Dallas — Danielle Georgiou and her quirky group of multi-talented dancers, singers, musiciansco and actors are bringing another fun, freaky and thought-provoking production to local audiences this summer with Just Girly Things, part of the 20th Annual Festival of Independent Theatres that is running now through Aug. 4 at the Bath House Cultural Center.
Just like NICE (2014), The Show About Men (2015) and Donkey Beach (2017), Just Girly Things challenges viewers’ preconceived notions about topics such as gender roles using a blend of song, dance and dialogue that typically has you laughing and cringing at the same time. In this particular production Georgiou is focusing on the complicated relationships between women and the pressures they place on one another. And in what we see as becoming a trend, Just Girly Things is a collaborative dance piece written by Georgiou and Ruben Carrazana and also includes original music and lyrics by Justin Locklear, Cory Kosel and Trey Pendergrass.
Georgiou started DGDG in 2011 with the intent to present works that break with the tradition of contemporary dance and tend to be more conceptual or narrative-driven and also reflect her interest in social and psychological issues and in creating compelling images of a new female. With that said, Georgiou looks for performers that constantly strive to transform themselves, both in their image and skill. DGDG has a rotating cast of performers for each work and over the years has worked with numerous visual artists and musicians in the area, including ishi, Dezi 5, Paul Slavens, Jermy Johnson, Unconscious Collective, George Quartz and Sarah Jaffe.
What makes Georgiou’s choreography stand out from the rest is how she uses movement to complement the underlying themes within the songs and dialogue instead of making the movement the focal point of the work. By doing this the messages within each work stay with audiences long after the show has ended.
TheaterJones.com caught up with Danielle Georgiou last week to talk about her involvement with FIT, the evolution of her dance theater art form and what she has in store for audiences with Just Girly Things.
TheaterJones: How long have you been involved with FIT and how has the festival aided your growth as an artist within the Dallas arts community?
Danielle Georgiou: My FIT journey began in 2012 working with Upstart Productions on a show by Justin Locklear. It was my first time acting on stage in Dallas and was the start of both a collaborative relationship and living life together with Justin. We returned to the Festival in 2015 when I directed and choreographed The Show About Men and Justin starred in the production. Now, we are returning with a new dance theatre musical comedy, Just Girly Things, with writing collaborator, Ruben Carrazana, and some fresh ideas. FIT began as a way for me to explore my ideas and abilities and to push my limits as a performer, and it has continued to challenge me to face my fears. For example, in this show, I’m singing for the first time on stage in a professional setting, and needless to say, I’m slightly terrified but extremely excited! That’s kind of what FIT is all about, allowing for experimentation and research to occur and diving head first into the creative process. That opportunity has given me the chance to present my version of contemporary dance theatre and connect with artists across disciplines who are masters in fields that I want to become a part of.
What a revolutionary time for women in the arts! How does it feel to be a part of this evolution and what can artists do to keep this momentum going?
Right now, we are experiencing waves of honesty. If we desire this momentum to continue, we must strive to be continuously honest, even when it feels risky, even when it feels rude, even when it feels like it might endanger our “cool.” This is how we will learn what kind of artists we are. Just keep working. Just keep doing.
Tell me about your cast for Just Girly Things. Will we see some familiar faces? More collaborations with other local artists?
Yes, there are some familiar faces. Rehearsal Director Colby Calhoun and Company Members William Acker and Becki McDonald are returning for this production, as are longtime musical collaborators Cory Kosel and Trey Pendergrass. We will be joined by Dallas actors Marti Etheridge and Angela Davis, and new performer Kelli Howard. I am also in this production, and while I wear the hats of choreographer and producer, I turned the directorial reins over to our longtime technical director Lori Honeycutt. We are all switching roles and learning each other’s’ processes, and it’s been a fun and wacky ride! Which is just how we like it! Here at DGDG, we keep each other on our toes, pushing each other to be the best artists that we can be, and that means learning all the different aspects of the production.
Where did the idea for the show come from and who helped you bring it to fruition?
I could not have made this show without Justin, longtime collaborators Ruben, Trey, and Cory, and the inventive imagination of Lori Honeycutt. They helped develop the direction of the show and assist in putting into works, action, and music, the various concepts and scenes floating around in my head. The idea for Just Girly Things came about after I had written a song for a night of monologues to be performed by women. The song was deeply personal and all about my experiences as a performer who embraces her gender and sexuality, but who is still searching for her voice and that ever-elusive stamp of approval. It inspired a narrative that I yearned to see come to the stage and a narrative that needed other voices to bring it to life.
What current events or social trends will viewers be able to spot in the work?
Our work deals heavily with cycles of exploitation in the social structure. Just Girly Things explores experiences that the performers lived through as teenagers, young adults, and now as life partners, mothers, and simply, human beings. When we began the process of creating this show, we all completed a questionnaire drafted by me and Justin that worked to inspire conversations about when we first realized we were “women,” that we were “different,” and who told us that we were just girls. Without giving too much away, the show is about where we are now, where we have been, and where we could go next.
The 20th Festival of Independent Theatres
July 13- August 4, 2018
Bath House Cultural Center,
521 E. Lawther Drive, Dallas
Tickets and passes go on sale in late June
Call 800-617-6904 or visit www.festivalofindependenttheatres.org