From on stage, back stage and the theater seats, the Performing Arts blog illuminates the intersecting worlds of dance, theater, and music.
Assembling an international all-star cast for his October 18 concert Jherek Bischoff: Composed, Bischoff tapped musicians at the top of their form, from Icelandic vocalist Ólöf Arnalds to Bay Area drummer Greg Saunier (Deerhoof), Norwegian singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche to the Twin Cities’ own Channy Leaneagh. Performing with Bischoff just days before her own nationally acclaimed […]
Assembling an international all-star cast for his October 18 concert Jherek Bischoff: Composed, Bischoff tapped musicians at the top of their form, from Icelandic vocalist Ólöf Arnalds to Bay Area drummer Greg Saunier (Deerhoof), Norwegian singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche to the Twin Cities’ own Channy Leaneagh. Performing with Bischoff just days before her own nationally acclaimed band, Poliça, releases its sophomore album, Leanagh agreed to lead an email conversation with Bischoff. Their casual exchange hit topics from the nature of collaboration to musical inspirations, nervous nail-biting to bedtime music.
Channy Leaneagh: I’ll start.
Jherek Bischoff: Oh good! Starting is always the hardest part! Thank you.
Leaneagh: Hello, Jherek,
Bischoff: Ahoy, Channy!
Leaneagh: I’m biting my nails at the thought of interviewing another musician because it’s my least favorite part of this line of work.
Bischoff: I feel you! I every once in awhile say yes to a thing and then realize it’s pretty far out of my comfort zone, and then I freak out a little bit. Funny about biting your nails. Do you really do that? I do. It’s a disgusting habit. I have quit several times and then something really intense happens, like a big show or something, and I go back to it. Yuck! Darn!
Leaneagh: Ha, yes I do bite my nails. Thought I’d quit, but this relaxed interview seems to have brought it out in me again! My hands were well washed and my nails will grow back, so no harm done really. Now, let’s get on with this. You did a beautiful piece for the Kronos Quartet this past July called A Semiperfect Number. Did you have any specific imagery or story behind the composition?
Bischoff: Were you there!? Man, if you were I wish we would have hung!
Leaneagh: I wasn’t there, but thanks to the Internet I have been able to watch and listen to it a bunch.
Bischoff: Well, thanks for the nice words. A Semiperfect Number is another one of these tunes that has been kind of floating around my head for a long time. The song is sort of like two songs with a little connecty bit. The first half of the tune is the part that has been stewing. I wrote it, like a lot of my tunes, on ukulele! The second part came to me a couple days before my deadline. I wrote that part on violin and cello.
The name of the tune refers to the number 40. We played the piece at Lincoln Center in celebration of their 40th anniversary. I was truly hoping people were not going to think I was referring to my own piece… I thought that could sound pretty egotistical! No one said anything…
It’s funny that you mention imagery. This, like most of my music, sounds pretty cinematic, but I rarely have a connection to anything visual until long after I write a piece. I’m not a visual person at all. I am just a feel or mood kind of music maker. My orchestral writing is certainly informed by soundtracks more than classical music so a lot of people mention getting pictures in their heads when listening to my music.
Leaneagh: I’ve been enjoying your collaboration with David Byrne on “Eyes” and Soko and Zac Pennington on “Young & Lovely.” When you are entering into collaboration do you usually work with people you know or have met before, starting the collaboration out of friendship, or do you seek people out from afar and then get to know them through the collaboration?
Bischoff: I love to do a lot of both! Zac and Soko are both friends of mine, and we have a long history of collaborating with each other, but in the case of David Byrne, I had never met him. My big influences as a collaborator are Björk, Duke Ellington, and Mingus. These people could put together these monster bands and utilize people with extremely different backgrounds and musical vocabularies, yet at the end of the day it still sounded like a Mingus composition or a Björk song. So when I set out to collaborate, I do it in basically two ways.
1. I write some material, and then I try to imagine the absolute perfect person to sing the song. Then I reach out to them and cross my fingers that they’ll give me the time of day. This has worked really well for me, and I think it is the fact that I am asking these people to do what they are great at. I’m not asking David Byrne to sing in a strange octave or to bust out an oboe solo or something. I am asking him to do something that I know that he is totally awesome at. So, when people have listened to the tunes and heard what I have to say, I think it feels natural for them to say yes.
2. Sometimes I play a show at a festival or something and I have an opportunity to have a guest vocalist that has a voice that I am not entirely familiar with, but they seem like rad folks, or they are friends or friends of friends. In this case, I will listen to some of their recordings and really try to think of things in my repertoire where I think they could really feel natural. I also, most of the time, will arrange a tune or two for the ensemble so that they can get in their comfort zone and have fun with it. That way they can sing some of their own music in a new way and sing a new tune!
So I do both in hopes that it will lead to longer relationships and friendships. I just try to be around awesome people and I try to make it really easy and fun for them!
We haven’t met yet! But I’m listening to your music and getting a feel for your range and the sound of your voice so I can try to have an informed idea of what is going to work best for us. I am excited about it. I like your voice!
Leaneagh: I agree with that sentiment: “Try to be around awesome people and make it really easy and fun for them.” It’s a beautiful way to go about most things.
How will you go about the Liquid Music Series collaboration? Are you building pieces around specific musicians in the group or will each piece involve all the musicians?
Bischoff: Well, most of the ensemble members I don’t know and will probably not get the chance to become familiar with, besides Greg Saunier, who will be playing drums. I am extremely familiar with that wild man! He is one of my favorite musicians on the planet, and he always just makes stuff sound like real music.
Most of the pieces will involve all of the musicians and one singer at a time. I try to write my arrangements to leave a lot of room for individuals to express themselves if they want to. We usually discuss at rehearsal and decide who is excited about playing a certain solo and stuff. It’s just like how I work with the singers. I would never ask a person to shred an atonal, disgusting-sounding solo if they were not excited about doing it, because then it’s just going to sound stupid. So, I try to identify who in the group is the goofball, who’s the improviser, who’s the shy one, etc. Then we decide together to make everyone comfortable and excited! It’s a lot of little decisions, but when you try to stay on your toes and use your knowledge and experience, all of those decisions can really result in an ecstatic music love fest.
I am really excited about the vocalists for this show! I feel like they each bring something totally different to the table and everyone is a total one of a kind voice and personality. That is always super exciting to me! I will be doing some arrangements of the singers own tunes and they will sing a tune of mine. It’s super fun to get my hands on other peoples songs and arrange for them. Even though each singers project is vastly different, because I am doing the arranging for a specific ensemble, it all becomes very cohesive and it works really well together.
Leaneagh: So glad we did this interview, in fact, because now I am less nervous and way more excited for the show. Are there questions you wish interviewers would ask you, but never do, in relation to your music?
Leaneagh: There isn’t really a question I wish for but I am always happy to hear a new question.
Last question: Do you listen to music when you are going to sleep? What is the most soothing music to you these days?
Bischoff: I used to all the time. Do you?
Leaneagh: The producer of Poliça, Ryan Olson, turned me on to listening to [NASA's] The Symphonies of the Planets while going to sleep. It’s really helpful on the road to make any place feel like home.
Bischoff: I honestly don’t listen to a ton of music. I work on music all day and all night, so lately I just like silence. On tour I listen to a lot more music and a lot when I go to bed. That is because it’s really hard for me to write or get work done on tour, so I use that as my time to soak in new. I am pretty into ambient music in general. I like Colleen, William Basinski, Eno, all that type of stuff.
Jherek Bischoff: Composed – copresented with the SPCO’s Liquid Music series and in association with the American Swedish Institute and Minnesota Public Radio – takes place Friday, October 18, 2013, at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul.
Arguably the most buzzworthy moment of Rock the Garden this year — competing with Dan Deacon’s parking ramp rave and a homecoming set by native son (of sorts) Bob Mould — was a controversy-stirring performance by Low. Instead of giving an audio tour of its latest release, The Invisible Way (Sub Pop), the Duluth indie […]
Arguably the most buzzworthy moment of Rock the Garden this year — competing with Dan Deacon’s parking ramp rave and a homecoming set by native son (of sorts) Bob Mould — was a controversy-stirring performance by Low. Instead of giving an audio tour of its latest release, The Invisible Way (Sub Pop), the Duluth indie trio filled its entire 27-minute set with one song, expanding the 14-minute 1996 tune “Do You Know How to Waltz?” by nearly double. As if by way of explanation, Low front man Alan Sparhawk concluded the set with three now-infamous words: “Drone, not drones.” Asked about it later that night, he told journalist Chris Riemenschneider, simply, “I got it off a friend’s bumper-sticker, and thought it was fitting.” Now that the dust has settled, we got in touch with that friend — Minneapolis’ Luke Heiken — to hear more.
A fixture in the Twin Cities music scene for years, Heiken ran ScheduleTwo.com, a site (and record label) that up until mid-2008 livestreamed concerts from local music venues. One day in February, Heiken was playing around with an industrial sticker maker and came up with a phrase he liked: “Drone, not drones.” That same night, Sparhawk tweeted, “Mim sez these drones are bullshit. That’s all I gotta know. #potus” — presumably a response to news of a leaked white paper on the Obama administration’s justification for “targeted killings” using unmanned aerial vehicles. Heiken tweeted back, sharing his slogan and, the next day, an image of his sticker. He liked the phrase so much he bought the URL dronenotdrones.com and hatched a plan to do something with it — a benefit show or compilation album to raise funds for groups working to help the innocent victims of the war on terror. On June 12, he tweeted to Low, asking if the band might be interested in such a project.
Fastforward three days, when Sparhawk on stage “dropped that
#TruthBomb on #rockthegarden,” as Heiken put it on Twitter. He wasn’t in the crowd, but Sparhawk’s words — which he later credited to Heiken — prompted action: “I really need to get on it now that Al has forced my hand by tipping it.”
“I was inspired by people caring about the message and wanted to strike while the iron was hot, so knowing releasing music would take a while to put together, I made the t-shirts,” he says. Proceeds from the shirts, as well as the compilation and benefit concert he’s hoping to pull off, will go to either Doctors Without Borders or the Red Crescent, or both. With bands and labels approaching him, he’s making good progress towards his dreamed-of Drone Not Drones recording, which, like the benefit show, he hopes to see released this winter. He’s hoping it’ll be released on vinyl, but acknowledges it may have to be a digital release instead. He’s already confirmed the participation of Twin Cities artists Take Acre, Paul Metzger, and Peace Drone (a side project by members of Flavor Crystals and Magic Castles), German musician/sound artist Stephan Mathieu, and Sparkhawk himself, and he hopes to have more confirmed bands to announce soon.
While Heiken’s stance on drones is nuanced — his personal view isn’t as bumpersticker-ready as the slogan on his t-shirts — his take on the mini-controversy over Low’s Rock the Garden set isn’t.
“I’m told [drones] are important to track down terrorists and to keep me and my family safe,” he says. “But there is a line crossed when we fly these things into sovereign nations and use explosives to kill people, without a trial, who are believed to be present and write off the loss of life and limb for any people caught in the blast.” He takes issue with the lack of clear governance of drone use. While manned flights are heavily regulated, he says it’s the “wild west” where drones are concerned.
He calls the flap over Low’s droning set, however, purely “ridiculous.”
“If I got on the Internet every time I saw a band I was bored by,” he says of the online furor, before trailing off. “This shouldn’t be a tragedy. People creating Twitter accounts for it? I’ve never seen people dislike a set so much they’d go out of their way to do that.”
Heiken has seen Low perform “Do You Know How to Waltz?” before. “It’s one of my favorite musical memories: sitting with my now-wife under a blanket in the dark listening to that song. It’s ridiculous that so many are complaining about that at a modern art museum. Even without that, if Low played their normal set, the squares would’ve been turned off. Nothing they could’ve done would’ve made people who where there for Metric or Dan Deacon happy. But it made lots of Low fans happy.”
Record label exec and music curator Tim Carr’s successes on the national level are well known: as an A&R rep for Capitol, Warner Bros., and Dreamworks he worked with bands from David Byrne to Megadeth to Cibo Matto, and, most famously, he’s credited with signing the Beastie Boys to Capitol. But news of Carr’s death in […]
Record label exec and music curator Tim Carr’s successes on the national level are well known: as an A&R rep for Capitol, Warner Bros., and Dreamworks he worked with bands from David Byrne to Megadeth to Cibo Matto, and, most famously, he’s credited with signing the Beastie Boys to Capitol. But news of Carr’s death in Thailand last week at age 57 hit us closer to home: Carr got his start in the Twin Cities, including a stint at the Walker Art Center from 1978 to 1981, during which he produced the M-80 festival, widely noted as a key moment in Minneapolis’ rise as a music mecca.
Raised in Hopkins, Carr started out as a music critic for the Minneapolis Tribune in the late ’70s, before coming to the Walker as associate director of Performing Arts. He worked on programs still talked about today, including projects with Brian Eno, David Byrne, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. But he’s perhaps best remembered for his role as organizer of M-80 (Marathon ’80: A New-No-Now Festival). Music writer Jim Walsh recently reflected on the Walker-sponsored festival, which was held at the University of Minnesota Fieldhouse on September 22 and 23, 1979:
With the scent of sawdust permeating the airplane hangar-size barn, the weekend served to simultaneously bid adieu to the ’70s and light the fuse on the ’80s with performances from new music pioneers the Contortions, DEVO (performing as DOVE), the Fleshtones, the Suburbs, NNB, the Girls, the Commandos, the dB’s, Fingerprints, Monochrome Set, and many more, all joined under the same flag of raw, no frills, forward-pushing rock-as-art.
The festival was hugely influential for a generation of musicians, notes Walsh, including Hüsker Dü’s Bob Mould, who said it felt like “something historic was happening.” Mould wrote: “In my mind, it was equal to Woodstock or Altamont or the Beatles at Shea Stadium. There was a great scene building in the Twin Cities.”
A focus on that scene and the artists at the center of it are what Chuck Helm remembers of his time working at the Walker with Carr. Now director of Performing Arts at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Helm is the former technical director for Walker Performing Arts (and, later, music consultant). “As an A&R rep, Tim could hustle with the best of them anywhere, anytime but also champion the artists he cared so deeply about with a passion few could match,” he recalled. “He was a fun-loving force, always with his finger firmly on the pulse of what was happening and with an incredible entrepreneurial flair for spreading his enthusiasm to others.
“He stirred up action at the Walker as well as all around the Twin Cities where his presence at the Longhorn or First Avenue meant that the party was truly on. As fantastic as his knack was for what was breaking in the world of music, Tim was equally at home with artists in all fields like Cindy Sherman and Bill T. Jones, among many others, who all greatly respected his spirit and skills.”
After moving to New York in the early ’80s, Carr stayed connected to the Minnesota music scene, including through his work with Minneapolis-based alt-rock band Babes In Toyland. Drummer Lori Barbero recalls that Carr, who signed the band to Reprise, was friends with many contemporary artists, eventually introducing the band to Cindy Sherman, who appeared in a Babes video and whose photographs appear on the covers of two albums.
Philip Bither, the Walker’s Senior Curator of Performing Arts, didn’t overlap with Carr at the Walker, but he’s long admired him, both in Bither’s pre-Walker years as associate director/music curator at Brooklyn Academy of Music and after Carr moved to New York. “He had a real impact both as a music curator in the not-for-profit world and in the commercial recording business, not easy worlds to straddle,” he said. “He kind of defined the free-wheeling, deal-making, fiercely independent A&R guy, but one who retained a very strong artistic sensibility and a deep love for vanguard music and art makers.”
Carr’s career saw diverse music projects, from a few music programs he curated at BAM before Bither’s stint there to, most recently, Ramakien, a “rak opera” directed by Rirkrit Tiravanija that Carr ultimately produced at the Lincoln Center Festival (with Festival Director Nigel Redden, for whom he had curated a number of music events when Nigel was the Walker’s director of Performing Arts).
“Tim was a force and an intriguing, magnetic presence,” Bither said. “He made a lot of great things happen for musicians and artists, especially from the ’70s through the ’9os. He will be missed.”
In its newest performance, Where (We) Live, Brooklyn-based Sō Percussion gets personal, looking at the physcial, emotional, and symbolic manifestations of “home.” As the chamber quartet (Eric Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, and Jason Treuting) writes on its website, “Using our studio in Brooklyn as a laboratory, we often create music that is about ‘place:’ […]
In its newest performance, Where (We) Live, Brooklyn-based Sō Percussion gets personal, looking at the physcial, emotional, and symbolic manifestations of “home.” As the chamber quartet (Eric Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, and Jason Treuting) writes on its website, “Using our studio in Brooklyn as a laboratory, we often create music that is about ‘place:’ a city, our immediate sonic environment, even how the past resonates where we are today.” In advance of Friday and Saturday’s world-premiere performances of the Walker-commissioned piece (and Thursday night’s artist’s talk with the group), Sō’s Adam Sliwinski invites us into the intimacy of the Sō Percussion studio and shares snapshots of the objects there and the stories they tell.
I bought these shelves a few years ago. Every once in a while, we become completely overloaded with gear. The place is a gigantic mess most of the time, no matter how much we organize it. So like all New Yorkers, vertical storage is the name of the game. Top shelf is a lovely assortment of tin cans; next down are old planks from Reich’s Music for Pieces of Wood and [David] Lang’s The So-Called Laws of Nature. They really come in handy. After that are almglocken and glass bottles, and finally a cymbal rack.
Eric’s table setup. When So creates music together from scratch, each of us fills our tables with stuff that interests us. Then, as the occasion arises, we fit it in to the music that’s congealing. Inevitably, each of us needs to have a little spread of toys handy. The keyboard here is from an insane piece that Dan Trueman wrote for us. He started the laptop orchestra at Princeton. Eric has been delving into Ableton Live within our pieces.
Toy piano from my setup. I have a little woodblock there for one of the songs in particular. I found myself coming back to the sound of the toy piano over and over again during this project. There’s something naïve about the instrument, but it also creates this perfectly percussive color.
Josh’s table setup. I wouldn’t say that Josh is a “hoarder,” but let’s just say that he has a certain obsession with collecting and placing bits of gear in his setup. As I understand it, these pedals chain to each other in a gnarly flow of causality. On the left is a little notebook that he’s been keeping since the beginning of the project: every sketch, every little experiment is in there. I, on the other hand, am lucky to have the same music in my hand from last week.
Jason’s table setup. Jason is the Paganini of the deskbells. Some days, equal parts Brooklyn coffee and Sweet Action beer are required to get through.
A door. Jason makes really beautiful Rauschenberg-esque collages and objects. We’ve been using this door as a projection surface for the videos in Where (we) Live. Jason once made a collage for Merce Cunningham as a gift that Merce placed in John Cage’s rock garden in their apartment. Also, we visited Robert Rauschenberg’s younger sister in Louisiana. Her husband is a big game hunter, so their walls are decorated equally with priceless works of art and giant bear heads.
A view out of our window in the studio. That’s the Empire State Building. When we first moved into this space, I set my desk up with this view and stared out the window, especially at nighttime. I grew up in the South and the Midwest, and the idea that the Empire State Building might be outside the window of my own percussion studio where I made this amazing music was beyond my capacity to imagine. It still strains it.
It’s been seven years since we launched the Walker Blogs, and with the release of our new homepage back in December we thought it was finally time for a refresh. You’ll notice that the design has changed to align with our new website, and we’ve used the opportunity to rebrand each of our core blogs, […]
It’s been seven years since we launched the Walker Blogs, and with the release of our new homepage back in December we thought it was finally time for a refresh. You’ll notice that the design has changed to align with our new website, and we’ve used the opportunity to rebrand each of our core blogs, focus our offerings, and give readers a better sense of what they’ll find inside. Don’t worry though, the name might have changed, but this is still the blog of the Performing Arts department. And as such, we remain committed to bringing you views of Walker performance and performers, both onstage and backstage, plus the space for community discussion through our ongoing series of overnight reviews penned by Twin Cities artists and critics. We hope you like the new look and come back to see what we’re up to!
After opening night of a three-performance run of the Lisp’s musical FUTURITY, we got on stage to take a look at the set design, specifically the “Steam Brain,” the artificial intelligence device Civil War soldier Julian Munro tries to create in the performance. The Brain, a percussion sculpture/assemblage art piece, was built by Lisps drummer […]
After opening night of a three-performance run of the Lisp’s musical FUTURITY, we got on stage to take a look at the set design, specifically the “Steam Brain,” the artificial intelligence device Civil War soldier Julian Munro tries to create in the performance. The Brain, a percussion sculpture/assemblage art piece, was built by Lisps drummer Eric Farber out of objects from dumpster-diving missions, alley walks, and sessions of flea market haggling. Elements of the contraption with moving parts were made by Farber with help from Peter Doucette, Stephen Setterlun, and the staff of the American Repertory Theater scene shop. The show’s iconic backdrop, a rusted, painted sheet of metal, as well as other visual elements — including books and letters from the era — are the work of production designer Emily Orling. Here’s an up-close look at what you’ll see on stage during Friday and Saturday night’s performances of FUTURITY.
The Rock the Garden 2012 lineup was announced at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul Wednesday. Here’s who’s playing this year’s show: 5. Howler, Minneapolis, Minn. 4. tUne-yArDs, Oakland, Calif. 3. Doomtree, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn. 2. Trampled by Turtles, Duluth, Minn. 1. The Hold Steady, Brooklyn, New York Don’t miss our interview with the Hold […]
The Rock the Garden 2012 lineup was announced at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul Wednesday. Here’s who’s playing this year’s show:
5. Howler, Minneapolis, Minn.
4. tUne-yArDs, Oakland, Calif.
3. Doomtree, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.
2. Trampled by Turtles, Duluth, Minn.
1. The Hold Steady, Brooklyn, New York
Don’t miss our interview with the Hold Steady’s Craig Finn, who discusses the Twin Cities music scene, his new brew, and the secret to his songwriting.
Update: Rock the Garden is now sold out. Tickets go on sale to Walker and MPR members Wednesday, April 18, at 4 pm online through Etix.com.
Walker/MPR membership ID numbers will be required for all pre-sale purchases.
Remaining tickets will go on sale to the general public on Friday, April 20, at 12 noon.
Walker Membership: 612.375.7655 or membership.walkerart.org. MPR Membership: 1.800.228.7123
The Art Shanty Projects — the Minnesota ritual that for eight winters has had artists reimagining ice-fishing shacks as tiny community art centers — is, for me, one of the most amazing features of the creative landscape here. Instead of merely enduring Minnesota’s inarguably harsh winters, participating ASP artists embrace it through wildly creative interventions […]
The Art Shanty Projects — the Minnesota ritual that for eight winters has had artists reimagining ice-fishing shacks as tiny community art centers — is, for me, one of the most amazing features of the creative landscape here. Instead of merely enduring Minnesota’s inarguably harsh winters, participating ASP artists embrace it through wildly creative interventions on ice. Given its uniqueness — which attracted the attention of NPR yesterday — it’s no surprise that we bring artists out to Medicine Lake whenever we can. Here’s one example: When Belgian dancer/choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker was in town for the Walker’s 2008 performance of FASE: Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich, she found herself out on the ice with assistant Performing Arts curator Michèle Steinwald and the dance company’s director, Kees Eijrond. Why they were there, in Steinwald’s words: “so we could participate in trying to break the world record for the longest bunny hop on a frozen lake (formerly held by Minnesota before Wisconsin took it away). That is why Anne is making bunny ears with her hands. We were so cold!”
The 2012 edition of the Art Shanty Projects closes February 5.
Today is Merce Cunningham Day in Chicago, thanks to a proclamation from the city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel — himself a former dancer. Coinciding with this weekend’s performances at Columbia College, the decree celebrates the late “Cunningham’s extraordinary love of dance” and honors “the last dancers he chose and trained for the company.” In addition to […]
Today is Merce Cunningham Day in Chicago, thanks to a proclamation from the city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel — himself a former dancer. Coinciding with this weekend’s performances at Columbia College, the decree celebrates the late “Cunningham’s extraordinary love of dance” and honors “the last dancers he chose and trained for the company.”
In addition to being President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff, Emanuel is a dance enthusiast who turned down a scholarship from the city’s prestigious ballet and instead studied dance at Sarah Lawrence. He reportedly took ballet classes up until the birth of his second child. The New Yorker sums up his experience:
Emanuel received dance training in high school, and danced for a year at Sarah Lawrence after turning down a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet School; as a freshman, he appeared in a modern-dance piece called “Desire.”
As mayor, Emanuel has promoted dance heavily, most notably through this August’s Chicago Dancing Festival. He was named an honorary board member of the Joffrey this June for being “a vocal proponent of elevating Chicago’s performing and visual arts community to even higher international recognition.”
In his proclamation, Emanuel noted that the Cunningham company — which brought its final Legacy Tour to the Walker early this month — has performed numerous times in Chicago, “a city that Merce himself stated has ‘wonderful audience for dance.”
“[I]t’s impossible not to be moved by this news,” writes New York Times dance critic Alastair Macaulay. “It’s thrilling to find a leading political figure showing this degree of appreciation for a historic moment in dance.”
Here’s the full text of the proclamation (pdf):
OFFICE OF THE MAYOR, CITY OF CHICAGO
RAHM EMANUEL, Mayor
WHEREAS, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company is making its final appearance in Chicago November 18-19 near the completion of an historic two-year, world-wide Legacy Tour; and
WHEREAS, the Tour will celebrate the creativity of American choreographer Merce Cunningham (1919-2009) and feature the final generation of dancers chosen and trained by Cunningham himself; and
WHEREAS, Cunningham’s lifelong passion for dance and his innovative choreography continues to inspire generations of audiences and dance artists, putting forth new concepts for the choreography, dance technique and artistic collaboration in concert dance; and
WHEREAS, over the past 60 years the Cunningham Dance Company has appeared many times in Chicago, a city that Merce himself stated “has wonderful audience for dance”; and
WHEREAS, it is fitting to honor Cunningham’s extraordinary love of dance, as well as honor the last dancers he chose and trained for his company:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RAHM EMANUEL, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, do hereby proclaim November 18, 2011, to be MERCE CUNNINGHAM DAY IN CHICAGO, and urge all Chicagoans to recognize many contributions made by Merce Cunningham Dance Company and its final generation of dancers trained by Merce Cunningham.
Dated this 3rd Day of November, 2011.
For his latest installment of the New York Times‘ “Drawing Dance” series, Brooklyn artist Kenneth Parris sketched members of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company when their farewell Legacy Tour came to Minneapolis. Parris – interviewed for the Performing Arts blog two weeks ago — drew company members Marcie Munnerlyn, Silas Riener, Melissa Toogood, Daniel Madoff, […]
For his latest installment of the New York Times‘ “Drawing Dance” series, Brooklyn artist Kenneth Parris sketched members of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company when their farewell Legacy Tour came to Minneapolis. Parris – interviewed for the Performing Arts blog two weeks ago — drew company members Marcie Munnerlyn, Silas Riener, Melissa Toogood, Daniel Madoff, and John Hinrichs outside the Walker’s McGuire Theater.
“As we exit the elevator of the Walker Art Center after another post-show reception, the search for a restaurant that is still open begins again,” Parris wrote for the Times. “Dylan Crossman describes the typical line of questions: ‘Did anyone get recommendations? How far is it? Let’s call to see how late the kitchen is open.’ After a whole day in the theater, it’s important to unwind, have a drink and some good food before going back to the hotel.”
So where’d the company tend to end up? The downtown Minneapolis Irish pub, The Local, Parris reports: “It was open late, a short walk to and from the hotel and was able to accommodate large crowds.”