Houston Modern Dance Council
Scope and Contents
- Majority of material found within 1977 - 1987
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Biographical / Historical
In 1977, Stokes founded the CAM Choreographers Program. This program began with choreographers Jim Clouser, Farrel Dyde, Sandra York, Mary Wolff, Sonya Zarek, Polly Motley, and Laura Fly. They met once a week for two years, leading one another in improvisational exercises and eventually staging site-specific performances across the city. In one such series, the choreographers were assigned to different art exhibitions, such as a Bauhaus exhibit at MFAH, and the Rothko Chapel, to perform in. In another, the choreographers led audiences into the downtown tunnels for interactive pieces. This group disbanded after two years when Stokes no longer wanted to be the leader of the group.
Under Stoke’s direction, the Council served to promote modern dance in Houston. The Council incorporated dance companies such as the the Roberta Stokes Company, which was founded in May 1980, and other groups like the Jim Clouser’s Space/Dance/Theatre. In addition to the Gathering, the Council held educational events including movie screenings at the Rice Media Center and free improvisation workshops for the modern dance community.
Shortly after the Houston Modern Dance Council formed, the Houston Dance Coalition, an umbrella organization for various types of dance in Houston, formed and drew the attention of many modern dancers and choreographers. The Modern Dance Council disbanded in late 1984 when Stokes decided to direct all focus towards her own company. As of August 2019, the Houston Dance Coalition is still active and producing the annual Dance Salad Festival, a showcase reminiscent of the early Modern Dance Gatherings.
In 1984, the Modern Dance Council initiated an oral history program to chronicle the development of modern dance in Houston. This was the last program created by the council, made possible by a grant from the Cultural Arts Council of Houston. Barbara Thompson Day, a local historian, conducted these interviews with Houstonians active in the modern dance scene from 1950-1984. Transcripts and audio tapes of these interviews can be found in Boxes 1 and 2 of this collection.
The Roberta Stokes Company closed in 1990 after ten active years. A painter before her dance career began, Stokes returned to painting following the end of her company. She returned to the stage for a solo performance with Travesty Dance Group, co-owned by her daughter, Karen, in 2007. Karen has since carried her mother’s torch into her own modern dance company, Karen Stokes Dance. As of 2019, this company is still operating and staging performances in Houston.
2.25 Linear Feet (4 boxes)
This collection is organized by event, material type, and date.
Series 1 Oral History Project; 1985
Series 2 Modern Dance Gatherings; 1977-1984
Series 3 Modern Dance at the Contemporary Arts Museum; 1968-1980
Series 4 Roberta Stokes Company; 1979-1989
Series 5 Modern Dance Across Houston; 1976-1986
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Elizabeth Alden Eckman
- August 2019
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Finding Aid Written In English
- August 2019: Reprocessed
Part of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center Repository