While attending the University of Oregon, Krissy Keefer co-founded the Wallflower Order, the nation's first feminist dance company, in 1975. Wallflower toured the nation for almost a decade, and staged many of Keefer's original pieces before large, enthusiastic and predominantly feminist audiences. In her early work Keefer consistently injected text into her choreography to convey its overtly political content. In the process she developed a new kind of modern dance-theater that was stylistically rooted in the martial arts, in female athleticism and in social justice issues. In 1980 at age 27 Keefer received her first NEA Choreographers Fellowship.
In 1984 she co-founded the Dance Brigade in Oakland to continue her explorations of dance-theater that addressed women's issues and concerns. However, unlike Wallflower, which was all-white, Keefer conceived the Dance Brigade from the outset as a multicultural company. Keefer's longest-running and most successful original work, The Revolutionary Nutcracker Sweetie, was performed before more than 40,000 people during its 10-year run (1987-1996). This production introduced Bay Area audiences to the aerial choreography pioneered by Terry Sendgraff; dance taking place on both the horizontal and vertical planes is now an omnipresent staple feature of contemporary Bay Area dance. It also incorporated over 700 bay area artist and musicians during its run.
In 1989 Ms. Keefer staged "Sleepwalker" a dance drama about women and addiction with Laurel Near at ODC Theatre. 1992, with a Rockefeller MAP grant, Keefer created "Goodbye Columbus" with Nina Fichter to address the underlying racial issues surrounding the Columbus Quincentennial. In 1993 another Rockefeller MAP award supported the creation and production of "Cinderella," a dance theater piece about sexual and physical abuse and women who fight back in self-defense. This piece toured nationally and was re-staged at Theatre Artuad in San Francisco in 1999. Keefer's other original work includes "Ballet of the Banshees" (1995) which toured internationally, and was nominated for an Isadora Duncan dance award for Choreography and lighting design "The Queen of Sheba" (1999) which was nominated for Isadora Duncan Award for text and set design."Cave Women," (2002) the third and final part of this trilogy, was nominated for an Isadora Duncan Award for text. Her most recent work, created in 2004, is "Spell," created in collaboration with Joe Williams, Copper Wimmin, Keith Hennessy and Circo Zero and the Day of the Dead exhibit at the SomArts Cultural Center in San Francisco.
Recently Ms. Keefer has choreographed and directed work for Anne Bluethenthal, Fellow Travelers Performance Group, Fort Wayne Dance Collective, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, New Ballet Works, Lesbian and Gay Dance Festival, and Jennifer Berezan's Praises to the World.
Keefer has received numerous grants and awards, including three NEA Choreographers' Fellowships, San Francisco Magazine's 1998 Arts Achievement Award for Dance, two Individual Artist Commissions from the San Francisco Cultural Equity Grants Program, a 1997 "Goldie" Award from the Bay Guardian, Isadora Duncan Awards in 1995, 1998 and 2000 and the East Bay Express' "Artists Who Make A Difference" Award in 1993.
Her work with Dance Brigade has been a feature story in Ballet Tanz, Kung Fu Magazine, Deborah Jowitt's "Dancing Image" among others. She has also been the subject of a half-hour documentary for Artist's Eye. Her work around creating a new aesthetic in dance is featured in the book "Warrior Mothers," released in September 2004.
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