There's nothing quite like an artistic challenge that a creative mind gives to oneself. For Andy Noble, co-artistic director of NobleMotion Dance, that's where the fun begins. "I like to put myself in a pickle and then figure out how to get myself out of it," he says. "When I have no idea how to do that, I get excited." He currently finds himself in the demanding situation of choreographing Tower, a dance work for 33 dancers that will premiere as part of the company's latest show, Storm Front: Experience the Elements, which runs Aug. 28 and 29 at the Hobby Center.
Thirty-three dancers is a lot of bodies to maneuver onstage and the task of coordinating such a diverse group of bodies and personalities was one Noble immediately recognized he would need help with. "When I cast dancers, I tend to cast a lot of divas, people with big personalities," he says with a big helping of endearment. "They are people who bring a lot to the table and who always want to be the center of attention."
To bring balance to the rehearsal process, Noble brought on choreographer Laura Harrell, a former student of his at Sam Houston State University's graduate dance program. "Laura is such a calming presence and I've admired her work for a while. She's such a big talent and our minds work similarly, but she understands space differently. We divided and conquered and were able to solve this problem in a streamlined way."
The program will also include KinkyKool Fan Blowing Hard, a notable NobleMotion piece that will be making an appearance for the first time since 2010. The dance makes use of three industrial fans as a metaphor for the whirlwind that is early twenty-something life. Four of the Kinky's original dancers are coming back to the work and were crucial in helping Noble restage the piece.
"There is a sensitivity to the piece now," observes Noble. "Five or six years later, the original dancers are now more mature and they're adding new things to the material."
Those skeptical of whether a dance company can accurately convey the simultaneous power and beauty of the natural elements probably have never seen a NobleMotion show before. "At the core of our mission is to add technology and theater to dance," explains Noble. Growing up with two playwright parents reinforced in him the importance of spectacle. "We use spectacle to capture the audience's imagination, but it's important that spectacle isn't the only thing we're offering."
Noble and his wife, co-artistic director Dionne Sparkman Noble, are also inspired by cinema, which certainly contributes to the grand nature of their artistic output. But in every NobleMotion show, there are windows of quiet and the intimate. "We make small dances, too," says Noble. "I'll gladly make the smallest dance in the world." But for now, at least, he's content with working up a storm.
Storm Front: Experience the Elements. Aug. 28 & 29. 7:30. $20-30. The Hobby Center, 800 Bagby St. 713-315-2525. noblemotiondance.com