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Dance Source Houston’s second annual Truck Dances shifts into full gear once again on Thursday, November 12 at The Barn, with this year’s production featuring the talented performers of Urban Souls Dance Company. The evening’s program, titled “Pink Slip,” will focus on gentrification within Houston’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

The local dance nonprofit gave Urban Souls full creative reins for curating this show, which is the aforementioned organization’s primary fundraising event every year. Stephanie Todd Wong, Executive Director of Dance Source, hopes that Truck Dances will encourage more dancers to be involved in the city’s performing arts community. 

“Dance artists can’t pick up a brush at 3 a.m. when inspiration strikes…they have to wait until they can get to the studio with dancers the next day,” she says. “It becomes this precious thing, but there are a lot of hurdles to make it.”

As the name suggests, Truck Dances brings in two U-Haul trucks as a unique stage for the Urban Souls performers. The bay doors of The Barn will open up as the two vehicles back up into the building, with their rear doors opened to face the theater audience. The 15 minute-long performance recurs three to four times throughout the evening while additional dance showcases simultaneously occur within the studio. Wong believes this gives the audience a chance to go around the studio and enjoy all the talent the two dance companies have to offer.

Truck Dances is arguably one of Dance Source’s more complex performances, but Urban Souls choreographer Harrison Guy didn’t see the trucks as obstacles when planning this production, but rather they were a way to strengthen the show’s gentrification theme and its reflection of change and motion.

“I wanted to work with [the idea of] moving, so we have boxes and are using them as prop elements to play on the 'movement' of gentrification,” Guy says.

The evening’s main production references a few historical churches, as well as closed-down schools and small, African American-owned businesses in the Third and Fifth Ward areas as examples of the city’s gentrification. And although the show implements music described as a “modern and fresh spin” on blues melodies, Guy was actually inspired by a lyric from rapper Kanye West’s song “Everything I Am” for the show’s title and theme (“Pink slip on my door / ‘cause I can’t afford to stay”).

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“I thought it was a good play on the words, since you usually hear 'pink slip' about termination or ending something,” Guy explains. “So to make it about the movement of gentrification I think gets people thinking about the issue in a different way.”

While the performance primarily focuses on Houston’s African-American communities, Guy believes that it encourages people of all backgrounds to join the discussion regarding Houston’s changing neighborhoods.

“I hope the dance gets people thinking about how we enter communities and makes them think about the people who are already there as people who are rightfully there—and how we should respect it,” he says.

Truck Dances. Thursday, Nov 12. 7:30. $50-75. The Barn, 2201 Preston St. 713-224-3262. dancesourcehouston.org

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