The Fifth

Voices rise. Faces revealed. The humanity of hacktivism is leaked.

A highly charged multi-media dance experience that pulls the curtain back on cyberspace, The Fifth exposes the players in the newest domain of war. Building on earlier projects that combine interests in performance, personal technology, and live multimedia events, Elson created a solo work, Operation Dissent, which examined the intent and potential behind the desire for anonymity, including the power one finds in belonging to an undisclosed critical mass. The Fifth continues this exploration by exposing motive, intent, and risk faced in being a discreet cyber vigilante. The Fifth pivots on our perception of these characters and actions as friend or foe, right or wrong — and brings hidden voices to the surface to better perceive these troubling practices and what is at stake. For a topic so new, what remains the same is conflict, conspiracy, collateral, and control.

The Making of The Fifth

The Fifth was the first project to be supported within a pilot Production Residency program at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago with support from The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. In August, Elson and his artistic team and Columbia technical staff occupied the Dance Center's state-of-the-art theater, testing and developing design elements including costuming, sound, video projection, and lighting to address areas needing further development and attention prior to the October premiere. The residency culminated with a fully produced showing to respected peers in the dance community to gather their responses to the work-in-progress, a rare opportunity in these choreographic endeavors. The Seldoms are proud to be the first in this experience with The Dance Center.

The Team

Philip Elson has brought a new collaborative team to The Seldoms for The Fifth. Noted Lighting Designer, Stage Manager, and Technical Director Julie Ballard joins the following new collaborators to The Seldoms team, Video/Projection Designer Laura Wiley, Sound Designer Cristobal Mitchell, Costume Designer Vin Reed, and Dramaturg/Writer Tristan Brandon.

Support The Fifth

The Seldoms' commission of Philip Elson is an investment in this adventurous, wicked-smart emerging dancemaker. We honor Philip's eight years of breath-taking performance for The Seldoms by supporting his choreographic pursuits. Our goal is 100 donors—so far 35 generous people have stepped up. Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to help Philip realize his vision for The Fifth.


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This project is partially supported by an Individual Artist Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, as well as a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. The Fifth is made possible by major support from Elizabeth A. Liebman. The creation of The Fifth was supported through a pilot Production Residency program at the Dance Center, with funding from The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. Support for The Seldoms comes from The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation, a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events and Jesser, Ravid, Jason, Basso and Farber, LLP. The Seldoms are in residency at Pulaski Park, through the Chicago Park District’s Arts Partners in Residence Program, which unites artists and communities in Chicago’s parks.