Small Arts Organizations Rise to the Occasion for AT&T Performing Arts Center's Elevator Project

The 2017-2018 season of the Elevator Project promises an exciting sampling of Dallas’ innovative small and emerging arts groups. The Elevator Project debuted in 2014 to provide essential performance space in the Dallas Arts District.

“We had space. They needed space. It wasn’t a hard math problem,” David Denson, AT&T Performing Arts Center’s director of programming and creator of the series, said.

The Elevator Project allows smaller companies to stretch themselves artistically and find audiences while demonstrating the Dallas arts community’s vigor.

“It just so exciting to show the dynamism of our field,” Jennifer Scripps, the director of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs said.

The Elevator Project’s third season includes eight companies performing in Hamon Hall at the Winspear Opera House, the Studio Theatre at the Wyly Theatre, and the Sammons Park Donor Reflecting Pool.

The Elevator Project begins with American Baroque Opera Company’s Masquerade: Opera Cabaret. The company’s debut concert will feature the music of Handel, Vivaldi and their contemporaries.

Reflecting the company’s mission to highlight baroque masterpieces with period flair, the concert will showcase a full baroque orchestra playing period instruments.

“We’re really excited to expand not just opera, but music in general in Dallas,” Eric Smith, American Baroque Opera Company’s artistic director, said. Performances will be September 14-16 in Hamon Hall.

From October 19-21, Dark Circles Contemporary Dance will present Big Bad Wolf and Les Fairies in the Studio Theatre. The two new pieces created by founder and artistic director Joshua L. Peugh marks the opening of the company’s fifth season. Les Fairies is a modern re-imaging of classic ballet blancs Les Sylphides. Big Bad Wolf has its roots in cautionary tales for children.

“The idea of the big bad wolf – which completely terrified me as a child – seemed like a great idea to explore how humans all over the world in these tales had found a way to make people behave well,” Peugh said.

Jake Nice discovered We’re Gonna Die by Young Jean Lee while working on Second Thought Theatre’s Straight White Men, also by Young Jean Lee. Intrigued by the intersection of music and theater, Nice has already toured this play with music and is planning future tour dates.

“This being at the Elevator Project is really just the next and a much bigger and exciting step of touring We’re Gonna Die,” Nice said. Nice will produce We’re Gonna Die at the Studio Theatre February 8 – 10.

Bandan Koro African Drum & Dance Ensemble will combine spoken word, contemporary dance and traditional West African drum and dance in Guinea Fare: Her Story, Her Ipseity. The piece depicts the journey of four women as they travel to their ancestral homelands.

Performances in Hamon Hall March 22-24 is ideal timing for the company. “It’s great we’re featured in March because March is actually Women’s History Month so that ties it together,” Ixchel Frierson, a performing member of the ensemble, said.

Adam Adolfo’s ELEMENTAL: Nature’s Rhapsody will transform Sammons Park Donor Reflecting Pool into an exploration of the five classical elements of the world. The sunset performances on April 20-22 coincides with Earth Day and will feature music, dance and a wide range of poetic styles.

“I wanted to make sure to bring something to the committee that was designed specifically for AT&T Performing Arts Center and so the idea to create a work around the reflecting pool was my first step, partially because I was inspired by Mary Zimmerman’s play Metamorphosis, but ultimately who doesn’t want to go play in water for an hour and a half,’ Adolfo said.

Soul Rep Theatre Company’s The Freedmans also benefits from fortunate timing. 2018 marks the twentieth anniversary of the show’s original production and the opening of Dallas’ Freedman’s Memorial. “Perfect timing – thank you, Elevator Project!” Tonya Holloway of Soul Rep Theatre Company said.

The play pays homage to Dallas’ black pioneers and the early Freedman’s community. The Freedmans will be presented in the Studio Theatre May 2- 13.

Dean Terry of Therefore Art & Performance Group admits The Alexa Dialogues is not finished. “All I have right now is a concept,” Terry said.

The performance piece will explore society’s interactions with artificial intelligence with performers interacting live with Amazon’s voice driven Alexa AI agent. The Alexa Dialogues will be produced in Hamon Hall May 24-26.

The season concludes with Cry Havoc Theater Company’s Babel in Hamon Hall July 5-15. The company will create a documentary theater piece with teenagers exploring gun ownership in America.

“The title Babel comes from this idea that gun ownership is such a sensitive subject that you’re on one side or the other, it’s very polarized and we don’t really have the ability to just listen to each other about our thoughts and opinions about it,” Shelby-Allison Hibbs of Cry Havoc Theater Company said.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Elevator Project.

Kimberly Richard is a North Texan with a passion for the arts. She’s worked with Theatre Three, Inc. and interned for the English National Opera and Royal Shakespeare Company. She graduated from Austin College and currently lives in Garland with her very pampered cocker spaniel, Tessa.

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