Thursday, December 13, 2012
Word into media w/ high art & amateur enthusiasm
It’s always interesting to see people you know do work you do, so I was fascinated last night to watch the “May These Changes Make Us Light” production on Cherokee Street. This was an ambitious multimedia show that mixed live music (rock band, string section, handdrums) with dance (aerial, pole, Mexican folk), video, spoken word, shadow puppetry and costumed theatrics. Most of it was ultimately text-based, so they were translating poetry and folklore into other media. That’s exactly what Poetry Scores does, so I was fascinated to watch how other very talented people do what we do.
In the cast was one of my very favorite local artists in any media, Michelle Mynx, choreographer and pole dancer and half of Gravity Plays Favorites. Michelle performed in a narrative piece with many other elements. Like most of the production, it had an earthy yet spiritual basis, and I enjoyed to see one-half of the burlesque duo Gravity Plays Favorites choregraph for solo pole dance in a setting where sexuality was not themed.
I have a reverent attitude toward Michelle’s work and Gravity. I get so blissed out that I experience it differently and it’s hard to compare to the rest of my experience of a show. For the part of the show where I wasn’t awestruck, my favorite bit was the opening: Fire Dog playing “Prelude,” their collaboration with The Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra. I listen to that song so often from my sampler of the new Fire Dog record that my daughter, who joined me for the show, blurted out at the second chord, “I know this song.”
I was struck elsewhere in another Fire Dog number that Celia is an amazing bass player. I always assumed she was a chord-chopping band leader playing bass in a buddy’s band to help out, but she has made the instrument her own.
The aerial dancer Indie Nombrilou had another featured spot. Her work also puts me over toward that awe-o-sphere where there’s not much I am able to say about it other than I am glad she is working here while I am here.
The venue was a nightclub, more given to loud bands than multi-media shows, so the lighting was poor. I especially couldn’t see Indie’s act as well as I would have liked. There is a trade-off in the lighting, because Light was the main theme of the show and various projections of light (which required darkness to work) were integral to the show. That includes skilled video work by Mike Pagano which threaded in and out of the other performances.
The show closer was led by the voice of Lyndsey Scott. Lyndsey is one of my other favorite artists in town whom I’ve always asked to do everything. I’ve not seen her in her own element that much, so it was interesting to see her persona in its more native setting. I felt her as a strong spiritual center for the show.
I was dragged out to a show on a school night by Rebecca S. Rivas, who choreographed and danced and had a role in the overall shape of the production. Rebecca and I share a highly demanding and rewarding day job at The St. Louis American. So though I see her more days than I don’t, and though we have dozens of friends and creative partners in common, I actually never share art with her.
We talked about the show and about producing shows today. We agreed on a shared aesthetic, which is also an ethic in a way. We agreed it’s good to mix high professional talent and vocation with amateur enthusiasm. It’s good to have both Michelle Mynx, who could work anywhere in the world, and your friends who want to put on an animal costume and act out a folk tale. We agreed there’s something really good, and something really St. Louis, about that mix.
Translating poetry and folklore into other media with a playful mix of high art and amateur enthusiasm — that’s the thing I am talking about; that’s the thing we do around here.
Photo of the great Michelle Mynx borrowed from her Facebook page.
Amazing show! It was exactly what I needed. There have been so many hard and abrupt changes in my life lately and I was looking forward to getting re-energized and letting it all go last night. Thanks to Dave for pulling me and started the most epic, inadvertent dance party ever.
Thank you, everyone!
Your Daily Guide to St. Louis Arts & Entertainment
Thursday, November 29, 2012 / 9:45 AM
by Caillin Murray
US LIGHT Collective Brings the Fifth Annual “May These Changes Make Us Light,” to 2720 Cherokee
Time-traveling, time-deaf twins. Try saying that five times fast. More than just a tongue twister, this is also a brief summary of the plot of May These Changes Make Us Light, a show by the US LIGHT Collective.
The artists’ collective is hosting the multimedia, all-ages show on December 12 at 2720 Cherokee. Each year for the past five years, the collective has created a show titled May These Changes Make Us Light. These shows have only been similar in title, however. Each year, the collective comes up with a different storyline to perform, with an emphasis on collaboration between the collective’s members. This year, Rebecca Rivas, co-producer and one of the performers in the show, said their story was inspired by the combination of an old Sioux tale of the creation of the Earth with the theory of last year’s Nobel Prize in Physics winners, who discovered that time is actually speeding up.
The show will be multimedia, combining the skills of many different kinds of artists. A combination of dance, aerial performances—including acts by a pole dancer—and live music will be set to the backdrop of custom video animation.
The US LIGHT Collective, started in 2007, was created for the very purpose of artistic collaboration. The founding artists wanted to find a way to combine their unique talents in a show together, but could not find the conventional means to do so. Thus May These Changes Make Us Light was born, and each year the collective continues to combine their unique talents into a show so atypical it is not to be missed.
“When we all come together, it’s just a phenomenal show,” Rivas said. “It really allows us to express ourselves in ways that we may not be able to on our own.”
Rivas will be playing the part of one of the time-traveling twins. Sonia Martinez Orozco will play the role of the other twin, and the two will perform a dance together that will be reminiscent of a Mexican folklórico dance called, “La Bruja.” The animations of video artist Sarah Paulsen will compose the backdrop, while a harpist and a Tibetan Singing Bowl player provide the soundtrack. Indy Lou, an aerialist, will play the role of “la bruja” ( the witch), who attempts to help the time-deaf twins in their struggle to understand the concept of time.
“The whole show is them learning how to understand time, through looking at different human memories,” Rivas said. “And what time means to people. So it’s kind of like an exploration of time and an expression of what’s important to different people about time.”
The title, May These Changes Make Us Light, is actually the name of a song written by FIRE DOG, a band who is also part of the collective. FIRE DOG will perform the song live. Celia’s Yuletide Express, a 40-person holiday choir will perform for the close of the show.
For the first time, the collective is collaborating with three other organizations for this year’s production. LOVE-O-RAMA Records, the HEARding Cats Collective, and the Community Arts and Movement Project all had a hand in putting together this year’s show.
The show is all ages, and admission is $12. A copy of the handbill, however, has a $5 off coupon attached. Show times at both 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. December 12.
For more information on May These Changes Makes Us Light and the US LIGHT COLLECTIVE, visit uslight.wordpress.com.
Feel like parading down Cherokee Street this weekend?
Hop on the US LIGHT Stampede for Cookies and Prints!
The Cherokee Print League Holiday Sale is this Saturday, December 3rd from 10am-7pm. Antique row is also giving out cookies. Paraders will meet up at 1:30pm at CAMP at 3022A Cherokee Street and get on the road at 2pm.
Any excuse to walk in the middle of the street hooting and hollering is a good excuse. Any costume will do. A little face paint maybe. Done!
“Transformer” is off FIRE DOG‘s new album “May These Changes,” which they will release on Election Tuesday, Nov. 6 at the Sheldon Concert Hall at 7:30 p.m. It’s a Post Election Party for All — CD release show! Yea!
Googolplexia (a.k.a. Mustard Rob, a.k.a. Pancake Rob) plays Scotty in the video and he’ll be the emcee at the CD Release Party!
This is Sarah P. I’ve been reading lots of myth stories looking for one that has a beginning and end and voila found this one! I am curious if anyone is inspired by this story to perform pieces, to be a character, to change alter or add a character etc. I am open to adding in Super 8 movie bits and possibly a bit of animation. Would love some collaboration and group storymaking!
My imagination can go crazy with this story..bits of film from artica. Tom Dykas back to back at his wheel attached to Lyndsey weaving her dream cathcher as “the creating power”? Holly and Shadow puppets??? Costumed performances live in front of projected movie???
I’ve slightly simplified this story but think it could be further changed….
Remaking the World
There was a world before this world, but the people in it did not know how to behave themselves or act human. The creating power became angry and said to him-self, “I will make a new world”.
“I will sing three songs which will bring a heavy rain. Then I’ll sing a fourth song and stamp on the earth four times and the earth will crack wide open. Water will come out of the cracks and cover all the land.”
And so everything was flooded.
The Creating Power floated on his sacred pipe and pipe bag. All the animals and people had drowned. Only the Crow survived, though he had no place to rest. The crow asked him to make a place for him to rest.
The Creating Power opened the pipe bag and revealed all types of animals and birds. He picked four that could stay underwater for a long time.
He sang a song and took the loon out of the bag. He asked the loon to dive and bring up mud. The loon brought up nothing. “I dived and dived but couldn’t reach bottom. The water is too deep.”
The creating power sang a second song and brought the otter out of the bag. He asked the otter to dive down and bring up mud. The sleek otter used its webbed feet to dive deep. It was gone for a long time but came up with nothing.
Taking the beaver out of the pouch, the creating power sang a third song. He asked the beaver to dive for mud. The beaver dove down using its great tail to propel itself. It stayed under longer than the others but also returned with nothing.
At last the Creating Power sang the fourth song and brought out a turtle. The turtle was strong. A symbol of long life, endurance, and the power to survive. He asked the turtle to bring back the mud. The turtle was gone so long everyone said, “he Must be dead”.
Suddenly the turtle broke the surface and said, “I got to the bottom! I brought earth!” Sure enough its feet, claws, even the cracks on its shell, were filled with mud.
Scooping the mud from the turtle’s feet and sides, the Creating Power began to sing. He sang as he shaped the mud in his hands and spread it on the water to make a spot of dry land. There was enough land for the Creative Power and the crow.
“Come and rest” he said to the Crow. The crow flew down. Then the creative power took two long feathers from an eagle, out of his bag. He waved them over the ground and commanded it to grow. Soon the water was covered with earth. Land without earth is not good he thought. Feeling pity for the land, he cried and his tears brought oceans, streams, and lakes.
He pulled all the animals out of his bag and scattered them over the land. He stamped the earth and they came to life.
From the earth he formed the shapes of men and women. He used the colors of the earth to make people, red, white, black, yellow, and brown. He stamped on the earth and they came to life. He gave them understanding and speech and told them about their tribes.
He told them, “the 1st world I made was bad; the creatures were bad, so I burned it. The second world I made was bad, so I drowned it. This is the third world I have made. Look I have created a rainbow for you as a sign that there will be no more floods. Whenever you see the rainbow remember that is has stopped raining.
If you learn to behave like human beings and how to live in peace with each other and with other living things- two legged, four legged, many legged, fliers, no legs, and green plants of the world, then all will be well. If you make this world bad and ugly, then I will destroy this world too. It’s up to you.
He gave the people the pipe and said “Live by it”. He named the land the Turtle continent because of the brave turtle.
“Someday there might be a fourth world”, he thought. Then he rested.
Told by Leonard Crow Dog
The heart-breaking Ami Amore, Indie-Lou and Gravity Plays Favorites light it up on May 19 — at the Beggar’s Carnivale at the Casa Loma Ballroom. It was also part of the third annual Show-Me Burlesque Festival. For links to these ladies, visit our “Who’s in the Show” page.
US LIGHTers on fire at Cinco de Mayo St. Louis. Literally, it was 95 degrees. But the parade was pure magic and adventure, thanks to organizer Jenny Shriner, an US LIGHT big hitter.