As a Choreographer…
Whitmore’s choreographic credits include creations with Schauspiel Dortmund, Tanz Theater Münster, Open Space Dance Company, Junges Theater Münster, Joffrey Ballet School, Alonzo King LINES Ballet Training Program and B.F.A. Program, Kansas City Ballet Company and School, Quixotic Performance Fusion, Virginia School of the Arts, Sonia Dawkin’s Prism, and Regional Dance America, which presented him with the National Choreographic Recognition Award in 2005.
“As artists we must reflect the moment in history, for therein lies our power of creativity and hope to bring more peace into the world in which we live.” ~ Keelan Whitmore
April 2023 – “Orpheus.Game. Over?!” was Whitmore’s second commission with Theater Jugend Orchester and Junges Theater Münster. A great loss, a goal to be achieved at any cost – the only weapon: one’s own talent. A group of young people play their way through the underworld with Orpheus. The goal is clear – Euridice. But the path is full of hurdles. They have to fight their way in, overcome rejections, face the Furies and much more. A cruel game rule finally becomes the ultimate challenge. Rap and digital music meet orchestral sounds. Young people make music and sing together with professionals.
September 2022 – “Bakchen – die Verlorene Generation” was a collaborative frenzy between music, dance and theater with award-winning director and General Director of Schauspiel Dortmund (Germany) Julia Wissert. In her text version for Bacchae – the Lost Generation, dramaturge Sabine Reich combines Euripides’ ancient material with original diary texts by young people published on the platform wattpad.com, thus enabling a contemporary reading of the ancient material. The diary explicitly discusses depression and suicide. Director Julia Wissert scenically transforms the text combination with music and dance, creating a rapturous world with physicality, movement and images. Thus, in addition to Alexander Darkow, Antje Prust, Adi Hrustemović and Valentina Schüler from the acting ensemble, students of the “Physical Theater” course of study at the Folkwang University of the Arts are also collaborators.
June 2022 – “Who Lights the Sun?” is Whitmore’s most recent work created for Open Space Dance Company’s presentation of ‘sheen.’, a reflection of our past, present and future. Diving deep into the Hero’s Journey, this piece explores the depths of crossing a threshold into the world of uncertainty. This creation explored the archetype of ‘The Hero,’ deriving inspiration from ancient mythologies, spiritual traditions and literary histories. This composition is relentlessly physical, with nods to the plurality of the human experience.
2021 – “A Year Later” is a work created during the pandemic. Commissioned by Alonzo King LINES Ballet Training Program, Whitmore utilized the constraints of “Zoom fatigue” to generate a creative process. This unique visual captures cathartic, healing, and thought-provoking notions for the students through the world of digitality.
2020 – “Vogel als Prophet” is a collaborative work for the artist collective Room to Room. Formed during the start of the Pandemic, this artist collective sought to build a more connected global community by pairing 80+ professional dancers and dance-makers from an array of major dance companies and freelance ensembles, creating a work that reflects true experiences of the artistic community during this period of uncertainty. In concert with Tamisha Guy of Kyle Abraham’s A.I.M., Whitmore and Guy created a film that captures the essence of feeling trapped and answers the statement, “I know why the caged bird sings.”
2019 – “Quiet Tongues” is revisited for TanzTheater Münster’s choreographic “Dance Lab”. Collaborating with the entire company, Whitmore transforms this high-acclaimed piece into a work for a larger group of dancers. Inspired by the Biblical verse Jeremiah 20:9, the collective work explores dreams while reminiscing on emotional states and physical aspects. Emphasizing the message “like fire shut up in my bones” this piece seeks to understand the need to say something critically important, but not being able to say it.
2018 – “Echoes from Elsewhere” explores the inner dynamics involved in self-realization. Working heavily with projection and video mapping, Whitmore animated lifeless objects to uncover a new sense of vulnerability, offering room for a world of duality to exist within one’s mind. By combining the histories of the dancers’ experiences with the idea of yin and yang, he was able to generate episodic tales of conflict and joy.
2017 – “Burnt Cork” is a historical look into the origins of Blackface and Minstrel Theater and the effects it has on race in modern day society. This piece raises the question, “What is the continued need for ancient legends, fairytales, and sagas that perpetuate violence against women, children, and people of color?” Although graphic and controversial, this piece was well received by German audiences. Highlighting the story of “Zwarte Piet” (Black Pete), who is depicted as a chimneysweeper and was once a Spanish Moor, but ultimately revealed as “Krumpus,” the devil. The story moves through the tragic saga of the vilification of a little boy in an apathetic society.
2015 – “Appearances” is an in-depth look at the ebb and flow of interpersonal relationships we experience in everyday life. Considering the role that our childhoods play in relating to our family, friends, colleagues, and peers, Whitmore’s intention was to search for the common threads between helping, hurting, or hindering harmonious human connectivity.
2012 – “Children of Bhakti” was choreographed in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin. Set to the commissioned scored by Ben Juovoldkis, this piece was a vehicle to guide the healing process for trauma in the lives of students of the Alonzo King LINES Ballet Training Program. Working through the creative process with students was very intense and often uncomfortable, yet very healing. Many of the young men in the ensemble spoke about their fears and experiences of being racially profiled. Group discussions were helpful in generating the movement vocabulary for the piece itself, creating a reaction to the work that was overwhelmingly positive. Many parents emphasized their gratitude for providing a space for their children, from all backgrounds, in which to process what was currently happening in society.
2006 – “Faraualla” is Whitmore’s first creation for Quixotic Performance Fusion, combining multi-media, film technologies, and live music from the percussion ensemble, Djembe Kaan. With music by the Italian folkloric female group, Faraualla, this exciting piece brings together contemporary ballet, urban dynamism, and primordial rhythms, offering a full sensory experience that aims to bring together audiences from various backgrounds.
2005 – “Après “was commissioned by Alicia Good-Boresow, the current principal of Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, for Miller Marley Youth Ballet. This heart-warming piece challenged each dancer within the large group to take ownership and authorship within a collaborative and creative effort. With the score taken from Mozart, “Après” showcases Whitmore’s singular choreographic composition interests, awarding him the National Choreographic Recognition Award through Regional Dance America.
2005 & 2006 – Worked two seasons with Quixotic Performance Fusion as resident choreographer producing 15 works.
In 2004, Whitmore co-founded the Kansas City-based multi-disciplinary Quixotic Performance Fusion with local media artist and musician Anthony Magliano. Together, they assembled various arts organizations in abandoned downtown storefronts and turned the raw spaces into performance venues and visual art installations for one evening, under one roof to showcase dance, multi-media, film, classical, world music, and opera.
2005 – “Satie” is set to the music of Eric Satie for three couples. This piece is an exploration of pure movement that abstracts multiple episodes using metaphors, illustrating the process of maturing without losing one’s child-like creative ingenuity.
2004 – “Quiets Tongues” is a work created for five dancers and is set to the music of Sheila Chandra. Deeply connecting the movement with Chandra’s innovative and evocative modern vocal techniques, rooted in classical Indian music, “Quiet Tongues” is a show-stopping exploration into Whitmore’s choreographic evolution. After the premiere, Whitmore was later commissioned to collaborate with local Kansas City graphic designer and musician Anthony Magliano. This commission sparked a long-term collaborative effort, which developed into Whitmore and Magliano founding the company Quixotic Performance Fusion.
2003 – “18th and Vine” is a work created to showcase five couples for Kansas City Ballet’s “In the Wings” program. Taking inspiration from historical artifacts and collected histories of local musicians within Kansas City’s once-vibrant Jazz District, this piece offers a speculative fictitious perspective of the revitalization of this area in Kansas City. Humorous, free, witty, and seductive, the dancers become the players in the scene of a night on the town in the historically famous jazz district.
2002 – “Four, for Tango” with music by Astor Piazzolla was created for Kansas City Ballet’s “In the Wings” program, showcasing three female dancers’ exploration of the connection between the dancers and the music. This four-and-a-half-minute work is a marathon of intricate footwork and full body expressiveness for the dancers. Displaying exciting avant-garde tutus and set to Piazzolla’s invigorating score, “Four, for Tango” was a strong introduction into the local arts scene in Kansas City, Missouri.