Blogs The Green Room Emily Taylor

Emily landed at the Walker Art Center in 2005, where she is a coordinator in the Performing Arts Department. She manages a small army of stellar interns, and keeps the PA team’s boundless activities flowing - working with artists, patrons, and national partners. Emily received her BFA from Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2000. Following graduation she has worked in a variety of arts and non-profit organizations with a focus on project management, events, education, technology, social media, mentorship, and arts administration.

Voices of Strength: The Enchanting Voices of Madame Plaza

“Madame Plaza, created by Moroccan choreographer Bouchra Ouizguen and performed with three traditional Aïta vocalists whose custom includes guttural wailing and incantation, is a powerful merging of bodies with song.” — Mapp International Throughout my research of Madame Plaza,  Bouchra Ouizguen’s work in the Voices of Strength dance series, I have been struck by the […]

“Madame Plaza, created by Moroccan choreographer Bouchra Ouizguen and performed with three traditional Aïta vocalists whose custom includes guttural wailing and incantation, is a powerful merging of bodies with song.” Mapp International

Bouchra Ouizguen’s Madame Plaza Photo by Hibou Photography

Throughout my research of Madame Plaza,  Bouchra Ouizguen’s work in the Voices of Strength dance series, I have been struck by the dynamic power of the Aïta vocalists to grasp my attention. I’ve always been captivated by singers who explore colorful vocal techniques (Fatima Al Qadiri, Meredith Monk, Laurie Anderson are a few of my favorites).

Video Excerpt from Madame Plaza

Choreographer Bouchra Ouizguen explains her connection to their spellbinding sounds and describes their unique ability to engage audiences in an interview from 2010 with Time Out New York.

What role has the music you feature in the show played in your life?

From in the womb of my mother, this music was already there somehow. Most of the time the songs are about impossible love from a woman to a man and the difficulties that encompass that kind of relationship, or complaints about life. The music is more of a cry, more of a scream—asking for things. The word aïta means “calling.”

So how did you find the singers?

I met them once I stopped my trip. I had just had moved next to a nightclub in Marrakech—one of the oldest clubs, where these ladies were performing. It was called Madame Plaza. It’s an old nightclub that no bourgeois, no middle-class person would ever put a foot in. They were performing there, so I watched and started talking to them. On the same night I asked one of them, “Could you come and work together next week?” She said yes. We started working together and out of it came a duo.

What did they teach you about the body?

They taught me to forget about what I have learned. I have trained with choreographers in France and they taught me to break all the rules and do something new. They broke my habits.

Why does Madame Plaza speak to so many people?

I think that it is due to what I was saying before: There is no difference between onstage and offstage. They are not magnificent robot dancers. I think it’s because of what they sing—it resembles a lot of crying that is in all cultures. People can connect to these ladies who are fat and who are not dancers. Everybody knows that they are not contemporary dancers. They are not mechanical. The song is the same for people in different parts of the world who are crying for death or crying for love—this kind of vocal expression is common to mankind. And also, fragility is exposed. It has to do with the fragility of the human being.

Madame Plaza is one of four pieces in the contemporary theater and dance mini-festival, “Voices of Strength” here at the Walker. Ouizguen and company will perform in the McGuire Theater this Thursday and Saturday (October 11 and 13) at 8pm.

Video: Making Music with Sō Percussion & Emily Johnson

Making Music host James Everest sits down for an artist talk with the classically trained musicians of Sō Percussion and their collaborators for their latest work (and Walker Commission/World Premiere) Where (we) Live. Director Ain Gordon and choreographer Emily Johnson share their insights about the nature of collaboration, performance, and improvisation. Gordon discusses his role in […]

Making Music host James Everest sits down for an artist talk with the classically trained musicians of Sō Percussion and their collaborators for their latest work (and Walker Commission/World Premiere) Where (we) Live.

Director Ain Gordon and choreographer Emily Johnson share their insights about the nature of collaboration, performance, and improvisation. Gordon discusses his role in finding the dramatic arcs and theatrical structures for the piece, and alternatively, Johnson describes her approach to bringing movement, instruction, and chance to the performance showcasing how artists of seemingly disparate talents collaborate and come together to make a successful work. During the discussion, members of Sō Percussion share their motivations for the new project and explain their unique transitions from their lives: from conventional music schools to their current projects of experimentation and exploration. Throughout this interesting and in-depth discussion, the performers discuss relevant themes of community, place, and home.

Video: Making Music with Sō Percussion

MCϟDC at WAC: A seriously tour-hearty dance company

As Merce Cunningham Dance Company‘s tech crew was loading in this morning, I caught a sneak peek at the costumes and backdrops being set up for this week’s show at Walker — and the last tour of the MCDC company before they disband. Chatting with Kevin Taylor, dancer and MCDC company manager, I noticed this […]

As Merce Cunningham Dance Company‘s tech crew was loading in this morning, I caught a sneak peek at the costumes and backdrops being set up for this week’s show at Walker — and the last tour of the MCDC company before they disband.

Chatting with Kevin Taylor, dancer and MCDC company manager, I noticed this killer stencil identifying the many crates that house the performance elements as they tour around the world. A tech with a great sense of humor and a love of rock and roll made the stamp in the ’90′s for the equally tour-hearty MCDC company.

This case is going to Moscow today:

A case holding the famous chair from the work Antic Meet:

A bin of yoga gear:

The drop for Pond Way being unfurled:


*This week’s performance of the Farewell Legacy Tour with MCDC is Nov. 4-6, tickets are available for a limited time here.

 

 

Jerome Bel on why you don’t need to know dance to see his work

What is modern dance anyway? Through simple and honest storytelling, dancer Cédric Andrieux — former principal dancer with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company — tells us about the life of a dancer from behind-the-scenes, connecting us to modern dance with his personal inside account. This show gives a sort of 101 of modern dance and unique […]

What is modern dance anyway?

Dancer Cédric Andrieux

Through simple and honest storytelling, dancer Cédric Andrieux — former principal dancer with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company — tells us about the life of a dancer from behind-the-scenes, connecting us to modern dance with his personal inside account. This show gives a sort of 101 of modern dance and unique insights into Merce Cunningham‘s work and innovative dance in general. It’s a great story for people new to dance who may be curious (and perhaps even baffled) and gives new insights to those who are  familiar to Cunningham and Bel’s work.

Choreographer and brilliant showman Jérôme Bel Skypes in from Paris (very early in the morning after a red-eye) to tell us  in 1:34 what this story is all about and why anyone can understand it.

We promise you will be as charmed as we are.

In another simple, beautiful, and funny performance in Minneapolis in ’05, Bel captivated the audience with The Show Must Go On where a group of people onstage listening to music on headphones, well, get crazy. Check out this video of our favorite moment.

The performance Cédric Andrieux is Friday and Saturday 28th-29th at 8pm. Show information and tickets here.


 

Lucy Guerin links collapse of 35W, Melbourne bridge in powerful dance work

From Lucy Guerin: “My interest in making a work about the bridge is both technical and emotional. A lot of the movement was constructed using principles of contortion, compression and different tensions; as well as the human side of this story…”

Performing Arts Senior Curator Philip Bither talks about why he chose to bring the work Structure and Sadness by Lucy Guerin, which was inspired by Melbourne’s bridge collapse:

I was only a minute into my season preview talk for Walker staff members on a hot August day when our Performing Arts Coordinator, Emily Taylor, rushed in: “The 35W bridge has just collapsed…” The meeting immediately broke, everyone dispersing in all directions to watch news, call family, connect with friends. It seems like everyone in the Twin Cities remembers where they were when they heard about that surreal, wrenching moment: I immediately got on the phone with my wife who had just dropped our daughter off at the Triple Rock for an all ages show, just a few blocks from what had just turned into a smoking, twisted wreck of a bridge. The emotions remain part of us, embedded.

Two years later, when I arrived at New York’s filled-to-capacity Dance Theater Workshop to see for the first time the work of Australian Lucy Guerin, I wasn’t fully prepared for the beauty, nuance or grace of her movement exploration of another bridge collapse one that happened not four but 40 years earlier in her home city of Melbourne. In 1970, a section of the 8,500-foot span crossing the Yarra River broke loose, falling 165 feet and killing 35 people. From this starting point, Guerin began choreographing around the ideas of balance, tension and suspension — direct human parallels to the physics of a highly engineered structure like a bridge. While her piece Structure and Sadness isn’t a factual narrative, it does mine the resulting emotional devastation — or, as one critic put it, “the unknowable grief and chaos” — that rips into a community when such a trusted structure fails in an instance. I expect that resonance will be especially deep during this weekend’s Walker performances of the work.

But I think it also has universal resonance. My sister-in-law Madeleine, who lives in suburban New Jersey and rarely goes to see dance or performance work, had joined me for the DTW show in 2009. She was as moved and impressed as I was.  This was clearly an artistic experience that speaks to people beyond the dance world and beyond just those who live in cities that had experienced recent disasters.  Or as another writer, John Bailey, adroitly commented, “Catastrophe is both a social phenomenon and an individual experience, and it is in bridging these two realms, between the shared and the intensely private, that Guerin does justice to the charged territory with which the work deals.”

With Melbourne’s rebuilt Westgate Bridge soaring behind her, Guerin created a video created for the Walker about Structure and Sadness, where she links the tragedy in Melbourne with the 35W collapse.

From Guerin: “My interest in making a work about the bridge is both technical and emotional. A lot of the movement was constructed using principles of contortion, compression and different tensions; as well as the human side of this story…”

Structure and Sadness opens in the Walker’s McGuire Theater tomorrow night and runs through Saturday.

Click here for tickets, and show times.

 

Performing Arts season fires up with a free preview this Thursday

Congolese singers on customized motorcycles playing invented instruments. An all-nude examination of feminism and gender. A spoken word/hip-hop artist takes on environmental justice. How do these three performances — all coming up at the Walker — reflect global trends and ideas in new performance? Find out this Thursday night at 7pm as Senior Performing Arts […]

Congolese singers on customized motorcycles playing invented instruments. An all-nude examination of feminism and gender. A spoken word/hip-hop artist takes on environmental justice. How do these three performances — all coming up at the Walker — reflect global trends and ideas in new performance? Find out this Thursday night at 7pm as Senior Performing Arts curator Philip Bither shares his stories and insights, why he chooses these unique performances from around the world, how they get discovered on his travels, and what makes each of the performances tick — this is your chance to dive in.

As multimedia meets storytelling gathering you will  hear from the artists directly via video, some which they recorded on their laptops – at 3am from Paris! As a kind of primer for contemporary performing arts, it opens a window into the minds of some amazing artists, as well as global trends and diversity of these new performance works.

Stick around after the presentation and join the entire performing arts team – Philip, Julie, Doug, Michèle, and Emily for an onstage toast to a bold new season. Check out the McGuire Theater’s backstage areas, including the green room where artists like to leave their signatures on the wall, and migrate up to the Balcony Bar. We’ll be there available for chatting, question-answering, and sharing behind-the-scenes tales. We can even help you pick which performances you should see, and where you should eat before or after the show. What can we say? We are foodies in addition to loving performance. Come introduce yourself – we’ll be wearing our Walker I.D. lanyards.

I hope you will be able to visit us again this year to enjoy some of the outstanding performance we have lined up for this season!

For the entire calendar of events, click here.

I look forward to seeing you here on September 15!

Read more about the event here >>

A Target Free Thursday night event

Unveiled: the trailer for Dark Dark Dark’s live score for Fritz Lang’s “Spies”

Grab a blanket and cuddle bud and join us on the Open Field this Monday, August 22, as Summer Music and Movies makes the jump across Loring Park  to the Walker. At dusk we will listen to the commissioned new score by local musicians Dark Dark Dark  accompanying the film Spies while relaxing under the stars. Here’s a great […]

Grab a blanket and cuddle bud and join us on the Open Field this Monday, August 22, as Summer Music and Movies makes the jump across Loring Park  to the Walker. At dusk we will listen to the commissioned new score by local musicians Dark Dark Dark  accompanying the film Spies while relaxing under the stars.

Here’s a great teaser vid about the piece made by Dark Dark Dark made (or 3D as we like to call ‘em)… Check it out!

The Details: 89.3 The Current host Barb Abney spins from 7-8:30pm and at dusk the captivating chamber-folk sextet Dark Dark Dark unveil their new live score for Fritz Lang’s 1928 classic Spies joined by over 40 musicians, singers, and dancers (The Modern Times Spychestra!) for a spellbinding evening of silent film and live sounds.

Spies is a viscerally thrilling tale of a criminal mastermind and his love affair with his secret agent operative by Fritz Lang, the audacious director of Metropolis. This will be a rare exhibition of silent film―in all its virtuosity. See a clip of the film here.

To read more about the film, check out Film/Video intern Matt Levine’s great blog here.

The Walker’s moody and glamorous Open Field by night

Backstage and on the road with a Rock the Garden PA

  The number one question I hear when someone finds out I drive the bands around at Rock The Garden is: “How the (expletive) can I get a job like that!?” Actually, the process is quite simple. Deep inside the corridors of The Walker Art Center is a small room that contains a broken golden […]

 

The number one question I hear when someone finds out I drive the bands around at Rock The Garden is:

“How the (expletive) can I get a job like that!?” Actually, the process is quite simple.

Deep inside the corridors of The Walker Art Center is a small room that contains a broken golden harpsichord.  When WAC’s Performing Arts department is in need of a nuanced and compassionate Production Assistant, they collectively brush their hands against a few specific strings. All you have to do is recognize the particular vibrations and meet them at the correct unspoken space and time. For me, the experience happened something like this:

Me: (cautiously approaching my buddies): “So… I think I’m gonna move to Minneapolis.”

West Coast Musician: (approvingly) “Prince is from there.”

West Coast Musician’s Girlfriend: (amazed) “Target is too…”

Naturally, I moved to town for yearly tributes to the gods of rock.

Today, my fellow PA Jesse Leaneagh and I will be picking up bands from the airport, listening to their stories of being on the road, answering questions about Minneapolis (“So, how many people live here?… How cold does it really get?”) all the while trying to prepare them for this ‘little’ midwest rock show that brings 11,000+ people and is an impressive orchestration of solid work from the Walker staff. They always leave quite  impressed with the event: the crowd’s enthusiasm, the a excellent outdoor venue, and especially the stellar Tech staff that bring them the best possible support.

We drivers have a little trick in our back pocket we like to call The Glory Lap. If a band needs a pep talk, nothing wakes them up after a long flight (aside from the Sugar-Free Red Bulls they request) than a drive around the perimeter of the site, starting with a view of the hill from the top. It’s a cool scene indeed, an impressive stage/vendor set up, with the skyline as a backdrop.

Since I probably won’t have this blessed job forever, I took advantage of an opportunity to document this experience. I will be posting from time to time throughout the weekend to give you the inside scoop. You, the reader, can ask yourself questions like, “What is it like backstage and on the road?” - “Do the artists sing in the van or ask for blue M&M’s?” or “Did this guy luck into this gig or is his presence more like manifest destiny?” And hopefully I’ll have the answers!

See you at the big show,

Dave Good

DG with Sharon Jones and Gabriel Roth at RTG, 2010

Visionaries, iconoclasts, shapeshifters: announcing a bold new performing arts season

We have all been working very hard on putting together our next performing arts season for 2011/12, and are thrilled to share the details with you! This season features five premieres, six walker commissions, fresh global performance, and a  celebration of Merce Cunningham, as well as three mini-festivals: New Voices from the Congo, The Music of Vijay […]

We have all been working very hard on putting together our next performing arts season for 2011/12, and are thrilled to share the details with you!

This season features five premieres, six walker commissions, fresh global performance, and a  celebration of Merce Cunningham, as well as three mini-festivals: New Voices from the Congo, The Music of Vijay Iyer, and our annual Out There festival of alternative performance. See the full season listed here.

Highlights from performing arts curator Philip Bither:

“More than ever, the coming season reflects our commitment to support the freshest, most timely works and ideas by commissioning boundary-pushing artists—from large-scale visions by master innovators such as choreographer Bill T. Jones (in his own kind of tribute to Cunningham/Cage) to dynamic new creations by mid-career artists Big Dance Theater, Young Jean Lee, and Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and including voices new to Minnesota and the Walker such as Rabih Mroué and Brooklyn indie folk heroes the Lisps. Fierce visionaries, iconoclasts, shapeshifters—the transnational and hyper-connected artists of the Walker’s 2011–2012 performing arts season boldly take us into the future.”

Want more in-depth, insider info?

We kick off our season this September with the annual insider preview: join Philip Bither in the McGuire Theater to hear about the details of each show, why it was selected, what you can expect, history on the artists, and behind-the-scenes info from the makers themselves. Afterward we chat in the Balcony Bar over a drink and share our enthusiasm for the upcoming projects. Good Times!

Click here to browse the full lineup on the Walker calendar.

Look for the full season brochure in July. Tickets for the 2011-2012 season go on sale July 19.

Have you ever wondered what movies puppets like to watch?

We did too! So we asked Bedlam Theatre and more than a dozen local puppeteers to come hang out in the McGuire and create a wild puppet world populated by 150 of the Twin Cities’ weirdest, most arresting puppets, large and small. They’re all sitting in the theater (or hanging from the ceiling) and watching a mash-up of their […]

We did too!

So we asked Bedlam Theatre and more than a dozen local puppeteers to come hang out in the McGuire and create a wild puppet world populated by 150 of the Twin Cities’ weirdest, most arresting puppets, large and small. They’re all sitting in the theater (or hanging from the ceiling) and watching a mash-up of their favorite puppet films, created by filmmaker Ragnar Freidank, a collaborator of Julian Crouch from the UK troupe Improbable.

We are calling it – Puppet Cinema for Puppets – An Unlikely Installation, and it’s presented in association with Improbable’s The Devil and Mister Punch, May 19-21.

Join us at two free open house events, where more than a dozen featured local puppet creators will be on hand to meet and talk all manner of puppet subjects.

When:

Thursday Evening May 19,  7-8pm

Saturday Afternoon May 21, 11am-5pm

Open prior to all the Devil and Mister Punch performances and for one full special day on Saturday May 21, 2011 during gallery hours (11am – 5pm).

Copresented with Bedlam Theatre and the National Performance Network (NPN).

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