About us

Simply, we are a dance company. But at A House Unbuilt we practice a different kind of dance. We practice social choreography which looks at the fundamental role of embodiment in everyday life, cultural identity, society and politics, the environment, and more. We use different modes of artistic expression like movement, visual art, and social practice to explore these ideas. Our work may end up looking like research, storytelling, writing, drawing, an art installation, a dance, an advocacy action, and at its core it is a plea for greater empathy and civil discourse across individuals and communities. 

Our mission is to listen with the whole body, stewarding the land and place in which it works; 

to create objects, images, performances, and stories that are accessible and relevant beyond traditional art audiences; 

to bring new audiences closer to art by exhibiting and performing informally, in nontraditional venues, and for free; 

to develop and propagate training techniques that bridge fine arts disciplines with broader social structures as well as empower audience and performers to be cocreators; 

to provide mentoring and leadership in the local and national arts communities; 

and to push the place of dialogue-as-the-dance even further into the mix.

A House Unbuilt will carry out its mission without profit and for the benefit of the public.

Artist Statement

As a practitioner and choreographer of contemporary dance, I am always thinking about what the dance can be. I find the social deeply rooted in the work of my choreography, the work of mentorship, the work of being in company with others. This “social choreography” explores the fundamental role of embodiment in everything from a walk down the street to family narrative to climate change. This work straddles the make/think divide, collecting ideas, making meaning, and composing experiences.  Research, performance and activism are tools with which to build the stories that can connect us, rendering objects and artifacts that become the narrators.

Our bodies are immediate, a physical presence with the power to intervene in systems much larger than themselves; they can bring the incomprehensible paradoxes of our times to a human scale. Collecting and storytelling are ways of making more than sense—they are ways to cope with our feelings of isolation and division. They are ways to rewrite the story.

A House Unbuilt began as a story, written in six words. House unbuilt, home broken, evacuate, escape. After the devastating blow of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina in 2005, a divorced turned my broken home into both tangible and metaphorical disaster.

My body was the house left standing that I needed to unbuild in order to grapple with these losses, this trauma, being unmoored. Our bodies are themselves a collection of emotions and artifacts that tell the story of our lives. Listening with the body is a radical practice that can open more ears and create greater possibility for civil discourse. 

My work is about the body—the body alone, together, other bodies, the gendered body, the sick body, absent body, violated body, fragmented body, forgotten body, new bodies, that lead to whole bodies, that lead to a bodily foundation for communication, for encounters, for response. 

Meet the Team

Staff, collaborators, board members, et. al.
We do what we love. Here’s who we are, what we do and our social networks. Connect with us.

Victoria Bradford Styrbicki

Founder & Artistic Director

Victoria Bradford Styrbicki is an artist and cultural producer working across the lines of performance, research, and activism. She is a Louisiana native and thrives on place-based work that connects with the “social choreography” of a people—their movement both physical and conceptual toward greater connectivity.  After earning her Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Victoria worked extensively in this field in the city of Chicago, moving after ten years to the Twin Cities in Minnesota where she now lives and works [more].

Tom Styrbicki

Collaborator: Relay of Voices

Tom Styrbicki is a bridge engineer, runner, bicyclist and Minnesota native. Tom serves as the State Design Engineer at the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and in this role he supports and encourages the movement of people in every way (motorized and non-motorized) that fulfill their lives. In addition to being a licensed professional engineer with a BA in Environmental Science from the University of Colorado, BS in Civil Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and MS in Structural Engineering from the University of Nebraska, Styrbicki has competed in 20 marathons, 30 relays, and 15 triathlons.

Dinah Bradford

Business Manager

Dinah Bradford is a community volunteer based in Lake Charles, Louisiana where she serves on the board of the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana. As a long-time supporter of Louisiana State University, she currently serves as a member of the College of Human Science and Education’s Peabody Society Board of Directors. As a former Principal of Immaculate Conception Cathedral School as well as past president of the Junior League of Lake Charles, Inc., she continues her involvement with these organizations serving on advisory committees when called upon.

Jessica Cornish

Collaborator: Skirts, et al.

Jessica Cornish has shown work in China, Hong Kong, India, Berlin, Italy, Amsterdam, Chile, Louisiana, New York City and Chicago. Along with her solo practice, Cornish works with a wide range of collaborators in different disciplines and uses her ever-changing environments as sustenance to create.

Since graduating from the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign in 2012, Cornish has been the recipient of awards and residency opportunities such as; Freeman Foundation Theatre Award, Beverly Blossom Talented Student Award, Beverly Blossom Alumni Award, LinkUp Residency, Guest Artist in residence at UIUC, Place Residency in LA, Krannert Center for Performing Arts at the University of Illinois Residency, A Morrison Shearer Fellowship for a residency at Ragdale and was one of 12 dance artists in the Chicago area to participate in New England Foundation of the Art’s Regional Dance Development Initiative.

Hannah Barco

Collaborator: Dinner Dance, et al.

Hannah Barco is an experienced arts administrator with deep faith in artists and a strong conviction for the importance of the artist’s role in society. She brings her expertise in performance art to her careful consideration of how audiences encounter art in all contexts and forms. Currently Associate Curator and Festival Director at Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art in Reston, Virginia, Hannah has long been a performance artist, writer, object maker, and facilitator of relational situations; making work with the stuff of everyday life. Barco has performed, displayed and produced her work in Chicago; Boston; New York; Durham, North Carolina; Oakland, California; and Prague. Venues include, in Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago Artists Coalition, Sullivan Galleries, Hyde Park Art Center, Defibrillator Gallery and Grace Exhibitions, as well as the Museum of Fine Art, Boston, and Mobius Performance Collective. Hannah Barco is Chicago-based artist with roots in Durham, North Carolina. She received her BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts University in Boston, MA. She earned her MFA in performance from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Learn more about Hannah Barco ’s HATCH exhibition A History-shaped Hole in the Universe.    

Maya Sosua

Collaborator: In Residence

Maya Sosua is a printmaker and multi-media performance artist based out of Boulder, Colorado. Sosua’s work visually translates the landscapes she has inhabited, connecting personal experience to rmembered place. She recently recieved her BFA in Studio Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL). Sosua also attended Ox-Bow School of Art (Saugatuck, MI) during the summer of 2013, the highlight of her educational and artistic career thus far. 

Angela Gronroos

Collaborator: Declivity, et al.

Angela Gronroos is a dance artist and improviser. She was born in Bangkok, Thailand, raised in Anchorage, Alaska, and now resides in Chicago, Illinois. Her training as a performer started in Judo, for which she competed twice at the national level. She later studied modern dance, contact improvisation, and Butoh, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance from Columbia College Chicago.  She currently works with STäD, a group she co-created alongside three other improvisers. STäD is a collective of improvisers consisting of Suzy Grant, Angela Gronroos, Tina Peterzell, and Donnell Williams, whose lives have converged, departed, and overlapped over the past 20 years.

Hellen Ascoli

Collaborator: In Residence

Hellen Ascoli was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala in 1984. She received her BFA in sculpture from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX (2006) and her MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL (2012). Ascoli has been the subject of several solo exhibitions, including The Loom Made Me a Weaver, Sol del Rio, Guatemala City, Guatemala (2016); To Weave Blue // A Poem the Weaving, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN (2020); and One Hundred Earths, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH (2021). Her work has also been included in numerous group exhibitions, including Bienal de Arte Paiz, Museo de Correos, Guatemala City, Guatemala (2014, 2018, 2020); My Body is Here, Concepción 41, Antigua, Guatemala (2016); One Stone and the Rain, Lawndale Art Center, Houston, TX; and Guatemala from 33,000 km: Contemporary Art 1960-present, Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara, CA (both 2017). Ascoli teaches at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. She currently lives and works in Madison, WI.

Lisa Leszczewicz

Collaborator: Declivity, et al.

Lisa Leszczewicz hails from Chicago’s Southside and holds a BA in Dancemaking from Columbia College. She is a founding member of Laboratory Dancers, continuing her dedication to the company through their current collaborations, both near and abroad. She also teaches with Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble, bringing arts integration and skill-building to several Chicago Public Schools and community organizations. Lisa collaborated with Victoria Bradford/A House Unbuilt on A Relay of Voices: the Great River Run, a journey spanning the length of the Mississippi River. In addition, Lisa is an avid musician and performance artist, creating work as one-half of Night Beasts, as well as a solo series of multimedia vignettes. Alongside the realm of creation and performance, Lisa is completing her prerequisite courses in order to obtain a graduate degree in Community Psychology, which she hopes to interweave with her dance and teaching practices.

John Bradford

Board Member

James Pike

Board Member

Nic King-Ruley

Board Member

Support the work…

Join in the effort of listening and building the conversation. Please consider contributing to A House Unbuilt to help us continue our mission, or just be in touch and participate where you can. We’d love to hear from you!