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Nico Muhly’s Best Tweets

10,000 followers/nearly 8,000 tweets. If composer Nico Muhly sets any Twitter records they’re unconventional ones: sheer breadth of topics, perhaps, or best comedic delivery of esotery (“Ooh I actually got to use the phrase ‘etruscan lesbianism’ as part of natural conversation”). In celebration of his performance this week with the 802 Tour—featuring Sam Amidon, Thomas […]

10,000 followers/nearly 8,000 tweets. If composer Nico Muhly sets any Twitter records they’re unconventional ones: sheer breadth of topics, perhaps, or best comedic delivery of esotery (“Ooh I actually got to use the phrase ‘etruscan lesbianism’ as part of natural conversation”).

In celebration of his performance this week with the 802 Tour—featuring Sam Amidon, Thomas “Doveman” Bartlett, and Nadia Sirota—here’s a selection of hilarious, puzzling, and flat-out brilliant tweets from the best reason to be on Twitter now that #OWS is cooling. And these are mostly from the past month or so (!):

“Without googling it who can tell me where Bemidji might be”

“Has nobody commissioned Dale Chihuly to make a Glass Cthulhu?”

“Why did you let me enter a mongolian dubstep wormhole”

“Is it franchise protocol to play loud house music at the TGI Fridays at six in the morning?”

“So by daylight it appears as if a wedge of parmesan met a grisly death by microplaner right here in the breakfast nook”

“Something v upsetting about the phrase Montezuma’s Yummy Mummy”

“Weird when people’s email signature is ‘You must do the thing you think you cannot do.’ – Eleanor Roosevelt”

“Is there a word for an erotic fixation on compressed air?”

“Open call for pictures of the ugliest sanctus bells”

“Is it a thing where people come over ur house & fix all the buttons on coats and busted seams? Am I thinking about literal Rumplestiltskin”

“I am in a very diacritical subdivision of alphabet city”

“If you make this concert happen, I will eat the meat-object of your choosing.”

“U know ur desperate when u google ‘best haemul pajun 52nd street’”

“Sometimes I aspire to that kind of manic focus a border collie has”

“I’m in that weird area of bed bath and beyond where it’s discount Bonne Maman preserves and nut milks”

“Envisioning a Jónsi/Beyoncé hybrid ‘Bjónsé’”

Young Jean Lee Interview Part Two

    The interview with Young Jean Lee currently featured on the Walker website is only part of the conversation I had with her late December. Here’s the rest of it, with topics ranging from Ms. Lee’s potential film project, her take on archiving live theater work, and her favorite experimental theater shows she saw […]

St. Vincent’s Set List

                            Set 2 Cruel Cheer Surgeon Save Chloe Actor Dilettante J as S Champagne Neut Mercy She’s Tiger Lips Party Marrow    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Set 2

Cruel

Cheer

Surgeon

Save

Chloe

Actor

Dilettante

J as S

Champagne

Neut

Mercy

She’s

Tiger

Lips

Party

Marrow

 

 

Puppet Cinema is free. Open all day Saturday and Th-F-Sa nights

                          What is this key? Come to Puppet Cinema for Puppets this Saturday during gallery hours (11 AM-5 PM) to find out who’s who in Twin Cities puppets. The installation is also open one hour prior to all performances of The Devil and […]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is this key? Come to Puppet Cinema for Puppets this Saturday during gallery hours (11 AM-5 PM) to find out who’s who in Twin Cities puppets. The installation is also open one hour prior to all performances of The Devil and Mister Punch (a Work-in-Progress) (tonight through Saturday).

Over 120 puppets made by over a dozen puppeteers have been installed in the McGuire Theater.  Watch a short film with the puppets or take advantage of the designated photo ops. When’s the next time you’ll get to watch a movie with a theater full of puppets?

Bedlam Theatre Director John Bueche explains how Puppet Cinema came to be:

All year the Walker’s been doing the Adventures in New Puppetry series. They approached Bedlam way back-a-when about co-presenting the final installment in the series: Improbable‘s Punch show. At first the answer was pretty straightforward – have it at BEDLAM – that would automatically wild it up, set the social tone for the art and the audience.

It was all set, but shazbang, then Bedlam goes and closes its venue last fall. The Walker said, hell, we STILL want you involved, wild it up, set a social tone OVER HERE.

The Devil and Mr. Punch it was felt, for numerous reasons, would be well served by a more intimate audience, to get you closer to the action, keep it tight. This drove the idea to seat the audience on the McGuire stage up close with the Mr Punch show. That left the CHAIRS in the McGuire empty. That’s a lot of space.

I started thinking about what a fantastic adventure it is to walk through the attic at Heart of the Beast, the basement at Open Eye, Mark Safford‘s living room or the garage of just about anyone from Barebones. And thinking about those empty seats. Julian C said, “hey, we’ve been groovin’ on the idea of puppets watching movies, you know, like, what KINDS of movies do puppets like to watch?”

[CLICK  HERE for a video PREVIEW of Puppet Cinema for Puppets with John Bueche]

It took an all star puppet crew to pull the install together. Alison Heimstead, currently heading up the Puppet Lab at HOBT, did the amazing work of inviting, curating, prodding, building the plan and envisioning the mix. Fellow Barebones co-Founders Julian McFaul and Mark Safford, with Chris Lutter of Puppet Farm and truly astounding puppet wrangler Duane Tougas rounded out the install team (along with Andrew Wagner and Kyle Waite from the Walker side.)

Next week, you’ll have to go back to enjoying puppets on stage or seeking out the storage and stashes in separate studios all over town. For now, enjoy Puppet Cinema for Puppets and celebrate the vast talent of the TC puppet scene.

 

Attend to Devotion

Jesus, Mary, Adam, and Eve are all characters in Sarah Michelson/Richard Maxwell’s cult of Devotion, opening February 17 in the McGuire Theater. Richard Maxwell wrote the text  for this “narrative ballet” and then Sarah Michelson took over. Canonical figures of modern dance peek through: Twyla Tharp (with Philip Glass’ music from her In the Upper […]

Jesus, Mary, Adam, and Eve are all characters in Sarah Michelson/Richard Maxwell’s cult of Devotion, opening February 17 in the McGuire Theater. Richard Maxwell wrote the text  for this “narrative ballet” and then Sarah Michelson took over. Canonical figures of modern dance peek through: Twyla Tharp (with Philip Glass’ music from her In the Upper Room joining the original score), Merce Cunningham; “and what gloriously severe dancing it is,” said the New York Times. The ambitious athleticism of the dancing has kept more than one reviewer in suspense; there is much at stake in this choreography, like the most difficult of figure skating jumps. Devotion‘s text, narrated in New York by Sarah Michelson, like William Blake evokes both the tone of a scripture and a pointed vulnerability.

Let’s pause here to mention that the two-week run of Devotion at the Kitchen last month was severely sold-out, with lines around the block steadily growing as buzz spread. Visual artists, curators, composers, gallery owners, critics, and downtown theater innovators were all there, mixing together as rarely happens in NYC,  to witness this coming together of two of the most iconoclastic purveyors of  contemporary dance and theater right now.

Let’s pause here also to state that while each Walker dance performance this season is unique in its own way, Sarah Michelson’s Devotion is the piece to see if you are most interested in what’s happening (and what’s happened) in the New York downtown dance scene. In other words, it’s more than fair to call this cutting-edge work (see again the art21 blog where artist Marissa Perel said that Michelson “pretty much defined what is cool. Period” ?)  not only for dance, but in theater; par exemple, Jim Fletcher, Devotion‘s Adam, is also the star of (Walker-commissioned in 2006) Gatz, which finally made it to NYC last year and which the New York Times said was “The most remarkable achievement in theater not only of this year but also of this decade (which, gee, means this century too).”

Devotion will surely be one of the most remarkable achievements in dance this year. Sarah Michelson! We missed you so.

Devotion has been favorably reviewed by:

the Village Voice

the New York Times

the Financial Times

Dance Magazine

 

Sarah Michelson’s “Devotion”: Is the Accessible Unnecessary?

“What I really like about making a dance is doing something that seems doomed to fail—partly because dance often seems like something useless and you have to question yourself about why even do it. It sets up a challenge.” In a recent interview, choreographer Sarah Michelson confirmed her considerable reputation for making demanding work. For […]

Sarah Michelson photo by Gene Pittman

“What I really like about making a dance is doing something that seems doomed to fail—partly because dance often seems like something useless and you have to question yourself about why even do it. It sets up a challenge.” In a recent interview, choreographer Sarah Michelson confirmed her considerable reputation for making demanding work.

For her 2005 Walker commission Daylight (for Minneapolis), Michelson drew from numerous sources of inspiration and influence, including the multidisciplinary institution’s “more than a museum” mission as well as the forms and theories of Walker expansion architects Herzog & de Meuron. Her heady, complex spectacle, which incorporated more than 50 large-scale painted portraits, was designed to be only partially seen, depending on where audience members were situated. A host of local performers and dance students, including 50 girls ranging in age from 6 to 15, joined Michelson’s New York ensemble for the indoor/outdoor performance.

Devotion, Michelson’s new Walker-commissioned piece, is a provocative and visually striking dance that originated from a story by Richard Maxwell, a playwright noted for his deceptively deadpan style. Leaders in experimental dance and theater, Michelson and Maxwell (a veteran of the Walker’s Out There series in 2005 and 2000) are both renowned for strangely transfixing, fiercely uncompromising productions. The two artists have long admired each other’s work—Michelson praises Maxwell’s “purposeful stage aesthetic” and “the magic he creates in exploring tensions between people.” The choreographer also touched on intriguing ideas in discussing Devotion’s performers—two actors and four dancers who seem to embody a tension between innocence and experience, between charisma and the possibility of its “hothouse” cultivation. Actors Jim Fletcher (Elevator Repair Service’s Gatz) and James Tyson have performed in numerous Maxwell plays, while Eleanor Hullihan, Nicole Manorino, and Rebecca Warner have considerable experience in ballet, modern, and contemporary dance. The fourth dancer is 13-year old Non Griffiths, who was honored last fall with a Bessie Award for bringing “an innocent but romantically charged fervor to Michelson’s eccentrically elegant vision [Dover Beach].”

On a broader level, Michelson likens the process of making new work to creating her own universe. It’s a kind of “totalitarian experience” in that she takes charge of sets, costumes, and lighting to a degree most other choreographers do not. The results can be simultaneously befuddling and bewitching. Village Voice critic Deborah Jowitt wrote, “Sarah Michelson’s work makes people ask questions ranging from ‘How did she come up with an idea like that?’ to ‘What does she think she’s doing?’ No one, however, asks more questions than Michelson herself—in private and in print—about her choices and gut instincts.” As the choreographer puts it, “I’m trying to make dance that’s inaccessible, because the more you make it accessible the more it seems unnecessary.”

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.

Talking Dance with Eiko & Koma

By

As Eiko & Koma’s performance of Naked unfolds throughout the month of November in a Walker gallery—six hours a day, six days a week—time takes on new meanings. Visitors are free to watch for a few minutes or a few hours, but whether or not they return to experience this durational “living installation” as it evolves, […]

As Eiko & Koma’s performance of Naked unfolds throughout the month of November in a Walker gallery—six hours a day, six days a week—time takes on new meanings. Visitors are free to watch for a few minutes or a few hours, but whether or not they return to experience this durational “living installation” as it evolves, its dimensions extend beyond the existing gallery space and the immediate moment.

You are invited to join the Walker’s McGuire Senior Curator of Performing Arts, Philip Bither, for an unique conversation with the artists Thursday October 28th to discuss their upcoming performance of Naked, their past work, and their three-year, multi-city retrospective project.

Photo by Anna Lee Campbell

To whet your appetite for what is sure to be a fabulous conversation, here is an excerpt of an interview given earlier this year between Bither and Eiko Otake.

 Philip Bither: Naked comes some 12 years after you and Koma performed Breath at the Whitney Museum of American Art, a piece that took place throughout the month of June in 1998. Why did you want to make another “living installation,” and what did you learn from Breath that you will incorporate into Naked?

Eiko Otake: We think that the body offers a radical questioning, particularly in a museum context—not asking questions necessarily, but questioning as a state of being. For us a body, or the acute sense of remains or the lack of a body, is always a part of our artistic pursuit and a larger conception of a possibility for art. It is a frame and a space: A body gives other objects and situations scale and reference. Through other projects during the 12 years since Breath—including large-scale theatrical works, outdoor works, and international and multigenerational collaborations—we have continued our interest in exploring thirst and hunger as bodily needs that correlate with a thirst and hunger for intimacy, relationships, and interactions. By coming back to live and move in a gallery, we hope to collapse the time passed since Breath, a time in which we have lingered as much as we have aged. We are inviting a close look at another one-month period of time in our bodies, saying to our audience: Linger, stay here with your eyes, live and kinetically observe how our bodies move toward death.

Bither: Naked is a part of your three-year Retrospective Project currently underway, which takes you and Koma to numerous cities throughout the United States for performances and residences, and includes a major catalogue published by the Walker. How has all of that impacted the nature and content of Naked?

Eiko: Archiving our work forces us deal with memories, traces, facts, photos, and words. This process has given us a new appetite, a desire for a place that is beyond memory and facts—a no man’s land. The archiving effort also made us see several continuous desires we have carried for decades, which have influenced Naked. Instead of crowding every wall space, we filled one half of the room with scorched material but the other half is left black: barren, like another world. Our bodies exist near what looks like an island or raft, or maybe debris washed up on shore. This set carries various memories and smells from our ancient past, as well as visual motifs from our artistic history together.

Bither: It will also be a part of the exhibition Event Horizon, which showcases artworks from the Walker’s collection. How have those objects affected what you are making or the viewer’s experience?

Eiko: Our work as a living installation walks a fine line between an ephemeral artwork and tangible existence. There are nuances occurring in specific time periods that have the possibility to go beyond that time. The fact that we are in a “permanent collection” at all adds an interesting context; it forces viewers to confront the materiality of what they are seeing.

 Bither: How has creating Naked as a Walker commission furthered your practice?

 Eiko: Rarely do we have an invitation to literally reside in an environment we create, and to be seen for a length of time. We can fully engage in our kinetic imagination, which includes being there and being gone. Thus we will also reflect on how being there for a month could possibly create remains. Will the tangible object to which we press our bodies retain the traces of our living? Is creating tangible and material art a paradox for dancers who are aging and within decades of dying? The Walker is giving us the opportunity to “linger,” not for eternity but a little bit longer than with our stage works. How this “little bit longer” can relate to eternity is as yet unknown.

 Bither: With respect to audiences, how is a durational performance different from presenting a specifically timed work in a theater?

Eiko: In theater, there are set rules of what to see and what not to see, how to behave, and what it is to be an audience. In a theater we serve for a condensed time, so that the audience can go home with some kind of understanding of what happened. However, with Naked, there is no beginning, middle, or ending except a bigger and more common time frame: we were born, are here, and will be gone. At the Walker, our bodies are available all the time. Movement occurs without serving the time structure of a work. In a gallery installation, we spend the real time being there and people will see us for differing durations of time—like in a hospital, where a patient spends many hours observing how clouds move outside a window, or at the same time family members observe a patient getting stronger or weaker. We will be a part of the installation; we will also be seeing, breathing, and hearing. That kind of body is not a dancer’s body.

 Bither: Does the close proximity of viewers in a gallery setting change how you and Koma make the work and place yourselves in it?

Eiko: We have always wanted to be naked, sometimes physically but more times metaphorically. Close proximity does bring a nakedness to our human encounters, and it is a singularly important element of this installation. Being seen and seeing is tender, ambiguous, odd—it asks the viewer to observe details. A viewer can see the expanse of the whole body as well as very small parts of it. Each person looks at us and we look at each person and beyond. We offer bodies to be seen, but we also see viewers’ bodies watching us.

 Bither: You have said before that even if people only spend a few minutes watching a performance, those minutes may stay with them for years. What does that belief mean for this type of durational performance, when people may watch for varying spans of time?

 Eiko: One cannot judge one person’s experience by comparing it to another’s. Nor can the quality of a personal experience be quantified. We hope that people do not go home thinking they did not see enough. We also hope those who stay longer or who come back do not feel that that investment does not bring them more. People sometimes say it is better to send people home feeling that they have not seen enough so they want to come back. Koma and I take a contrary view. Regardless of how short or long an encounter might be, we hope that it is full and stands on its own.

 Bither: Have you and Koma done special physical or mental training leading up to this work?

 Eiko: We imagine being there and that is our preparation. Fruits, vegetables, and fishes perhaps anticipate being seen and eaten and thus shine.

 Bither: How would you describe your relationship or history with the Twin Cities?

 Eiko: We appreciate the sense of knowing a place, and us being a part of its history. It is exciting for us to encounter viewers at various points in their lives and ours. There is a sizable audience in the Twin Cities who remember and communicate their experiences of seeing us perform. That time-invested viewership, granted often to writers and filmmakers, is relatively rare for performing artists.

 Bither: What are you most looking forward to discovering?

 Eiko: We want to go somewhere barren, and we want to see if people would also like to be there with us.

We hope you will join us for this free event Thursday October 28th at 7:00pm in the McGuire Theater. Talking Dance is the only time the artists will speak publicly about their work in the Twin Cities, so be sure not to miss it!

Young Players Dig Brad Mehldau

The first week of October, Dave Douglas wasn’t only getting ready for his performance in the McGuire Theater, he was also leading a 2-day workshop for some of the Twin Cities’ best high school Jazz musicians, at MacPhail Center for Music. Jazz writer, editor, and photographer Andrea Canter wrote a great blog about it here. We asked […]

Dave Douglas leading an improvisation workshop at MacPhail Center for Music

The first week of October, Dave Douglas wasn’t only getting ready for his performance in the McGuire Theater, he was also leading a 2-day workshop for some of the Twin Cities’ best high school Jazz musicians, at MacPhail Center for Music. Jazz writer, editor, and photographer Andrea Canter wrote a great blog about it here.

We asked the students participating in the workshop to share with us the YouTube links of Jazz songs that they like. Two students picked songs by Brad Mehldau, who happens to be playing here next month.

Here are three selections from students in MacPhail’s Dakota Combo, an audition-required Jazz ensemble led by Adam Linz (of Fat Kid Wednesdays).

Quentin, the Combo’s pianist, recommended the Brad Mehldau Trio playing Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.”

The video is in two parts:

Emerson, the Combo’s drummer, recommended the Brad Mehldau Trio covering Radiohead’s “Knives Out”:

And Caitlin, one of the Combo’s bassists, recommended John Coltrane performing “Naima” July 27, 1965 in Antibes:


Ralph Lemon: How to Witness Something that Belongs Someplace Else

If you were at the season preview, you already saw this: Ralph Lemon is an artist open about his process. Last summer he held an open rehearsal for the work-in-progress that would become How Can You Stay In The House All Day And Not Go Anywhere? The audience was invited afterwards to ask questions about […]

If you were at the season preview, you already saw this:

Ralph Lemon is an artist open about his process. Last summer he held an open rehearsal for the work-in-progress that would become How Can You Stay In The House All Day And Not Go Anywhere? The audience was invited afterwards to ask questions about How Can You Stay…?, even to be critical.

This openness—transparency of the work—extends to its very enunciation: a major section of How Can You Stay…? features pushing, pulling, and colliding as dance, which is clearly exhausting to the performers, but which reminds the audience of dance(rs) as labor(ers) and disconnects from any idea of a dance piece as finished commodity, ready for reproduction in performance spaces nationwide.

Lemon said in an interview with Shoko Letton (who is creating a non-documentary companion piece film for How Can You Stay…?) that “Relationships can create these collective vortexes, that are [more] powerful than a singular body and idea. So the work is very very much about that, the collective…” The dancers heave themselves against each other, but there is an interdependence and reliance on the pivotal support of each other’s material bodies.

The greatest challenge of this piece, as an audience member, might be in its final chapter, when bodies disappear and we are confronted instead by the corporality of the human voice, inscripting the stage and us with a ritualistic experience of lament. The anonymity of this duration (you’ll see what I mean) calls to mind a stanza from Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus:

“Jubilation knows and Longing grants—

only Lament still learns; with girlish hands

she counts the ancient evils through the nights.

But suddenly, unpracticed and askant,

she lifts one of our voice’s constellations

into the sky unclouded by her breath.”

Tickets are still available to Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night’s performances. The nights will include a reception with the artists, a Q & A with Senior Curator Philip Bither, and a post-show SpeakEasy, respectively. For more background info on How Can You Stay…?, check out the brochure created by the Congress on Research in Dance, which delves into the science fiction of the piece, among other things.  Check back for a new episode of Talk Dance with Justin Jones and Ralph Lemon, to be posted next week. And don’t forget that Meditation, the coda of How Can You Stay…? will be live Sunday in the McGuire from 11:00 am-5:00 pm. AND that Ralph Lemon and collaborators are leading a workshop on Saturday from 1:00 pm-3:00 pm, $8.

New York Times arts critic Claudia LaRocca just said in her fall arts preview that “If I had to choose one show to see this fall, it would be How Can You Stay In The House All Day And Not Go Anywhere?

Don’t miss it.

(photos courtesy Antoine Tempé)

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