Artistic Director // Franco Nieto
Princess Grace Award winner Franco Nieto was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. He made the unconventional switch from football to ballet in his teenage years and has now taught and danced in over 10 different countries and performed with the likes of Lady Gaga and Sir Elton John. He spent 10 years as a principal dancer with NW Dance Project in Portland, Oregon, where he toured the world and worked hand in hand with the leading minds in choreography to create and bring to life countless original works. His early training came from the Vancouver School of Arts & Academics and Columbia Dance, and his formative line of choreography was born from his mentorship with Tracey Durbin. He graduated with his BFA in Jazz from Point Park University. Franco brings his big heart to every class at Open Space.
Guest Choreographer // Keelan Whitmore
Keelan Whitmore trained at Rockford Dance Company and later graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy in 1999. As a charter member of the Joffrey Ballet School/New School University, Whitmore continued his training with David Howard, Rebecca Wright, Trinette Singleton, Elanor D’Antuano, and John Magnus.
In 2001, he was invited by artistic director William Whitener to join Kansas City Ballet. In 2004, Whitmore co-founded the Kansas City-based multi-disciplinary Quixotic Performance Ensemble with local media artist and musician Anthony Magliano. After departing Kansas City in 2006, Whitmore joined Alonzo King LINES Ballet where was involved in more than a dozen nationally and internationally touring creations over seven seasons. In 2007, he joined the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, traveling to the Edinburgh Dance Festival and also performing at the Kennedy Center. From 2014-20221, he was a member of Tanz Theater Münster, where he was awarded the prize for Outstanding Artist by the Gesellschaft der Musik- und Theaterfreunde Münsters und des Münsterlandes e.V.
Whitmore’s choreographic credits include creations with Joffrey Ballet School, Alonzo King LINES Ballet Training Program and B.F.A. Program, Kansas City Ballet Company and School, Quixotic Performance Ensemble, Virginia School of the Arts, Sonia Dawkin’s Prism, and Regional Dance America, which presented him with the National Choreographic Recognition Award in 2005.
Whitmore is currently pursuing his M.A. in Arts and Cultural Management at the Leuphana University/Goethe Institute and is also the designated Coordinator of Community Outreach and Diversity with the new 2022/2023 Tanz-Company Theater Münster under the direction of Lillian Stillwell.
Headshot: Diana Fabbricatore
Danceshot: RJ Muna
Photos taken by Jason Hill, Stephano Altamura + Lee Gumbs
Open Space + Post Ballet + LED
SALT Contemporary Dance