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Berlin’s Veritable Bonanza: a Documentary for Five Screens

Bonanza is the smallest official town in Colorado. Only five residents live there permanently, with another two residents cycling in and out, including a reputed witch, a mayor, a priest, “metaphysical coaches”, and a forest firefighter. Theater-film collective Berlin made their documentary about Bonanza as part of a larger project of documentaries, called the Holocene (the […]

Bonanza is the smallest official town in Colorado. Only five residents live there permanently, with another two residents cycling in and out, including a reputed witch, a mayor, a priest, “metaphysical coaches”, and a forest firefighter. Theater-film collective Berlin made their documentary about Bonanza as part of a larger project of documentaries, called the Holocene (the geological epoch in which we live) series. They documented a different city, annually, for the past 4 years: Jerusalem,  Iqaluit (in Nunavat, Canada), Bonanza, and Moscow. Bonanza: A Documentary for Five Screens runs in the McGuire Theater from Thursday, January 20—Saturday, January 22: week 3 of the Out There Fest.

Presented in conjuncture with the Film/Video Department’s Expanding the Frame Series, Bonanza is a film for five screens; you can get an idea of how it will be projected here.

Gob Squad: We’re Coming to America

Gob Squad are indeed coming to America. Week 2 (Jan. 13-15) of the Out There Fest will feature Gob Squad’s Kitchen (You’ve Never Had It So Good). According to their press release: “Gob Squad set themselves the task of reconstructing [Andy Warhol's film] ‘Kitchen’, despite the fact that none of them have seen it as […]

Gob Squad are indeed coming to America. Week 2 (Jan. 13-15) of the Out There Fest will feature Gob Squad’s Kitchen (You’ve Never Had It So Good). According to their press release: “Gob Squad set themselves the task of reconstructing [Andy Warhol's film] ‘Kitchen’, despite the fact that none of them have seen it as the film is unavailable for viewing these days.”

You can find a longer video preview of Kitchen on the Gob Squad website. There’s a shorter trailer here.

Don’t snooze on Gob Squad’s performance- it’s the only interactive-reality-video-theater-performance inspired by the “swinging 60’s” coming to the Walker this year(!) “You have to go see Gob Squad.” You really should. This Berliner ensemble will thank you all.

This January, Go Inside Out There!

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‘Tis the season once again, that magical time of year at the Walker when the Performing Arts department elves begin to prepare for the arrival of the artists featured in this year’s installment of Out There. Out There 2011: New European Performance features four fabulous performance groups from across the European continent whose works of […]

‘Tis the season once again, that magical time of year at the Walker when the Performing Arts department elves begin to prepare for the arrival of the artists featured in this year’s installment of Out There. Out There 2011: New European Performance features four fabulous performance groups from across the European continent whose works of theater, film, and puppetry (and combinations thereof) promise to stimulate and delight audiences in the Twin Cities.

In addition to outstanding  performances, each Saturday of Out There our visiting artists will explore essential elements of their performance style in a series of “Inside Out There” workshops. Inside Out There always provides fascninating insights into some of the world’s most exciting alternative theater companies and is a great way to stay warm during the coldest part of the year!

On January 8th, Slovenian physical theater group Betontanc and Latvian puppet theater group Umka.lv kick off Inside Out There with a puppetry workshop. Participants will improvise and animate objects and puppets and learn more about the unique blend of physical theater and puppetry seen in Betontanc/Umka.lv’s Show Your Face.

On January 15th, Gob Squad invite you to join them for their contribution to Inside Out There, a workshop that gives you an chance to explore Gob Squad’s method of using the individual performer to filter, digest, and interact with culture, history, and society, elements you may recognize from Gob Squad’s Kitchen (You’ve Never Had It So Good).

For film enthusiasts, in conjunction with their production of Bonanza–A Documentary in Five Parts, on January 22nd Belgium based group Berlin is offering a discussion and demonstration of the “art of invisibility” in documentary filmmaking. Although this workshop, like all Inside Out There events, is open to the public, filmmakers and film students may find this workshop most useful.

Examinations of space, set, and bodies–and their connections– are at the center of French artist Phillipe Quesne’s creative process and the results of those examinations are evident in performances of Quesne/Vivarium Studio’s L’effet de Serge. On January 29th, make your own examinations during a workshop that invites you into a theater laboratory that swings between solitude and the group, dream and matter to modify the conventions of the form of theater itself.

This year, in addition to being able to purchase tickets to individual workshops, you can buy tickets to the whole series for only $20 ($12 Walker members) and get the full Inside Out There experience! Tickets to individual workshops are $6 ($4 Walker members).

Betontanc/Umka.lv’s Show Your Face!

The opening performance of Out There will be starting in less than four weeks with Betontanc/Umka.lv’s Show Your Face!  The Museum of Contemporary Art have a fantastic trailer up for the show, as the performance will be heading there after its stint at the McGuire. I was excited for Show Your Face! before, but anticipation has grown […]

The opening performance of Out There will be starting in less than four weeks with Betontanc/Umka.lv’s Show Your Face!  The Museum of Contemporary Art have a fantastic trailer up for the show, as the performance will be heading there after its stint at the McGuire. I was excited for Show Your Face! before, but anticipation has grown exponentially after watching this:

In case you were wondering, Betontanc are a Slovenian physical theater group and Umka.lv are a Latvian puppet theater group. Although we can assume their collaboration resulted in much fluidity between the groups and shared roles/responsibilities in the performance, it might be a helpful dissection to know that Betontanc are responsible for the more physical theater aspects of the piece (the yelling, standing, riotous people in the trailer) and that Umka.lv are responsible for the baby-snowsuit manipulation and other puppetry moments. FYI, “Umka” was the name of a teddy bear that belonged to one of the artists in the company and “Betontanc” means “Concrete Dance.”

The music for Show Your Face! will be performed live by Slovenian pop group, Silence. You can stream clips from one of their albums here, although their score for Show Your Face! is more steampunk cabaret than the synth-pop featured on Germany’s Amazon.com page—phantastastiche musik!

The jury at a Slovene theater festival where Show Your Face! was presented wrote: “The central figure [snowsuit baby…is] a kind of postmodern Woyzeck” which ties in nicely with a certain William Kentridge puppet play later this season.

 

Jenny Scheinman’s Mischievous World

Jenny Scheinman is tall. Not a very nuanced observation, but it’s important to note. In a stage light on clutter and gear, her commanding longitudinal presence was the audience’s first impression of her and her band, Mischief & Mayhem. Her stark, wildly curling hair bounced with each tuning stroke of her violin while guitarist (and latter-day […]

Jenny Scheinman

Jenny Scheinman is tall. Not a very nuanced observation, but it’s important to note. In a stage light on clutter and gear, her commanding longitudinal presence was the audience’s first impression of her and her band, Mischief & Mayhem. Her stark, wildly curling hair bounced with each tuning stroke of her violin while guitarist (and latter-day Wilco axeman) Nels Cline fired up a feedback-laced warm-up chord. Like a magician setting up a fine trick, the ensemble, filled out by bassist Todd Sickafoose and drummer Jim Black, turned this ambient, droning start into a parabolic musical odyssey. In an evening filled with furious musicianship, jaw dropping solos and gee whiz percussive gimmickry, the primordial evolution of the opening piece was a fitting analogy of the band’s succeeding songs.

I doubt the experiment would have been as successful without Cline, whose alt-country roots and sonic adventurousness seemed to be shot through the Large Hadron Collider, smashing into each other and forming wholly new elements. I can honestly say that I’d never heard anything quite like it. His ambient scrawl was reminiscent of Experimental Audio Research. It reminded me of Doctor Who background music. I half expected the Tardis to appear onstage. When coupled with Scheinman’s finite tremolo work, though, the dynamic changed from abstract to immediate. She brought a sense of urgency and direction to the affair, reigning over the collective with a stage director’s precise timing and focus. Her quick signature and timing changes held a hold over the audience, while Cline’s exacting, rolling solos lit their seats on fire.

The set list provided a number of breathers. The third track, an homage to PJ Harvey, abandoned the titular namesake’s acid-edged approach in favor of fleet-footed atmosphere. It was Scheinman’s track through and through, with Cline adding aural sonics that sounded like submarine ‘pings’ going off in zero gravity. The group followed this with a twisted, rhythmic percussive piece that was, dare I say, a bit depraved. It was a sinister rockabilly piece that felt as if someone had dropped acid in the band’s moonshine and things were taking a turn.

Nels Cline

While the focus was, for the most part, on Scheinman and Cline’s immaculate playing, drummer Jim Black was a wunderkind. Have you ever seen a circus performer keep pulling curios and prop gags out of his coat? This was exactly what he looked like. He held a stick in his left hand while his right kept reaching down and grabbing something new. I half expected him to start juggling while keeping pace.

The set’s cohesiveness revolved around minor chord turns and genre-bending trials. Morose funeral dirges gave way to experiment within experiment tracks, most notably on the sixth tune, a number that conjured flashbacks of Captain Beefheart. Cline yet again established his presence, responding to Scheinman’s pristinely fluid string shudders with pounding chord work.

Overall, the ensemble work was expectional. Scheinman’s guiding hand over the affair allowed Cline’s virtuosic playing to shine through without losing focus of the other players. The incorporations of continually deconstructing ambient pedal loops only made the songs that much more powerful. What struck me about the show was the auditory ambience that swept through the McGuire. I could never quite place the feeling, but felt I’d been there before. It was as if I was reminiscing about something I’d never experienced, which is what I would call a huge success.

Wrapping up “Naked”

Eiko and Koma spent November performing Naked, their epic, 144-hour “living installation” set within the Event Horizon exhibition of artworks from the Walker collection. It was a landmark event for them and for the Walker, which has enjoyed a nearly 30-year relationship with the Japanese-American dance masters. Yesterday was the final performance and friends, community […]

Eiko and Koma spent November performing Naked, their epic, 144-hour “living installation” set within the Event Horizon exhibition of artworks from the Walker collection. It was a landmark event for them and for the Walker, which has enjoyed a nearly 30-year relationship with the Japanese-American dance masters. Yesterday was the final performance and friends, community members and staff gathered around for a final hurrah. We will miss them!

photo by Gene Pittman

 They shared some of their thoughts as the piece drew to a close:

 What were your thoughts as you entered the final days of this performance?

 It has been both a challenge and strange pleasure to be on view, us being naked, in a museum all day every day. Some people have come to see us informed. They came purposefully to spend some time with us. Others have happened to come across our installation during their museum visit and marveled, “these are real people!” It has been wonderful to be seen by such range of people. Walker staff, viewers, and gallery monitors have been all very supportive, which was important for our experience. —Eiko

Having done the work for a month, I am now aware that Naked has elements I have always wanted in my life. In our four-decade-long career, we have performed in theaters worldwide, but we wish we could present this work in museums world-wide: Beijing, Paris Tokyo Jakarta etc. —Koma 

Do you have any sense yet of how your experience with Naked will affect your work going forward? 

In several decades of performing as dancers, we had never before been on view in such proximity to our audience. At times only a single person or a few were in the room, watching for a very long time. We felt their gaze and support while their minds remain unknown to us. We like this suspense—the idea that we might be co-creating, with each viewer, a very individual experience. We might miss these individuals’ eyes and minds next time we perform for a large audience in a theater. —Eiko 

We have decided to present Naked in New York this spring and possibly elsewhere in the future. We have discovered that we like creating and presenting an installation—not a dance, but a time/space/body/movement/texture/smell-based experience. —Koma 

Has there been any kind of turning point or epiphany during the performance, and if so, can you describe it? 

One day a couple came in and said loudly, “What’s this?” “This is crazy! This is absurd!”  Listening, I wanted to answer, “Indeed! I agree.” We have always wanted to make something beyond reasonable. Maybe we are absurd, and why not? —Koma 

Eiko & Koma take flight through the galleries (photo Cameron Wittig)

What have you found to be either surprisingly difficult or surprisingly easy during the performance?  

It was surprisingly easy to create a sound score that did not compete with the museum noise. We originally thought about how to use water for visual effect, but it turned out that hanging frozen water bottles upside down near the ceiling, and having the melted ice drip through small holes onto on roof paper, created very satisfying sound score. It accepted and worked well with the voices that we and viewers heard from other galleries, and with the whispers within our installation. I am glad we did not create any special sounds other than water dripping. —Eiko 

Being in the installation for six hours every day was more exhausting than we expected, but we enjoyed the experience as long as there were people watching and supporting us, which was most of the time. But it was surprisingly difficult was when we found ourselves alone. —Koma

What was it like as that last hour wound down?

The gallery was packed, both inside the installation and with people outside looking through burned holes in the panels. We asked the curator to fade out light slowly to black, which made light from adjacent galleys come through the holes. Thus we and viewers breathed the end of the marathon and together recognized and appreciated where we were … Walker. We were very moved by how emotional and supportive people were in celebrating our closing. One person told us it was her fourth visit; she was there all day for six hours watching us, and watching people watching us. Other people started to tell us how many times and with whom they had come to Naked, how long they stayed and what they were thinking about it. We learned that not only we but so many other people were invested in this piece. —Eiko 

Naked installation photo by Cameron Wittig

Choreographers’ Evening: Questions from the Curator

(on behalf of Susana di Palma) 1. How does tonight’s performance change your definition of DANCE? 2. Was there any particular moment where you: a. felt a soft tear b. felt your heart fill with emotion c. found yourself smiling or laughing d. found yourself wanting to escape for the door e. wished you could […]

(on behalf of Susana di Palma)

Susana di Palma

Photo by Cameron Wittig


1. How does tonight’s performance change your definition of DANCE?

2. Was there any particular moment where you:
a. felt a soft tear
b. felt your heart fill with emotion
c. found yourself smiling or laughing
d. found yourself wanting to escape for the door
e. wished you could jump on stage and join in
d. wish you could live your life over and dedicate it to dance

3. Are you now inspired to see more dance during the year at other venues or has this been enough to last you for the next five to fifteen years?

4. How much more impact would the dance works have with live music (if there was only recorded music)?

5. What images remained with you and will reside within you for awhile?

6. Which group’s or individual’s work epitomizes for you the current vibrancy of the Twin Cities dance scene?

7. Was there enough variety to stimulate you?

Choreographers’ Evening this Saturday!

MN Original put together a great video preview of Choreographers’ Evening this Saturday, which includes footage of an interview with Choreographers’ Evening 2010 Curator, Susana di Palma. Here’s the longer interview with Allison Herrera: You can’t claim to be an expert on dance in the Twin Cities without seeing a performance by Susana di Palma and her […]

MN Original put together a great video preview of Choreographers’ Evening this Saturday, which includes footage of an interview with Choreographers’ Evening 2010 Curator, Susana di Palma. Here’s the longer interview with Allison Herrera:

You can’t claim to be an expert on dance in the Twin Cities without seeing a performance by Susana di Palma and her company Zorongo Flamenco. She remembers her first encounter with the art form in Spain. The year was 1968 when Francisco Franco still ran the show over there. “I never looked back!” she said after walking out of a class in Madrid. Since then, she has formed Zorongo Flamenco in Minneapolis , performed in hundreds of shows, and has produced over thirty theater works that have tackled complex social issues through the riotous lens of Flamenco. They include Tales of the Black Legend in 2005, Manton in 2003, and the very memorable Garden of Names in 1996 about torture in Argentina during the Dirty War.

I should mention that I have taken many a Flamenco class with Susana, where she has patiently explained the driving elements of Flamenco with grace and humility. When I tell people about her class, I always mention her walking around (with her obligatory cane to keep us all in compas) telling us to, “LIFT UP, LIFT!”

This is her first stint as the curator for the 38th annual Choreographers’ Evening. I got a chance to talk with her about what we can expect in this exciting night of dance.

Allison Herrera: A lot of the dancers and choreographers I spoke with prior to audition said that being in Choreographers’ Evening at the Walker is exciting because it gave them exposure to audiences beyond who comes out to see a particular kind of dance. Why do you think local choreographers want to be part of CE at the Walker?

Susana di Palma: I would agree. It’s a chance for people to show their work to new audiences, audiences that normally might not experience a particular kind of dance. It’s a treat for the audience too. A chance to try a little bit of this, a little bit of that.  I was so amazed by the quality of work and the dancers that auditioned. The variety and spectrum was outstanding. Those who are just beginning have a wonderful freshness as well as those who are more accomplished like James Sewell and Carl Flink. There is also the prestige of performing at the Walker. To many, it’s the focal point of the whole year in dance. It’s also a tradition that goes along with the beginning of the holidays.

AH: What kind of evening were you trying to create when you curated this year’s CE?

SDP: At first, I had this idea of New Voices/Old World. I wanted to expose audiences to a lot of world dance and ethnic dance because many people don’t see a lot of that. And certainly there is that element in this year’s performance with Paulina Brenner and Curio Dance, among others. But, there were 56 incredible pieces to choose from and I had to narrow that down to 13. The evening became a collection and I wanted audiences to see James Sewell and the new Carl Flink piece. So it became new voices and old pros. I also wanted the evening to be celebratory. It should excite people to want to go and see more dance. In the end, it shouldn’t just be about what the curator likes and wants, but what makes for a complete evening, a complete experience.

AH: You’ve been in Choreographers’ Evening as a dancer, and you’ve also been in the audience for many, including the first one. What are some memorable experiences?

SDP: I do remember dancing in a student of mine’s piece, Sachiko Nishiuchi. It was a lot of fun. That was the year that Sandy Agustin curated CE. It was a very diverse evening of dance and a lot of live music. You had a lot of different types of dance. It felt almost like an old fashioned variety show. Very fun! I also remember in the old days (laughs) seeing Judith Brin Ingber perform and a young John Munger. To come full circle, John is in this year’s show doing a piece he performed at the Fringe Festival. There were certainly moments when I thought, “Oh my GOD!” at some pieces. But, that is what makes this evening so great. It’s always different.

Allison Herrera is a journalist and the communications coordinator for the new arts weekly on tpt called MN Original.

6 Days Left to Catch Eiko and Koma Naked

In case you haven’t stopped by Gallery 2 yet to see Eiko & Koma’s Naked, I assure you it’s not what you expect, no matter what you’re expecting. Being present in the gallery while they’re performing is an inimitable experience. It surely lends support to Eiko’s statement in Dance Magazine that “The Walker is more like a temple than […]

In case you haven’t stopped by Gallery 2 yet to see Eiko & Koma’s Naked, I assure you it’s not what you expect, no matter what you’re expecting. Being present in the gallery while they’re performing is an inimitable experience. It surely lends support to Eiko’s statement in Dance Magazine that “The Walker is more like a temple than a department store type of museum.”

In the same article, Eiko also said “We want audiences to see a pristine landscape eons older than the one we all occupy, and in which we humans can rediscover our essential selves.”

City Pages said that Naked “is like entering into a dream world, but one so intense and self-consciously alive that it feels as though you must be awake. ”

And in Caroline Palmer’s review for the Strib she said “Watching Naked feels like a privilege.”

This live exhibition closes a week from tomorrow, with the last day to see it being Tuesday, November 30. Galleries are closed Thanksgiving day and Monday, November 29.

In case you’ve already seen Naked and your appetite has been whet, here’s a video that includes short extracts from all of Eiko & Koma’s performances at, or in association with, the Walker since 1981.

Working with Watching: Eiko & Koma

The environment is dim and humid. Short bursts of water periodically escape from above. Light dims and recovers, marking time. Eiko and Koma are lying naked and mostly still. Their painted, muddied bodies intertwine with the stuff of their environment. Amid feathers, crumbled leaves and twigs what I see feels at once post apocalyptic and […]

The environment is dim and humid. Short bursts of water periodically escape from above. Light dims and recovers, marking time. Eiko and Koma are lying naked and mostly still. Their painted, muddied bodies intertwine with the stuff of their environment. Amid feathers, crumbled leaves and twigs what I see feels at once post apocalyptic and brand new. They could be infants, aliens, animals or the elderly. The important thing is that they conjure all of these and more.

This “living installation”, Naked, wants to be worked with. It wants to be witnessed, often. It wants to be contemplated, thought about, meditated upon.

I felt a sort of nakedness of my own as I sat in the darkened chamber installed within the glaring white of the Walker’s Gallery 2. My thoughts somehow amplified as I sat shifting. Was I sitting correctly? Was it okay to stare? Was my slight discomfort due to it being the end of my long day, or was it that I just didn’t know what to do with myself? I wanted to write. I didn’t want to be rude. Later someone said she had wanted to knit. Brilliant. Yes. As I said, this show wants to be worked with, used.

Eiko and Koma break dance down to bare essentials: Bodies occupying Space over Time. Theirs contain so much motion potential yet in Naked what we see is the remains. Stillnesses are utterly complete. Sleepy movements, perhaps inspired in the moment by one another’s, are deliberate and glacially slow. In this world nothing lasts but everything lingers.

Blink and they will have upturned. Fall asleep and they will enter your dreams. Stare and their eyes will close.

Gentle sounds of moving nest parts will inspire your own creations. Go, and see.

– Penelope Freeh

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