The AT&T Performing Arts Center has plenty of space. Its website says it is the “largest contiguous arts district in the United States.” It includes the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, Annette Strauss Square, and Elaine D. and Charles A. Sammons Park. In 2014, the nonprofit center noticed that a rehearsal space in the Wyly Theatre known as The Studio was often empty.
What do you do with an empty theater? David Denson, creator and producer of what is now known as The Elevator Project, decided to put out a call to local arts organizations to see if they would like to perform there. The response was overwhelming, and The Elevator Project was born. In that first year, near sell-out crowds bought tickets and rode the elevator that inspired the project’s name to the formerly empty space to see performances by fledgling arts groups.
The Elevator Project showcases some of the best artists that you have never heard of. With performances featuring flamenco, classical Indian dance and Afro-beat and plays about pastry making and sex education, the schedule will fill several venues in the Dallas Arts District with unique experiences. For the 2018-19 season, a peer review committee chose eight productions from 39 applications across a variety of genres.
“The Arts District is the ideal spot for local artists to take risks, premiere new work and attract new audiences," Denson says. "And The Elevator Project is the ideal series for Dallas audiences to discover and experience the most engaging performances going up across North Texas."
The beginning of the season focuses on dance with performances from three origins.
First on the calendar, Dark Circles Contemporary Dance will return for its second year with an immersive program called Aladdin, based on the story of Aladdin and his magical lamp. The performance will include 10 dancers, a five-piece band and an original score.
Next, audiences can experience an ancient form of Indian dance known as Bharatanatyam when Indique Dance Company performs SvaBhava. Indique seeks to connect with audiences in this timeless story of the human aspiration to rid the mind of destructive emotions, such as selfishness, pride and dishonesty.
The Flame Foundation's name stands for flamenco, language, arts, music and education. It will explore the story behind the painting of Joan Miro in 88 Keys Unlock Joan Miró’s Flamenco Dancer’s Heart. The performance will feature flamenco music and dance, as well as a French Gypsy vocalist.
The season shifts gears with a new play by Scott Zenreich. Billed as a dark comedy about a pastry shop trying to make the best cannoli, Pastry King explores the romantic notions of food making. To go along with the performances, Zenreich will set up pop-up cannoli shops at local coffee shops and breweries.
Next, GiANT Entertainment plans a full Bacchanalian experience for the city of Dallas called City Dionysia. Complete with mask making, yoga and dance workshops, Annette Strauss Square will host this outdoor arts and music festival celebrating the patron god of theater, Dionysus.
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Things settle down and move back inside the Winspear Opera House’s Hamon Hall when Teatro Flor Candela presents an interactive mixed-media theater piece. Sanadora Teatra is a series of female-centric pieces showcasing the soul-healing roles that women play in society. The vignettes mirror current cultural shifts regarding thinking about gender, socioeconomic status and culture.
Celebrate Black Music Month with Felabration Dallas. Creative social practitioner Iv Amenti promises to fill Hamon Hall with dancers and turn it into a shrine to Afrobeat star Fela Kuti in Felabration Dallas: Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Afrobeat King Fela Kuti.
The season ends with the politically charged Sex Ed. And who better positioned to tackle the topic than an acting company made up of high school students? Cry Havoc Theater Co. employs its method of devised/documentary style-theater to explore the way teenagers are presented (or not presented) with information about sex.
The 10-acre ATTPAC campus in downtown Dallas will host this diverse slate of performances beginning in October.