NobleMotion Dance’s Andy Noble says art is in his family’s DNA. Perhaps this is why his grandparents, Hans and Ilse Juergensen, and his mother, Claudia Juergensen Noble, are the nucleus of L’Dor Vador: Three Generations of Poetry and Dance, he and his wife’s multidisciplinary contemporary dance creation.
“L’Dor Vador,” a Hebrew saying whose literal translation is “from generation to generation,” is an apt title for the multi-generational piece as Andy along with his artistic and marital partner, Dionne Sparkman Noble intersperse poems, written by Andy Noble’s grandparents and mother and read by professional actors, throughout the contemporary dance production. In doing so, the spouses are able to vividly portray Hans and Ilse Juergensen’s journey from Hitler’s Europe to Roosevelt’s East Texas, transforming their footsteps into dance steps.
It is equally apt that NobleMotion Dance partners with the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center to bring L’Dor Vador to the stage. L’Dor Vador is shaped by the Jewish experience; a fact also alluded to in the dance program’s multiple entendre title.
The Nobles end the first half of the show with a dimly lit, grim piece interspersed with live poetry, inspired by the Holocaust. Dionne Sparkman Noble says her husband has created a piece that is as intriguing as it is disconcerting. “You’re not sure you like it [but also], you’re not sure you can take your eyes away from it.
The second half of the program is livelier, she says. According to Andy Noble, this is by design. “This could have been a dark dance as well but, in the larger context of the evening, we needed something with more energy and hope,” he says. “The hope of coming to a new land and a fresh start.”
“[There’s] a lot of hustle and bustle and dynamic movement,” says Dionne Sparkman Noble. It mirrors the Juergensen’s emigration to the United States. Using 1930s and ’40s- style suitcases as props, the couple are able to give the “suggestion of traveling somewhere,” explains Andy Noble. Despite the period focus, the collaborating couple intends L’Dor Vador to be a metonym for refugee crises around world. The topic choice is particularly timely given the current plight of Syrian refugees.
This is another contribution from Andy Noble’s grandfather Hans Juergensen. “[My grandfather] was one of the most just people I’ve ever known,” he says. “He was always sticking up for the little guy.” Like grandfather, like grandson. In fact, the grandfather was a professor of humanities and the grandson is Associate Chair and Professor at Sam Houston State University. The grandmother, Ilse Juergensen equally influences the dance program. Noble relishes his grandmother’s poetry, well regarded by her contemporaries, for its wit and irreverent sense of humor.
Standing on the shoulders of giants, the duo has created a stirring program that serves as both a social statement and homage to their heritage. “When we showed it to my mom recently, she choked up,” says Andy Noble. “It was pretty neat to be able to make that kind of dance.”
8 p.m., April 9; and 3 p.m. April 10. Kaplan Theatre, Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 S. Braeswood. $30. Call 713-551-7255 or visit brownpapertickets.com/event/2510777 for more information.