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Corrective Measures (2005)

Photos: Scott Angle

Corrective Measures is a semi-improvisational dance/theatre work that reveals a man somewhat at the end of his rope – yet, not ready to give in to the inevitable – exploring an inner and outer landscape that has become strange and at times terrifying, though not in any obvious ways.  The dance is abstract and many readings of its meaning are possible and that is intended. The music by Michael Nyman covers a range of moods and tempos and is the original piano score (in this instance a recording for two pianos) for Farrell Dyde’s 1985 work for Houston Ballet entitled Basic Black, A String of Pearls and Ten Thousand Demons in the Night.

The work was first performed in March 2005 on a “natural set” in natural light, the cul de sac at the end of the alley behind 3221 Milam – Dyde’s original studio/performance space in Houston  -- the site of many other performances by a variety of artists in all media in the late 1970’s to late 1980’s.  Corrective Measures marks Dyde’s first performance in Houston since 1998.


Program Note

For the dancer/choreographer and for the daring audience member, the first performance of a work can sometimes offer the excitement of something not yet perfectly or fully formed – but, perhaps even in its roughness – opens a passageway into something newly discovered.

In my solo work, I have used performances such as this one to share my own act of discovery with others – because without their (your) presence it simply would not happen.  For me – especially the solo works (which involve a lot of “thought out” improvisation*) – have acted as kind of a barometric reading or depth charge – a way of excavating feelings and ideas that have been buried beneath layers of conscious thinking -- especially in these media driven times of politically correct behavior -- that occasionally stand as a barrier to our more instinctual selves.

All of which to say, after the work is performed hopefully all of us may have a better idea about what “it” is all about.

Much of this exploratory process began when I first arrived from New York on a train to Houston in late 1975. I spent my first night downtown at the old Ben Milam Hotel.  Little did I know what part the name Milam would play in my life. 

After camping out at Houston Contemporary Dance Theatre for a few months (an old church on Calumet near the MFA which was at one time a hippie commune and is now the site of Houston Metropolitan Dance Co.), I met Ted Callaway – then a conceptual artist – who had a loft space at 3221 Milam where he was living that he also was willing to rent out as a daytime studio.

 I would arrive early in the morning to dance -- rousing Ted from his “conceptual bed.”  That studio and the cheap rents at the time enabled me to start experimenting with a lot of ideas that eventually evolved into an increasingly successful dance company and a space that became a hotbed, a hangout and a haven for artists of all stripes. (New art needs old space).

It was a very special time for me and for Houston – a time that we can never return to again, but for this night remains both a memory of a more innocent past and perhaps as a signpost to a future that hopefully will carry on the spirit of adventure and experimentation that 3221 Milam provided.

-- Farrell Dyde

* “Some of my most spontaneous moments are planned out 3-4 months in advance.” – Philip Roth