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Flash Mob for FREE Day

Emily, our superstar performing arts intern, and Tim, whose 100-watt smile you see at Hardware everyday, talk about how they teamed up to bring a day full of dance to FREE Day, which took place on February 11, 2012.

REHEARSAL

We spent a few days during the weeks leading up to FREE Day using the rehearsal hall space, listening to 80s music and coming up with an arsenal of funky dance moves to put together in a sequence that would be both visually appealing and easy to pick up. We had a lot of fun goofing around in the studio and perfecting classic dance steps like the cabbage patch, the running man, and the Molly Ringwald. Check out our rehearsal video here.

DANCE CLASS

On FREE Day, we taught lots of different people—toddlers, college students, grandmas, ballerinas, and football players alike—the dance we created. We taught about 20 people in each of our classes throughout the day. We danced Michael Jackson’s P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing), because it was upbeat, light-hearted, and makes you want to move! We also asked the people who took our dance class to dance with us later in the afternoon, as part of a surprise flash mob in the galleries. Check out our dance class video here.

FLASH MOB

Our dancers milled about through The Workers: Precarity, Invisibility, Mobility exhibit, blending in with unsuspecting, art-viewing patrons. Suddenly, Michael Jackson music started playing through the galleries, and spontaneous dancing broke out! We definitely surprised a bunch of patrons who got caught in the middle of the flash mob. There was a lot of talent, but the best movers were by far were the 2 little nuggets (they must have only been 3 or 4 years old) decked out in pastels and mermaid gear from Kidspace who got their groove on right in the middle of the flash mob! Check out our flash mob video here.

PRE-SHOW DANCE INSTRUCTION                          

To end the night, we taught a dance class on the Hunter Center stage, immediately before Gordon Voidwell and his band played some rockin’ music for a psychedelic 80’s synth funk dance party. We wore headset microphones (affectionately called the Madonna mics in the performing arts department – check out the photo below, taken backstage!) to broadcast our voices to the crowd on the dance floor. Since we faced the crowd in the Hunter Center, dance instruction was trickier because we had to reverse all of our instructions so that the audience could mirror our movements.

FREE Day 2012 was so much fun—music, dance, theatre, art-making activities, a mermaid parade, face painting, a hilarious photobooth, and great deals at Hardware! We were psyched to get to collaborate with the community and with each other. We can’t wait for you to come back to hang out next year and dance with the two of us at FREE Day 2013! - Emily and Tim

Posted February 17, 2012 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Dance, Dance Parties, Free Day, Hardware, Interns, The Workers, Uncategorized
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Stepping into the Spotlight

 
Our performing arts intern Emily shares her experience of curating an Alt Cabaret show. See the show for yourself on Saturday, January 21, 2012, at 8:00 pm, and dance with us for free during the community workshop on the same day at 2:00 pm!

 

As the 2011/2012 performing arts administration intern, a position that is grant-funded by the Tin Man Fund, I get to curate my very own show… and I can’t believe how quickly the date is approaching! When I started my job at MASS MoCA seven months ago, I had no idea how much work (and joy!) would go into booking, planning, and finally bringing the stunning modern-Irish steppers of Darrah Carr Dance to the museum:

1. RESEARCH: Before I could book a performing artist, I needed to figure out what my interests were. What was I passionate about? What did I want to see more of in the Berkshires? As a recent grad of Connecticut College (go camels!) with a double major in Human Development and Dance, I immediately knew that I wanted to bring accessible and innovative modern dance to MASS MoCA. My Human Development interest in communities and education also fueled my desire to curate dance that could interact with the public, possibly through a workshop of some kind. I spent a few days in NYC visiting our performing arts curatorial team and researching dance companies that appealed to my interests and to MASS MoCA’s audience. In the end, I decided on Darrah Carr Dance – Darrah blends traditional Irish step dancing with modern dance vocabulary and techniques, and also has a developed educational outreach program, so she was a perfect fit.

2. MAKING THE DEAL: Next, I reached out to Darrah, to see if she wanted to partner with MASS MoCA – she did! I drafted an offer letter outlining the basics such as show date, compensation, and travel arrangements for Darrah, the curatorial team, and my cool boss Sue (Manager of Performing Arts + Film) to sign… and voila! We were set to do a show together. That meant that Darrah and I had lots and lots of questions for each other. I wanted to know about which dance pieces she might bring, who her audience was, and the specifics of her community programs. She wanted to learn about the size of the performance space, our tech capabilities, and if our hotel served continental breakfast! Darrah and I were (and still are) in constant phone and email contact to iron out all of the details that go into producing a show. We eventually both signed a much more in-depth contract together, so that all the details we discussed on the phone and via email are put into one organized document.

3. SPREADING THE WORD: I was excited about the performance, Darrah was excited about the performance, so then it was time to get everyone else excited about the performance! Under the guidance of Katherine, our amazing Director of Marketing, we started spreading the news about Darrah’s performance. Our talented graphic designers printed beautiful posters, the super marketing intern Cora put up flyers all over the Berkshires, and Keifer down in the Box Office enthusiastically plugged the show to all incoming patrons. We also created advertised on many types of social media, contacted local professors of dance or Irish culture, reached out to Irish dance academies all over New England, and asked a few newspaper and radio stations to give us a shout-out. Getting butts in seats is important for obvious reasons (we want MASS MoCA to always have the funds to showcase inspiring performances in the future!), but it’s also important because Darrah and I want to share our passion for dance with as many friends as possible. 

4. BEHIND THE SCENES: I can’t even express how much  backstage work went into producing this performing arts show! First, there were a billion technical aspects that need to be prepared; luckily I had the hilarious duo of Eric and Eric, who keep the Production department running smoothly, to help me through it. Together we decided on a seating set-up, a one-of-a-kind stage plot, ad-hoc wing space, necessary lighting and sound equipment… the list goes on and on. With Meg (Company Manager and, more importantly, my MASS MoCA Mom), I arranged all the artist services components of the show. I booked hotel reservations, organized meal plans, and prepared the dressing rooms. I also organized ushers, planned house management, and wrote the program with the help of Court, who coordinates volunteers and coordinates front of house during performances.

CURTAIN CALL: And now, finally (finally!), the show is looming only a few days in the distance – soon, Darrah Carr Dance will be at MASS MoCA in the flesh (the shuffle-ball-changing, pirouetting, flying leaping dancing flesh)! I’ll have a busy day helping Darrah and her dancers with their arrival, community dance workshop, tech and dress rehearsals, and the evening performance, and I absolutely can’t wait. Curating my own show was a huge undertaking that opened my eyes to just how much effort and how many people it takes to produce a performance. I am so, so thankful for all the generous, cooperative, wacky-wise-wonderful friends who helped me pull this off. Darrah, Sue, Katherine, Keifer, Eric & Eric, Meg, Court, and everyone else who was involved: you guys are the bee’s knees.

Come see what we’ve all been working so hard on – Darrah Carr Dance at MASS MoCA on Saturday, January 21 (free workshop at 2:00 pm/ticketed performance at 8:00 pm)! Call the Box Office at 413.664.4481 for more information.

See you there! Love, Emily

 

Posted January 13, 2012 by MASS MoCA
Filed under Alternative Cabaret, BLOG, Dance, Darrah Carr Dance, Interns
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Maya Beiser’s All-Star Team

Maya Beiser, founding cellist of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, comes to MASS MoCA with a seriously impressive team for her psychological cello opera Elsewhere, being shown on Saturday, December 10 at 8pm.

Incorporating cello, vocals, spoken word, video, dance, and elaborate sets, she’ll be accompanied by choreographer Karole Armitage and four dancers, producer Beth Morrison, director Robert Woodruff, projection designer Peter Nigrini, and composer Eve Beglarian.

Here’s the All-Star Line-up for Elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted December 2, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under Alternative Cabaret, BLOG, Dance, Music
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Performance Artist John Kelly Talks about his Residency

Our managing director Sue Killam offers this background information for John Kelly’s video.  Stay tuned from more videos from John about the residency.

Performance and visual artist John Kelly is currently in residence at MASS MoCA.  He’s created over 30 pieces to date, and he is in the process of re-mounting his Bessie Award-winning work Find My Way Home.  Created in 1988 during the height of the AIDS epidemic, Find My Way Home deconstructs genres of opera, period dance, and cinematic acting, and includes scenes and arias from Gluck’s baroque opera Orfeo Ed Eurydice.

While we host a lot of artists-in-residence, what’s most interesting about this residency is that as John re-visits this work, reviving backdrops, props, character dummies, choreography, and movement from the original.  As he explained, the piece has been in storage for over 10 years and time has left its mark.  For example, only a third of the original painted backdrop (pictured above) was found so now it has to be pieced together from old photographs and reconstructed.  It’s become a group effort to bring the backdrop back to life, adding more layers of those who this piece has touched.   And as this resurrection commences, it’s natural to reflect on the original creators who have since passed.   Breathing new life into Find My Way Home is a mash-up of old and new, present and departed, original ideas and evolution.  Please join us on Saturday at 8pm and become a part of the story of this piece.

YouTube Preview Image

Posted October 13, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Dance, Music, Theater, Work-in-progress
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Spreading the Love on FREE DAY with Red Baraat!

On January 29, MASS MoCA was crawling with 2,639 patrons on FREE DAY!

After Free Day we had the Bhangra Funk Dance Party with Red Baraat. We talked to the band and they were beyond pleased with our energetic audience.

Thanks to everyone who made this possible!

Also! Don’t forget to check out the photo booth pictures of the day. They can be viewed at these links…

http://www.flickr.com/photos/23502344@N02/sets/72157625947695150/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/23502344@N02/sets/72157625822183177/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/23502344@N02/sets/72157625822097629/

Click on thumbnails to view the full-size image!

Thank you to the lovely, Danelle Cheney, for the photos!!

Posted January 31, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Dance, Free Day, Lickety Split, Parties, Red Baraat
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The art of The Escape Artist

Sundance

I’m a bit of a theater nerd, so needless to say I was thrilled when I found out we would be presenting a staged reading of John Kelly’s newest work The Escape Artist as part of the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab on Saturday, April 3. I’m mostly familiar with Kelly through his brilliant character work, and specifically as one of his most beloved characters Dagmar Onassis, the fictional love child of Aristotle Onassis and Maria Callas.

Kelly is a two time Bessie and Obie award winning performance and visual artist whose work began in New York’s East Village clubs in the early 1980’s; since that time he has created over 30 performance works which have been performed at venues across the country. Originally trained as a dancer with American Ballet Theatre and the Harkness House for Ballet Arts, he embraces all forms of art from theater, dance, visual art, drag, film, and music in his work.

Kelly has been on campus over the last week working on The Escape Artist, which will eventually include a collision of music, video and story. The premise revolves around a singer hired to lay down the tracks for cinematic re-enactments of the paintings of Caravaggio. The singer channels the characters that populate the paintings, encounters unexpected technical difficulties, and reveals a turbulent personal history of his own. The Escape Artist considers the parallels between the unbridled creative spirit of the urban artist of the 17th and 21st centuries.

Before coming to MASS MoCA Kelly spent time in Rome recording video and shoot photographs of the characters he takes on in The Escape Artist.

Sundance 2

Sundance 3

Sundance 7

Sundance 5

At MASS MoCA Kelly shot this video promo for The Escape Artist in the bridge leading up to the LeWitt Retrospective. (click on the image to view)

YouTube Preview Image

True to Kelly’s style he is compiling all sorts of artistic creations to form a truly multi-media experience for the audiences of The Escape Artist.  Although the showing at MASS MoCA is only a staged reading and will not include all of the final pieces of the show, from one theater nerd to another, this performance is going to be a night at the theater you don’t want to miss!

Cheers,

Brittany

Posted April 1, 2010 by Brittany Bishop
Filed under BLOG, Dance, Theater, Work-in-progress
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