Erin Drummond

This will be Erin Drummond’s second time at the Cabaret, having performed in “Love Songs” by David DeBlieck earlier this fall as part of our recurring Kinetic Kitchen series. But her dance career stretches back much further, having begun at the tender age of eight when she took a ballet class because her best friend Laura wanted to take it. (Hey, that sounds like how I got into Doctor Who…) Her work is constantly evolving; one interest that currently drives her work is the body’s sensorial relationship to place: “there is a split second lag between the energy field around your body and the electrical activity in your brain.  We sense the world before we process it on a cerebral level, and this fascinates me.  I am interested in the forms, movements, energies, and qualities that can emerge from a sensorial exploration- even with the very air, movement of our blood, and resonance of our bones- before the thinking mind gets involved.  I nurture this connection by using an intuitive form of directing in the rehearsal process, and then refining the work from there.” Erin is also interested in how a dance formed in interaction with one place is changed when transplanted into another, as it will be this weekend when “Laoi na Mn Mora” (which grew out of reciprocity with the sea) comes to the indoor performance space of Patrick’s Cabaret. 

Erin has had the opportunity to investigate these interests in many different locations. In 2004 she was study abroad in Samoa and interviewing local Samoans about their experiences with aitu (spirits) and as the culmination of the project, she put together a performance piece integrating local legends and dance with her own performative voice, entitled “My Ancestor is a Cloud.”    In 2007, a composer friend of hers who was working for a dance/theater company in Bangkok invited her to come work on a project commissioned by the UN.  She remembers many of the UN delegates insisting that the dance performance should not be included in their ceremony, because the issues were “too important for art,” whereupon Angh, the woman largely responsible for starting  the commission, replied, “these issues are so important, we need every avenue possible to explore them!”  This was a moment that greatly inspired Erin, and after seeing the devastation of the recent tsunamis in Southeast Asia and Samoa, she says she is further impassioned in the exploration of artistic forms- esp. through relationship with place- as an invaluable way to tune into otherwise unseen possibilities for the climate, earth, and ourselves.

I think I’ll let her close this out: “As much as I may try to describe my work in words, the life of it is in the thing itself.” To see the life of the thing, head down to Patrick’s Cabaret Friday or Saturday. Have fun!

Alexandra Owings

Another newbie! Ladies and gentlemen, welcome Alexandra Owings to the fold and to her first time at Patrick’s Cabaret! She will be treating you to a fantastic belly-dancing performance this weekend, and hopefully weekends to come.

Alexandra has been dancing since she was a child, but it wasn’t until she was sixteen that she discovered belly dance and fell in love with it. She quickly discovered its many fusions–tribal, hip-hop, Latin, etc.– and was excited by their challenges. She loved learning to feel and dance to the music itself, not eight-counts. These days her favorite thing about dancing is “the feeling you get when your body is entirely in sync with the music. I love picking out interesting beats to dance to and it is so much fun to explore how your body and your different body parts can hit the beats. I think a good song to dance to really helps a dancer to feel the music and move their body to the beat of the song. When I come across a new song I love, it is such a good feeling like you are meant to move to the song. I think that is why I love gothic fusion so much: because the songs speak to me.”

You know, I’ve really missed doing interviews. You get to find out so much interesting stuff. For instance, before this interview, I had no idea what gothic-tribal belly dance was, but now I know that this genre, which Alexandra has been exploring recently, is a fusion dance made up of gothic-style and ATS (American Tribal Style, itself derived from Middle Eastern bellydance). Alexandra describes it as incorporating “mostly ATS, hip-hop, and modern style dance…gothic in that the music, costume, and movements are very dark, sensual, yet cutting edge and dynamic.”  It has less of bellydance’s stereotypical “girly, sexy” vibe and more of “the darkness of vampires, the isolations of hip-hop, and the sensuality of traditional belly dance .”

Also a dance teacher, Alexandra loves “picking out songs that make my students move. I can see the excitement in their bones when they hear a good song. It makes them feel empowered, feminine, sexy, yet humble at the same time. Dance is so liberating and I love for my students to feel that rush of feeling throughout their bodies when they dance.”

Lastly, Alexandra would like to take this opportunity to thank the many people in her life have taught her to dance and/or shown her good music, for helping her to develop and grow as a dancer: “my mom taught me to feel music, my sister taught me that dancing is liberating, my brother taught me that music is an instrument to show how you
feel, my dance teachers have taught me technique, and my fiancé has taught me confidence and has pushed me into achieving my goals. I thank all of them for their help!”

That certainly is a lot of people, eh? Don’t let their gifts be in vain! Come see Alexandra tomorrow and Saturday and Patrick’s Cabaret.

Alison Bergblom-Johnson

Because the story she will be presenting, “Because the Voices…” (a follow up to her December 2008 piece “She’s Going to Heal: Alma”) deals issues of mental health and the mental health system, I began the interview with questions about that. Alison says that the idea that people can think themselves out of a mental health condition is one of the most frustrating misconceptions out there, one still held by many people. She identifies the biggest weakness of the mental health system as lack of parity, but is excited for its arrival–most major health plans will implement it between now and the first of the year. Parity means that mental health must be treated at the same level as physical health; care can still be rationed, but not in a different way than physical health is rationed. This will make care much more affordable, which will result in more people being treated; more people being treated will result in more people being treated while working; and more people being treated while working means a significant decrease in the stigma associated with mental health conditions, and hopefully as well as in misconceptions like the one mentioned above.

“Because of the Voices…” is a work of creative nonfiction, a genre Alison says she is drawn to because she loves “being able to be truthful in my writing about my own experience. I also love the opportunity to shape my experiences by how I frame them. I love excavating others’ lives as well, although I limit this to people who are dead.” Her influences and inspirations range from Mikhal Gilmore–“a teacher for me about how everything does not need to be tied up neatly, but that we must do the real work of fully telling the truth”–to Lee Smith for how she tells women’s stories to Toni Morrison for being so engaged with history to Joan Didion, who “walks tightropes with virtuosity and it is wonderful to watch how she doesn’t fall.”  Alison passes on skills like these herself through teaching writing:”I teach because I love having something to offer students, and because I learn from it. Students writing well is always rewarding, but seeing them embrace their own stories is even more so.”

Adrienne Vaughn

Adrienne Vaughn, newcomer to the Cabaret but hopefully a future regular, describes her passion in life as being creative, writing and singing songs to express moments in life. She got a good head start: she grew up singing with her father and sister, and has always written songs, with or without instrumental accompaniment. Her father “tried putting a guitar in my hands since grade school and encouraged me to play.  It didn’t really take until I was sixteen.”

Of her music she says, “I try to be authentic and honest, and I hope people enjoy what we have to offer.” She listened to a wide variety of music growing up, garnering inspirations and influences like Mary Lou Lord, Sebadoh, Bob Dylan, Elliot Smith, Alison Krauss, and Johnny Cash. What interest her the most were “lyrics that locked me into a feeling or thought…I wanted to do the same. I saw it as a way to express myself.”

Adrienne will be expressing herself onstage this weekend with fellow See and Sky band member Corey Brunsvold, who she met a few years ago in a project called Incommunicado. The band broke up, but Adrienne and Corey started dating! They still wanted to play together so they pulled in their friend Mike Gunnerson and began recording new songs as See and Sky.

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Come on down this weekend to catch their act and the rest of the Pre-Fixe Cabaret. (For more info, www.patrickscabaret.org.) Hope you enjoyed this post; next up is Alison Bergblom-Johnson!

Victoria Olender

Another artist gracing our stages Friday and Saturday evenings will be dancer Victoria Olender, who performed here a few years ago in another open call cabaret, returning to dance and choreography after a long hiatus due to injuries and a decision to pursue other interests for awhile. She gushes, “The dance community that performs at Patrick’s is fantastic, and extremely varied…I loved the intimacy and support of the fellow dancers and audience.  It helps me greatly to have a warm environment to present work in.”

Aww. Now the Cabaret is blushing.

Victoria has performed all over the world: England, Scotland, Crete, India, Egypt, France and Russia. Of the experience she says, “The biggest surprise is how much alike everyone is!  I was hoping for major surprises, but I’ve found the connection between people through movement is immediate and common.    Dancers seem to be able to connect and mobilize quickly without much ado!” It reminded her of actors who meet for the first time only seconds before shooting a romantic scene, where “you just lose yourself in the focus and pleasure of creative work and everyone follows suit.” One place that made a deep impression upon her was Russia, where “the people were so hungry for modern dance and other ways of self-expression.  They were open to everyone presenting and sincerely appreciated each person’s contribution.  They were the most sincere and giving people I have encountered.” Her translator presented her with chocolates and souvenirs each day, and a woman in the class presented her with an apple (a token of great artistic appreciation, as it would have been very expensive and difficult to get) and also painted her a beautiful picture that Victoria has to this day. She says those she enountered were ” people of the heart…They are the warmest and most joyful people.”

 Victoria also does significant work a little closer to home. She calls herself privileged to be a resident artist in the Minnesota public school system, saying that “students long to move their bodies and explore what they can do.  The ease and natural creativity of students was awe inspiring to me.  I love seeing them jump up and go for a movement with their whole being, not restricted by judgement or some outside authority.  I love working with kids because they are their own innate authority when it comes to creative expression, and I don’t get to see that much in the adult world, we get so self-conscious and afraid of messing-up.'”

Victoria is looking forward to presenting work that she loves for an audience this weekend, and thanks her “phenomenal dancer as Kirstin Ostebee…a magnificent dancer, performer and person.” Come see her work this weekend!

 

 

Non Edwards

As promised, I bring you the fruits of e-mail interviews with the performers in the upcoming Pre-Fixe Cabaret (I am ashamed to tell you how very, very long it took me to get that pun). First on the menu: Non Edwards!

Non Edwards and her awesome name are not newcomers to Patrick’s Cabaret. In the summer of 2007, she performed here as part of Nora Bichler and Carla Bode’s Fringe Festival show “That Which Binds.” She’s been dancing since she was four or five, and took ballet and jazz through high school. However, she says, it wasn’t until she got introduced to modern dance her sophomore year at Grinnell College that dancing became the staple of her life that it is today. After just one year studying with Shawn Womack, she was completely, utterly, absolutely hooked. Shawn continues to be a huge influence and inspiration, with Non saying that “her performance quality has really stuck with me, and I think she’s a brilliant and poignant choreographer.”  She’s also a big fan of Ohad Naharin, though she regretfully notes that she has not seen his work live.

For her upcoming performance she will be showing three pieces. The first is an excerpt of a longer piece called ‘Lifeboat.’  For this trio she says, “I spent a lot of time reading about the atomic bomb–its creation, its lingering effects today, and what it would feel like to have the decision of life or death on one’s hands.” She originally choreographed it in  spring 2008 while dancing with the 940 Dance Company in Lawrence, Kansas. She also spent a lot of time developing movement in the studio alone and putting it on the dancers during rehearsal and seeing how things evolved.
The second piece (replacing the previously scheduled ‘Hallelujah’) is an improvised duet between Non and cellist Daniel Furuta. They improvise together every now and then, and though some dancers might find the fact that Daniel is really interested in playing the cello in unconventional ways rather disconcerting, Non says that “considering some of the things I’ve used for a sound score, it’s not as disconcerting to me as it is to most people. He’s also a really great improvisor and has been doing some composing, so it’s a great mutual learning experience for us.”
The last piece is a quintet titled “Trial & Error” that she choreographed last spring (also with the 940 Dance Company). She explains: “I was thinking about ways that we hold ourselves and the people we love back. I was contemplating moving to the Twin Cities at the time, and it was kind of my way of working out the things that were keeping me from doing it and the ways that the TC kept drawing me here.”
Right now Non says that “I really just want to do as much as possible at this point to kind of figure out what I want. I am interested in doing really physical and visually pleasing work right now, but that’s not to say I don’t appreciate or want to be making more conceptual work in the future…And I’d love to be performing work other than just my own, so if there are any choreographers out there looking for a dancer, let me know!”  Anyone looking to get in contact with her or join her e-mail list can shoot her a letter at NEDanceWorks@gmail.com.

Good news, bad news

Good news!: I’m going to be in an awesome play, Code 21, written by a fellow Macalester college student. I also got a few of my sketches into the fall Bad Comedy show, and will be directing them as well as acting in a few others.

Bad news!: The performance dates for both these conflict with Patrick’s Cabaret shows, so I’m going to miss all of the Prix-Fixe Cabaret and the Somewhat 90s Variety Show. Dammit! I’m also missing tonight’s show (but I’ll be there tomorrow) due to a rehearsal that I could not weasel my way out of.

Good news!: Since I won’t be working at shows, I’ll have to spend more time working from home, which means much more regular updating of this blog. I’m going to try to get back into the habit of interviewing some of the upcoming performers, which I have regrettably let slide.

I suppose that could be bad news if you don’t like the blog.

Anyhow, here’s what I’ll be missing tonight (but you shouldn’t!):

On the Town & Off the Wall- Open Call Cabaret
tickets- $8 from artists, $10 at the door
Featuring:
Todd Jay as Myrtle
short film by Vincent De Giulio
TAJIMdances
storytelling by Joan Calof
music with Erik Stoeckler
tap dance by Jeremy Bensussan

As always, check out patrickscabaret.org for more information.