Open Dance Project presents the world premiere of Whirl! October 9-11, 2015. Photo by Lynn Lane.
Premiered October 9, 2015. Photo by Lynn Lane.
Whirl!: Inspired by the 1920s dance marathon craze which traces its roots to Houston’s own McMillan’s Dance Academy, Whirl! is an evening length environmental dance-theater piece that transforms the performance venue into a Depression-era dance hall where taxi dancers, dance contestants and heroes and villains from the popular radio show The Shadow collide. Drawing on newspaper articles, archival images, first hand accounts, and popular media (pulp novels, radio and film), Frenetic Theater’s 2015 Artist-in-Residence and Open Dance Project Artistic Director Annie Arnoult presents the human imagination as a resource of strength and resilience in the face of economic and physical hardship. While conceived and choreographed by Arnoult, she also credits much of Whirl!’s resonance to the collaborative effort of Open Dance Project company members, saying, “Our ensemble-driven work draws on the rich well of diverse talents and life experiences of our company members to make work that is athletic, virtuosic, witty, sharp, theatrical, whimsical, socially engaged and deeply human.”
Conceived and choreographed by Annie Arnoult. Featuring performances and contributions by Lauren Burke, Brittany Thetford Deveau, Abby Flowers,Elizabeth Nalley Grossberg, Tehillah Hartmann, Taylor McAnulty, Alisa Mittin, Kate Rash, Stacy Skolnik, Jaime Vergara, and Juan Ventura. Music Direction by Garreth Paul. Lighting and Projection Design by David Deveau. Set by Andrew Karavitis.
Whirl! was supported by Frenetic Theater’s Artist-in-Residence Program. Open Dance Project is a not-for-profit organization. Click here to make a tax-deductible contribution through Fractured Atlas. 
Photo by Lynn Lane
Photo by Lynn Lane

American Me: Engaging audience members from the moment they begin their journey to the theater through an interactive app that traces the saga of a different, route-specific subset of characters through short 2:30-3 minute dance on camera pieces, the evening length American Me focuses the ensemble’s signature theatricality and athleticism on the social psychology of “I” versus “we,” in particularly American terms. Conceived in collaboration with Northwestern University Psychology Professor Eli Finkel, this romp through the annals of American identity looks at the social psychology of “I” versus “we” with humor, poignancy, and wit. Video trailer for the Chicago 2014 performance of American Me by Open Dance Project’s sister company, Striding Lion Performance Group.

Dada Gert: Created by Annie Arnoult with ODP’s sister company, Striding Lion Performance Group, Dada Gert is a multimedia dance theater performance investigating the life and work of Valeska Gert, a renegade dance-theater-film-cabaret artist whose self-styled “dance satires” aligned her with the political and aesthetic revolutionaries in theater, visual arts and film with whom she ran such as Bertolt Brecht and his Red Cabaret collaborators, the Berlin Dadaists, Vsevolod Meyerhold and Sergei Eisenstein. Video excerpts of Dada Gert.

“Eye-popping…stunning…richly atmospheric…gifted dancer-actors…bold ensemble.”  Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times . “A jolt of espresso…full throttle expression, or rather – EXPRESSION!…my response was to keep smiling… don’t miss it!” Amy Munice, Splash Magazine. “…a uniquely entertaining, multi-media piece of historical dance theater.”– Vicki Crain, Rogue Ballerina

The Jenkins Farm Project: A multi-media dance theater installation that transforms the real stories of the choreographer’s North Carolina farming family into an interactive performance that questions the meaning of home, family, memory, and mental illness against the crumbling backdrop of a depression era homestead. Video excerpts of The Jenkins Farm Project as performed by ODP’s sister company, Striding Lion Performance Group.

Remember the… (Alamo): A dance theater installation pitting the pop culture myths of the Alamo against the faintly documented “reality” of the boundary and border bending battle. Drawing on 175 years of media and mythology surrounding the 1836 Battle of the Alamo, dynamic choreography and evocative text juxtapose the well-crafted vibrance of popular music, movies, and 1950s television renditions of the Alamo against the more fragmented real-world narratives of the event found in personal letters and historic documents. Video excerpts of Remember the…(Alamo) as performed by ODP’s sister company, Striding Lion Performance Group.