From Fringe to Foreground: Omaha Under the Radar Festival


July 5th, 2017

Photo Credit: Aleksandr Karjaka

Omaha, NE—Wednesday, July 5 starts the fourth Omaha Under the Radar Festival, a series of eclectic performances across multiple venues in town. Under the Radar showcases both local and national performers for four days and features music performances, dance, workshops, and performance art.

The festival was designed to push creative boundaries, and festival director Amanda DeBoer Bartlett isn’t hesitant to make that push.

“What I like about is that you’ll really love something, and you’ll really hate something, and I want people to have strong opinions and to get into big dorky aesthetic fights and to have these conversations with people that they otherwise wouldn’t have been in the same room with,” DeBoer Bartlett said. “That’s to me what this is all about let’s get all of the nerds together and let’s fight about nerdy things and let’s give people a reason to take a risk with the work that they’re creating in Omaha.”

The music can be considered contemporary chamber music in that there are small ensembles, butut the performers’ instruments might be acoustic, electric, electronic, and acts are interdisciplinary, merging music, dance, and theatre. While Under the Radar is creatively ambitious and welcoming of unconventional performances, it continues to draw support from the audience, artists, and venues.

“The thing that I thought was going to be the challenge was definitely not the challenge,” DeBoer Bartlett said. “I thought it would be difficult to convince Omaha audiences to come along with us and hear these things and see these new things that don’t necessarily strive for a commercial following and don’t strive for the sort of mass popularity—things that are more avant-garde or more outsider art. The audience is kind of the easiest part in a way, which is interesting. Omaha audiences love this, they’re thirsty for it and they want things that are outside of that commercial work.”

The venues include some of Omaha’s most iconic fixtures, like The Joslyn Art Museum and the Kaneko, and also OUTR Spaces, Reverb Lounge and Project Project Gallery on Vinton Street.

While the festival provides a space for performers, it has also worked to inspire creativity for future performances.

“Something that’s happened in the past couple years now that we have a few festivals that have happened is artists have met at festivals and then created new pieces for the next festival together,” DeBoer Bartlett said. “So one of those things is this year, members of tbd. Dance Collective are collaborating with composer Lori Reckling, and she’s composed new music for them to dance to. Other dance collaborations—Pratt has choreographed a new piece that Reckling is also creating music to. Things like that have happened where a composer and a dance ensemble or a theater group and a music group have come together to create a new piece for the festival that draws from a lot of different traditions.”

Omaha Under the Radar Festival will be from July 5 to July 8. For more information about the schedule, artists, or tickets, visit


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