Imagine snow on The Bender stage. Peaceful, swirling snow as a gentle wind moves across a children’s playground on Bender’s historic stage.

Somehow, Marlana Doyle and METdance will recreate that mesmerizing scene when they perform “Snow Playground” at The Bender Performing Arts Center near historic downtown Humble Friday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m. Cost is $15.

“Jennifer St. Julien-Wooden and I selected a very diverse group of dances,” said Doyle, artistic director for METdance, which used to be called the Metropolitan Houston Dance Company.

Julien-Wooden is the director of the Humble Civic Center and The Bender Performing Arts Center for the City of Humble.

“We perform all kinds of works from local choreographers and nationally known choreographers,” said Doyle.

“No doubt about it, there’ll be something you’ll like,” she said. “We’re performing four ensemble works and two duets. ’Snow Playground’ is inspired by the Polish landscape where the choreographer grew up.”

“IO” is another distinctive dance choreographed for METdance by a Taiwanese artist who lives in New York. Her husband wrote the music for the dance.

“I think The Bender audience will be intrigued with ‘IO,’” said Doyle, “because it emphasizes the cycles of life and death, yin and yang, the movement of time against the stillness of eternity.”

The Bender audience also will be treated to the premier of a dance choreographed by Kyle Abraham, a critically acclaimed Pennsylvania native who performed throughout the United States and founded his own dance company.

“It’s called ‘When We Take Flight,’ and it’s all about flying and excelling and coming together as a group,” said Doyle.

METdance is a not-for-profit dance organization based in Houston that trains both youngsters and adults. Young dancers train under an intense program that prepares them for professional careers. At the same time, METdance has developed a nationally recognized concert dance company which will perform on Nov. 9 at The Bender.

“We’re based in Houston and our goal is to expose the art of dance to as many people as possible,” said Doyle. “Our students are from throughout the region and our professional dancers are from all over the country.”

Doyle herself moved from Boston to Houston to perform for METdance for 15 years before she was named artistic director.

“Having kids slows you down,” she said. “Now I plan the season and select the dancers, choreographers and the selections they perform.”

“The MET Dancers are one of several holiday performances we’ve scheduled this year,” said Julien-Wooden. “On Nov. 17 we’ll celebrate Humble ISD’s 100th anniversary with a concert featuring the Summer Creek High School Orchestra along with the Atascocita High School Holiday Choir. The Bender will offer a special concert Dec. 15 featuring the Houston Tidelanders Chorus presented at no charge to our community by the City of Humble.”

Built in 1929 as Charles Bender High School, The Bender was renovated, refurbished and refreshed with a lot of love and care under the direction of former Humble Mayor Donnie McMannes and the Humble City Council. It now is the performing arts center for Humble and the entire Lake Houston area. Almost 6,000 guests have oohed and awed at the art-deco lighting, the wood-stained columns, and the original hardwood floors on the stage – and at the diverse performances on that same stage.

Discover what Doyle and Julien-Wooden have come up with at “Reaching Out.” For more information, call 281-446-4140, visit, or log onto Facebook at Charles Bender Performing Arts Center.

Tom Broad
Author: Tom BroadEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Besides being a proud graduate of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, therefore, a Cornhusker, I am retired from Memorial Hermann. I am a correspondent and columnist for Lake Houston's hometown paper, The Tribune, as well as a director of the Lake Houston Redevelopment Corporation, a member of the board of the Humble Area Assistance Ministries, and Volunteer Extraordinaire for the Lake Houston Area Chamber.

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