SODC History: A Decade of Dance
In 1997, Sandra Organ ended her 15-year career with Houston Ballet to found the Sandra Organ Dance Company
and realize a dream. Her mission was to promote contemporary dance, educate the public, and attract a diverse
audience. Now celebrating its 13th Anniversary, Sandra Organ Dance Company (SODC) choreographs and performs
works that tell the stories of past and present. SODC themes have explored the complexity of race relations in American
history, the tragedy and redemption of organ donation, the contributions of African Americans, and the lives of
historical figures. SODC has added movement to Duke Ellington, Dmitri Shostakovich, Bobby McFerrin, U2, Maya
Angelou, Pablo Neruda, and many others. Blending the vocabulary of dance with music and the spoken word is a
hallmark, as is the incorporation of community voices, ideas, and experiences.
Audience participation and involvement is also an experiential component.
Three significant season events for the company are presentations of Amahl and the Night Visitors, Si Se Puede and annual performances for Black History Month. Amahl incorporates sign language into the dance performance to tell an uplifting and unique Christmas tale, which has quickly become a Houston holiday tradition. Si Se Puede celebrates the legacy of Cesar Chavez, chronicles the plight of the migrant worker, and incorporates a community perspective each year of its installment. Black History Month performances are integral to SODC’s season and its mission, and most recently the company presented Dancing the Dozens in tribute to Black comedians and featuring the music of Louis Armstrong, Michael Jackson and “I Have A Dream” speech of Martin Luther King, Jr. Added features returning our season are Sacred Dance series in collaboration with churches and cultural organizations, and “Urban Happenings” in-house rehearsals and out of doors ways to participate in dance for anyone.
SODC has drawn on over 85 professional dancers and 10 choreographers to create over 88 ballets. The company
has presented over 140 dance concerts to more than 38,000 people of which over 10,000 are children from ages 10 to
19. SODC has collaborated with over 25 arts, education, and service organizations, including The Living Bank and the
Fifth Ward Enrichment Program, to develop and deliver performances to the broad and diverse community. With
Writers in the Schools, Houston PREP, and After School Initiatives, SODC has hosted choreographic workshops to
empower youth to explore their homework topics through expressive movements. Community collaboration is vital to
SODC’s success, and all SODC performances include an audience participation component, a “Talk Back” of dialogue
between the company and the audience, and a survey tool that gives useful information for funding and marketing purposes.
SODC has received funding from numerous sources, including Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, Houston Endowment, the Scurlock Foundation, the Mithoff Family Foundation, and the Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts, as well as Target.
Sandra Organ Solis, Founder and Artistic Director of SODC, is a former soloist with the Houston Ballet and was its first African-American ballerina. Her international career with the Houston Ballet encompassed a diverse range of classical and contemporary roles in works from choreographers Ben Stevenson, Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, and Sir Kenneth MacMillian to Christopher Bruce, James Kudelka, and Paul Taylor. She is a master teacher serving on the faculty of Houston Ballet Academy and as a guest choreographer setting commissioned works on dance companies and academies. Ms. Organ Solis is also engaged as a speaker and performer of sacred dance repertoire, conducting movement workshops in retreat and conference settings.
Return to Top
EARTHEN VESSELS/SANDRA ORGAN DANCE COMPANY
Kathleen Kuznicki, Interim Chair
Eryka Robinson, Treasurer
Arquella Hargrove, Secretary
Return to Top
- Since 1997, Sandra Organ Dance Company has held over 125 performances for more than 40,000 people.
- Over 10,000 kids from ages 10 to 19 have come to our shows, free of charge.
- Sandra Organ Dance Company dance themes have addressed …
… the complexity of race relations in American History
… the tragedy and redemption of organ donation
… artistic contributions of African Americans
… dance tributes to Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong
… poetry in motion, from Maya Angelou to Pablo Neruda, haiku and sonnets
… Historical figures from Sojourner Truth to Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez to Martin Luther King, Jr.
- More than 65% of our shows were free!
- SODC has raised over $1,000,000 in eleven seasons, and paid 90 artists more than 1/3 of this income!
- SODC Performances have been held in such diverse locations as the Wortham Theater Center, Heinen Theater, Barnevelder Movement/Arts Complex, Jewish Community Center, Talento Bilingüe de Houston, U. of H. Cullen Theater and Moores Opera House, the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Discovery Green, the Rothko Chapel, St. Philip's Presbyterian, outdoors at Allen Parkway, The Menil Collection grounds/exhibit spaces, Buffalo Bayou Artpark, schools and community colleges, and warehouse loft spaces.
- The range of more than 80 dance works commissioned by THE COMPANY covers modern, jazz, tango, hip-hop, and neo-classical ballet styles.
- The range of 85 dance works commissioned by SODC covers modern, jazz, tango, hip-hop, and neo-classical ballet styles, featuring 10 guest choreographers and dancers employed from Houston, around the country and across the globe.
- SODC’s pieces have explored the works of composers ranging from Louis Armstrong to Dmitri Shostakovich and Bobby McFerrin; from Bruce Cockburn to U2; and from George Winston and Sweet Honey in the Rock to PINK.
- Most recently,
SODC’s latest THRILLER URBAN HAPPENING taught Michael Peters choreography for Michael Jackson’s Thriller video to 500 people in Discovery Green as a Michael Jackson Tribute Dance Party!
- Sandra Organ Dance Company has collaborated with over 30 arts, education, and service organizations locally to develop performances that touch as many lives as possible - organizations such as:
- Writers in the Schools
- FLY Dance Company
- Buffalo Bayou ArtPark
- Dance Ad Deum
- Houston Repertoire Ballet
- Girl Scouts
- Pink Ribbons Project
- The Living Bank
- High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
- Area churches
- AURA, The Contemporary Ensemble of the U. of H. Moores School of Music
- Houston PREP
- The Menil Collection
- The Boys and Girls Clubs of Houston
- Fifth Ward Enrichment Program
- Talento Bilingüe de Houston
- Energized for Excellence Academy
- Communities in the Schools
…to name a few.
Return to Top