FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                       

December 15, 2011                                                                        


1043 Stonecrest Drive

Houston, TX 77018

tel.  713-409-2838


Toni Leago Valle premieres Tetris

Toni Leago Valle is a child of the late 80’s, and her work reflects the ideals of a woman approaching 40 with a history of Madonna, Reaganomics, the Rodney King beatings, and the rise of computer technology.  “I can remember getting cable and watching MTV for the first time – when they actually played music videos - we were amazed at how some of the bands looked; not how we envisioned them at all.” With the remaking of 90210 this year, the 80’s are officially back.  Valle’s new evening-length dance/theatre concert, Tetris, embodies a reflected look-back at that time period, as filtered through one woman, Alex.  Tetris includes a cast of 12 of the best performing modern dance artists Houston has to offer and a puzzle piece set that stands over 5 feet tall, designed by Houston Ballet Set Designer, Tom Boyd.  In addition, Houston Ballet Lighting Designer, Christina Giannelli is collaborating with noted lighting designer Jeremy Choate, to create the lighting.  Tetris premiers January 29-February 7, 2009, at Barnevelder Theatre, in the heart of Downtown Houston.

Tetris is a dance/theater fusion narrated against the backdrop of the 80-90’s: the despair and isolation of a confused generation as seen through the emergence of techno music and realizations on how the world really operates (sexism DOES exist and homogenous is not always a term about milk).  Though set in the 1980’s, Tetris is a response to our current sociological and political environment.  Tetris touches on social and political issues, reflections and comparisons of life a decade ago to current issues of today.  In familiar themes (Can’t we all just get along?) lies a subtext of fear, a lack of human tolerance and understanding, and a mass inertia that pervades throughout Tetris.       


As suggested in its title, there is a twist – the entire show takes place in Alex’s mind.  “I used to tell people I had dogs because if I didn’t, I’d be talking to myself,” remarks Valle, “I grew up talking all the time, and if no one was around, I was holding a conversation with myself.  I envisioned all these people in my head, arguing over a problem.  As I got older, I was intrigued by the idea of bringing these people in my head to the stage.  I studied Jung, but the archetype theory didn’t ring entirely true for my concept – I wanted real personalities, with their own wants and needs that conflict with one another.  The closest thing I could relate to was the movie Sybil, but that wasn’t right either, as I knew that there was something more normal in my idea- not a personality disorder.  Last year, I was introduced to Voice Dialoguing.” 


Based on the psychological theory of Voice Dialoguing - the premise that a person is not one personality, but many selves, each working separately and together to protect and sustain the individual person, Tetris dives into the recesses of one woman's mind and the many selves that live there.  The characters are divided into primary selves – recognized and cherished by Alex, and disowned selves – the parts she does not acknowledge and keeps hidden.  As seen through the eyes of Alex, the world is two realities.  The outer reality is a theater where everyone knows his role except Alex, who has never seen the script.  Her Inner Reality, more “real” than the outer, is her dreams and nightmares, the Inner Critic, and the wall being built around her with gigantic puzzle pieces.   


Valle uses video and 80-90’s music from The Cure, Yaz, The Smiths, and others to show how the outside reality invades Alex’s mind.  Presidential speeches, news clips, and segments from movies give a glimpse of what it was like growing up in 1985.  In one piece, Shuttle, Alex, surrounded by her selves, watches the Space Shuttle Challenger blow up, and the selves react in fear, dancing with chaotic abandon.   In How Can I Love?, after listening to the Surgeon General make an address to the nation on AIDS, the selves express a deep sadness and isolation in the new fear of dating. “This piece has a unique message to my generation.  We entered the dating scene after the Free Love mind-set, so bisexuality and experimentation were popular during my teens.  I grew up in theaters and nightclubs and had many gay friends and even tried a few bisexual relationships. Then- Wham – we were hit with AIDS and no one was sure how it was spread. All of a sudden, intimacy was banned and everyone withdrew from one another.  Kissing was no longer ok, even hugging sometimes scared people.  I felt abandoned and didn’t know how to reach out to people.  This piece dives into those feelings of loneliness and frustration.”


To complete the idea of the puzzle of the mind is the 5 foot set – 10 3-dimensional puzzle pieces that are moved by the dancers onstage to form a cube.  Hence, the name, Tetris.


Mechelle Flemming stars as the young woman, Alex, and Corian Ellisor as the disowned self out to destroy her. Other cast members include Alex Abarca, Erica Lewis, Jenny Magill, Lindsey McGill, Joe Modlin, Catalina Molnari, Priscilla Nathan-Murphy, Brittany Wallis and newcomer Bianca Torre-Aponte as the Inner Child.  Toni Valle play the Inner Critic. 


Tetris premiers January 29-February 7, 2009, at Barnevelder Theatre, 2201 Preston, Houston, TX, 77003, in the heart of Downtown Houston. Tickets are $40 Opening Night, with Dinner Included, and $12-15 Gerneral/$10 Student.  To purchase tickets or for more information, contact Toni Valle at 713/409-2838 or

(High resolution photos available upon request)





Tetris Fact Sheet

WHAT:  Toni Leago Valle premieres a new evening-length concert, Tetris.

WHEN:  Thursdays - Saturdays, January, 29, 30, February 5-7, 2009, 8PM.

WHERE:  Barnevelder Theatre, 2201 Preston, Houston, TX 77003

WHO:  Toni Leago Valle

Highlights:  A cast of well-known performers including Mechelle Flemming, Corian Ellisor, Alex Abarca, Erica Lewis, Jenny Magill, Lindsey McGill, Joe Modlin, Catalina Molnari, Priscilla Nathan-Murphy, Brittany Wallis and newcomer Bianca Torre-Aponte as the Inner Child.  Toni Valle play the Inner Critic. 

Ticket Prices:  Opening Night - $40 (dinner Included); $12-$15 General

Tickets and Information: 713/409-2838 or

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