500 21st Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Dance artist and educator Penelope Freeh thoughtfully dismantles antiquated modes and harmful histories related to ballet, transforming how it is transmitted and embodied. Sitting in the question of how aesthetics shape content and meaning, she makes new dance performance. Heightened theatricality, intimate gesture, coding, and visual design elements reveal deeply personal content. Current research explores graphic feminine iconographies embodied through the intersecting lenses of Weimar cabaret and Western classical corps de ballet, illuminating individuation and empowering feminine labor.
Inextricably linked collaborations include works developed with composer Jocelyn Hagen. Their dance opera Test Pilotpremiered and won a Sage Award for Outstanding Design in 2014 and toured the state in 2016. Upcoming projects include choreographing The Song Poet with MN Opera (libretto by Kao Kalia Yang, score by Jocelyn Hagen, direction by Rick Shiomi) and Unfashioned Creature with composer Timothy C. Takach, James Sewell Ballet, and The Singers. Freeh is one third of TINATA, a long-distance collective with dance creatives Brynne Billingsley (NYC) and Elizabeth Corbett (Memphis). They research and develop new work, future-building while rooting in memory, embodiment, and heart-sharing.
Freeh is a McKnight Fellow for Choreographers (2014, 2010), McKnight Fellow for Dancers (1998), and Sage awardee for Outstanding Performer (2010). Her work is in the repertoires of Alternative Motion Project, Gem City Ballet, James Sewell Ballet, Minnesota Ballet, Minnesota Dance Theatre, and Zenon Dance Company among others. Residencies include the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography at Florida State University and the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France.
International work includes Grapefruit, an original dance/theater work created collaboratively at New York University – Abu Dhabi with Theater Mitu, directed by Scott Spahr. Performances manifested in Mitu’s Brooklyn space in 2019. Freeh performed and taught in Kostroma and Yaroslavl, Russia in 2010 for the Link Vostok Dance Festival. Her work was performed in France, Germany, Belgium, and the Czech Republic as part of Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp’s Ballet Ensemble tour, which she co-directed in 2017. She maintains an ongoing collaboration with Donna Schoenherr of London. Their co-created works are landing/takeoff (2005) and Helioscope (2016-present).
Freeh danced with Minneapolis’ James Sewell Ballet for seventeen years, serving as Artistic Associate from 2007-11. She is a Lecturer at the University of Minnesota, adjunct Assistant Professor at St. Olaf College, and faculty at St. Paul Ballet, St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, TU Dance Center, and Zenon Dance School. She holds a Dance MFA from Hollins University.