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Image: Jaime Fruge

After four years working as a costume designer and celebrity stylist in Los Angeles, native Houstonian Jaime Fruge has returned to the Bayou City and to her first love: dance. An MFA student at Sam Houston State University's much celebrated dance program, Fruge is about to unveil her first full-length work, Integration, as part of Frenetic Theater's Artist Board program.

Fruge's dark tale takes its inspiration from George Orwell's 1984. "I'm really drawn to competition in human nature," she explains. "I've done research this past year in school, and I'm intrigued by this idea of survival of the fittest and these primal instincts that we have. I'm interested in exploring through movement what makes us human and why we do or don't do certain things."

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Dancer/choreographer Jaime Fruge

Image: Dat Nguyen

Integration takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where the remnants of humanity are engaged in a continual day-to-day struggle for the limited resources that are available on earth. Then, light appears amid the desolation—or does it? "There are higher powers who take the remaining earthlings away to a new planet where everything is okay, but it's really not. On this new planet, everyone is brainwashed and must fit in with a belief and thought system that is void of individuality."

The social order is thrown off balance by the presence of a heroine who refuses to conform to the status quo. "I'm a conformist, but I'm also a non-conformist, so I'm always trying to push those societal norms," explains Fruge. The main character reacts to this newfound social structure in much the same way the protagonists of 1984 skirt the attentions of the Thought Police. To highlight the heroine's internal struggle and its external manifestations through movement, Fruge and her production team designed a latex box in which the character dances.

Integration is a true collaboration of creative minds, from the input Fruge's fellow dancers had in the choreography, to the costume design by Austin-based Marissa Marsh, to the film footage culled from NASA's public domain that plays during the show. "This has been a really cool process," says Fruge. "It's pushed me from solely choreographing everything to being open to collaborating on movement and ideas."

Aug 20 & 21. 8. $15. Frenetic Theatre, 5102 Navigation Blvd. 832-387-7440. freneticore.net

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