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Urban Souls Dance Company gives LGBTQ performers a safe space.

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Best Community Dance Company: Urban Souls Dance Company

Harrison Guy thinks it’s “kinda cool” that Urban Souls Dance Company, a group he founded in 2004, has been voted this year’s Best Community Dance Company. 

It’s been two years since the dancers performed a specifically LGBTQ show, Between Two Worlds: A Hymn for Black Gay Men on Race, Religion, & Rites of Passage, but obviously it made a lasting impression with OutSmart readers. Guy also sees the award as recognition for years of training, developing, and birthing many of Houston’s black gay male teachers, dancers, and choreographers. 

Harrison Guy

Meanwhile, Guy says, “I am involved with an array of people, from arts to activism to the LGBTQ community, so I forget how they sometimes intersect.” 

In addition to serving as co-chair of mayor Sylvester Turner’s LGBTQ Advisory Board, Guy works in finance at the University of Houston and teaches a modern-dance class on Fridays at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Montrose. Urban Souls hosts an open class at 3 p.m. Sundays at the Houston Metropolitan Dance Center, 2808 Caroline Street. The cost is $10 for non-members. 

“One of the things that we are most proud of is that dancers are able to come and express themselves, unfiltered,” Guy says. “We never ask them to be more masculine or to appear to be anything other than themselves. To that end, we even served as a safe space for someone who entered the company as a black gay man but left the company as a trans woman. She lists Urban Souls as one of her many support systems during that transition.” 

Urban Souls’ next public performance is Body Archives: Bone Deep Memories at 6:30 p.m. October 18 at the Contemporary Arts Museum, 5216 Montrose Boulevard. Admission is free for the one-hour presentation. 

Guy grew up in La Marque, where he began performing “mostly in church.” At La Marque High School, where he graduated in 1995, Guy says, “I was in choir, theater, band, anything to do with performing. I still play the trumpet and the tuba.” 

Guy studied for three years at Prairie View A&M University, but left before his senior year when he auditioned for and was accepted into a summer program at the famed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in New York City. 

“I stayed a little longer, so I was there about two years,” he says, explaining that the size of the Big Apple didn’t faze him. “Wherever I go, I kinda function as if it’s a small town. I build my own community. I create a small network of the people I do things with.” 

Each spring, Urban Souls presents a fundraising gala called “Dancing with the Houston Stars,” in which local celebrities and professional achievers trade in their career soles for dancing shoes and a fun night of healthy competition modeled after TV’s Dancing with the Stars. For more, visit UrbanSouls.org.

—Don Maines

Best Art Gallery/Place to Buy Artwork

Archway Gallery
Finalists: Hardy & Nance Studios, Hugo Perez Art, Jumper Maybach Art

Best Community Dance Company

Urban Souls Dance Company
Finalists: Hope Stone Inc., Pilot Dance Project

Best Community Theater

MATCH (Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston)
Finalists: Catastrophic Theatre, Pearl Theater

Best Local Equity Theater Company

Stages Repertory Theatre
Finalist: Main Street Theater

Best Performing Arts Company

Society for the Performing Arts
Finalists: Catastrophic Theatre, Houston Ballet

Favorite Houston Museum

Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH)
Finalists: Contemporary Arts Museum, Gulf Coast Archive & Museum of GLBT History, The Menil Collection, Museum of Natural Science

Favorite Regional Equity Theater

Alley Theatre, Theatre Under The Stars (tie)

Favorite Local Female Actor

Tamarie Cooper
Finalists: Holland Vavra, Teresa Zimmerman

Favorite Local Male Actor

Mark Ivy
Finalist: Todd Waite

Favorite Local Female Fine Artist

Heather Gordy
Finalists: Crystal Murley, Kiki Neumann, Tempest The Artist

Favorite Local Male Fine Artist

Hugo Perez
Finalists: Robin Baker, Ryan Fugate, John Palmer 

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Don Maines

Donalevan Maines is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.
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