There’s a wonderful woman in Austin named Amy Morrow who has started facilitating workshops with master artists; in May I attended a week-long workshop on activism and site-specific dance with Jesse Zaritt, and last week I spent another week-long workshop exploring performance with Deborah Hay. We learned a choreography score called “Figure a Sea,” meditating on the question “What if I presume to be served by everything I see?”
I started DJing in Columbus, Ohio, because when I moved up there for my MFA, I couldn’t find the kind of dance party that met my needs — i.e., a dance party with garage-pop-psych-soul-funk music from 1957-1974 on vinyl. (My needs are very specific.) At the beginning, I had only a few of my dad’s old records, and a friend (Chris Johnson) who was a punk and proto-punk record collector with a fine at-home turntable set-up, and a graphic designer/drummer (Adam Scoppa) I’d just met playing bar trivia who claimed that it had been his dream for two years to start a Motown dance party. This motley crew formed HEATWAVE!, which went over like gangbusters with the Columbus crowd. We used to do theme parties four times a year, including an annual prom night, but when I moved back home the guys stuck to playing records rather than party-planning. I extended my stay in Columbus to make it to HEATWAVE! on March 8 and the guys decided to designate it as prom night in my honor. These dudes were two of my best friends in Columbus; DJing with them opened up a whole new aspect of the city to me; and it was wonderful to see and play with them again. Here are some pics from Megan Leigh Barnard, photographer extraordinaire. (Lots more here and here.) The party happens on the first Saturday of every month at a bar called Ace of Cups, run by the incomparable Marcy Mays.
I planned to title my presentation something really creative like “Grant Writing,” since the OSU Department of English invited me to speak about grant writing — or, more specifically, to say that grant writing was a job English graduate students could be qualified for, in lieu of pursuing a career in academia (hence the series “Alt-Academic”). But I thought this title was more in line with my core message. At the end of it, a PhD student came up to tell me that I’d been “encouraging.” Mission accomplished! (Photo by Jasper den Hartigh, March 2, 2015)
I performed last weekend at the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans with Narcisse|Movement Project – a ten-minute piece titled “the many.” We’ll be presenting it again at the end of the month at Dancing Grounds, along with our piece “The Agency” and work by my lovely pal Meryl Murman. Maritza Mercado-Narcisse (the director of NMP) and Meryl are currently the artists-in-residence at Dancing Grounds. Here are some shots from rehearsal for “the many” in the Lakeside Studio at Dancing Grounds. Photo credit: Claire Bangser.
Melissa Erin Strain was one of the five dancers in the June 2014 Known Mass show, though I first met her on a totally different dance circuit, ie., through an O.G. attendee of my DJ night. Melissa’s a Northshore native and alum of Bloomington’s dance program. She’s got all kinds of chops (Studied Gaga in Israel? Check. Gigging as an aerialist? Check. Judging the competition dance circuit? Check. Working the commercial dance angle? Check.) and is both super warm and super pro. She asked me to jump on this last-minute gig dancing for Southwest Airline’s annual marketing conference. I love Southwest, dance gigs, and Melissa, so this one was easy. The choreography was spoofing on this popular 2014 Southwest commercial involving a bridesmaid rocking the dance floor, the Southwest crew was extremely kind and accommodating, and the other women on the gig were so lovely that we all wondered aloud, while working each other’s hair and makeup in the dressing room, why we couldn’t spend every day just like that. I left with glitter polish on my nails. God bless Melissa Erin Strain.