Home Programs Arts Midwest Conference 2019 Spotlight Showcases

2019 Spotlight Showcases

Pantages Theatre.

Spotlight Showcases provide artists and ensembles with a forum for presenting work to a large, diverse audience in a professional setting, and offer attendees the opportunity to experience a wide range of performances. Arts Midwest strives to present high-quality artists selected from a pool of national and international applicants representing dance, music, theater, variety, and family programming, ranging from large ensembles to solo artists. An integral part of the Conference, the panel-selected artists/ensembles each present a 15-minute performance and gain main stage exposure to potential presenters and audiences.

Pantages Theatre
710 Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Conference registration includes access to both nights of showcases.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

6:40 p.m. Ananya Dance Theatre Sponsored performance
Ananya Dance Theatre, Exhibit 309
7:00 p.m. Bridgman|Packer Dance – “Table Bed Mirror”
Pentacle, Exhibit 420B
7:20 p.m. Ragamala Dance Company – “Written in Water”
Elsie Management, Exhibit 618
7:40 p.m. Cantus
Alliance Artist Management, Exhibit 521
8:00 p.m. Robert Post’s “How to Survive Middle School”
Geodesic Management, Exhibit 303
8:20 p.m. Ensemble Español
Siegel Artist Management, Exhibit 325/323A
8:40 p.m. Jamie Adkins – “A Fool’s Errand”
Agence Station Bleue, Exhibit 114
9:00 p.m. The Okee Dokee Brothers
Dandelion Artists, Exhibit 810

Friday, September 6, 2019

6:40 p.m. The World of Magic Sponsored performance
The World of Magic, Exhibit 509
7:00 p.m. Music City Hit-Makers
Music City Hit-Makers, Exhibit 428 and Ovation Artist Group, Exhibit 300
7:20 p.m. Bridge + Wolak Duo
Cadenza Artists, Exhibit 218/220A
7:40 p.m. Las Cafeteras
awesome company, Exhibit 702
8:00 p.m. Gina Chavez
Kosson Talent, Exhibit 129
8:20 p.m. Arcis Saxophone Quartet
Ariel Artists, LLC, Exhibit 511
8:40 p.m. Akropolis Reed Quintet
Ariel Artists, LLC, Exhibit 511
9:00 p.m. Step Afrika!
General Arts Touring, Exhibit 418

Ananya Dance Theatre. Photo by Isabel Fajardo.

Ananya Dance Theatre Sponsored performance

This excerpt from Sutrajāl, our upcoming work that premieres September 20, explores tensions, fears, and memories of violences that clog the borders we must negotiate everyday. We dance together, refusing dehumanization and signalling support for those struggling at dangerous divides between survival and extinction. Inspired by the poetry of Kazi Nazrul Islam, celebrated anti-colonial poet of undivided Bengal: “Destroy these prison gates, this cold stone pedestal where we are asked to worship our own chains!”

Bridgman|Packer Dance. Photo courtesy of Bridgman|Packer Dance.

Bridgman|Packer Dance

The latest work in Bridgman|Packer Dance’s award-winning and genre-breaking integration of live performance and video technology, “Table Bed Mirror” navigates through an illogical and fantastical night of dreams and constantly shifting realities. While referencing the neuroscience of the dream process, their highly sensual and visceral live performance, video, text, and sound score create an absurdist collage that confounds the sense of reality and challenges assumptions.

Ragamala Dance Company. Photo courtesy of Ragamala Dance Company.

Ragamala Dance Company – “Written in Water”

Under the direction of Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy, Ragamala Dance Company’s multidisciplinary projects engage the ancestral and the personal. In “Written in Water,” internationally-celebrated artists forge new artistic paradigms: the south Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam is in conversation with NYC-based composer Amir ElSaffar, who leads a new musical ensemble with a distinct alchemy of Iraqi, jazz, and Carnatic instruments, and Chennai-based Keshav’s lush paintings are projected onto the stage to create a mythic, mystical dance landscape.

Cantus. Photo by Nate Ryan.


Acclaimed as “the premier men’s vocal ensemble in the United States” (Fanfare), Cantus engages audiences in a meaningful music experience and ensures the future of ensemble singing by mentoring young singers and educators. Cantus was founded on the ideals of collaborative music-making: The ensemble works together to reach new levels of artistic excellence, innovation and audience engagement. Our vision is to give voice to shared human experiences. Their showcase will highlight the 20-21 tour program.

Robert Post’s How To Survive Middle School. Photo courtesy of Robert Post.

Robert Post’s “How To Survive Middle School”

Emmy award-winning performer, Robert Post, barely survived middle school. Struggling because of various learning disabilities, he found that making people laugh saved him. In this 55 minute, multi-media performance, Post’s hilarious live performance is interspersed with videos where kids talk to kids in a compelling, funny, and educational show. Dealing with real issues including peer pressure, fear of fitting in, and social media bullying, this show is a bridge to building a culture of empathy.

Ensemble Español. Photo by Dean Paul.

Ensemble Español

Ensemble Español is one of Chicago’s most dynamic arts organizations. With a deep commitment to the legacy of Spanish dance, arts education and cultural exchange, their performances highlight three styles of traditional Spanish dance while exploring new paradigms and collaborations in contemporary Spanish dance. The showcase will feature Flamenco, folkloric, and classical and contemporary Spanish dance. Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, “Every performance by this ensemble is a precision-tooled theatrical dream.”

Jamie Adkins. Photo by Amanda Russell

Jamie Adkins – “A Fool’s Errand”

World renowned clown, juggler, and comic acrobat, Jamie Adkins, stumbles onstage, desperately trying to become the man he imagines himself to be. In his new show “A Fool’s Errand,” Adkins uses his unique blend of circus arts, acrobatic skill and unguarded physical comedy to explore the what-ifs along the path of life, accompanied by a charismatic tuba player. With deftly awkward juggling performances or falsely flimsy balancing acts on a slack wire, Jamie Adkins skillfully masters the art of tricks and comedy, and strikes the heart of young and old alike.

The Okee Dokee Brothers. Photo by Alex Johnson

The Okee Dokee Brothers

Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander have been exploring the outdoors together since they were kids. Now, as the Grammy-winning family music act, The Okee Dokee Brothers, they write songs to encourage kids and families to get outside and get creative. With songs written under wide-open skies and harmonies fine-tuned around the campfire, the natural world is at the heart of their Americana folk music.

The World of Magic. Photo courtesy of The World of Magic.

The World of Magic Sponsored performance

We succeed in bringing in all three generations at once, who then explore the Performing Arts Center to find other shows and programs of interest to each of their tastes. It’s the perfect way to introduce your unreached community to the theater in a delightful, artistic and impactful way. In that way, we are fulfilling our purpose to bring beautiful moments that connect generations. Fun, engaging, mysterious, and whimsical… our show makes families smile together while promoting a love for the arts.

Music City Hit-Makers. Photo by Preston Leatherman – The 254 Collective.

Music City Hit-Makers: The Songs, Their Stories, A Symphony

Music City Hit-Makers fuses two things uniquely American — the songwriter and symphony pops. Featuring Award-winning Nashville songwriters, “The Songs, Their Stories, A Symphony” is part storytelling, part comedy, and most of all, unforgettable acoustic performances of sixteen #1 radio hits with a symphonic twist! Music City Hit-Makers have played over 60 inspiring shows in 20 different states with no signs of slowing down. In addition, their debut EP, Songs & Symphony, was released June 4, 2019.

Bridge+Wolak. Photo courtesy of Bridge+Wolak.


Playing digital accordion & clarinet, stage banter and stand-up comedy sets this pair of musicians apart from other ensembles, along with a chameleon-like ability to morph from one genre to another. The Bridge+Wolak Duo offers unpretentious and engaging shows that are challenging, yet familiar. Their showcase program includes a baroque violin partita, a jazz tune, and a Brazilian samba, all uniquely re-imagined for the 21st century.

Las Cafeteras. Photo by Rafa Cardenas.

Las Cafeteras

Las Cafeteras create a vibrant musical fusion with a unique East LA sound and positive message. Their Afro-Mexican rhythms, and rhymes deliver inspiring lyrics that document stories of a community seeking love and justice in the concrete jungle of Los Angeles. Using traditional Son Jarocho instruments like the jarana, requinto, quijada (donkey jawbone) and tarima (a wooden platform), Las Cafeteras sing in English, Spanish, and Spanglish.

Gina Chavez. Photo by Nick Sonsini.

Gina Chavez

Gina Chavez is a 12-time Austin Music Award winner whose bilingual, pan-Latin sound embodies the true meaning of “America.” Her high-energy concerts take audiences on a journey tracing her Latin roots from Austin to Argentina, El Salvador and beyond. Backed by a four-piece band, she performs a passionate collection of songs traversing cumbia, rumba, soul and pop that have earned more than 800,000 views on her NPR Tiny Desk and landed her an hour-long PBS special now airing nationwide. Gina tours internationally as a cultural ambassador with the U.S. State Department and runs Niñas Arriba, a college fund she co-founded with her wife for young women in gang-dominated El Salvador.

Arcis Saxophone Quartet. Photo by Harald Hoffman.

Arcis Saxophone Quartet

Since its international debut at Moscow’s Great Hall of the Tchaikovsky Quartet has taken the world’s stages by storm, including the Berlin Philharmonie, on tours of South America and the Middle East, and in 2018, their United States debut. Known for its captivating stage presence and compelling, masterful musicianship, the Arcis will perform today works by Ferenc Farkas, George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, and Philippe Geiss.

Akropolis Reed Quintet. Photo by Steve Korn.

Akropolis Reed Quintet

Performing in venues ranging from concert halls and schools to office buildings and parks, the 7-time national prize-winning Akropolis Reed Quintet has a proven record of programmatic imagination and flexibility. Their concerts demonstrate the ensemble’s diverse repertoire and infectious chemistry, both of which are on display during their annual music immersion festival in Detroit, Together We Sound. Their showcase features the music of living composer Marc Mellits alongside arrangements of Nina Simone and George Gershwin.

Step Afrika! Photo by Sekou Luke

Step Afrika!

As the first professional company in the world dedicated to stepping, Step Afrika! is committed to promoting stepping beyond its traditional African-American audience and makes connections between stepping, South African dance styles, and other movement practices. Step Afrika! is a recipient of a 2019 Production Grant from the prestigious National Dance Project to support the creation and touring of its new work, “Drumfolk.” Our showcase features one of Step Afrika!‘s most celebrated works, “Wade.”