Contemporary Theater & Dance

Forget taming these free spirits. Houston's culture vultures are branching out from the classical arts with a bevy of outside-the-box, rising-star performing arts troupes.

Jason Nodler and Tamarie Cooper founded their experimental ensemble-based company, Catastrophic Theatre, four years ago offering up darkly-funny, envelope-pushing productions. Although the group is without a permanent home stage, CT regularly collaborates and performs at DiverseWorks, Barnevelder and sometimes, The Catastrophic office.

Pop and classical collide in founder Shelli Mathews' Divisi Strings. It's been more than five years since the musical talent launched her non-profit group, which aims at bridging the audience age gap through string-based renditions of current pop hits. Think: Rihanna's "Disturbia" meets the symphony

It's out with the old and in with the new for Houston's four-year-old Opera Vista company. Artistic Director and co-founder Viswa Subbaraman uses his contemporary chamber opera to tout modern works created by living composers, instead of performing tried-and-true classics. (Sorry, Puccini!)

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