Here are a number of reviews and thoughts about this year’s Risk/Reward Festival. Enjoy!
Tim Smith-Stewart (Seattle, WA) – Awaiting Oblivion or How to be ok when everything is not ok—Temporary Solutions for navigating the dystopian future we find ourselves within at present.
WEEKEND 2: An anonymous street artist, AO, has contacted Tim Smith-Stewart and tasked him with creating a performance as a way to share their “Temporary Solutions.” Tim and a team of artists carry out assigned performance scores, read letters, and project live feed video of relics, documentations, and messages sent by AO.
Tim Smith-Stewart is a Seattle based interdisciplinary artist. He utilizes text as his primary medium for creating performances and installations. This past summer Tim created BIG TREES STIR MEMORIES LIVE WATER HEALS THEM, an audio and visual installation at the LoFi Arts Festival at Smoke Farm. In February 2014, Tim showcased THE MAILROOM, an installation created in collaboration with Charlie Spitzack at the Art Shanty Project in St. Paul, Minnesota (2014). His work has also been seen at The Seattle Center Next50, On the Boards NorthWest New Works Festival, LoFi Arts Festival at Smoke Farm, Velocity Dance Center Big Bang, and Seattle Fringe Festival.
Anonymous AO uses street art, secret messages and performance scores as a radical means for survival as they combat disaffection with oppressive systems, suicidal ideation, and on overall hopelessness. AO’s secret identity is a means to protect the magical world of momentary poetic ruptures that they have constructed. Tim becomes a conduit to share that expression while maintaining AO’s anonymity. Awaiting Oblivion is a continued collaboration between Tim Smith-Stewart and Jeffrey Azevedo, occupying a thinly veiled line between “real time” and “fictional time.” While AO is constructing street art anonymously across the city, Tim presents a fiction in the theatrical space based on AO’s temporary solutions and correspondence.
Katie Piatt (Portland, OR) – Springfield Today (LIVE)
WEEKEND 2: Get ready to don a wig and/or costume, and be interviewed as the audience becomes the interviewees in recent PNCA grad Katie Piatt’s exploration of her hometown in Springfield Today.
Katie Piatt is an artist living, playing dress-up, and telling jokes in Portland, Oregon. She explores the ideas of gender, body, sizeism, and identity with her extensive background in soft sculpture and sewing, as well as in her newer participatory performance and storytelling practice. Through the art of spoken word, improvisation, body language and costume, she collects the stories of participants while challenging the effects of growing up a fat girl in the conservative Ozark hills of Missouri. She received a BFA in Painting from Missouri State University in 2012, and an MFA in Visual Studies from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2015. Her recent mischief includes crashing last year’s Whitney Biennial as an aged characterization of Little Orphan Annie and doing stand-up in Canada dressed as an old woman named Martha. http://katiepiatt.com/
All the stories created in Springfield Today are based on true local color, traditions, and memories from Katie’s hometown in Missouri. The group fiction that occurs is a magical, one-time-only part of the show. Even the theme-song is created from an interview! Everything you see happening will not happen again. This show will make you laugh if you’re from the Midwest, have ever traveled through there, or know any of the major stereotypes about Midwesterners.
Dani Tirrell (Seattle, WA) – The Beautiful
WEEKEND 2: This dance/theatre work, created and choreographed by Seattle dance artist Dani Tirrell, is centered on Dani’s relationship with America/Seattle and his identity as a gay black man. He summarizes it as: semi-patriotic, gender non-conforming Butch Queen, some heels, some Drag, and a little bit of Thug Realness.
Detroit native Dani Tirrell is a dancer, performer, choreographer and dance educator. Most recently Dani’s work has been seen at the Seattle International Festival of Dance (Seattle), Black Choreographers Festival (San Francisco), Poetry + Motion (Seattle), On the Boards: 12 Minutes Max (Seattle), Global Dance Party (Seattle), Gay City Arts: Up Close Personal and Young Tanz Sommer (Austria).
In 2012 he was awarded a grant through The Central District Forum of Arts and Ideas creation Project. Dani is currently on staff and Northwest Tap Connection and The Beacon. He has choreographed for Broadway Bound Children’s Theater (Seattle), Brown Box Theater (Seattle) and Repertory Theatre of Hope (Detroit). Dani is the founder and Artistic Director of Dani Tirrell Dance Theater/Color Lines Dance Ensemble. He currently teaches Modern, House and Vogue throughout the Seattle area.
The Beautiful will examine the question: “What is freedom if you are gay, black, living in America and raised in the Detroit area?” Using Vogue and House dance as a base, along with contemporary modern movement, the concepts of sexuality and the human condition are explored against a backdrop of Detroit and the automotive industry. The sound score will consist of reworking American patriotic songs interwoven with House music. In this work, Dani finds himself asking:
Who were these songs were created for?
Does these songs mean the same today as when they were first written?
Jessica Jobaris + general magic (Seattle, WA) –
A Great Hunger
WEEKEND 2: brings Seattle choreographer Jessica Jobaris and her company, general magic. With “A Great Hunger,” they bring us a Shangri-La supper table offering the intelligence of dolphins, the promise of God, superficial intimacy, Humpty Dumpty, and blurry faces binge eating on Nietzsche. A repast dedicated to the secret world of loneliness, and the incessant work of staying perpendicular.
Curiosity of the expressive body brings Jessica Jobaris to study, perform, teach and choreograph in Seattle, NYC, and the EU. She has been awarded residencies/commissions throughout the U.S., creating 25+ dance works. Jessica performed with Seattle all-stars Lingo dance theater, Scott/Powell Performance, Maureen Whiting Co., Salthorse, Carr Dance Media (NYC), Theater directors George Lewis and John Paulsen. While living abroad, she worked in Berlin for German MTV, Kristin Berger, Felix Ruckert, Jess Curtis/Maria Scaroni, & visual artist Eloise de Hauteclocque. She currently performs for Mark Haim Dance & Theater, having had the privilege of opening the ArtDan Festival in Paris, and forJoyce Theatre’s Focus Dance showcase in NYC.
Opening: a very long clean barren table. Performers enter and begin with a seance; to see if they are truly alone. Layers of stillness, hyper-physical choreography and “name” soliloquies, using Tennyson’s method for transcending the self (repeating his own name to lose his “ego”). Performers fluctuate in failure and attainment of physical contact/intimacy with each other inside projected landscapes: nauseating oceans, screaming roller coasters, blurry faced car drives, and starring Humpty Dumpty as the Fool. Unsentimental in nature, this performance is also a study in creating and annihilating loneliness thru performance; how to not be so lonely in being lonely, by being lonely together. Mostly, a comedy.
Faith Helma (Portland, OR) – I HATE POSITIVE THINKING
WEEKEND 1: Faith Helma’s newest solo work, I HATE POSITIVE THINKING, is a performance in which the new-age psychology of positive thinking is ripped apart, and alternatives attempt to be articulated using charts, songs, semi-coherent rants and experiments with the audience. This show will be a departure from previous works that Helma has created with Portland’s Hand2Mouth Theatre, and from her last solo work, Undine, created in 2009.
Faith Helma is a performance artist and singer/songwriter who has worked with Hand2Mouth for fifteen years, creating and performing in Repeat After Me (2007), Everyone Who Looks Like You (2010) and Something’s Got Ahold of My Heart (2013) among others. She also created the one-woman music-theatre performance Undine (2008), which toured to Seattle, New York and San Francisco. She currently works with people one on one and in groups as a Creative Guide, and if you’d like to book a session you can go to her website: faithhelma.com/workwithme.
I HATE POSITIVE THINKING is inspired by Faith Helma’s aversion to positive thinking on the one hand, and her fascination with life-coaching, hypnosis, and the power of the unconscious mind on the other. It’s also inspired by the curveball of giving birth to her son, and how the tools of creativity and performance helped her survive. By using these tools, Helma will help other people harness their own creative power to dissolve blocks and solve life problems. Specifically the performance will include:
• Semi-coherent rants from about how much “I hate positive thinking”
• Guided exercises and experiments with the audience (for instance, testing one of the main facets of positive thinking by seeing if we can manifest something over the course of the performance)
• Simple songs I have written, like “I’m Awkward, I’m Alive” and “You Can’t Control the Universe, You Can’t Control Your Mind”
Markeith Wiley (Seattle, WA) – 31 & Counting
WEEKEND 1: includes Seattle dance artist Markeith Wiley. His solo performance, 31 & Counting, is a schizophrenic dance theatre work that acts as a physical memoir, weaving tales about race, truth, lie, sex and money.
Markeith Wiley, the 2014 City Arts Future Lister and Artistic Director of the dance group The New Animals, has been in Seattle for just short of a decade. The works of the group and Wiley have been seen at On The Boards, Velocity and several other theaters in Seattle. Wiley conducted two residencies in 2012, one at Cal State San Luis Obispo and Riverside Community College (CA). With three tours to Sun Valley, ID and one to Riverside, CA, Wiley and the group plan to cross over to the east coast in 2015.
There is Markeith The Effeminate, The Lover, The Public Speaker, The Shadow, among other characters. 31 & Counting takes place in a corner of a living room, incorporating music composed by Seattle artists and samples from Southern California rap artists. Markeith explores the various parts of himself, while asking questions about what it means to be a black man in America, and more specifically, the Northwest.
Nancy Ellis (Portland, OR) – Nancy’s NANCY
WEEKEND 1: Nancy Ellis, a longtime Portland favorite, has been working on her first self-created and choreographed solo performance, Nancy’s NANCY. We are so thrilled to share it with Portland audiences, this story tinged with “sadness, stubbornness and infectiously bright charisma” (Willamette Week).
Nancy Ellis began dancing professionally in 1994, when she joined the musical theater chorus of the St. Louis Muny Opera and became a member of Gash Voigt Dance Theater of St. Louis. In New York City in 1995, Nancy became a founding member of both Yanira Castro + Company and Maura Nguyen Donohue/inmixedcompany. With these and other artists, including Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar/Big Dance Theater, Nancy has performed throughout the U.S. and in Russia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Switzerland, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and South Korea. Since moving to Portland in 2006, she has worked with Jennifer Monson (TBA 2006), Hand2Mouth Theatre, Tahni Holt, Linda Austin, Katherine Longstreth, and Dawn Stopiello. Nancy began making her own work in 2014, with generous support from the N.E.W. Residency program at Studio 2@Zoomtopia. She presented Nancy’s NANCY in sold-out shared evenings there in September 2014, to positive audience and critical response.
Nancy’s NANCY is a self-portrait inspired by Yanira Castro’s NANCY, a performer portrait based on Nancy Ellis which premiered in New York in September 2013. Life events and documentary dance-theater solos by artists including Miguel Gutierrez, Jérôme Bel, and Faustin Linyekula also inspired this performed memoir.
Éowyn Emerald & Dancers (Portland, OR) – Will You Take This Balloon
WEEKEND 1: Choreographer Éowyn Emerald’s Will You Take This Balloon is built around three duets performed by 4 dancers. This work explores the complexities of human relationships and interconnection while revealing the beauty and vulnerability of giving yourself to another person. When individually broken up each duet has it’s own motive and meaning.
Since graduating from UNCSA and moving to Portland, Éowyn Emerald has been creating work locally and has had the opportunity to work with numerous schools, companies, and the unique experience of assisting Sylvain Emard when he re-set his work Le Grand Continental for White Bird and 160 of their dance-loving subscribers. Éowyn has received a NFAA A.R.T.S. award for choreography and was awarded a Regional Dance America Monticello award and scholarship for her work. She was recently selected by The Times of London as “a talent to watch.”
A duet can be one of the most powerful and intimately revealing events in dance for performer, choreographer, and audience alike. By revealing a relationship in performance, one opens a door that most people have walked through many times throughout their life. It invites the audience to find parallels to their own stories and discover the power of the relationships that unite us.
Part 1: Force of will meets the strength of the human body in “Will You” a dynamic duet that explores the balance between power and love. Utilizing unconventional partnering and dynamic movement, this cold, calculating, and emotionally riveting work balances the endeavor for dominance with an inner longing to be loved unconditionally.
Part 2: Fluid, enticing, and optimistic, “Balloon” is a captivating duet that captures the grace and vulnerability of falling in love over and over again. “Balloon” is an exploration into the idea of falling in love at first sight. Its goal is to be effortless and fluid in its partnering and movement quality. Calming and sinuous the movement takes the watcher on an optimistic and engaging journey through the eyes of a young couple.
Part 3: Sexual driven and risk taking imagery “Take This” explores the dark side of when ones loyalty wavers and commitments are challenged.