Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Arts.Advocacy+Wellness: "Founder and Director of Urban Souls Dance Company - Harrison Guy"
I'm always excited and humbled by the level of talent and genius that, not only is found in the number 1 Performing Arts city in the world (NYC), but also beyond. I'm also floured by the entrepreneurial hats that young and emerging artists are wearing today. Recently, I had the opportunity of chatting with a very inspiring soul...Harrison Guy. Hailing from Houston, Texas where he currently resides, Harrison Guy is working diligently and fearlessly as the Artistic Director and Visionary Conceptualist of the Urban Souls Dance Company.
Dance Houston says: "The groundbreaking work will be remembered by everyone who had the chance to see it," and The Houston Chronicle noted: "Blending pointed dynamics and razor sharp execution. Watch out for more from this new troupe."
Off to an exceptional beginning by bringing striking, innovative, thought-provoking, and groundbreaking work to the dance community in Houston, TX and beyond, here's what Harrison Guy shared with us:
Where are you from and how did you get your start in the performing arts industry? I am from La Marque, TX. A small town near Houston. With few people and a BIG spirit. A place that believes in the village concept in relation to raising children. I started out my love for performing as a little boy. Choreographing family and community dances and singing in the church choir. There was always something special living in my spirit. I started dancing at Prairie View A & M University and then went off to The Ailey School. My Ailey experience was amazing and inspired me to return home and offer what I had learned to my community.
Tell us a little about Urban Souls Dance Company's birth and its core mission. Urban Souls was birthed from my spirit in 2004. I performed a solo at Dance Houston. A citywide dance festival under the company name. I then began teaching a free modern class every Sunday that turned into a performing company. Our mission is to tell real life stories by boldly blending technique, passion, and African American culture. Some of our well known works are about Genocide in Rwanda, The "N" word, and Scarlet situation about HIV in the black community. (We do Happy pieces too!)
As the Artistic Director of Visionary Concept for USDC, what are your duties? We are still a young company. So my duties include everything from choreographing works, to teaching class, to marketing, to mentor, to baby-sitter, to counselor, to taxi-driver, and the list goes on........
Now you're quite the entrepreneur can you share a little about producing and running a dance company? Well I have funded the company for 5 years out of my pocket. Because I believe in it so much. There have been many times where I have been literally broke and hungry, yet standing proud all dressed up selling the company. I can see it all paying off one day. Producing a show takes alot of money and alot of work. I have learned so much with each endeavor. It's the growth that fuels me.
Are you currently performing with the company? I danced more in the early days because I could not find any men. Now I have 6 male dancers and I am able to chose when I perform. I am the type of leader that believes I am only at my best when I am serving. So it's not about me! (anymore) ;-)
Now tell us a little more about the He (Art) and Soul Events and USDC's connection to it? He (Art) and Soul is a poetry/live music/dance event that's held once a month at a local club. It's growing every month and I am delighted to be a part of it. I recently set a work to one of the poet's piece called "killing the devil" and it is a MUST SEE!
What's next for Urban Souls Dance Company? We are in the process of recruiting our Board of Directors. These dances are for the people and it's time that it is funded by the people. Regional touring is also on the agenda.
Specifically speaking about Harrison Guy. What inspires you on a daily basis? And what is your Vision, for your life, in the next 5 years? Everything inspires me. I was watching TV and saw the revealing of Sojourner Truth's Bust in the White House. And I immediately started researching and created a work called "Truth Be Told" about the audacity of Sojourner Truth" She had guts and I was honored to tell her story through dance. So daily I am inspired by people and life. I love a good story. My vision is to be full time with the dance company. I want to be able to focus all of my energy and attention on Urban Souls.
This a Future favorite question...name one guilty pleasure ...ahhhhhhh, what's appropriate to list? LOL. I would say I am absolutely obsessed with Drag shows.
For more information please visit Harrison Guy at: