The Great Salt Lake Mime Saga and Amsterdam’s Festival of Fools
My online memoir about the Great Salt Lake Mime Troupe existed only as patterns of electrons on computers in undisclosed locations throughout the world, but is now in the publishing process. Galleys are circulating among my friends, and I’m printing some more proof copies before I head to Amsterdam to oversee the First Edition, and do a book signing at the American Book Center and Treehouse on February 15, 2015. The official publishing date will be February 14, since this illustrated history acts as a Valentine to the City of Amsterdam.
The Last Days of the Montana Mobile
My 1992 Toyota 4-Runner had enough mileage to say that it had “been to the moon and back.”
My mechanic is an honest man and told me: “It’s wore out — get it off the road!” When an early cold snap hit in October 2014, the old vehicle got sluggish and we all knew the end was near. Finding a new vehicle became a high priority and a stroke of good luck blessed my search, so I went to Southern Utah in my new car to celebrate, along with my friend Matthew Child from the Great Salt Lake Mime Troupe. His contributions to the book mentioned above are immeasurably important. I spent some time on the journey writing about the late Montana Mobile, but all those words will need to wait for another post.
Calling Out All Around The World! They’re Dancing On The Streets …
I’m always ready to see a Dance Concert, but I’ve seen very few concerts where the elements came together so organically as they did for Dylan Dances — presented on pavement on historic old Edison Street in Downtown Salt Lake City. The quality of Bob Dylan’s songs has motivated several generations to reach for their own dreams, and it was so amazing to see and hear them in this unpretentious space with so many skillful dancers, and a small cluster of acoustic musicians. A good friend of mine from a professional Modern Dance company cannily summed things up: “It was PERFECT!”
Last spring I was drinking coffee at the mellow Cafe on 1st Avenue and heard about a program called LoveDanceMore that presented regular Dance performances in Salt Lake City’s distinctive Masonic Temple, about one measured mile east from another temple on a street named South Temple. I got my first chance to see one of their “Works In Progress” on a luscious September evening. One thing I can say is everyone seemed to be solidly ready, despite the tentative title. It was a wonderful night, bracketed by my two favorite pieces — a fiercely ironic work of movement and acting mixed with Tammy Wynette’s Country-paean Stand By Your Man, and an awe-inspiring improvisation by clarinetist Emma and Amy Freitas of Porridge for Goldilocks. I saw my first-ever set pieces by the Porridge gang, with Brooklyn Draper in extended sections. There was more, and everybody’s standards were set high. Congratulations to Amy Falls and Ashley Anderson for running such a nice event — I saw more concerts in this space, coincidentally a short walk from the Cafe on First, and came away with a big smile on my face. Once they start again this spring, I’m planning on smiling some more.
A Portal onto Utah’s Repertory Dance Theater — plus other body-movers and booty-shakers.
I saw the gorgeous By The Snake ensemble dance again, with some modifications, at RDT’s “Portal” concert in October. It moved me equally as much as when they invited me in the summer. PLUS there was over an hour of RDT’s magnificent performers and choreography to boot. The graphic above features my friend Tyler Orcutt sailing high in the air, plus my friend Efren Corado Garcia at the right. Guess which one said that Dylan Dances was perfect? I ain’t gonna say, so you’ll just have to guess.
I spent another extremely pleasant evening watching the Panama Dance and Cultural Exchange in the Tanner Dance Building, which now covers my old Soccer field east of Milton Bennion Hall — had some fun on the grass there after my first residence in Europe was over and I was finishing my degree. Besides the excellent Porridge for Panama improvisation by the Goldilocks gang, there were some brilliant pieces by others from the awesomely talented pool of dancers and choreographers in Salt Lake & Vicinity. Speaking of Porridge, they tend to be HOT — I’ve gleefully watched members of this unbound body of body-artists doing great work at Salt Lake Community College, the Utah Arts Festival, Sugar Space, and even Sketch Cabaret! One spin-off company calls their group Triptych Figures, and do some challenging pieces in challenging places.
A Strange Beast ’tis true …
Speaking of challenges, SB Dance continues to present performances that go deep into human hearts and minds. Stephen Brown jokes about changing the name of the company to Strange Beast Dance, but he might be serious too. All I know is that their Halloween concert shook me to my soul. As I listened to the beautiful singer work without a microphone, accompanied by acoustic piano, that piece took me on a metaphorical ride which made me grip my seat for dear life. I was SO glad when I knew it was over, but I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.
SB Dance’s fund-raiser Wine Theater Food was TOTALLY WTF — the food was excellent, can’t speak to the quality of the wine because I don’t drink when going out*, but the theater was over the top. The designated announcer, Senator Jim Dabakis, is one of the few Democratic politicians left in Utah and seemed to relish helping an Alternative art organization. As one may guess from the program above, the humor could get pretty down low, but everyone was in that kinda mood. A short section from last summers “Pushers” was thrilling, but the level of WTF Humor dropped back down to curbside again with a gut-busting fragment from a past/future production that dipped into Hot Yoga and Country Music. One of the plentiful napkins dried my tears from laughing.
One other thing helped elevate the evening — an aerial harness, earlier used in a brilliant acrobatic sequence. During the last DJ set, Stephen and Technical Director Liz set it back up and a number of brave individuals tried their best to bounce and fly while strapped into the rigging. I had been saying my goodbyes, but couldn’t leave while this goofiness continued. Stephen Brown took a final long spin in the thing, reacting to various dares from the rowdy throng. Dancer Jenny Larson had performed (wonderfully) at last year’s WTF in a similar harness, and we both laughed, or raised our eyebrows, at the WTF-ness of the whole playground scene. Ms. Larson is well aware of the strains that the apparatus puts on a human body. Congrats to all pros and civilians who made the night so much fun!
*I made an exception after Cannibal, A Love Story — really needed a glass of Champagne to calm the neurons exploding in my brain. TD Liz and I were shooting the bull when Stephen ran up to her and said “OMG we’re outta booze!” so there is no reason to think my need to decompress from that journey into the depths was unique.
Speaking of Champagne
The band MiNX has been an inspiration and a half to me during the labor of editing my book. Not only have they released three CDs in less than two years, but they made a long-form Music Video — call it a movie if you will. Ischa and Raffi went even further by performing the whole thing LIVE around Northern Utah. They set up a spring-bar screen and go to work, singing and playing as the film Together/Forever unfolds. I’m calling it a Rock Opera and highly encourage THE WORLD to see and hear it — Ischa’s writing and ever-evolving singing touches my heart, as anybody who reads this blog knows already. It is an intense and exciting experience beyond Rock Opera or Film on their own.
Together/Forever on YouTube (NOTE: It starts silently, and resembles a silent film in many intentional ways.)
Time to Duck Out …
Online Versions of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom Novels:
REMINDER: Research this prolific author on ERBzine.
And thereby hangs a tale As good luck would have it As merry as the day is long At one fell swoop … (We’re stealing from Early Modern gossip and literature, like Shakespeare did.)
Read my very personal review of 004’s CD State of Affairs: HERE
Buy one through RAUNCH Records’ Facebook page!