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A favorite of The Books

I was listening to The Books as they hosted a radio show and they mentioned Shooby Taylor – the Human Horn – as one of their all-time favorites. I was sad to later then discover that he had passed. Here is a short video of his performance, too short and the audience is not very […]

I was listening to The Books as they hosted a radio show and they mentioned Shooby Taylor – the Human Horn – as one of their all-time favorites. I was sad to later then discover that he had passed. Here is a short video of his performance, too short and the audience is not very warm, but nonetheless, Shooby Taylor: http://www.shooby.com/video/index.html

My first Gang Gang Dance

This will be my first show at the Walker and with Halloween in the air, it is going to be an indescribable evening. I have been reading up on GGD to prepare for the experience and this is what I have found: GGD have left a sporadic, almost shadowy, impression upon people. They’ll surface to […]

This will be my first show at the Walker and with Halloween in the air, it is going to be an indescribable evening.

I have been reading up on GGD to prepare for the experience and this is what I have found:

GGD have left a sporadic, almost shadowy, impression upon people.

They’ll surface to play a clutch of shows only to disappear again.

The lucky [ticket] holders were treated to the kind of mesmerizing experience we have come to expect from these mystic experimentalists.

Gang Gang Dance is a musical vehicle without brakes, constantly innovating and dropping material out the rear.

I imagine my night with GGD this Saturday will be somewhat shabby exotic in essence with some otherworldly aspect to it.

For fans that know exactly what they are getting into:

The band’s DVD release, Retina Riddim, was originally scheduled for release in December, but now will be available in CD-R format at GGD’s merch tables, with the official release following in January. The DVD is part concert film, part album and unreleased material remix and part conceptual film.

For those new to GGD like me, this will help complete their elusive picture: ohmyrockness.com.

See you there! Michèle

P.S. Ask me what else.

Meat and greet: Introducing Michèle Steinwald

Michèle Steinwald has been living (and wearing, as you’ll read in a minute) multidisciplinary art since she was a kid. After a teenage role fronting for a spit-themed Canadian punk band, she went on to become a dancer, choreographer, and arts administrator. In Seattle, she worked at On the Boards as an artistic associate; helped […]

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Michèle Steinwald has been living (and wearing, as you’ll read in a minute) multidisciplinary art since she was a kid. After a teenage role fronting for a spit-themed Canadian punk band, she went on to become a dancer, choreographer, and arts administrator. In Seattle, she worked at On the Boards as an artistic associate; helped start up the film distribution site IndieFlix; and, most recently, founded 44 Arts Productive, a service organization aiding dancers and choreographers. As the Walker’s new performing arts program manager, she’ll be involved with all aspects of producing performance works, including blogging. By way of introduction, here’s an interview we did this morning.

I understand you were in a punk band called “Hork P’tew” when you were 14. What was your role?

Yup! I was the singer. We never had a gig. I actually was asked to replace the original singer who was in jail. I was asked because I couldn’t sing, and by the end of the summer the band split anyways, but not because of my singing. The guitar player, for those interested in 80’s Canadian punk, was Warren Peace of Grave Concern. His brother Paul Ste-Marie was the drummer. Tension grew when the original drummer of Hork P’tew stayed in the band.

What were some of your songs?

My favorite was “Oatmeal Blues,” which Warren wrote, but we also did an apocalyptic version of “Fraggle Rock.”

Where has your performing arts career taken you since Hork P’tew?

I am a trained contemporary dancer, now retired, and have done some choreography over the years. My favorite choreographers are Deborah Hay and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (of Rosas), who performed last season at the Walker. I flew in from Seattle to see Anne Teresa perform a solo here and it was so great! I also danced for Simone Sandroni when I lived in Europe. Simone brought his new company Déjà Donné to the Walker last year, too. My favorite Canadian choreographer is Benot Lachambre and he too was at the Walker with Meg Stuart last season. As you can see, I am a big fan of the Walker’s performing arts programming.

Where are you from?

I was born in Elmira, New York which is the hill next to Ithaca in upstate NY but was raised in Eastern Canada. We moved around a lot and I have continued to travel because of my career. In all I have lived, in order since Elmira, in Springfield, VT; Peterborough, Ontario; Sydney River, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia; Burlington, Ontario; Ottawa, Ontario; Montréal, Québec; Arnhem, The Netherlands; Brussels; Prague; Tokyo; and then Seattle for the last 8 years (the longest I’ve lived anywhere). Now Minneapolis! I am really happy to be here. It feels like home already.

vanitas-fresh1.jpgTell me the story of how you’re related to a work in the Walker permanent collection.

As a young dancer of 17, I was asked to “perform” for a visual art installation at the National Gallery of Canada. The work called Remote Control II was by Czech/Canadian artist Jana Sterbak. I was suspended by the crotch in a large metal crinoline which had wheels and a remote control motor. The following year, the gallery called and asked if I could be a part of Jana’s solo show and hang in the metal skirt again but also, model a “meat dress.” My dad thought this was very funny as I was vegetarian at the time. I agreed and was sewn into the steak garment for a photo shoot. The piece is named Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Anorectic Albino and the Walker has one in its permanent collection. The picture in the Walker archive is of the original model, although I am still surprised to find pictures of me used in publications.

You wore the dress in the controversial showing in 1991?

That’s me. It was a big scandal in Canada so my picture was in the newspapers and on the evening news for a day which was exciting at 18 years old.

Image: Michele performing in Remote Control II, from the exhibition catalogue

Momentum: New Dance Works 2007 – Commission recipients announced

The Walker Art Center and Southern Theater are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2007 Momentum: New Dance Works commissions. The proposals and work samples were carefully considered by a panel composed of the Southern Theater’s Jeff Bartlett, Walker Art Center’s Philip Bither, and 2007 ad hoc panelist Erin Thompson. The following four artists/companies […]

The Walker Art Center and Southern Theater are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2007 Momentum: New Dance Works commissions. The proposals and work samples were carefully considered by a panel composed of the Southern Theater’s Jeff Bartlett, Walker Art Center’s Philip Bither, and 2007 ad hoc panelist Erin Thompson. The following four artists/companies will be presented at the Southern Theater over two weekends in July, 2007:

July 12-14

Justin Jones

Maggie Bergeron

July 19-21

Cathy Campbell

Off-Leash Area

Momentum: New Dance Works 2007 is a partnership between Walker Art Center and the Southern Theater, with support from the Jerome Foundation, created to promote the work of an exciting new generation of dance and dance-theater creators in Minnesota. The series enables innovative, under-recognized choreographers to have their work presented to the broader public.

This will be the sixth year of the series, applications were numerous and of outstanding quality, making the selection process extremely competitive. We would like to thank all the artists for the time and energy invested in this application process, and we congratulate the recipients on their achievement!

“I wonder how your little genius came up with that toe-tapper.”

Stephen Colbert on avant-jazz composer John Zorn’s MacArthur Genius grant:

Tonight’s show: “A rocking post-modern ode to breakup.”

A note from Philip Bither, performing arts curator: Tonight and for the next three nights we present a joyous and anarchic dance-theater work called Back to the Present. Constanza Macras, an Argentine artist now based in Berlin, has assembled fearless, high-energy, absolutely infectious group of performers from all over the world and constructed a “ […]

5367600.jpgA note from Philip Bither, performing arts curator:

Tonight and for the next three nights we present a joyous and anarchic dance-theater work called Back to the Present. Constanza Macras, an Argentine artist now based in Berlin, has assembled fearless, high-energy, absolutely infectious group of performers from all over the world and constructed a “ rocking post-modern ode to breakup.” If you like your performances brimming with life, juggling wild humor and pathos, unexpected and fresh, full of youthful, artful artlessness with a rock n roll heart, then you owe it to yourself to see this work.

I saw Back to the Present a few years back in Germany. I was immediately swept up by its crazy mix of satire, dance, video, black humor, explosive energy and youthful optimism amidst urban decay that erupted from the stage. I’ve been working to get the piece here ever since.

So, I was thrilled (and relieved) to get word a few days ago that last weekend’s New York performances were a smash success. You know the kind — people begging for tickets, lines out the door. The response from those lucky enough to get in was rapturous. John Rockwell of The New York Times mirrored my feelings about the work:

What distinguishes ‘Back to the Present’ aside from a particularly personable, sexy cast, is the manic good humor of the entire enterprise. The piece ends with a crazed free-for-all…It’s just exhilarating… But the (stuffed) animals and the props and the songs and, above all, the cast, which emerged more and more into strongly defined individual personalities, made the whole apparatus cohere. That, and nice self-satire. And, above all, the unstoppable charm…. ‘Back to the Present’ sees life there (in bohemian Berlin) among its young and lively through rose-colored glasses, and makes a convincing case for what it sees….Dance Theater Workshop was packed and erupted with cheers.

Last year, two of our season highlights were dance-theater projects from Europe (Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker and Meg Stuart). People are still talking about the power of those pieces. Others, alas, missed them and are still wishing they had been there. I am sure this weekend will be the same, and I just don’t want you or your friends to miss out.

We also just announced a special $10 Student Ticket – College or H.S. (note, the work contains some nudity). Order tickets now.

A friend passes…

The Walker mourns the passing of a longtime friend and collaborator, Northrop Auditorium director Dale Schatzlein, who died while biking in Colorado August 31. The 58-year old served as director of the University of Minnesota performance venue since 1985. Over the years, he partnered with the Walker in bringing boundary-pushing jazz and dance artists to […]

dale_photo.jpgThe Walker mourns the passing of a longtime friend and collaborator, Northrop Auditorium director Dale Schatzlein, who died while biking in Colorado August 31. The 58-year old served as director of the University of Minnesota performance venue since 1985. Over the years, he partnered with the Walker in bringing boundary-pushing jazz and dance artists to the Twin Cities, including Bill T. Jones, Merce Cunningham, Bill Frisell, the Ornette Coleman Quartet, a November butoh performance by Sankai Juku and a March 2007 concert by the World Saxophone Quartet, to name just a few. We at the Walker extend our sympathies to Schatzlein’s family, his life partner Emily Maltz, and our friends at Northrop.

Walker performing arts curator Philip Bither recalls his friend’s humanity, humor, aesthetic edge, and astute management of the 4800-seat venue:

“Dale was interested in so many parts of our world. At our regular lunches, our discussions on, jazz and contemporary dance–art forms we both loved–would soon morph into talk of politics, travel, Minneapolis history, biking, film, architecture and the people who made up our shared world of live art. He was a partner who the Walker could always count on, and a friend who will be greatly missed.”

A Minneapolis native, Schatzlein will be remembered at a memorial service in the Walker’s Skyline Room on Friday, September 8. The event is open to the public.

Video Mix Tape: Keiji Haino + Gang Gang Dance

Post by guest blogger Gus Mastrapa: I know it sounds like homework, but I like to prepare for shows by artists I’m not super-familiar with. I’ll make a playlist in my mp3 player featuring all the bands on the bill, set the sucker on random and let it rip. My playlist for this summer’s Pitchfork […]

Post by guest blogger Gus Mastrapa:

I know it sounds like homework, but I like to prepare for shows by artists I’m not super-familiar with. I’ll make a playlist in my mp3 player featuring all the bands on the bill, set the sucker on random and let it rip. My playlist for this summer’s Pitchfork Music Festival grew to over 612 songs by the time I went to the show. I’m not going to throw that much music at you this time. Instead, here’s a cheat sheet for two upcoming Walker Art Center performances. Click through the links below to sample streaming videos of Keiji Haino and Gang Gang Dance doing their thing.

Gang Gang Dance: Nicoman

Keiji Haino on Guitar

Gang Gang Dance: Excerpt from forthcoming Retina Riddim DVD

Keiji Haino: Hurdy Gurdy and Voice

Gang Gang Dance: Live @ Malmö Festivalen, Sweden

Keiji Haino with Yamatsuka EYE, John Zorn & Christian Marclay

Kaiji Haino will perform a live accompaniment to Cameron Jamie’s film Jo on October 6. Brooklyn art rockers Gang Gang Dance will play the McGuire Theater on October 28.

Gus Mastrapa is a freelance writer and music nerd who recently moved to the Twin Cities from Los Angeles. The former dublab.com DJ has written about music and culture for Paste, Minnesota Monthly, Grooves and Hustler. Yeah, that Hustler.

Local goings on

It’s time again (August 16-24)for Sound Unseen, the really remarkable festival of music, film and musicfilm/filmmusic. Typically features lots of smart work by local filmmakers and/or localmusicians,and special national projects, too. Walker’s copresented a number of events in the past (sadly, not this year), such as Sound Art Cinema with Christian Marclay, the found sound […]

It’s time again (August 16-24)for Sound Unseen, the really remarkable festival of music, film and musicfilm/filmmusic. Typically features lots of smart work by local filmmakers and/or localmusicians,and special national projects, too. Walker’s copresented a number of events in the past (sadly, not this year), such as Sound Art Cinema with Christian Marclay, the found sound noise of People Like Us, the peerless inimitability of Captain Beefheart with Fast ‘n’ Bulbous, and films like Combinations (about boxing, with music by Matthew Shipp, tracking his andthe sport’srelationship to jazz) and The Harder They Come (starring Jimmy Cliff).

a Family Movie (or, Make Joyful Noise Here)

I’ve included an image above from the Danielson Familie doc, which should be interesting. The first record of theirs I ever heard was Fetch the Compass Kids, which was like an old quilt come to life. It boggled the mind and I often fell asleep to it that year, inducing some vivid, disturbing dreams. But, like many things you embrace with complete naive exuberance andoften come to question, I later heard some off-putting remarks attributed to “Brother Danielson” that were a little Falwell-esque. Don’t know if they were true, though. Maybe seeing this doc will help clear it up. And, if you didn’t enjoy the creative output of artists with questionable states of mind (Bob Dylan, Paul Gaugin, DMX), there probably wouldn’t be much left to ponder. Mel Gibson notwithstanding.

Radical commitment and The Great Gatsby

While the New York Times made a fairly big deal about the fact that two national-scale versions of The Great Gatsby are premiering in Minneapolis, the differences between the Simon Levy-written production at the Guthrie Theater and Elevator Repair Service’s GATZ, making its US premiere at the Walker in September couldn’t be more pronounced–from a […]

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While the New York Times made a fairly big deal about the fact that two national-scale versions of The Great Gatsby are premiering in Minneapolis, the differences between the Simon Levy-written production at the Guthrie Theater and Elevator Repair Service’s GATZ, making its US premiere at the Walker in September couldn’t be more pronounced–from a setting that’s anything but Roaring Twenties (a run-down Scranton-esque office) to an adaptation which, well, doesn’t adapt anything (F. Scott Fitzgerald’s every word is read aloud). In a recent interview to be excerpted in the September/October issue of Walker, curator Philip Bither discussed the 6.5-hour readathon with lead actor Scott Shepherd and director John Collins. While you can read the entire thing here, two sections suggest potential differences between this and the Guthrie’s version–difficult sections about race that might be edited out for sensitive ears and, if theirs is at all like movie adaptations, sections where the narrator, Nick, wasn’t present. As they suggest, Fitzgerald is the ultimate editor, making choices so anyone who’s adapting it won’t have to–and in the case of Tom Buchanan’s oafish prejudices, even that’s intended:

John Collins: …In this case, so much of Fitzgerald’s art is in two things: what [...] he chooses artfully to leave out or leave in, and also how the entire thing is told from this one character’s perspective. It just has to do with what that character’s experience is. The combination of those two things make the theater that is inherent in the book so complete, because it’s as much how a certain person relates his experience as it is about the things he’s describing. So as soon as you start to adapt, as soon as you take Nick’s story away from him and show it, it’s already a completely different story. It’s no longer the story of Nick’s very particular perspective and the beautiful and complete way that Fitzgerald represents that in the writing.

Scott Shepherd: I think the most glaring thing about that Robert Redford movie, for example, is all those scenes between Redford and Mia Farrow where they try to depict the relationship that Nick never saw. Whenever you have those scenes where Nick wasn’t present, it really sticks out like a sore thumb.

Philip Bither: What about those jarring sections of racism, the attitudes of the ’20s that jump out of the book and slap you in the face? What’s your sense of where that comes from in Fitzgerald? Or how does it feel in the midst of what to me sounds like very contemporary attitudes?

JC: Part of the project of delivering a novel of a certain period and status is that you have to experience it in its entirety, because you have to experience the way that it transcends those things. If we were to go in and try to clean that stuff up or try to avoid it somehow, I think we’d be saying, at everyone’s expense, “Well, this thing is flawed, but we can fix it.” Its flaws have to be part of its greatness.

SS: We also couldn’t clean it up. It’d be a huge violation of the social contract we’ve set up for the whole show. But I think that’s very interesting, that thing. The two things I can think of are: “The negroes who roll the yolks of their eyeballs” from the limousine next to Gatsby’s car–

PB: And Gatsby, in that scene, saying, “Isn’t it amazing that even they can enjoy the fruits of–”

SS: That’s Nick’s thought. He says, “Wow, anything can happen in New York.”

JC: “Black people can have a white chauffeur! This place must be the land of possibility!”

SS: You know, it’s not just ignorance, because in the same book you’ve got Tom Buchanan talking about that racist book at the beginning. So it’s not like Fitzgerald is insensitive to that.

PB: That’s true. In fact he makes Tom look like a complete buffoon by having these attitudes.

JC: Exactly. At a couple of critical points, where Tom is considered anyway–when he blows up in Chapter 7, he thinks that “things have gone so insane with people’s morals that they might one day accept intermarriage between black and white!” And those things are absolutely clearly identified with Tom’s ignorance.

SS: It shouldn’t surprise us that it’d be a remarkable thing in 1922 to see a limousine with black passengers and a white driver. It’d at least be remarkable. It’s really just the yolks where I get uncomfortable–the “yolks of the eyeballs.” And they’re also described as “two bucks” and a girl. And Wolfsheim is introduced as a Jew and every description of him includes his nose. His nose takes over his whole presence. I recently saw a picture of Arnold Rothstein, who Wolfsheim is supposed to be based on, and his nose wasn’t that big.

Collins calls this kind of unabashed verbatim reading an example of “radical commitment,” and Shepherd, whose job it is to read the entire novel aloud, sums up: “I feel more of a collusion with the audience in this show than any other show I can think of. Because of the book. We’re all going to go into this book together. Something makes me feel like I’m on their side, because I’m going on the same ride they are.”

Read more here. And buy tickets here. And, for a less controversial interview, read Culturebot‘s discussion on “Starting a Theater Company” with John Collins.

Earlier: The Gatsby Marathon

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