Middle Eastern Dance
Update January 22, 2019: Unfortuantely, Kristina has been injured and will not be able to teach Middle Eastern Dance classes in the near future. Once she has recovered, we will announce new class offerings. Thank you for your understanding.
About the Instructor: KRISTINA KOUTSOUDAS
Kristina is a rare, gifted combination of choreographer, performer, and teacher of contemporary and folkloric dances of the Middle East and North Africa. With her third award for choreography from the Houston Arts Alliance, she most recently produced the innovative and beautiful "Nour-an-Nisa: Light of Femininity" in December 2011. Nour-an-Nisa, was not only an overwhelming success, it was also the first full length dance performance at the internationally renown Rothko Chapel and the first time (at least in this artist's memory) since ancient times that Middle Eastern dance has been seen performed in its proper, sacred context. Kristina has a list of firsts to her name. She is: first to teach and perform Middle Eastern dance at a university in Texas (Rice University, for which she received the Frank W. Bearden Award for Teaching Excellence in 2010), first to teach Middle Eastern Dance at a center for psychology (the C.G. Jung Educational Center of Houston), first in the US to develop arts-in-education programs on the Middle East (Young Audiences of Houston), and one of the first to develop a narrative Middle Eastern dance form. She has performed and taught both nationally and locally at hundreds of venues including universities, festivals, theaters, and community centers. She lectures widely in classes, conferences, and workshops and is an annual presenter at several universities including the University of Houston and Rice University. Her performance venues include Bayou City Arts Festival, Denison College, Hamman Hall, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Jones Plaza festivals, Miller Outdoor Theater, Museum of Fine Arts, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Texas Children’s Hospital, University of Houston, The University of St. Thomas, the University of Texas at Austin, The Sufi Order International, and at both the Arab Community and the Jewish Community Centers in Houston. A member of the Congress of International Dance (CID, member of UNESCO) and a performing artist with Texas Commission on the Arts and the Mid-Atlantic Arts Association, Kristina has also been an annual presenter and performer at workshops sponsored by the Sufi Order International on sacred and secular dances of the Middle East. Currently, she teaches classes privately and at Rice University, writes on dance history, and is extensively engaged in research for future narrative & cultural dance programs. She continues training in Persian dance, hatha yoga, and Pilates and loves cooking, baking, giving parties, and playing with her cat Ruh.
Filmed for commercials for the Houston Grand Opera and for local documentaries for public broadcasting (KUHT), Kristina’s performances include many national and local venues such as: The Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Miller Outdoor Theater, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Rienzi Society, the University of Texas at Austin, Rice University, The University of Houston, University of Texas Health Science, Cy-Fair College, Tomball College, The University of St. Thomas (Houston), Houston Community College’s World Dance 2000 seminar, Montgomery College, Lee College, Carroll Academy for International Studies, the Annual Turkish Festival, the Bayou City Arts Festival, the Houston International Festival, the Bob Marley Festival, the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral festival, the Asian-American Festival, the opening ceremony for the Arab American Cultural Community Center, Jewish Community Center, the Consulate of India, The Woodlands Symphony Orchestra Gala, Naked Angels of New York City, The Duplex Center for the Arts, Ovations, Continental Airlines, Texas Children’s Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House, and The Children’s Museum of Houston. She lectures widely in classes, conferences, and workshops and is an annual presenter at several universities including the University of Houston and Rice University. she continues training in hatha yoga, Pilates, loves cooking, baking, and giving parties, and playing with her cat Ruh.
Kristina's collaborative projects include choreographie featured with Dance Houston’s “Choreographer’s Project, ”Dancepatheatre’s “Al-Andalus-The Legend,” the East/West Ensemble featuring Isabelle Ganz, and The Anjali School of East Indian Performing Arts under artistic director Rathna Kumar with whom she has performed, toured, and taught for five years as a classical East Indian dancer. She helped begin and develop Dance Houston’s “Young & Intense” dance camp for teens and has developed several exciting, engaging, arts-in-education teaching and performing programs for children and youths. Since their inception, these programs have been presented in one hundred schools and libraries throughout and around the city of Houston/state of Texas including The Children’s Museum, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, the Texas Commission on the Arts, and Young Audiences of Houston.
Kristina has developed several arts-in-education teaching and performing programs for children and youths and is a member of Dance and the Child International. Dedicated to performing and teaching to help educate audiences about her little known cultural art form, she was chosen as one of six national Young Audiences (YA), Inc. artists to participate in Honda Inc.’s arts-in-education program HondaLab,. Her project’s dance performance "Dreams of Splendor and Beauty: Dances of the Middle East and North Africa" is now featured on Young Audience's international web site which was attended and commemorated by the Egyptian Ambassador and the president of the Arab Cultural Community Center.
A former employee of The World Music Institute of NYC, Kristina now works with local organizations (such as the Museum of Fine Arts) to provide the Houston community with venues promoting awareness and celebration of cultures through the art of dance. Organizations such as the Museum of Fine Arts (partnership with the Silk Road Dance Company, to present the Silk Road: Crossroads of Time presentation), the Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (organized the 2003 concert with Grammy award winning artist Simon Shaheen), and the Flamenco Poets Society, Café Cantante series are just a few of the many projects she has helped produce, promote, and/or manage.
She graduated Summa Cum Laude from both UHCL for her M.A. in cross-cultural studies & the Honors College and from the College of Fine Arts and Humanities for her B.A. in history from the University of Houston. She has won foreign language competitions (Olympiada/Russian), several academic scholarships (for history and academic excellence), several grants for continuing education in Middle Eastern dance from the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Houston Arts Alliance (her third for choreography was awarded this year, 2011, and was her first as an established artist) and was recently awarded the prestigious Bearden Award for Teaching Excellence from the department of dance at Rice University. Her primary dance education has been under the direction of Middle Eastern/North African master teacher Ibrahim Farrah. A registered health care specialist in Texas since 1988, a state certified dispute resolution specialist (2003) and family mediator (2008), she continues training in hatha yoga, Pilates, loves cooking, baking, and giving parties, and playing with her cat Ruh.