Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Dance 2013

Ishmael Houston-Jones

A portrait of Ishmael Houston-Jones sitting on a chair in front of trees with bright green foliage. He has short grey hair and wears a grey turtle neck, blue jeans, and a watch with a brown leather strap. His hands are clasped in his lap.
Photo by Ian Douglas.
  • 2013 Grants to Artists
  • Dance
  • Choreographer, Teacher, Curator
  • Born Harrisburg, PA, 1951
  • Lives in New York, NY

As Emily [Wexler] and I continued with working on 13 Love Songs: dot dot dot I was able to carry on without worrying too much about finances... I used the funds to buy costumes and props, for transportation to and from rehearsal, publicity, documentation, rehearsal, lighting, and sound design.

- Ishmael Houston-Jones, December 19, 2013

Artist Statement

I am a choreographer, author, performer, teacher, and arts consultant. My text and dance performance work is rooted in the exploration of improvisation. I use numerous improvisational strategies to open a free flow of immediate, spontaneous, and automatic writing, speaking, and dancing. I employ the resultant movement and spoken text to construct group pieces as well as solo works.

- December 2012


Ishmael Houston-Jones is a choreographer and performer. His improvised dance and text work has been performed in New York City, across the United States, in Europe, Canada, Australia, and Latin America. His selected works include Knife, Tape, Rope (1989), Unsafe/Unsuited (1995), The Undead (1999), Calamity Jane (2009), and FCA-supported 13 Love Songs: dot dot dot (2014). His works have been presented at venues such as Dance New Amsterdam, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Walker Art Center, and Triplex at Manhattan Community College.

Subsequent to his 2013 FCA grant, Houston-Jones was honored with a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award (2015). Prior to his 2013 Grants to Artists award, Houston-Jones's received a New York Dance and Performance "Bessie" Award for Outstanding Production for its premiere at The Kitchen (1984), and received a fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts (1985), and in 2011 received a New York State Dance and Performance "Bessie" for Best Performance of the Year for THEM, a revival at Performance Space 122 of the 1986 work.

In addition to his choreographic and performance projects, Houston-Jones serves as Curator of Draftwork at Danspace Project, an afternoon series of works-in-progress. He was also the curator of PLATFORM 2012: Parallels at the Danspace Project. He is on the Board of Directors of Movement Research, is a Board Member Emeritus at Danspace Project, and is Chairman of the Board at Ashley Anderson Dances in Salt Lake City. Houston-Jones is an adjunct professor in the Experimental Theater Wing at New York University.

Close-up of two performers staring directly ahead and extending one arm forward with their palms facing up in front of drawn windows creating soft and hazy lighting.
Promotional photos for FCA-supported 13 Love Songs, 2013, with Emily Wexler.
A fully nude person stands behind a person in a white dress holding a bouquet of yellow roses looking out a window with their arms on the person's shoulder.
Promotional photos for FCA-supported 13 Love Songs, 2013, with Emily Wexler.
A person in a white gown holds a bouquet of yellow roses and turns their face to a fully nude person standing sideways with their arms on the clothed persons' shoulder.  They stand against a white painted exposed brick room with tall drawn windows and soft light.
Promotional photos for FCA-supported 13 Love Songs, 2013, with Emily Wexler.
Houston-Jones and Emily Wexler on FCA-supported 13 Love Songs: dot dot dot, 2014.
Improvisational performance for performances of THEM at Théâtre Auditorium de Poitiers, France, 2014.
Houston-Jones wearing a flannel and blue jeans making a coughing motion into two clasped palms on a dark stage where in the background a guitarist is blurred.
Photo by Ian Douglas.