In the Beginning
Urban Souls Dance Company (USDC) grew from a solo performed by founding artistic director Harrison Guy at the city-wide dance festival Dance Houston on July 30, 2004. Harrison decided to explore his potential for leadership and choreography and began teaching a free modern dance class on Sundays at Barnevelder Movement Arts Complex. The class grew to include a pool of talented and passionate dancers that he eventually named Urban Souls Dance Company. In 2004, Harrison Guy met Walter Hull, who moved to Houston from Lafayette, LA to help him with the company. Both had envisioned developing social commentary through dance in conjunction with using dance as a tool to provide self-awareness, in particular for under-served youth. From 2005 to 2008, Guy and Hull conducted extensive research on the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. The resulting piece, “Across the Waters” (2008) aimed to educate the audience on a topic that affected the very core of humanity with over 70% of Rwanda’s population slaughtered. After the premiere performance of “Across the Waters” at Dance Houston, a Rwandese couple, coincidentally in the audience that evening, thanked us for telling their story in Houston. USDC performed “Across the Waters” at The Dance/USA national showcase in 2009 as one of ten invited dance companies.
Also in 2009, the company established a Board of Directors and launched their first season, self-producing three full-length performances. In April 2010, USDC obtained 501 c 3 non-profit organizational status. USDC has since instituted an extensive outreach program, including USDC 2, which provides young artist performance experience and offers a mentoring program with USDC company members.
The company has had the pleasure of working extensively with Travis Gatling, Associate Professor and Director of Choreography at Ohio University, and Troy Powell, Former Artistic Director of Ailey II, NYC. USDC has traveled to Kigali, Rwanda three times to conduct artist development workshops with artists from Rwanda, Congo, and Uganda. USDC has presented concerts at Hampton University in Hampton, VA, and The Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater in New York.
In 2013 the company initiated a youth dance company – Urban Kids geared towards teaching social-emotional intelligence through the art of dance. Rooted deeply in the community, USDC believes in always challenging views that separate us. We believe in thinking differently, taking the position that art transforms people, and people transform the world. We challenge divisive views through the creation and presentation of a spectrum of artistic works that promote diversity, love, and understanding. Employing the art of dance to advocate for the use of creativity to inspire and engage with all of society.
USDC’s vision is to create an artistic home in the 5th Ward community that leads with creativity, centers Blackness, honors the truth, supports healing, and fights for justice.