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“No Hipsters Rock N Roll Revue” at Club Bohemia

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With dim lighting, jazz music blaring over the PA, and an audience largely comprised of friends of the performers, Club Bohemia cultivated a seedy vibe in a laid-back environment last Thursday – a great atmosphere for a night of burlesque, spoken word, and music.

The night began with Stella Swingline strutting around stage and through the crowd, undressing from her business woman outfit. While showing great stage presence, she also showed the most composure out of any of the performers. During her second act, later in the evening, the music cut out. Rather than panic, she calmly maintained her pose until the music came back (which seemed to take forever) and finished her routine, which saw her, ironically, redressing.

Madam K took a different approach, coming out in heavy, unrevealing outfits, giving her plenty of time to twirl gracefully around the stage and remove them. Her routines had unexpected themes – with her first called “Books for Burlesque.” Her second saw her undressing from traditional Jewish garb. Both of her performances displayed great choreography and confidence.

The most tongue-in-cheek performance belonged to Thru The Keyhole Burlesque, asking the crowd beforehand “do you like boobs?” then performing to novelty cabaret song “Boobs” by Ruth Wallis, which has to be one of the most ridiculous songs I’ve ever heard. Interestingly, most of the hooting and cheering for all of the burlesque performers came from women, lending credence to the idea that burlesque is about empowerment rather than straight-up objectification.

For spoken word, the audience was first treated to storytelling by Brendyn Schneider, who immediately caught attention by coming to the stage in a gorilla costume. Considering that his story was about his adventures in the suit and people’s reactions to him as “Nigel The Gorilla,” it was appropriate. His second story, later in the evening, was more traditional – a reflection on his younger family life, particularly with his grandfather, and a contemplation of how he and his friends will be as senior citizens. Despite having no plans to ever don a gorilla costume, I didn’t have much trouble relating to his stories, and his energy kept the crowd engaged.

Narragansett Beer poet laureate and host Marc Zegans only told a few poems, but had me pondering much more than I normally would on any given evening at a bar. “A Hipster Retired” served as the mission statement of the evening. He wasn’t necessarily condemning people wearing skinny jeans, or indie rockers, or PBR drinkers with his disapproval, but rather the apathetic people on the sidelines. It’s as fair a railing against “hipsters” as I’ve ever seen. “I Am Not A Performance Poet” clearly established Marc as someone more concerned with the words rather than the reading. The poem also made me consider the challenge of telling poems (or of any kind of performance, really) in a live setting, the challenge of being nuanced and complex while also making sure the meaning isn’t lost on an audience who may only hear it once.

Music was first provided by Aaron Shadwell (of the band Shadwell), who said that he wanted to make the crowd “feel stuff.” His style was straightforward pop/rock with some hints of Brit pop; his voice taking on a slight English accent (almost Muse-like) at its most powerful. Quiet, fingerpicked songs as well as four chord rockers filled the setlist, with some banter in between. He also threw in a few covers, including a brooding version of “When Doves Cry.” The crowd was very appreciative, as he earned some of the longest and loudest applause breaks of the night.

The night ended with a performance from the Duet Jameson. They played Gypsy Jazz, an upbeat, toe-tapping style that always seems to be in motion, popularized by Django Reindhardt. The duo showed great skill as they deftly handled complex lead and rhythm patterns, effortlessly switching between their duties. The sound mixing wasn’t optimal, but it didn’t do much to impede their charming, delightful performance.

At nearly three hours, The No Hipsters Rock N Roll Revue probably could’ve been shortened. Still, they managed to showcase an eclectic group of performers, and the format, which rarely saw the same type of act follow another, kept the night from getting stale. It’s a great idea for a show, and I’m hopeful there will be future iterations.

Photos by Kira Doucette

Art

Rain and Fire in Sedona

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Ange Alex

A rainy day in Sedona? What are we going to do. Everything we have planned is outdoors. I am pretty sure that is why people come to Sedona, for the beautiful OUTDOOR activities, like hiking, biking, Jeep tours, viewing the red rocks and photography. 

What to do, what to do.

Oh, I know. I had the privilege of meeting some great artists that work in fire and glass! The perfect indoor activity when your outdoor plans are washed away!

The Melting Point in Sedona, conveniently located across the street for the Whole Foods (two birds with one stone, yeah!), is a group of artist focusing on creating and teaching others how to create as well.

When we entered the facilities, it was like entering a fine arts gallery. So many beautiful works of glass art. Jordan Ford is the general manager and one of the Artists. He came out of the workshop and told us the rules, then brought us into the fold. 

We were about to become glass blowers! 

Jordan had a love for the natural world from a very early age. He went on to study geology in college but that is when he discovered glass. He currently has Bachelor’s Degrees in both Earth Science/Geology and Visual Arts/Glassblowing.

Jordan says , “It’s the process of blowing glass that drives me. I find the physical act of making glass so overwhelmingly fascinating. I approach most of my work with a consideration for the more classical techniques – it’s the framework that I use as a jumping point for experimentation.”

Not only is Jordan incredibly talented, he is really personable and extremely funny. He made everyone in the room feel at ease and we all often irrupted in bouts of laughter.

Another artist that was helping us is Austin Littenberg. Austin became interested in the art of glass blowing at age 16 after watching a documentary. He spent over 12 years developing his craft and learning the technical precision needed to work at this level.

Austin views the many ways Art presents itself and is in tune with it all, and it shows.

Clearly these two artist love what they do, and I for one am grateful for their expertise and their willingness to show the world their art.

They worked with us to create a beautiful cactus, complete with three flowers, one for each kid, and a Sedona rock like base. We loved the patience they showed and the skill to make us feel at ease. We never felt like  we were about to do something we just couldn’t. It felt like we had been doing this before. That is the measure of a true instructor. 

Our work of art was complete and we left there feeling accomplished and quite honestly, amazing! 

Both Austin and Jordan have remarkable skills but also wonderful comedic timing. They were a absolutely pleasure to meet and I look forward to keeping up with their art in the future.

If you find yourself in Sedona and want to meet some really wonderful people, stop by The Melting Point and say hello! While you’re there, blow some glass!

How could I forget one of them most important things; They have a studio dog! Austin brings his sweet baby girl to work with him and she is an angel! We loved her! Make sure you give her some love when you visit!

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Artists to Watch

Cry With Us! Puddles Pity Party in Orlando

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Ange Alex

I owe him a poem:

Here’s a story of a sad clown who one night in February was traveling through O-town. 

He brought a suitcase and a lot of gum, he brought music and videos and tons of fun.

He sang high but mostly he sang low, and he put of one hell of a good show.

He gave a bearded guy a cupcake and danced with a lady, a wolf he would make

There is no doubt he is a boss sir, he even got love from Kevin Costner.

Fans filled the plaza for a night of delight as the 7 foot clown gave us some real insight.

He sang Bowie and Queen and even some Who, also Cash, Lorde and “Let it go” too

Videos played of pets and babies crying, also beautiful artwork and people smiling.

Last night Orlando was anything but mad as we showed much love for a clown that is sad.

Ok, I’d cry too after that poem. Here’s some more info:

If you haven’t been to see a Puddles Pity Party show, you are missing out. 

The show had me smiling and laughing so hard my stomach hurt, but I was also moved so many times by the range of Puddles voice. True entertainment never gets old and I have a feeling he is going to last forever.

I loved the interaction he had with the crowd. He pulled numerous people up to help him on stage and all of them were good sports, one man even singing the entire song, “All by myself” karaoke style! The show was so well thought out and planned but with room for some hilarious improv. Especially at the end when he pulled the 3 fans from the audience dressed like clowns. At the end of them performing together, Puddles suddenly remembers that he is scared of clowns! Genius! 

Hands down one of the best performances I’ve seen in years.

 

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Dance

“20/20:Visionary”: Looking Back, Looking Forward

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Photograph by Charlie McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

Last weekend (March 18-20) the Atlanta Ballet gifted the city with “20/20: Visionary,” three pieces, including a world premiere, presented at the Cobb Energy Center.

The world premiere, “Playground,” by British choreographer Douglas Lee, belied its name by being a shadowy piece danced between upright, rolling chalkboard set pieces. Prepared for a lighthearted, joyful expression of childhood, I was surprised that the work instead exposed the darker side of childhood memories. There were some light moments, such as the towering billboard inscribed with multiple lines reading, “Jackie must remember the steps” – clearly a humorous aside about Jackie Nash, one of the most capable company members and perhaps the quickest study in rehearsal. There were some easily-seen choreographic devices–a lot of theme and variation, even more pushing around of set pieces–but there were a few exceptional moments as well, including intricate, slow-motion manipulation of a dancer’s body by another dancer.

Pen-Yu Chen & Tara Lee in “Boiling Point.” Photo by C McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

The opening work, “Boiling Point,” by Darrell Grand Moultrie, was playfully performed at breakneck speed. Dancers are often told to “make it look easy,” and the company took that concept to heart. Highlighted against the men in black costumes, the women wore bits of metallic fabric, providing splashes of intense color and exposing powerful bodies with long muscles. The piece began with the stage space open almost to its fullest, and the dancers running across like a rushing river. They rolled, twisted, turned, and slid like water itself. The choreography juxtaposed synchronicity with counterpoint, traditional with innovation. There was a gargouillade, rarely seen even in classical ballets. The lines of the bodies were critical to the piece, and often layers deep. The flow was almost nonstop, with only an occasional flick of a wrist or toss of a head to provide momentary stasis. The standout was Christian Clark, who sometimes nearly managed to integrate himself into the group but then something distinctive and powerful in his dancing drew the eye to him again.

“Red Clay” from “Home in 7.” Photo by C McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

“Home in 7,” a work by Amy Siewert, closed the concert. A portrait of Atlanta, the ballet was a rich tapestry woven from music, spoken word, and movement. Performed in 7 segments to a libretto written and performed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph and an intriguing, haunting string score composed and performed by Daniel Bernard Roumain, the dance, too, was a poem, shimmering like summer moonlight on the Chattahoochee. John Welker opened the ballet with tiny explosions of movement “Secrets.” Perhaps the most enchanting segment was “Home of the Braves:” 5 men using baseball imagery, holding their formation as they slid precisely between pitches and catches. “Red Clay” evoked August nights, intolerance, and redemption—Atlanta history, a story familiar to many. I first saw this ballet in 2011, and it has grown in depth as the dancers have matured technically and emotionally. Atlanta loves its ballet company, and never more than when it showcases its home city.

John McFall is ending his tenure with the company at the end of this season. For newcomers to Atlanta Ballet offerings, this will have been a dynamic performance. For long-time supporters, it will have been an opportunity to reflect on his legacy. There are a couple more opportunities to see the company under his watch, and then he will pass the torch to Gennadi Nedvigin, the company’s fourth artistic director. Stay tuned!

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