Former Amarillo dancer returns home with contemporary Houston troupe NobleMotion
By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
Travis Prokop truly fell in love with dance while studying in the Amarillo area. Now, he's coming home with one of the state's most acclaimed dance companies.
"I hope to make Amarillo proud that I've been granted these opportunities and haven't squandered them," an emotional Prokop said. "I hope my gratitude comes through."
Prokop — a Clovis, N.M., native who studied at West Texas A&M University and performed with Lone Star Ballet and Texas — is one of the featured dancers in NobleMotion Dance.
As a child, Prokop was fascinated by the musicals he watched with his grandmother.
"My mom enrolled me at the dance academy in Clovis. ... I wanted to take tap; they didn't have that, but they did have jazz," Prokop said.
He competed with dance teams, then was recruited to study at WT, where he attended from 2006 to 2011.
"From there, it blew up and I fell in love with it," he said.
He joined LSB in 2007 in time to dance in the first cast of the newly revised Nutcracker. He memorably but ultimately unsuccessfully auditioned for Fox's So You Think You Can Dance in 2009. After graduation, he continued his studies at Sam Houston State University, where he earned a master's degree, and he now teaches at Lamar University.
He first encountered NobleMotion, founded in 2009 by husband and wife dancers Andy and Dionne Noble, soon after he arrived at Sam Houston.
"I went to one of the dancers and said, 'What do I have to do to be involved in this company?'," Prokop recalled.
"We invited him to work with us, and we hit it off immediately," Andy Noble said. "He has a nice combination of (styles of) training ... and he's not afraid to be ugly inside of his movement choices, and sometimes, I think ugly can be very beautiful."
The Nobles have been working together for more than 20 years: "Our dream always was, after we were finished dancing, to start a company where we could fully realize our vision as artists and to create a community of dancers that work very collaboratively."
Each company member is expected to work together on the development of performance pieces, Andy Noble said.
"We have all of these creative minds coming together, which creates a rich environment, and you see that in the work on the stage," he said.
The company and the Nobles "have given me so many opportunities since I've been there," Prokop said. "Andy has just been great. ... He really knows how to take on someone who is hungry for knowledge of dance.
"I credit my growth in dance now to the Nobles specifically."
The company drew national attention when producers watched Storm Front in 2015 and asked the Nobles to collaborate with showrunner John Ridley on his ABC drama American Crime. In addition to a rare, four-minute spotlight on contemporary dance in one episode of the show, the Nobles' choreography was seen throuought the second season of the acclaimed show.
NobleMotion Dance on "American Crime"
Prokop will perform in several pieces in Amarillo, including the one that first made him fall head-over-heels for the company — "Lorelei's Whisper."
The stage and theater will be filled with fog. Lighting effects will create walls of light in the fog, and dancers will appear and disappear in the mist.
"I was blown away (when he first saw it)," Prokop said. "My mind had never thought of producing work like that."
The performance also will feature "Following Aunt Joan," a piece featuring five competitive women; "Out of Pocket," a duet featuring what Andy Noble called "sophisicated partnering work" by two former members of the Pilobus dance company; "KinkyKool Fan Blowing Hard," an irreverent piece combining wind and movement; and an excerpt from The Grid, featuring Prokop in a duet that has become quite special to him.
"I've had the opportunity to do this duet in a lot of places. ... I did it the night I got married, I did it the night my grandfather passed away, and now I get to do it back home," said Prokop, whose voice was breaking. "It's just dear to my heart.
"I've performed it at pretty intense milestones in my life, and I'm glad to be able to add (this Amarillo performance) to it."