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How a discount furniture store became Austin's latest performance space

How a discount furniture store became Austin's latest performance space
Photograph: Lynn Lane

KC Grey Home Furniture appears to be a nice, unassuming discount furniture store tucked away on a quiet street just off South Congress. So when we found out that the store would be the venue for Parade, a new contemporary dance performance by the Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company, we were more than a little surprised. Would there be pirouettes around ottomans?

Kathy Dunn Hamrick is the artistic director and founder of the company, known for its athletic modern dance performances. She choreographed Parade specifically for the quirky venue, and chatted with us about what audiences can expect from her latest work.

KC Grey Home seems like such a unique place to set a performance. Which came first, the idea for Parade or the venue?
I wanted to make a new work called Parade, but I needed a long, narrow space with seating at one end. That’s an unusual design for a traditional theater, so we were looking for alternative spaces. Stephen Pruitt, my lighting and set designer, suggested KC Grey Home. I loved the space and the possibilities it offered the moment I walked in.

What kinds of difficulties—and opportunities—did you face working in such a non-traditional space?
We are building out the space, which is both an opportunity and a difficulty. For a dance company, this means placing three layers of flooring for the dancers, creating structures to hang lighting instruments and video projectors, bringing in a sound system to support the live music, constructing a backstage area, building risers and hauling in costume racks and chairs.

Do you view Parade as a comment on the increasing lack of performance and
creative spaces in Austin?
On one level, Parade is about uncertainty, about the dissolution of ideas, principles and expectations. And here I am. I’ve been making dances in Austin for over 20 years, and for the first time ever, I have no idea where I’ll present the second half of our season.

What else should audience members know about Parade?
Watch for quiet moments that erupt into highly athletic, explosive dancing by a company of nine exceptional professional modern dancers. Parade runs about 50 minutes without intermission. We have live music and an original score composed by Drew Silverman.

Parade runs from November 30 through December 3 at KC Grey Home Furniture (211 E Alpine Rd, #700). The seating will be limited because of the unique venue; tickets, which range from $18-$22, can be purchased here.

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