Barefootblogger: thoughts on dance

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Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

I am a dancer with Minneapolis based James Sewell Ballet, a small, contemporary ballet company. I also choreograph independently.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Two Days Out

The Fringe opens in two days and though I have a seemingly endless list of yet-to-do’s, I want to record this moment of the process.

My two-person version of “Aida”, (called “small aida”), is tickling me. First I need to say that as ever, Stephanie Fellner is a gem: to me, to the work and to this community of dance artists in general.

Today I had the great pleasure of finishing my solo. No kidding. It was, for maybe the first time ever, a ball to be in the studio by myself, crafting a solo that comes near the end of the piece. I put off doing it till now of course. The usual story about needing to get everything together first. I can always rehearse myself at midnight if I absolutely need to, right? Thankfully not necessary, but just about. (Though I will be up till past then for sure tonight editing music (!!), sewing my costume, etc.

Our show is crazily full of props. Not sure how it grew so much in that department (maybe to make up for lack of bodies), but there they are. And their presence is justified; we do indeed need them all.

Tomorrow Steph and I meet @ 8:30 AM to begin our load-in to the magnificent Theatre de la Jeune Lune. (Though the theater company closed the space remains, at least for now, and we are blessed to be in there.) Our load-in entails wheeling 2 huge screen thingys down the street, from the JSB studio to Jeune Lune. Must every self-produced show I do involve rolling things down the street?! Last summer had Melisse and I, then Chrissy and Nic, then finally Jack and I, rolling my donated chairs down the 5 or so blocks from rental space to venue and back. Jack took pics (at 10 PM no less) and my heart did a flip-flop over the fact that he could be so good-spirited at that hour on a Sunday while helping me.

So here we go. I can safely say I’m in love with this show. Come see it:

Thursday, July 31 @ 8:30 PM
Monday, August 4 @ 10 PM
Thursday, August 7 @ 5:30 PM
Saturday, August 9 @ 8:30 PM
Sunday, August 10 @ 2:30 PM

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Verdi's "Aida", Small and with a Drummer

The dance community here in the twin cities has suffered a blow. Our beloved local theater, the Southern, lost its Artistic Director of 33 years. Two weeks ago the board put Jeff on “indefinite leave”, and mid-last week the news broke publicly. There was an emergency dance community “town hall” meeting that very night. I, along with about 50 others, attended.

Last night was another such meeting but on a bigger scale and with the board of the Southern in attendance. I was not able to go due to a long-standing rehearsal with eight other dancers for my gig with the MN Orch next weekend.

The upshot of all of this, amongst the many unknowns, is that I feel more than ever the great importance to keep on making art. In this economic (and corporate) climate, when choices are being made that are often money-based, those of us who don’t operate by those standards must keep on keeping on.

I am in the midst of two enormous projects. The MN Orch one is a down-and-dirty gig, quickly choreographed, quickly executed and a great joy. The other deeper, bigger project is “small aida”, my second piece in a two years for the MN Fringe. This year my venue is Theatre de la Jeune Lune (another painful story about an arts organization heading south). It is poignant to be in that space, to execute a new piece there, untried but oh-so-true.

“small aida” is comprised of myself and Steph Fellner, my friend and colleague of 19 years. (Yep, count ‘em.) We met at the Ailey School in 1989, and when our paths crossed here in 1994 I just about keeled over when I saw her pregnant and gorgeous in a Starbucks. She’s a rockstar, a muse, and the best damn Aida ever.

The piece will be finished soon. It’s about our relationship and also we tell the story (few are familiar w/ it so that’s….hard). My hope is that it’ll be clear even w/out folks needing to read the program notes. Anyway, it’s a gift every day to work with such a generous human and artist.

And so onward. I seek to make connections with my summer doings. I began with teaching James’ “Aida” choreography in Portland. I now craft my own story, and do the MN Orch gig, all to Verdi, and all to my own drummer.