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Jérme Bel is a smash hit in New York

Jérme Bel is receiving rave reviews in New York this week! “The fascination of the must-see Pichet Klunchun and myself should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Mr. Bel’s career as an endearingly rumpled, brilliant enfant terrible and master of wry, sly minimalism. But he has found his perfect complement in Mr. Klunchun, […]

Jérme Bel is receiving rave reviews in New York this week!

“The fascination of the must-see Pichet Klunchun and myself should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Mr. Bel’s career as an endearingly rumpled, brilliant enfant terrible and master of wry, sly minimalism. But he has found his perfect complement in Mr. Klunchun, a practitioner of khon, a form of classical Thai masked dance, who wanders serenely with Mr. Bel through a series of cultural collisions until the gentle cataclysm that suddenly and amusingly ends the conversation.” – NY Times

Click to read the entire review

Don’t miss next weeks show at Walker on Wednesday and Thursday November 14 & 15 at 8:00 pm. Walker’s McGuire theater and 2-for-1 tickets are available online by clicking here or at the box office by requesting the Killing me Softly’ special!

Jérme Bel’s show must go on

Jérme Bel was last here is 2005 with his funny, still talked about, twist on pop culture, exciting dance performance The show must go on and is coming back in less than two weeks to present his next piece. Although I wasn’t in Minneapolis in 2005, it is one of the events in Walker’s performing […]

Jérme Bel was last here is 2005 with his funny, still talked about, twist on pop culture, exciting dance performance The show must go on and is coming back in less than two weeks to present his next piece. Although I wasn’t in Minneapolis in 2005, it is one of the events in Walker’s performing arts history that I hear about repeatedly from local dance community artists and audience members, so I am wondering if someone could write about what they saw, their memories and impressions on its success to help explain the context of his work for others who may have missed it? It will especially help in relation to his upcoming, deceptively simple, witty, conversation/performance Pichet Klunchen and Myself.

I have already seen this work when it premiered in France and am so excited to see it again that I giggle to myself when recalling the questions Jérme dares to ask Pichet on stage. I can’t believe his straightforward innocence and how he asks all the questions I would never have the courage to say out loud. I won’t spoil it for you now so I’m happy to chat more afterwards so FYI shows are November 14 and 15 at 8pm in the Walker’s McGuire theater and 2-for-1 tickets are available online by clicking here or at the box office by requesting the ‘Killing me Softly’ special!

A Message from Sekou Sundiata’s Family and Friends

When Sekou Sundiata passed away in July 2007 he was in the midst of touring his acclaimed music/theater production and Walker commission, the 51st (dream) state – a work he considered his personal and poetic “ State of the American Soul Address.” Sekou’s family, the entire cast of the 51st (dream) state, his artistic collaborators […]

When Sekou Sundiata passed away in July 2007 he was in the midst of touring his acclaimed music/theater production and Walker commission, the 51st (dream) state – a work he considered his personal and poetic “ State of the American Soul Address.” Sekou’s family, the entire cast of the 51st (dream) state, his artistic collaborators and his producers are committed to carrying on Sekou’s voice and vision by continuing to bring this important and timely work to stages around the country.

The premiere of the re-mounted 51st (dream) state is coming up this month and we invite you to show your support, help us fill the house, spread the word and join us in Miami as long-time performer & collaborator LaTanya Hall steps into Sekou’s role as “the voice of the poet” backed by an all-star ensemble of singers and musicians. Performances are being presented by Miami Dade College at The Colony Theater in Miami Beach on Friday & Saturday November 16 and 17 at 8pm. We hope you can make it for this premiere of the re-mounted show!

the 51st dream state producers will continue to offer this work on tour through the Fall 2008. The show is a loving and demanding look at some cherished mythologies and difficult truths about citizenship in the U.S.A. As the 2008 U.S. Presidential elections approach, questions of civic responsibility and citizenship become immediately relevant. the 51st (dream) state exposes the questions, provokes critical reflection and spurs meaningful dialogue. Shepherded through a universe of poems, monologues, songs and images, diverse audiences come together to imagine a more perfect Union. the 51st (dream) state offers viewers a profound place from which to continue this conversation outside of the theater.

I like Faustin; don’t like liars

If context is everything–and I’m not saying it is– then then last night’s T.C debut of Faustin Linyekua’s “Festival of Lies” at the Cedar Cultural Center (smack in Minneapolis’s African neighborhood) deserves an effort to place our hearts and minds in the context of the African condition. The gorgous dancing and the physical beauty of […]

If context is everything–and I’m not saying it is– then then last night’s T.C debut of Faustin Linyekua’s “Festival of Lies” at the Cedar Cultural Center (smack in Minneapolis’s African neighborhood) deserves an effort to place our hearts and minds in the context of the African condition.

The gorgous dancing and the physical beauty of the three male dancers (Linyekula, Papy Ebotani, and Djodjo Kazadi) and the luscious body, dry delivery of text by Marie-Louise Bibish Mumbu held me thoroughly captive for 3/4 of the performance. There were powerful images (detached dolls, frames, reminding me of Debra Jinza’ Thayer’s great duet at eh Southern last month; borders of countries, coffins). I confess to losing interest, suddenly, for the last 20 minutes.

Given that the Congolese-Zaire-Belgian conflict began at least in 1960, I felt horribly out-of touch with the political history “Festival of Lies” is based on. My context this week is related to the Darfur film my cousin-in-law brought to the U of MN last week; visits with friends in the cast of “Lion King” in town this month; and my own upcoming trip to Africa in February.

Music humming, cricket-like sounds, flourescent lights, the yummy smell of fried plaintains and of incence. The plain stares of the performers, just seeing if we are watching, feeling the vibe. Are they going to shed light on the truth?

On opposite walls translations of rebel leaders from french to english (boy those dirty rotten stinking Belgians were quick to colonize the Congo, making french the spoken language!) are projected. Starting with the most recent speech by liars in 1998, it works backwards to 1960 (and then, in a quick history lesson by Faustin, to 1885, when the Belgian Congo was established) when no one could imagine the years and years of lies that would sweep the nation, turning people against each other, confusing media, international politics, and most of all Faustin Linyekula.

He doesn’t seem confused now. But his muscles, wirey and bowed, looked so complicated and intense. At times I thought of Chris Kattan from Saturday Night Live. Africa is a huge continent! People seemed to have constantly tried to take advantage of its natural resources, most especially, it’s people, or “strands of muscle” as Linyekula says.

The lies make us puppets. Who taught us about corruption?

It is chilliest (though my companions and others laughed, nervously?) when the men start leading each other by the head, gradually getting more menacing. Such a tender, beautiful gesture, taking someone by the head with two hands as though to draw someone in for a kiss, can turn ferocious, and does.

Again context: I had just taken class with Morgan Thorson, whose appealing, sophisticated movement I first got to know through Chris Aiken’s contact Improvisation classes. Thoroughly spine and pelvis driven, I thought of those two great movers (Chris and Morgan). Just then, Marie-Louise Bibish Mumbu joked “This is Africa modern dance” in her dry, french accent. It’s wonderful, slurpy, articulate, inimitable.

By the end, I felt I needed to get home. Faustin yelled out “Long Live the Losers!” and the others got audience members to get up and dance. I shrank, confused, not feeling at all like celebrating.

I don’t like liars.

That was Festival of Lies

Last night I attended Festival of Lies by Les Studios Kabako from the Democratic Republic of Congo at the Cedar Cultural Center. Go, and be prepared to spend some money on food and drink. It’s delicious. Their piece raised questions. Here are some: When exploring and presenting a heavy work, might it be best to […]

Last night I attended Festival of Lies by Les Studios Kabako from the Democratic Republic of Congo at the Cedar Cultural Center. Go, and be prepared to spend some money on food and drink. It’s delicious.

Their piece raised questions. Here are some:

  • When exploring and presenting a heavy work, might it be best to keep the positive life energy flowing with food, drinks, dancing, and interaction. Does depressing subject matter mean depressing experience?
  • I exoticise this African performance, why? Is there value in doing that or am I “bad” because of it?
  • What am I expecting to do when I go to an art performance?
  • We were told this festival of lies is “A piece of Fiction” at the beginning and the end, yet historical leaders of the Congo were quoted throughout. It felt political. What is a lie? As an American artist how can I be political?

And on my bike ride home these questions brought my mind back to my pre-show dinner conversation with some folks headed to the State to see The Hold Steady.

We talked about myth, politics, celebrity, and earnestness in the media and art we consume.

Speaking of lies vs fiction vs truth, check out Deborah Solomon and her interview with Ira Glass (for context).

What is the line between fiction and truth? How does drawing and noting that line provide a safety for the artist who is then not a journalist?

And in a world without a clear line between fiction and truth, who controls your identity and the identity of your country?

Photo associated with the DRC from the US State Department website

Democratic Republic of Congo by the US State Department

Bonus link: Quirk – the safe odd space

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