Blogs The Green Room Max Wirsing

Max is a dancer in Minneapolis.

Sit Where You Want To!

For those who use the Walker website for purchasing tickets, we’re rolling out a feature for Perfroming Arts events.  For shows with assigned seats, we now invite you to pick where you sit! You chose the area of the theater you’d like to sit in, select the ticket type (Walker Member or Non-Member) and then […]

For those who use the Walker website for purchasing tickets, we’re rolling out a feature for Perfroming Arts events.  For shows with assigned seats, we now invite you to pick where you sit!

seating-plan-demo

You chose the area of the theater you’d like to sit in, select the ticket type (Walker Member or Non-Member) and then find a seat that not occupied. Much like purchasing airfare online, the website fills your seat selection with a tiny red avatar to show your selection. Then all you have to do is click the ‘Order Seats’ button, plug in your payment information, and then show up for the performance.

The upcoming New World Dance: New York, and Hoipolloi Theatre are the final events of the 08/09 Performing Arts season that have assigned seats (Dobet Gnahoré and Jason Moran in May will both be general admission).  So try it out, let us know how it works for you.

Dig Deeper: More out of Thin Air

Choreographer Donna Uchizono’s much acclaimed Thin Air will be coming to the Walker this Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 pm (tickets here).  We asked her a few questions about her movement, physics, and Buddhism.  WAC: Many press quotes mention your “unique movement vocabulary” – could you unpack that a little?  What is your dance background, and what makes […]

Thin Air

Choreographer Donna Uchizono’s much acclaimed Thin Air will be coming to the Walker this Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 pm (tickets here).  We asked her a few questions about her movement, physics, and Buddhism. 

WAC: Many press quotes mention your “unique movement vocabulary” – could you unpack that a little?  What is your dance background, and what makes your personal style unique?

Donna Uchizono: I have been always interested in the research of a movement language that is appropriate to the work itself, so I create a movement vocabulary “unique” to each piece.  I do not come into rehearsal with a set movement. With each new work I strive to create a new vocabulary that is driven by the concept or the work itself.  I normally use a concept or an idea as a springboard for material, then I work with the dancers in creating a vocabulary.  There is a point in the process where the dance itself starts to speak and then it’s about the dialogue you have with the work itself.  Sometimes the piece wants to go in directions that you find surprising and in a direction away from where you thought it would or should go.

One aspect of the movement vocabulary that deserves “unpacking” as you put it, is that my movement vocabulary is so much more difficult to do than it appears and it certainly is true in this case. The dancers that have worked with me have always remarked how much harder the movement is to do than it looks. Levi Gonzalez, a dancer who worked with me for a very long time used to comment, “The audience has no idea how hard this really is.”  

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFu0-h5nhNQ[/youtube]

The opening of Thin Air seems so simple but requires so much focus and bravery really. The dancers cannot have one second of distraction or they are lost. And on top of it, one is perched above the ground in complete blackness, with no spatial orientation.  It’s frightening really.  And we found out during the tech of the premiere that one of the dancers actually has vertigo. Wild.  When they finally get to come down they still can’t “touch” the ground and have to dance on an impossible-to-dance-on surface that is slippery and dangerous– and when that surface is finally removed, they have to do this technically difficult minute phrase. 

I don’t intend to make things technically difficult. I really don’t. My movement vocabulary tends to end up challenging a dancer in technical ways that are not obvious.  The virtuosity in my work is very subtle.

WAC: Thin Air is billed as drawing inspiration from a Buddhist tenet of emptiness. What does the tenet say, what is your relationship this principle, and how does that translate into movement?   

DU:  It’s funny sometimes… because some people assume I grew up Buddhist.  But I grew up Christian, actually the daughter of a Methodist Minister.  I have had a meditation practice (or sitting practice) that comes out of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for a long time and then I became interested in taking some of the study courses.  So in 2006 I started taking a class on the Heart Sutra.   Studying the Heart Sutra is a way of understanding how Buddhism understands reality.   The Heart Sutra contains one of the most important ideas of Mahayana Buddhism–the principle of emptiness–and like many before me, I was quite struck with the study of its profound statement: “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form”.  How does that translate to movement?…hhmm…you’ll have to come and see.

WAC: The combination of physics, Buddhism, Fred Frith’s score, and Michael Casselli’s projection seems to be a lot of information to put into a piece about emptiness.  What is the connection of these elements for you, and where, if anywhere, did you find difficulties bringing them together? 

 

DU:  I started creating this piece in 2006 and at that time I was taking this course on The Heart Sutra.  While taking this class I realized that there were a lot of similarities between physics and the Buddhist tenet of emptiness.  I started to be fascinated with this.  When you come out of sitting in meditation for a long time, your perception of reality– or rather your experience of reality and the sense of time changes.  I think that sense has leaked into the piece.

Like the Buddhist perspective, physicists state that reality is a mental construction, an idealization, which we have taken to be true.  So taking the step from that idea of projected realities to ideas of projected images in space (using video) was a natural one.

 

According to Buddhist theory, reality is “virtual” in nature.  What appears to be a “real” object initially, like trees and people, actually are transient illusions that result from a limited mode of awareness. So for example, I wanted to play with this idea of the “virtual” versus “real” and while thinking about it I had this idea of using the video image projected onto the performer in a way that plays with questions of what is real and what is virtual.  The virtual layer of the video image makes the performer look more hyper real and dream-like simultaneously. And sometimes one cannot tell which is the live performer versus the virtual one. I also played with the idea that emptiness doesn’t mean nothingness. I had this idea of things existing in space even though we don’t see them until there is an event in which they are revealed.  This led to this whole other section of the dance.

 

 

 I think it’s important to clarify that I use concepts that I am interested in as a springboard, a point of departure from which to explore.  So the piece is not “about” emptiness, but is inspired by the contemplation of that.  I feel that one brain does not–or I guess I should say, that I do not–have the answers to anything, I don’t think anyone is that smart, so in the rehearsal process you connect to something that is larger than just you or the dancers or the collaborators.  You listen to the process and that listening guides you into something that is bigger than you. And the audience comes in and enlarges the process and the sharing and dialogue continues into another experience.

 

 

Performances of Thin Air are at 8:00 pm, Thursday – Saturday, April 2-4.

Thurs. $18 ($15 Members),  Fri-Sat $25 ($21 Members)

Purchase tickets online here, or call the Walker Box Office at 612.375.7600 

 

Flickers of the Festival

I just went to Flickr.com and searched for Faustin Linyekula and some of the images that came up were pretty amazing. I think I got caught up in the excitement of the party / social aspect of this performance, and overlooked how aesthetically exciting this show will be. Click here for a slideshow.

I just went to Flickr.com and searched for Faustin Linyekula and some of the images that came up were pretty amazing. I think I got caught up in the excitement of the party / social aspect of this performance, and overlooked how aesthetically exciting this show will be.

Click here for a slideshow.

The word is In:Site/Out

A piece in the New York Times this morning highlighted a New York spectacle that is being deemed an “installation/street art hybrid”. Melena Ryzik’s article; Taking it to the Streets, is about a work by Yehuda Duenyas entitled “ One Million Forgotten Moments” which seats an audience in a street front window that has been […]

A piece in the New York Times this morning highlighted a New York spectacle that is being deemed an “installation/street art hybrid”. Melena Ryzik’s article; Taking it to the Streets, is about a work by Yehuda Duenyas entitled “ One Million Forgotten Moments” which seats an audience in a street front window that has been refitted to look like a jewel-box theater. Not only is the performance laden with actors, dancers, chorus girls, a skateboarding team and a magician, but it also turns its eye out on the public. So the random pedestrian flicking his cigarette to the curb and the cab driver picking his nose in his taxi, when framed by the proscenium of the storefront window, become monumental performances.

In reading the article I couldn’t help but think that this is an performance theme that I’m hearing about with more and more frequency. Actors and dancers are taking our notion of what a theater space is and stretching those assumptions– or in some cases completely blowing them apart.

When Philip Bither gave his introductory talk about the Walker’s Performing Arts season, he talked about this being one of the curatorial threads he used in putting together this year’s season. What he’s calling the In:Site/Out series (Gob Squad, Miguel Gutierrez’s Powerful People, Claude Wampler, Faustin Linyekula, and Back to Back Theatre) will all be doing what Duenyas has done in New York by redefining audience/performer relationships and restructuring the way we think about theatrical space.

I think that there’s a certain sense of pride in knowing that the things that are turning heads in the Big Apple, the theater capital of America, are also turning heads here in…. well… the Minniapple.

We came, we saw, we GOBBED.

Many will remember that in March the Walker’s film department screened Melody Gilbert’s film Urban Explorers– a documentary about a mischievous group of people probing the deteriorating history of urban environments. Gilbert isn’t the only one interested citywide reconnaissance missions. The themes of urban landscape exploration and documentation will be back at the Walker with […]

Many will remember that in March the Walker’s film department screened Melody Gilbert’s film Urban Explorersa documentary about a mischievous group of people probing the deteriorating history of urban environments. Gilbert isn’t the only one interested citywide reconnaissance missions. The themes of urban landscape exploration and documentation will be back at the Walker with this year’s Performing Arts season opener: Super Night Shot by the UK/Germany’s Gob Squad.

The Gob Squad group will hit the street an hour before the performance, armed with video cameras. While they’re out, we, the audience will be tipping back a drink in 20.21′s restaurant lounge. They’ll split up into four pairs, each group with a performer and a videographer. They’ll scour Minneapolis’ corners, and return to a hero’s welcome (us… partying in at 20.21…. armed with Silly String and confetti) with an hour’s worth of videotaped urban exploration. Then the performance itself will be a four-channel live mixing of the previous hour’s Minneapolitan exploration. It’ll be an amazing way to get a new perspective on your home town. PLUS, you get a free drink at 20.21 with your ticket!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ou8d4qxpvnc[/youtube]

Philip Bither talks performance.

The Walker’s 07/08 Performing Arts Season is just getting kicked off. Trumping last year’s 25-performance season, the 07/08 season steps it up with 27 music, dance, theater and performing arts shows. On Thursday, September 6th at 7pm, as part of the Target Free Thursday Night events, Performing Arts Senior Curator Philip Bither will talk aboutthe […]

The Walker’s 07/08 Performing Arts Season is just getting kicked off. Trumping last year’s 25-performance season, the 07/08 season steps it up with 27 music, dance, theater and performing arts shows.

On Thursday, September 6th at 7pm, as part of the Target Free Thursday Night events, Performing Arts Senior Curator Philip Bither will talk aboutthe upcoming season. He’ll introduce this year’s artists and unpack a little of what goes on in his brain when he curates a year’s worth of performance.

This year, the folks in the Walker’s Performing Arts Department put together a short video trailer, just to whet your whistle:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avSThs0kDWo[/youtube]