As part of our “Artist to Artist” interview series, filmmaker Catherine Gund spoke with choreographer Elizabeth Streb (2000 Performing Arts) about their new film “Born to Fly,” the human condition and making every breath count. The following is an edited excerpt from their conversation. You can listen online to the full podcast, or subscribe through iTunes.
Catherine Gund: So, I’m Catherine Gund. I just made a movie called Born To Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity, which premieres at Film Forum in New York on September 10. I’m here with the one and only Elizabeth Streb, and the two of us are going to have a conversation about what it was like to make the movie, why we did it, what we think it achieved—or didn’t achieve—and what people might get out of it. But I think we should just start with what maybe you thought, at the very beginning, about the idea of making a movie, having a movie made. What did you imagine it might be? Because I know, no matter what your answer is, it was not what it ended up being.
Elizabeth Streb: Well, for one, I was extremely excited and inspired because I know that you were around STREB and SLAM [Streb’s school and creative center], both with your children and yourself for years and years and years, so it wasn’t someone coming in that I didn’t know from the outside. I felt that you would have the worm’s eye view, the eagle’s eye view, the human eye view straight on, from the bottom up, from the top down. And I completely trusted that however you saw the story of STREB leading up to the London Olympics [where Streb staged public performances on London landmarks], I completely trusted. And I don’t think I, in my mind, fabricated what it would be like, at all. Continue reading
Beginning on August 28 in Vancouver, composer and cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum (2013 Performing Arts) embarks on his Acoustic Bicycle Tour, a five-week, 1,800-mile performance journey of the West Coast that concludes at the Mexican border. Conceiving of the entire trip as a kind of composition, Bynum will travel solely by bicycle, presenting solo concerts and playing with ensembles of area musicians in a variety of contexts and venues ranging from pop-up outdoor concerts to art galleries to concert halls. The endeavor is a performance art piece, a philosophical statement, a celebration of musical community and an exercise in extreme physicality.
Highlights from the planned performances include duets and small ensembles with some of the finest musicians on the coast, including trumpeter Cuong Vu (9/3, Seattle, WA), pianist Myra Melford (9/19, San Francisco, CA) and bassist Mark Dresser (9/29, Mission Viejo, CA); large ensembles of local artists performing Bynum’s compositions and conducted improvisations, including the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble (9/7, Portland, OR) and Phillip Greenlief’s OrcheSperry (9/16, Berkeley, CA); and two concerts featuring the music of Bynum’s longtime mentor and collaborator Anthony Braxton—a quartet co-led with saxophonist James Fei exploring Braxton’s classic 1970s small group music (9/17, Oakland, CA), then a concert under the leadership of the maestro at the Angel City Jazz Festival (9/27, Los Angeles, CA). Bynum will also appear at the Angel City Jazz Festival as a leader, with an all-star band of Los Angeles-area musicians performing music from his critically acclaimed Sextet and 7-tette recordings (9/28, Los Angeles, CA). Continue reading
As part of our “Artist to Artist” interview series, Seattle-based artists Joshua Kohl and Haruko Nishimura of Degenerate Art Ensemble (2013 Performing Arts) spoke with choreographer Amy O’Neal (2006 Performing Arts), also based in Seattle, about collaboration in dance, choreography and site-specific performance work. The following is an edited excerpt from their conversation. You can listen online to the full podcast, or subscribe through iTunes.
Joshua Kohl: We thought we could talk about a whole bunch of things because we have a lot in common, and a lot of differences in our work.
Amy O’Neal: And we’ve known each other in the Seattle community for at least ten years, or more?
Joshua: Probably more.
Amy: And have been each other’s work in various ways.
Haruko Nishimura: Yeah. And we do both music and dance and different media. Maybe we could talk about process or collaboration? Amy, I know you have five projects right now, but, generally, how do you start the process from you, and how do you spread or hand over or share to another collaborator in your team or in your project?
Amy: So, this next project I’m doing is called Opposing Forces and I’m working with a cast of B-boy break dancers from Seattle. And I’m working with DJ WD40 to make original music. It’s going to premiere at On the Boards in October. Continue reading
During the months of August, September and October, the staff of the MAP Fund (administered by Creative Capital) will be on the road, spreading the word about the program’s upcoming 2015 grant cycle. With the support of presenting partners across the country, Program Director Moira Brennan will lead sessions in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Miami, and Program Associate Lauren Slone will travel to Washington DC, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and Houston. Check here for specific dates and attendance information, and read on for a basic overview of the sessions, frequently asked questions and more.
This week, New Orleans-based performance companies Mondo Bizarro and Art Spot Productions (2013 Performing Arts) launch the national tour of their site-responsive performance, Cry You One, at the Clear Creek Festival Grounds in Rockcastle County, KY. Cry You One is an outdoor performance and online platform inspired by the disappearing wetlands of Southeast Louisiana. Part song, part story, part procession for our lost land, Cry You One utilizes the unique music and stories of Louisiana to inspire connections between people working to steward the natural world wherever they live.
I spoke with Mondo Bizarro’s Nick Slie, one of the leading artists on the project, about the story behind Cry You One, adapting the work for the Kentucky presentation, and the national tour of the work.
Jenny Gill: Cry You One was originally developed to celebrate and mourn the disappearing wetlands of your native Southern Louisiana. Now, you’re touring it to other regions. What has your process been for adapting Cry You One to the Appalachian setting outside of Berea, KY? Was it a challenge to create characters for the performance that hold the same relevance for you personally as the original characters for the Louisiana iteration?
Nick Slie: The best way I can explain this is to take you back a couple of years. In 2009, I attended my first Clear Creek Festival. The festival is an annual, multi-disciplinary event, now in its 12th year, that brings several hundred Kentuckians from rural and urban communities together with artist-activists and other great people from throughout the south and across the country. The intention of the Festival is sharing good music and art, building community, and inspiring all of us to live more sustainably—in harmony with nature and with one another. Started by the renowned singer Mitch Barrett over ten years ago, the festival features nationally recognized music and theater acts next to edible food walks and rocket fuel workshops. Continue reading
Emily Johnson (2013 Performing Arts) presented her project Shore at the 2013 Creative Capital Artist Retreat last summer. Shore is a multi-day performance/installation of dance, volunteerism, feasting and storytelling. The project develops in each venue over an extended period of time, requiring conversation and collaboration amongst organizations. Shore begins with a feast, followed by a night of curated storytelling. You can watch more artist presentations from the Retreat on our Vimeo channel.
On May 19, The Village Voice presented its 59th annual Obie Awards, celebrating achievement in the Off-Broadway and off-off Broadway theater. We were thrilled to hear that Lisa Kron (2000 Performing Arts) received a 2014 Obie for the musical theater work Fun Home.
Based on the graphic memoir by lesbian cartoonist Alison Bechdel, Fun Home dramatizes Bechdel’s coming-of-age and her relationship with her closeted gay father. The critically acclaimed musical adaptation ran at The Public Theater from October to December 2013. Along with Kron as the playwright and lyricist, composer Jeanine Tesori and director Sam Gold also received Obie Awards for the production.
Kyle Abraham (2013 Performing Arts) presents his project The Social at the 2013 Creative Capital Artist Retreat. The Social is a reflective, evening-length dance work that explores social dance and the memories associated with attending your first school dance, church function or house party. Facilitating an open environment for audiences to get up and dance before and after the show, the work embodies what those experiences were like for the viewer and performer alike. You can watch more artist presentations from the Retreat on our YouTube channel.
In this episode of the PBS web series The Art Assignment, 2013 Performing Arts awardee Jace Clayton (aka DJ /Rupture) challenges you to take a walk from where you live and find the quietest place. Here are his instructions for completing this “art assignment”:
1. Go outside and talk a walk from where you live or are staying at the moment.
2. Continue until you’ve found the quietest place possible.
3. Take a moment to absorb it. Then document the place through photography or video. Upload it to your social media platform of choice using #theartassignment.
Read more and join the conversation on the Art Assignment YouTube page.