn. “I talk a bit about my memories there and so I think this piece is just honest and accessible and raw. That’s the way it is.”

The challenge of “Little Things, Tiny Things” isn’t just in its vulnerability. It’s also a quartet of someone who enjoys working with odd numbers. Horn attributes his ability to rise to this challenge to the dancers and his return to the studio in general.

“Being away from him for a year really rekindled in me what a magical space it is and how lucky we are to be there and to be creators and to be with other people who are creators,” says Horn. “We just walk in with that kind of wide-eyed wonder that we’ve lost.”

After “teaching for so long, dancing for so long, and choreographing for so long,” Horn says the studio, like the little things explored in dance, is something she took for granted. But the experience, like the dance created by Horn, offered an opportunity to be grateful.

“I think gratitude is going to be the thing that we take away from this,” says Horn. “Hopefully that’s what we take away from this.”

Underneath the Surface premieres at 8 p.m. on June 25, 26, and 27. On Friday, June 25, the performance will take place at the PET Outdoor Theater, 733 Service Street, and on Saturday, June 26 and Sunday, June 27. performances will take place inside the Houston Metropolitan Dance Center, 4916 Main Street. Each performance will be limited to 25 spectators. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased here.

Comments are closed.