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Site-specific music and labyrinth-inspired dance at the Rothko Chapel

April 19, 2017

Site-specific music and labyrinth-inspired dance at the Rothko Chapel

MenilFest programs slated for Saturday, May 6

HOUSTON – April 19, 2017 – The Rothko Chapel will be hosting a site-specific, contemplative musical performance and an interactive labyrinth dance performance as part of MenilFest 2017.  

The Chapel’s first event begin at 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 6 with “Anecdote of the Spirit,” a performance by soprano and experimental vocal composer Misha Penton and double bassist and composer Thomas Helton.  

Penton is a contemporary opera singer, experimental vocal composer and writer. With a multidisciplinary approach to music, she uses a wide range of skills in her work. In addition to her vocal work and writing, she is a noted director, conceptualist and producer. 
 
Penton said that sharing creative work is how she tries to make the world a better place. “The arts remind me to pay attention to what’s important -- to nurture a sense of awe and inspiration," she said. "This is no small task in our challenging and often chaotic world.” 

Helton writes and performs in both solo and ensemble settings. As a composer, he was awarded a Houston Arts Alliance Individual Artist Fellowship Grant in 2007 and an artist residency and commission from DiverseWorks ArtSpace. As a bassist, he performs with his own ensemble, The Core Trio, as well as with many celebrated jazz and free improv artists.

During the performance, audience members are invited to wander in and out of the Chapel in thought and introspection.

“This will be a unique way to experience the Chapel,” public programs and community engagement director Ashley Clemmer said. “Using spontaneous and improvised compositional techniques, Misha and Thomas will create sounds that are in turn spacious, beautiful and intense, in keeping with the sacred environment of the space.”

Then, at 5 p.m., the festivities continue with dance by Core Performance Company, which will perform “walk” -- a piece that celebrates the sacred space of a labyrinth.

The interactive dance will be performed in a temporary labyrinth set-up outside on the Chapel’s plaza, in front of Barnett Newman’s iconic sculpture Broken Obelisk.  

Celebrating its 36th Season, Core Dance is an award-winning contemporary dance organization. Located in Houston and Atlanta, the professional dance company performs and educates with the aim to foster cultural conversations through original dance, performing and educating in both. 

“World Labyrinth Day is celebrated on May 6 -- and what better way to observe that than by seeing a dance work created to celebrate the spiritual practice of walking a labyrinth,” Clemmer said. ““In addition to watching Core perform, attendees will also be invited to walk the temporary labyrinth. For those not familiar with the spiritual practice, this will be a wonderful introduction; and for those who are long-time labyrinth walkers, this will provide a new experience.” 

MenilFest is an annual festival on the award-winning Menil Collection campus at 1533 Sul Ross St. The festival features performances, readings and a showcase of independent authors and publishers. The festival is slated for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information about the performers, visit mishapenton.com, thomashelton.org and coredance.org.

For more information about the festival, visit menilfest.com.

For more information about the Rothko Chapel, including a full calendar of upcoming programs, workshops and events, visit rothkochapel.org or call 713-524-9839.

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