Jen Scott: a gold star and a cookie

November 30, 2011

I am unapologetically curious and fascinated by people.  I always like to hear about how people decided what they wanted to be when they grew up (whether making this decision at 10 or 60), and how they made that happen.  Or didn't.  So, I decided to start asking people questions.  And, I started with local actor and comedy aficionado Jen Scott, because I knew she would be nice to me.  (Seriously- people can make me really anxious and uncomfortable.)

And, Jen is a gem.  She is my friend, but everyone I mention her name to agrees-- you leave a conversation with her and just feel a bit lighter.  She is exactly the kind of person I would want to collaborate with artistically , because she's generous.  And positive.  It makes sense that she does comedy improv, because the rule of improv is "yes, AND."  You have to be a yay-sayer.

I realized that, despite having known Jen casually for several years, I actually knew very little about her.  Which was kindof perfect.

So, we talked about unexpected paths, and about how to get out of your own way.  We talked about ambition and risk-taking and how so much of  "making it" (whatever that means) is about persistance and knowing generous people.

L: How long have you lived in the Twin Cities?

J:  It will be 12 years December 1!

L:  What did you move here for?  From Iowa, right?

J:  Yes.  Iowa.  I moved here because I didn’t know what else to do.  I didn’t know what to do in college.  I got a degree in a totally unmarketable Music and a minor in Art and Design and a minor in German- I’m a bass player.  I wasn’t a good music major.  I mean, I got good grades.  If I was really serious about it, I would have gone to another school, though.  So I followed my friends Dave and Becky here.

L:  What did you do when you came first came to Minneapolis?

J:  I worked as Steve Antenucci’s Admin Assistant at Theatre in the Round.  So I was the Assistant Director of Theater, which cracked me up- I had a plaque.  Steve was an angel.  He said, “Do your parents know how much your making working here?  And do you still want to work here?”  He taught me so much.  I also needed a couple part time jobs to stay afloat, so I started box office working at Brave New Workshop.  I ran the box office for Brave New Workshop’s Flannigan’s Wake.

L:  Had you done any improv at this point?

J:  No.  And they offered free classes, and I said "I don’t know what this is.  Sure I’ll take your free class."  I’m very lucky.  I really had no idea what I was doing for at least a good 2 years.  Some people know what they’re doing or know that they can do things- I really had no clue that anyone could be a funny person.  Not that I am a funny person-- I try to be.  But, that you can actually pursue [making a career out of] things like that...I didn’t know that.

L:  How have you transitioned since?  You fully support yourself as an actor and a teacher.  How did this happen?

J:  Out of pure stubbornness.  I started because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do for a living, even thought I was taking improv classes...I loved improv.  I took a year of advertising school and thought that might be a career for me.  It got to a point where I had to choose between ad school or improv, because they started backing up against one another.  I could have been more stubborn with ad school- I don’t know if it would have gotten me anything.   But I really enjoyed the connection and the brainstorming support with improv more than all of the guys I was in ad school with.  I didn’t feel the connection.  I couldn’t be myself with them.  So I chose improv.  And then I was lucky enough to have a couple of people say “Jen, you should try this” or “Jen, I think you’d be a good fit for this.”  The teaching was someone saying “Jen, I think you’d be a good fit for the teens”.  So, I was lucky.  And the acting part was similar: a lot of “Oh Jen you should try this” and also a lot of sneaking my way in to shows by playing piano.  People learned I played piano through my accompanying improv, and they would say “Jen, can you do The Minnesota Show?”  “Sure, I’ll do The Minnesota show.  Can I [also] understudy?”  “Ok, I guess.”

And then Flannigan’s Wake was the same way.  “Jen you play piano!” “Can I understudy?”  “Sure.”  And then Mystery Cafe, I’ve been working for them for a number of years, and that started out with piano.  [I told them] I’m a terrible piano player, and that I’d be more comfortable being an actor.  And, luckily they were cool about transitioning me.  And that’s what I do for them now.   So...a whole bunch of different ways of people just giving me a chance.  “Oh, you do improv.  And you’re around, and you’re a nice person.  Do you want to be a nun who cleans plates?  You’re an understudy."

L:  What’s been hard as you’ve transitioned into being a full-time artist?

J:   Juggling.  I’ve always kept myself very busy, and I was going through tax stuff for ’06 or ’08 and, oh my god!  I don’t know how I did all of that.  I was crazy.  It became second nature- I didn’t know anything different.  So...balance has been the biggest.  Along with money stuff.

And, fearlessness.  I have certainly found myself making excuses when I couldn’t [be fearless], and then getting bitter at people who are, and that’s been a good challenge.  And trying to learn how to celebrate the successes [of other actors] and work on my own.  They can do it, I can do it.  There’s room for all of us.  So, trying to get that into practice.

Also, working against [self sabotage].  There are certain things I should be doing to take myself where I want to go, but [then I start asking], do I want to go there?

Have you read The War of Art?  You would love it.  And there’s also a book called Do The Work by the same guy.  They totally express that artistic dilemma.  He calls it resistance.  It’s not just for artists.  Say you want to start a non-profit...anything that will bring you to your dreams, you have to work against is always there, and it’s resistance.  And it’s working against you.  And once you recognize what IT [the resistance] is....then you can figure out how to get past it.

L:  What are your continuing goals?

J: My next goal is working on writing things down to say in front of people, and that feels riskier to me [than improvisation] for some reason...adding “this is a work by” after something.

L: Saying “I thought that this was worth presenting.”

J:  Exactly. That’s a challenge.  I think I need to put that writing in an experimental [mindset] or something that makes it feel ok.  I wrote a bunch of sketches for my sketch group, and it’s all in these early phases, but I’m having a hard time presenting these sketches to my fellow friends...because I’m like, what if they’re bad?  I’m old!  All of my sketches are about making babies now.  But I just have to do it!

L:  So, you said a lot of people have been helpful on your journey.  And you talked about those books.  Is there anything else you think of as ‘god, i’m really glad I found that.’

J:  I love taking workshops.  I’ve taken a lot of workshops that are kinda out of my comfort level, but those have always been weirdly useful to me.  Like I took a Margolis Brown workshop...I gained a lot from just knowing that my body can move that way.

And also, talking to people who have come before me.  I love talking to a number of old school Brave New Workshop-style comedians who still have theatre as a part of their life who I kind of hold as heros.  It’s awesome to meet those people and see where their lives have gone.

Also, having a hubby who tells me to just stand up straight, even thought I hate it when he says that, and who asks “why do you put yourself down when you talk?”  So, i’ve been working on that- on trying to get better about speaking positively about what I’m doing to people, even though I feel like a douche.

“I’m teaching at children’s theatre.”

I always feel like saying it comes off as being better than people, so it’s hard.  Because we’ve all met those people who wear their resumes on their sleeve.

I wonder if maybe when I find myself in conversation, if I need to take a moment and...breathe or ground down or something, and remind myself  “Just be honest.  And be excited for it.”

My friend Ian does it well.  He’s a go-getter, and he's from New York City, and I don’t know how he does it, but for some reason he’s able to talk about things that excite him, and say they’re awesome, and not come across like a douche.  I think that if Ian can do it...can sell himself so well...that we can.   I want to pick up on that.  Maybe we need to practice on eachother.  I’ll tell you what I’m doing, and you tell me, and we’ll celebrate it.
 L:  As you continue to make an artistic life here in Minneapolis, what kinds of things are you working towards? 

J:  I would like to do more stage work.  It felt really good to [perform in] the Red Eye show, so I’d love to continue to try a little more of that.  It would be nice to say “hey, I did that, and I was really proud of that piece.”  I do other things, like Mystery Cafe, which I’m really proud of, but I’m dressed like an old lady, and it’s really fun and stupid and great.  But you know, of course my friends don’t have to come see me in Mystery Cafe at the Ramada Inn at the Mall of America.

I’d love to take more risks,  and try and push myself to get things out...even something stupid like a web video.  So, scripted work and writing web videos and getting stuff out there.  The commedians and actors that I like...they push stuff out there, they get stuff out there and it’s really risky, but they just do it.  And they’re just people.

L:  How did you come up with Camilla Parker Bowls?  And when did you start it?

J:  Oh!  The first one was last January.   I didn’t realize that I stole the idea of improvising from an interview from [Las Vegas improvisor] Matt Donnelly.   I told my friends Jim and Dennis about it.  Jim came up with the name Camilla Parker Bowls, and Dennis added “at the Bryant Lake Bowl”, which we thought was hilarious.  I don’t play a character.  I play a hyped-up version of myself.  I could be this British drag queen, but it’s just me interviewing, and then I turn it over to these three improvisors.  It’s really nice to have a group of engaged funny people talking to someone of interest.  And, everyone’s of interest.  I kinda love that I get to show these 3 improvisors that I love off.  So, most of it is just producing the show.  I like it, it’s easy.  I like doing it.  I like talking to strangers and I like asking questions.  It’s become a very fun and easy thing to do.

In the improv community we all are so bubbled...there are very few who crossover  from acting to improv or improv to acting- there are a couple, but we are so much in a  bubble.  All improvisors are puppies anyway, “can we say yes, and?!”  There aren’t many jerk improvisors because it doesn’t survive well.  No one wants to play with you.

L:  I've noticed that artists have a hard time combining art-making and money-making.  How do you make your art your business?

J:  I decided to start thinking about acting and teaching as “work”.  So, I have 2 jobs today- I work at the science museum as a performer, and I’ve got a show tonight.  And I’ll say “I’m going to first work, and then second work.”  It helps to keep it in that mindset...part of why we work is for money.  There are three reasons to do something: You like it, it makes you money, or it gets you where you want to go.  I try to remember this.

I guess the bottom line is, as artists,  we just have to keep doing it.  And then telling our friends about it.  And strangers.  And then we have to remember to stand up straight.

L: It’s all really hard.

J:  It’s all really hard.

L: We need a gold star.

J:  And a cookie.

L: I can’t wait to see Camilla Parker Bowls.

J:  I hope you like it.  It’s super silly.

If you live in the Twin Cities, you, too, can see Camilla Parker Bowls at the BLB, tomorrow (Thursday) night at 10:00pm.

Liking: Caitlin Moran

November 28, 2011

Personally, I like the fact that we're all going to die.  There's nothing more exhilarating than waking up every morning and going 'WOW!  THIS IS IT!  THIS IS REALLY IT!'  It focuses the mind wonderfully.  It makes you love vividly, work intensely, and realize that, in the scheme of things, you really don't have time to sit on the sofa in your pants watching Homes Under the Hammer. 
--Caitlin Moran--

Just finished How To Be A Woman, and loved Caitlin Moran's sense of humor. And Brit-isms.  I especially appreciated her messages of assurance to those of us who aren't sure we want to procreate.

In other news, I'm back to regularly buying myself flowers.  I highly recommend it.

Grateful For The Surprise

November 26, 2011

I dearly love a good list.  I make them for all occasions, and lately have been writing them on stacks of post-its on my desk at the beginning of each week.

Good at: lists

In case that's not enough, my phone and computer contain a scary number of organizational applications: 2Do, Teux Deux, Springpad, Notes, Reminders.  There are the lists of life plans, of bills and household business, of artistic projects, and of people I want to remember to get in touch with.  It's not obligation that drives me, but a fear that I somehow won't remember to take advantage of the hours in each day; a fear that I will somehow get to the end of my life and realize that I didn't accomplish a lot of the things that I intended to.  Naturally, these lists are also the driving force behind a lot of anxiety and muscle tension.
my youngest brother-in-law.

Thanksgiving marks the anniversary of getting hired at the Birchwood Cafe, the restaurant where I met Ben and a lot of people who have forever changed my life.  In fact, the three years that I worked at the Birchwood were a catalyst for lots of my just-out-of-college growth.  This week I was musing on this time marker and realized how many monumental events have occurred in my life without knowingly or intentionally making them happen.  In fact, I got hired at the Birchwood because a lovely person liked me when I asked for an application, and she wrote a note to the manager suggesting that he hire me.  In many ways, that event was totally out of my control, or at least somewhat unplanned.

Thanksgiving day brunch.

So were others: getting hired to nanny in Wales by two amazing (then) strangers, who have since made me godmother to their kids; choosing to attend college in Minnesota, a state I barely realized existed; taking a class in college that led to a professor giving me my first teaching job, 10 years ago.

My pie.

Other, less magical things have been out of my control, too: the time I was drugged by a stranger in London; a mysterious childhood illness that led to nine blood transfusion; a mugging while I walked home on a Monday night; a series of events from the past year that all seemed to hit when I was too exhausted and anxious to handle them.  At the time a lot of these things, understandably, made me feel powerless because I couldn't plan for them.  But, I look back at them now and realize that they aren't that different from the ones that I can instantly put a positive spin on: events in life that got me here.  And, events that got me here without me muscling too hard to check them off of a to-do list.

Calm woods.

This Thanksgiving we went to Ben's family cabin.  I heard about this cabin often in the two years Ben and I worked together before dating.  As many times as I've been there before, this Thanksgiving I was especially struck by the surprise of this new extension of family- something I never expected or planned for.  It's so nice to remember that there are things in life that we don't have to struggle or push for or insist on-- that some of the greatest things just happen by being present in the right place at the right time and following your gut instinct to the next bridge- the next question.  This makes my little compulsive self breathe a deep sigh of relief. It means that I might get where I need to go (in part) by showing up and living these life questions, and that I can even shove my list to the side sometimes.  It also gives me further incentive to attempt living in the moment, because I've never been able to predict what's going to come next, try as I might.
for family luck.

So, I'm still uncertain as to what life will offer up next.  But, I  have a lot of confidence that it will get me where I need to go.

fall feet.

And, the secret ingredients are....

November 21, 2011

I love food.

I love food so much, and I adore food surprises-- discovering new things to eat, and new ways of cooking them.

This is why I keep watching Chopped.  Yes, Food Network (also available on Hulu for folks like me that don't have cable).  They give the contestants four ingredients for each course, and they get to be creative food geniuses!  Yes, there is drama, and yes, there are sarcastic judges.  But, the food!  I love it!

So, of course, after talking about the awesomeness of Chopped, we got together with buddies and decided to have a little Chopped fun of our own.   And it was great!  Paul and Nicole brought us four secret ingredients, and we gave them three.

Paul and Nicole had to cook with....Pheasant, Oyster Mushrooms, and Bosque Pears.

Yes, pheasant.  I don't think it would ever occur to me to make them cook with Pheasant (I certainly don't know how to cook it, or even where to buy it), but my father-in-law recently went Pheasant hunting, and put five frozen bags of pheasant in our freezer.  Five.  With feathers on.  Hm....

Ben and I had to cook with (cue dramatic drumroll please)....Pomegranate, a hard sheep-milk cheese that I can't remember the name of, Cranberries, and Lamb (cut up as stew meat).

After we revealed the secret ingredients to one another, we drank a bottle of champagne and walked to the grocery store (grocery stores are way more fun after champagne). We got whatever we (secretly) thought we'd need to cook, and came home to get started.

The Final Result:

Paul and Nicole made ginger-marmalade Pheasant with butter sauteed Oyster mushrooms, brown sugar & walnut yams, and wine poached pears with Vanilla spiced ice cream.  (Yes- ice cream!)

Ben & I made a somewhat less sophisticated meal: Lamb Curry with basmati rice, a pomegranate & sheep's milk arugula salad, and cranberry chutney.

Holy awesome in my mouth, that I otherwise wouldn't really think of making.

This made for a really fun way of cooking with friends.  What secret ingredients would you bring to the table?

It Chooses You

November 15, 2011

I spent two years making performances pieces that were inspired by Miranda July's participatory blog Learning To Love You More, and the book by the same title.  Basically, I'm smitten by people: what they do, what worries them, what they aspire to.  I think Miranda July is, too.

Tomorrow is the official release of Miranda July's new book It Chooses You.  It is the real-life account of the people July met through the Penny Saver ads, while writing the script for her movie The Future.  There have been sneak peaks of the book in the New Yorker- beautiful stories of ordinary people.  Naturally, these people are pretty extraordinary, too.  They are like many people that I know and love.

I'm pretty damn excited that my copy of the book arrived in the mail today.

Loving Makes Love

November 14, 2011

I struggled a lot with what to say today—mostly because love is such a force, such a holy mystery– and every person’s experience of loving another is so singular and unique..."

So said our dear friend Betsy, exactly 6 months ago today at our wedding.  Our wedding!  Our wedding, where Ben and I promised to continue choosing one another.

Every day, I become a bit more in awe of that holy mystery; I am amazed at how my heart continues to grow, at how exciting it is to make plans next to and with another person, at the way we take turns buoying the other.

The act of loving is always a risk, and so it seems to make us braver as we continue to do it.  Over and over, the act of loving makes me love more.

Tom Robbins puts it well:

The bottom line is that (a) people are never perfect, but love can be, (b) that is the one and only way that the mediocre and the vile can be transformed, and (c) doing that makes it that.  Loving makes love.  Loving makes itself.  Why waste time looking for the perfect lover instead of creating the perfect love.  Wouldn’t that be the way to make love stay?

Indeed, only love has that kind of power and potential.  You can see it here in this gorgeous video made of friends of friends of ours.  And you can see it here in pictures of our friend Jesse and her wife, Heather.   And today, I celebrate that potential.

Last week I read this on Liz Fabry's blog, which I think perfectly explains the journey I've been on lately:

 [I] thought good and long about what I want from my life. What I want to have. What I want to do. And who I want to be. Then I wrote it all down like I was already living it. It sounds very new age-y, but it was amazingly invigorating.  I don't have it all worked out. I hope I never will. But I can kind of see the woman I want to become. So I'm going to start running towards her with everything I've got right now.

It's exciting running towards the woman I want to become.  And, it's exciting running towards her with the bravery that loving has given me.


November 8, 2011

I have a friend Peter, who is pretty much awesome in more ways that I can write.  He has been kind enough to perform in several pieces that I've make, and he spun records at our wedding.  His DJ name is DJ Tell It To My Heart.  Enough said, right?

When Peter and I were working on the piece I made in June, I was fairly anxiety-ridden.  Actually, I was a mess, because the pressure of making a wedding and a life and an evening-length performance piece at the same time was way too high.  Peter was full of pep talks, though.  Peter had a theory, and I told him that I was going to help him publish a series of books to promote it.  Basically, Peter insisted that if your life seemed like a total wreck, it could probably be fixed- or at least improved- very simply.  For example, when everything seems like a giant crisis, you might really just need to eat.  Or, you might need a glass of water.  Or, you might need to get some more sleep. Basic point: big issues can be corrected with small solutions.

This proved to be the case last week, when an average, albeit grey-weathered, Tuesday appeared to be threatening my new, no-longer-depressed disposition.  I couldn't figure it out.  Nothing particularly bad had happened.  And yet, I was so tired, and inefficient, and unmotivated.  I scuffled to the grocery store, and thought judgemental thoughts about most of the people on the street, and cursed the cars standing still in a long line of traffic, and bemoaned my fate as I experienced the first-world woe of standing in line at the organic grocery store with my cilantro and grass-fed beef.

I also bought some cheese, because at some point I realized I was wondering the grocery store in the groggy-headed way I only do when I'm hungry.

I ate the cheese as I walked home.  And then, it happened quite suddenly:  I started to personify a wilted flower coming to life.  Life seemed suddenly full of possibility, and the overcast day appeared enchanting.  I smiled compassionately at the people waiting at the bus stop.  "I JUST NEEDED TO EAT, people!!!!", I wanted to cry out.  "I had low blood suger!"

It really was a relief.

The next day I wrote on Peter's facebook wall:

Was thinking yesterday that we need to get a jump on publishing your series of Simple Things To Do When Life is Sucking. Yesterday, the two pieces of string cheese I ate turned my life around. 

His response: I hope you are also remembering to get some f*$king sleep and take a f*$king shit! 

I love this guy.

So, if life seems impossible, and it seems difficult to fight for joy, I urge you to consider the following:

*Have you eater recently?

*Are you dehydrated?

*Could you use a walk?

*How is your sleeping these days?

Sometimes, it really is the small things.

Fight for joy!

November 3, 2011

About a month ago Ben and I did an early morning run to the grocery store for coffee beans, so naturally I was bra-less, with a hat covering my dirty hair.  And, of course, we ran into a lighting designer that Ben sometimes works with who wanted to meet me.  (So much for my hat disguise-- small city.)  The guy- Dave- asked what I was working on, and I lowered my eyes and muttered something about a highschool production of Guys & Dolls while shrugging off my words, when he interrupted me.

"Noooo!  I keep telling myself that I have to find something fun in every project.  It's like a game, you see.  I was talking to my Mom on the phone, and she said 'David!  You have to fight for joy!'."

At the time, I just wanted a shower and my bra back.  But, now, I'm thinking a lot about Dave's Mom, and her words.  It's probably because the weather changed.  The endless stream of warm, sunny fall days appear to be coming to an end, and the grey is already messing with my head.  I have to fight for joy, man!!!!!  I have to fight for joy, even when I'm down because my winter coat is pretty much the ugliest thing ever (fondly known in our home as my sausage Mom coat).

So, I made soup.  Because soup is basically joy, and spicy soup is even better.  I like to eat spicy soup with a paper towel next to me reserved only for snotty spice-induced nose blowing.  That's why I like eating soup in the privacy of my home.

My Vietnamese sister-in-law might consider this recipe to be bastardized Pho, conceived by a Minnesotan chef.  But, it tasted like the real thing to me.

Pho (Vietnamese Rice Noodle Soup) the Fast Way from The Splendid Table's How To Eat Supper

I get a regular Pho craving, so I was pretty thrilled to learn to make my own.  I usually eat it with chicken or tofu, but this recipe calls for beef.  You can easily substitute one of the former (as well as veggie stock instead of the chicken stock).  Your first batch might be a little pricy(ish), if you don't keep items like fish sauce and hoisin sauce on hand.  The next batch will be cheap!

For The Broth:

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

One 2-3 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

6 whole cloves

1 whole star anise (or 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds)

about 2 teaspoons ground pepper

about 8 cups chicken broth (or veggie broth)

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce

For the Soup:

6-8 oz. linguine-style rice noodles

6-8 oz. top round steak sliced extremely thin (you can substitute tofu or chicken)


Cilantro, Thai basil, thinly sliced jalapeno, bean sprouts, lime wedges

1.  Line a cookie sheet with a piece of foil, and scatter the sliced onion, garlic, ginger, cloves, anise, and paper on the foil (note: I ground up the cloves, anise, and pepper with a pestle and mortar).  Toast these under the broiler for 5-8 minutes, turning the onion once as it cooks.

2.  Scrape all of the toasted business in a large stock pot.  Add the broth, sugar, and fish sauce, and bring to a bubble. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

3.  While it cooks, put the rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with hot water for 10-15 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water when they are a little harder than you want them (the broth will continue to cook them).

4.  Divide the noodles between two bowls.  Divide the meat between the bowls (yes- raw!  The broth cooks the beef.)  Top with the broth & toppings of your choice (hot sauce and hoisin sauce, too!).

Happy thursday.  Fight for joy.

Dance for everybody: 9 x 22 at the Bryant Lake Bowl

November 1, 2011

Almost monthly, I make my way to the Bryant Lake Bowl-- a Minneapolis restaurant that has a bowling alley.  It also has a small, cabaret-style theatre, where you can see local dance, theatre, and comedy.  Tickets are cheap ($6-15, depending on the event, with good portion going directly to the performers), and you can sit and drink a beer or eat a grass-fed burger and watch the entertainment taking place on the small stage.  9 feet by 22 feet, to be exact.  From the front row of the audience, you can touch the stage.  I like this intimacy: being a little too close to the person sitting next to me, and reacting together over the performance.

Once a month, local choreographer Laurie Van Weiren hosts a choreographer's laboratory on this stage, aptly called 9 x 22.  She chooses three choreographers to show work, and the choreographers usually span from emerging to established artists.  This month it included Elsie Martin- a first-time presenter-, local favorite Justin Jones, and Angharad Davies, who moved to the Twin Cities two years ago (and is quickly becoming established).

I could write about the pieces shown, but that's almost beside the point:  regardless of the presenters, the night has the same charm.  This month, the performance sold out, and the audience was crammed together (mostly familiar faces, plus the couple of handfuls of people who had come to 9 x 22 for the first time to see a specific performer) and full of babies.  Yes, babies.  Small children, too.  The dance community is procreating these days, and they bring their kids to shows, and I love it.  I love that the kids are taught to view dance, I love that there's the occasional squawk or inappropriate laughter (I do that, too, sometimes).  After each performance, the choreographer comes out onstage with their performers and answers audience questions: Why did you make this piece?  How did you make this piece?  And then the audience is questioned: Did you stay engaged?  What did you see?  What did you care about?

I love this event, because it is teaching us how to view dance, and it is reminding choreographers to consider an audience.  It develops a relationship between performer and viewer.  And, every viewer's opinion matters, not just the people who have been watching dance for years.  I love this event, because each piece is just 10 minutes, and if I find limited interest in it, I can enjoy my beer and the experience of viewing a work up close and personal, and appreciate the artist's intentions.

There is a time and place for seeing art in a big theatre space, paying $30 a ticket, and sitting straight in your chair, kids left at home.  But, I find that there are few times I get back from one of those performances and want to call up my friends (the ones who don't frequently see performance) and beg them to spend the money for a night like this.  I'd rather convince these buddies to spend $6 to see work from three different choreographers we known little about.  It's certainly not just about the performance, but much more about the community created around figuring out how to view it.

(9 x 22 is at the Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis on the 4th Wednesday of every month at 8:00pm.  Tickets are sliding scale $6-12.  More information can be found here.)

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