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Theatrical showcases, contemporary dance performances and experimental art installations set the stage for CounterCurrent Festival on April 18–23. Celebrating its fourth year, Houstonians can see local and international creatives showcase their works throughout Houston, from a video installation about three Syrian refugees to a modern adaptation of Snow White by The Catastrophic Theatre. Better yet, the entire festival is free.

Presented by the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, the city-wide festival aims to engage audiences with new performances, installations and ideas by hosting programming throughout the Bayou City, including the Midtown Arts and Theater Center (MATCH), the University of Houston's Main Campus and Post HTX. Karen Farber, executive director of the Mitchell Center, has been at the helm of CounterCurrent Festival since its inception. She travels the world looking for new works, but as the festival continues to grow, she noticed that artists started coming to her. “[The art community] knows who we are and they are starting to think, ‘Oh—this would be interesting for Houston.’" 

Here, we rounded up the top can't-miss, out-of-the-box programming at CounterCurrent 17.

Stories of Refuge

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This hands-on exhibit follows three Syrian refugees who fled to Munich from their home country ravaged by war. Dictaphone Group, a performance collective led by Tania El Khoury and Abir Saksouk, gave each of the refugees a discreet camera to record one day at the Munich refugee camp. Viewers watch the footage while lying in bunk beds to get the full effect of the refugee camp.

April 18–23. MATCH, 3400 Main St.

Movement V: Ballroom

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Located in the Third Ward’s Eldorado Ballroom, the historic space hosts this aural and sculptural installation by Kevin Beasley, which is co-presented by Project Row Houses. The interactive installation begins in an utterly dark space. As audiences walk around the room, their movements trigger spotlights on 16 sculptural works and movement-based performances, some of which Beasley will perform himself. "Our engagement with darkness is what generates visibility," he shares.

April 18–23. The Historic Eldorado Ballroom, 2310 Elgin St.

Ten Tiny Dances

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Co-curated by Nancy Wozny, this contemporary dance performance features 10 Texas-based choreographers who create 10 tiny dances on a very small, raised cube-shaped stage. During the performances, the dancers break the boundaries of space using innovative techniques and imagination to expand beyond physical confines.

April 19 at 8 p.m. Post HTX, 401 Franklin St.

The Miraculous: Houston

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UH transforms into an innovative conceptual art installation that's meant to be experienced as a scavenger hunt. Spend the day hunting down 50 specific art sites created by Raphael Rubinstein and Heather Bause across campus. Inspired by Rubinstein’s book The Miraculous, short stories will also be planted in unexpected spots, recounting contemporary and avant-garde art from the past 50 years.

April 18–23. University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun Rd.

Ghana ThinkTank

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Ghana ThinkTank collected Houston's diversity problems last year and sent them to 'third world' think tanks, including an Indonesian hacker collective, Gaza medical students and Moroccan artisans. Their proposed solutions are presented at CounterCurrent this week. "The question was left open to allow people to give us their concept of 'cultural diversity.' I was so impressed by the honesty and openness of Houstonians when answering the question. Clearly this is something we all need to talk about," shares Carmen Montoya of Ghana ThinkTank.

April 18—23. For various times and locations, visit countercurrentfestival.org 

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