A dance performance, or a party

February 21, 2014

We are all packed up! I'm about to lose internet! I wish I had better documentation of last week's Small Dances shows-- other than this iphone shot of the back of audience member's heads!

Seriously though: we had some awesome, party-esque Small Dances performances last week, including this night in the Ivy building, where we had a potluck picnic on astroturf before the show. I truly love this work, the outstanding performers in it, and the food and wine-sharing gatherings we've been having at each of the performances.

We could all probably use a party at this point in the winter, and I hope you're able to make it to this one (as long as it doesn't involve a long drive or a flight). We have 6 more performances open to the public. I'm especially looking forward to Sunday's, which will take place in my very empty St. Paul living room post-move. I like to think of it as a last rite of passage to this space where I made the piece, and experienced The Most Personal Growth Ever.

You can read more about our run over here, and more about the piece on the City Pages blog. Email SmallArtMN(at)gmail(dot)com if you'd like a reservation. 

I'd also like to remind Minnesotans everywhere that there's an end to winter in sight: Daylight Savings is in 16 days!!!!!!!


February 19, 2014

Small Art has a new home! We do too. Ben and I will officially move across the river to Minneapolis this weekend. Do you know what's dreamy and strange and wonderful and hard for impatient people? Why, that would be home-buying! We put an offer on this little old house on December 16, and then did a lot of waiting. I wanted to close after my project opened, and we did the next day.

I really like it. That's a huge understatement-- I'm so fond of the windows and light, the amazing use of 915 square feet, the big kitchen, and the little strip of exposed brick. I keep hearing little orphan Annie in my head: I think I'm gonna like it here!

In other news, my little show opened last week, and I love it a lot. We've had such generous hosts, warm audiences, and great parties. People have made soup for these shows! It's very much feeling like Spring in my heart. 

If all of this weren't enough excitement, I'm starting a new adventure on Monday. An adventure that starts at 9am on Monday morning with business casual wear. Plots and plans will be revealed! 

5 With: Claire Avitabile

February 13, 2014

Tonight is the preview performance of 20% Theatre's THE NAKED I: INSIDES OUT, a series of plays that explore queer and trans experience through monologues, scenes, and spoken word. 20%, founded by Claire Avitabile, is dedicated to telling these stories, and to supporting and promoting the work of female and transgender theatre artists. I'm so grateful that Claire is here in the Twin Cities, making this brave work, and advocating for these vital members of our arts community. THE NAKED I runs until February 23 at Intermedia Arts, and tickets are starting to sell out! 

What do you do or make?
I produce and direct new work, often with LGBTQ themes and/or focusing on stories from women and transgender individuals. I like to help tell the untold stories, stories that punch people in the gut and open their eyes really wide. Most of my directing is with 20% Theatre Company, which I founded in 2006.

What's the biggest challenge in your work?
Being a director is one of the loneliest jobs in the performing arts-- there's only one of them, unless there happens to be an assistant. It's hard not having another director to talk to; there's no immediate or readily available connection or collaboration waiting for me after rehearsal.

What's your advice for finding satisfaction & success as a creative person?
Learn as much as you can about in your field. I owe much of my success in my dream field to studying everything from set design to stage management, and to a publicity internship I had as a senior in college. With that gig I learned about graphic design, the proper format for press releases, how to sell performing arts, how to manage and run a box office, etc... That experience helped me land theatre administration jobs right out of college, which allowed me to earn money while still pursuing directing.

How do you make it all financially work?
For the past seven years, I've had two full-time theatre jobs. I am exhausted, sure, but I'm working hard so that within a year or two I will be working for 20% full-time, and can drop the other job. Growing up, we didn't have a lot of money, so I learned financial independence at a young age; I am good at budgeting and saving. 

What's one of your dream projects?
My dream project currently has no script, but exists in my head as a devised work using some stories I've written, mixed with movement, music, and contributions from the cast. It will touch on themes of queerness and identity, father/daughter relationships, and substance abuse. Sounds heavy, but I promise there will be a lot of lightness as well. Finding the lightness is always my favorite challenge as an artist, and often the most rewarding.

[You can read more interviews here.]

More Ways To Pass The Winter

February 8, 2014

February: made possible by coffee & whipped cream
We're at February 8. I won't do the math again, but I think we're doing pretty well with this Winter thing. Here are some ways to make the time fly by:
  • My friend Levi Weinhagen (soon my new neighbor!) has a project for the new year called Friend a Day. As in, he's writing nice, astute, appreciative things about a different human every single day. Believe it or not, my love of this project goes beyond being the subject of one of these kind posts. I think of it like this: 365 people different people will wake up in the morning and get the surprise of reading lovely things written about their awesome but very ordinary selves. That's my kind of art project. Levi is a fantastic observer of people and their details, and a most stellar person and artist. You should go find him on twitter, where he writes helpful and witty things.
  • Molly Wisenberg's writing is a huge comfort to me. She gave a talk about blogging recently, and you can read it over here. I don't think her words are specific to blogging-- fill in song writing, choreography, or film making in the blank. She writes about the importance of showing up, and how creative work changes over time. I have been thinking about blogging in particular, though. This blog has opened up huge opportunities for me lately. It's not because it has a big readership (it doesn't). It's because writing regularly in this space over the past 2 1/2 years has helped me figure out what I love-- what I want to advocate for, build, and make space for. That's pretty huge. I'm grateful for this clarity (which has taken plenty of time).
  • If all else fails, do your taxes. Minnesota Playlist has been posting tax advice for creatives, and we could all probably use some of that.
Happy weekend!

5 With: Emily Gastineau

February 7, 2014

Photo by Laurie Van Wieren
As of this Spring, I've been out of college for 10 years (!!!).  Time has continued to refine a lot of my beliefs about art and art-making. For instance, I've realized that many of the artists I admire most didn't come out of the womb making awesome work. Instead they are people who know how to be persistent, work hard, and keep asking questions. I think of these characteristics when I watch Emily Gastineau's art practice. She's continually digging in, trying something new, contributing to the performance community, and excited about it all. It's really inspiring to watch! I look forward to what's ahead for Emily & her work. You can stay posted on her website

Tell us about your creative projects-- what do you make or do?
I make performance. I engage with the histories of dance, performance art, and criticism. I have a body of solo work, as well as a growing body of work with my collaborator Billy Mullaney. 

What are the challenges (as you see them) of making a life doing what you love?
Nobody should be an artist if they want to be more comfortable. I think you have to be prepared to make some big sacrifices--financial, professional, social, practical, familial, ideological--and to stay interested enough in your own work that it’s worth it. Art is one of the few areas of society where profit isn’t the first priority. I'm interested in working with rather than against that, seeing what it's like to make things without value. So my challenge is to see the usual challenges--lack of money, time, other resources--not as challenges to be ameliorated, but as prompts, conditions, or openings.

What advice do you have with regards to making a living and finding satisfaction as a creative person
The resource I most want to recommend won’t make things better or easier--but it totally blew open and reconfigured the way I think about art, living-making, and satisfaction. Here it comes: Spangbergianism by Swedish choreographer Marten Spangberg. There’s a book and a blog.  

What are you most excited about with regards to your creative work?
Right now, I am excited about:
-the evening I'm curating with Billy at the White Page on March 16--Bring on the Indigo: Performance from NY & MPLS
-researching, loving and hating conceptual poet Kenneth Goldsmith 
-that I’m starting to see more writing by artists questioning the role of art for social justice under neoliberalism, like this one (thanks to Charles Campbell for the link.) 

How do you make it happen (financially/energetically/practically)?
I have a day job, which happens to be arts admin but is unconnected to my artistic practice. At the moment, it works for me to divide the two. I tend to work about 15 hours a week at my day job and spend 35-40 on art work, sometimes paid but often not. I keep my cost of living low, I do projects on the cheap (beg, borrow, barter, barter), and have produced a show and gone on tour for a few hundred dollars apiece. I don’t stop.

I am energized by having collaborators I trust and being part of an artistic community. I am also energized by operating independently. Most of all, I'm energized about my work and my vision for what art can become. 

[You can read more interviews over here.]

PERFORMANCES: February 13 through March 9

February 3, 2014

I have a history of getting so sucked into the performance-making process that I forget to do things like invite people to come, and arrange for someone to document the show.

EXCEPT THAT I REALLY WANT YOU TO SEE THIS SHOW, so I'm not going to forget to promote it.

First of all, my cast is really talented, and just as charming. Secondly, I think that this little performance will make your heart happy. Also: you get to walk into a stranger's house to watch the show, and that's really fun, too. 

All of the shows mentioned below are open to the public, pay-as-able, and run about an hour. Beer and wine will be served, so it's really like a wintertime party. All shows also require an RSVP to SmallArtMN@gmail.com. The show on the 23rd is at my St. Paul house, and we will have just moved out-- you can help us bid farewell. Homes that have pets are noted on the website. I think those are most of the details... 

Meanwhile, posting here will be minimal-- with the exception of a weekly 5-With interview. When I'm not having panicky moments, I'm really enjoying the final steps in this process. So, come see!

--Small Dances performances--
Thursday, February 13               House show, Whittier, Minneapolis.

Saturday, February 15                House show, Merriam Park, St. Paul. 

Monday, February 17                 The Hive, Ivy Building for the Arts, Seward, Minneapolis.
Sunday, February 23                   House show, Cathedral Hill, St. Paul.

Tuesday, February 25                 Omega House, Whittier, Minneapolis. 

Wednesday, February 26            House show, Whittier, Minneapolis. 

Saturday, March 1                       House show, South Minneapolis. 

Sunday, March 9                          Skewed Visions, Casket Arts Building, NE Minneapolis.


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