This December, visitors to Discovery Green, expecting to experience Solstice by Studio Iregular, were treated to impromptu spectacles by Kinder High School for the Performance and Visual Arts. The students twirled, twisted, leapt, and dropped in formation as they practiced around the arches and mirrored surfaces of the winter art installation.
It was all in preparation for their official dance performance Jan 6 and 7th from 6:30 – 7:30 pm at Discovery Green as part of the Solstice-inspired public art programming sponsored by PNC Bank. Laura Gutierrez, a Houston-native and Kinder HSPVA alum, returned to the city to choreograph the piece and work with the students.
Gutierrez has made dance in non-traditional spaces, such as in art galleries, or alongside art installations, a pillar of her career. It’s an opportunity to work in partnership with artists, and to connect with communities that might not otherwise seek out a dance performance, she said. Although, having an audience of strangers during your practice sessions can be intimidating.
“There were people experiencing the installation and enjoying the park. I enjoy that pressure. Timelines and pressure work really well for me creatively,” she said. “The students were a little more cautious. I think that’s extremely normal. It’s quite a mature thing to take a big site-specific dance outside.”
The piece she’s choreographed is called Pista de Tranquilidad, which means “peaceful path.” The title is a reference to not just the time of the year, and winter solstice traditions, but the park itself.
Gutierrez said she was inspired by the artist Daniel Iregui’s hope for the Solstice art installation to be a place for community, connection and working together. They are themes she’s very familiar with having grown up in Houston. Despite living in New Jersey now, she’s never really left Houston, returning frequently to work and perform here.
“Houston is home,” Gutierrez said. “Finding community is important to me and I find Houston is a really great place, not just because I have ties there, but because people want art in Houston and there are great places for art, like Discovery Green. I cherish Houston deeply.”
Gutierrez graduated from Kinder HSPVA in 2005 and she credits the high school and its staff for her successes throughout her career. After graduating high school, she attended University of North Carolina School for the Arts and was a Lincoln Center Education Fellow. She then moved back to Houston where she lived for ten years while also performing around the world with Jonah Bokaer in Brooklyn. Since she graduated, the city has changed quite a bit.
“[Discovery Green] is really stunning visually. The land, flowers, trees and playground. I think it’s a really great representation of Houston and what the city is all about,” she said. “New York has Central Park, but we have Discovery Green.”
It is connections like those she has with Kinder HSPVA, and opportunities like those created at Discovery Green that keeps her coming back to Houston.
Pista de Tranquilidad by Kinder HSPVA at Discovery Green
Inspired by Solstice as part of the public art programming sponsored by PNC Bank.
Jan 6 & 7, 6:30 – 7:30 pm
NOTICE: Discovery Green needs your help to continue providing free programming that shines a light on the diversity of traditions that exist in Houston. Please, if you are able, be a connection for others to experience the dance, art and joy. Give now at www.discoverygreen.com/donate