Penelope Freeh

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Penelope Freeh

Dancer / Choreographer / Teacher / Writer


Contemporary ballet dancer and choreographer Penelope Freeh creates works that explore the ballet idiom even as they diverge from it. Based in Saint Paul, MN, she is a McKnight Fellow for Choreographers and SAGE awardee for Outstanding Performer. Her work is in the repertoires of James Sewell Ballet, Minnesota Ballet and Gem City Ballet among others. She receives commissions and residencies from performing arts high schools, universities and regional companies; she works with chamber-sized opera and musical theater groups; she self-produces and seeks presenters for her personal works.

Penelope danced for James Sewell Ballet for seventeen years, serving as Artistic Associate from 2007 – 11. She teaches at the University of MN and Zenon Dance School. Her newest work Test Pilot, an intimate dance opera created in collaboration with composer Jocelyn Hagen, premieres September 12 & 13 at The O’Shaughnessy in Saint Paul as part of Women of Substance. See Calendar for details.

 Available for Commissions, Residencies, Teaching and Touring

Complete Works, CV and References available upon request

In the Works

Test Pilot: A Dance Opera in collaboration with composer Jocelyn Hagen.


Test Pilot is an intimate dance opera by choreographer Penelope Freeh and composer Jocelyn Hagen. It is about the Wright brothers and their sister Katharine who was involved in their flight experiments. The creators’ personal family legends and aviation heroics are also woven into the narrative. Premiering September 12 & 13 as part of The O’Shaughnessy Women of Substance Series in St. Paul.

A soprano plays Katharine, giving voice to this historically under-recognized woman; two unvoiced male dancers portray the brothers; two female dancers represent the airplane; five male singers are the witnesses from the “first flight” of 1903. There will be a string quartet and video artist. A collage of texts from letters, poetry, personal accounts and public records comprise the libretto.