ADF: Cherdonna

Cherdonna-014

Cherdonna performing Clock That Mug or Dusted  at the Living Arts Collective as part of ADF Out of the Box. Photo: Ben McKeown.

 

Cherdonna Shinatra’s ADF performance Saturday was along the general lines I had expected from reading up on her, yet I can’t recall having been as surprised at ADF since I first saw Dairakudakan, as I was by the first of her series of six performances in the Living Arts Collective theater on West Geer St.

The outward appearance of Clock That Mug or Dusted is one of induced chaos (and there’s not much dancing), but it’s driven by a subtle mind that has created this mad melange with its own sly kind of order. If you have any interest in the further reaches of performance art/dance theater, I urge you to go to one of the two remaining performances–Monday 26th and Tuesday 27th. This art is not going to submit to rational analysis: it must be experienced; I can’t describe it for you beyond saying that this is some superior strangeness, high-chroma, with lots of sensuous substances spread around, and lots of great physical theatre.  Although some audience participation is required, those who play are well rewarded, and Cherdonna won’t pick on you if you really don’t want to participate.

Cherdonna’s creator, Jody Kuehner, seems to have drawn sustenance from many sources. Not just from Cher and Madonna, the performers whose names she has appropriated, but Dolly Parton, too. Not just the work of 1960s feminist body art/dance practitioners, and drag style queens, but children’s puppeteer Shari Lewis and her character Lamb Chop. Plus 1970s womyn’s music, Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street, and Shen Wei. Also physical clowning traditions–and Butoh, And Mary Tyler Moore. The incredible thing is that it holds together. Often hilarious, it is also unexpectedly touching, and really, very sweet. Cherdonna clearly subscribes to the “honey draws more flies than vinegar” technique of winning friends and influencing people, and honey, she loves her some paradox.

48 hours later, and I’m still feeling like the boa constrictor that swallowed the elephant: this is going to take a while to digest! Tickets here.

 

 

ADF: Coming Up June 23-27

Thresh (Part I) 2016

Lucas Melfi and Rachael Mehaffey in an earlier performance of Natalie Marrone’s Thresh, which will be the opening act in Reynolds June 23-24. Photo: Alec Himwich.

 

The American Dance Festival continues to highlight North Carolina connections in this 40th season in the state. On Friday and Saturday the 23rd and 24th, Natalie Marrone’s company The Dance Cure will open for Bill Young/Colleen Thomas & Co. in Reynolds Theater. Marrone’s work was shown in the combined ADF/NC Dance Festival program four years ago.  Young was raised in Durham, but has always worked in New York: this is the company’s ADF debut. They will perform Young’s Interleaving, which cuts four earlier dances into thirds and recombines the sections so that there are four beginnings, four middles and four ends laminated into one arc. It’s an interesting way to mess with time perception, weighting the time-frame of the collected stories more heavily than the time flow-through of each story, and rather cinematic in concept. The piece is 30 years old, but the artistic penchant for taking things apart and putting them together differently never goes out of style.

Natalie Marrone and The Dance Cure won their stage time in an ADF competition for North Carolina choreographers earlier this year. They were chosen from 18 entrants from around the state who submitted video of works up to 15 minutes long. Marrone’s 10-minute duet Thresh will be danced by Rachael Mehaffey and Lucas Melfi, both of whom were seen recently in Renay Aumiller’s boneGlow.

Marrone lives in Chapel Hill and teaches part-time in the Duke Dance program. We spoke by phone earlier this week, when I asked her about the challenges of making and presenting contemporary dance in this area. “There are many opportunities to present a dance that has already been made,” she said dryly. “Funding sources are geared for production, not process.”

The process takes time, and time is expensive. The choreographer needs time to see and consider her ideas embodied by the dancers; she needs time to revise, edit, add–and she needs time to do that again and again. And, she says, “the dancers need time to work with the choreographer,” so that nuance and depth can develop as they come to know and trust each other. “I always want to go deep,” Marrone says. “Before I taught at Duke, it was very expensive to make a dance. And it was hard to find a dedicated space: we don’t need a space for two hours–we need it for six months!”

Marrone has worked on Thresh on and off since January, 2016, and in it she continues to combine her interests in vernacular dance styles and her own family history with a contemporary dance vocabulary. There’s a good descriptive piece about the dance by Susan Broili in the Herald-Sun.

Alex Escalante17

Bill Young/Colleen Thomas & Co. make their ADF debut with the revival of Interleaving, a 30-year-old work–that mined their own previous work. Photo: Alex Escalante.

 

Starting Saturday the 24th, Seattle artist Jody Kuehner, in her stage persona, Cherdonna Shinatra, will bring us some playful-serious West Coast attitude in her first ADF appearance. Actually, Kuehner has been to ADF before, when she danced in Mark Haim’s wonderful This Land is Your Land at the Nasher in 2013. But Cherdonna is about to burst upon us for the first time with Clock That Mug or Dusted.

We–Jody and I–spent an hour talking this morning, sitting outside Joe Van Gogh, where her silky short pink hair looked amazing against a backdrop of purple thistles in the sprawly little pollinator garden by the Broad Street curb. Kuehner identifies herself as queer, and in her performance persona she indulges in an extreme version of “hyper-femininity:” Cherdonna is an performance art drag queen. “‘Queer’ has become more of an expansive identifier,” she told me. “It’s associated with a value system of gender fluidity. It’s not about reproduction; its about partnership.”

We discussed the persistence of rigid gender expectations, and the current groundswell of bold gender fluidity, and how feminist art and action have and have not changed in the decades since the early female body artists made their radical messes, taking “the personal is political” to its artistic limit.

Like these earlier performance artists, Cherdonna’s on a mission. She wants us to free ourselves from inequalities of expectation, inequalities in what’s required and what’s allowed in expression of self. She wants equality all across the gender spectrum, equality under law and under social code. She’s the Notorious RBG* of performance art. But unlike RBG, who is cloaked but not masked and who must work for equality of the sexes in a clear framework, Cherdonna can do as she damn well pleases, no edges, no boundaries, and under her mask of make-up, she is pleased to communicate about the freedom of choice to live as you will.

Expect excess. Expect talking. Expect expressive movement, body slathering and what Kuehner calls “live painting” (the results of which will be collected and used in the next section of this ongoing performance work, one great, bright, brittle all togetherness) Expect intimacy. “I want people to be with,” Kuehner told me. “I like these intimate spaces.” In the flash of a smile, Cherdonna appeared. “Cherdonna’s philosophy is–we’re all in this together.”

LouDaprilePhoto_HIGHRES

Cherdonna Shinatra will be getting messy in 6 performances of Clock that Mug or Dusted, in her ADF debut, at the Living Arts Collective. Photo: Lou Daprile.

 

The Living Arts Collective is very small. You probably want to have a ticket before going. If you can get there without a car to park, all the better for you.

*”At the core of Ruth Ginsburg’s lifelong project is the conviction that there should be no separate spheres for men and women in the eyes of the law, and that distinctions based on what “most” men or women do, on the choices that “most” of them make, is an obstacle to full legal equality.” Linda Greenhouse, writing in the New York Times 6/22/17.

ADF: Catch Up

hillel1

Hillel Kogan (r) and Adi Boutrous performed We Love Arabs for the American Dance Festival at Reynolds Theater on Duke University’s campus in Durham, N.C. on Friday, Jun. 16, 2017. Photo: Ben McKeown.

For CVNC, I reviewed the remarkable piece of dance theater We Love Arabs (first 2 photos) from its first appearance at the Cary Theater. See Dance as Comedy in ADF’s First Cary Performance.

Also for CVNC, I reviewed the grand opening night (last 3 photos), a very successful all-NC program. See Forever Young: The American Dance Festival, Lookin’ Good at 84.

Adi Boutrous (standing) and Hillel Kogan helping each other across the river, in We Love Arabs, at the American Dance Festival at Jun. 16, 2017. Photo: Ben McKeown.

 

Tap

Elizabeth Burke and Luke Hickey delighting the full house at DPAC during ADF’s fantastic all-NC Opening Night extravaganza, 6/15/17. Photo: Ben McKeown.

 

Carolina

A Carolina Ballet dancer soaring in an ADF commission on ADF Opening Night at DPAC, 6/15/17. Photo: Ben McKeown.

 

AADE

ADF Opening Night in DPAC included extraordinarily splendid drumming and dancing by the African American Dance Ensemble in the celebratory Mendiani. Photo: Ben McKeown.

 

mhdekm

A topnotch WordPress.com site

peter harris, tapestryweaver

TAPestry And DESIgn

Gilbert and Sullivan's "Thespis" & "Trial by Jury" -- Director's Blog

a countdown to the next performance, October 12-15, 2017

Backstrap Weaving

My weaving , my indigenous teachers, my inspiration, tutorials and more........

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Not At Home In It

collections/connections

inkled pink

warp, weave, be happy!

warpologynotufos

Projects finished or in process by the Warpology studio

Peggy Osterkamp's Weaving Blog

"Weaving should be fun!"

SHUTTLE WORKS STUDIO

Studio Life of a Weaver, Spinner, Dyer

This Day in North Carolina History

The people and places of the Tar Heel state day by day.

Linda Frye Burnham

Laissez les bons temps rouler

Art Menius

Roots Music, Culture, and Social Change

Mae Mai

Boldly going where no cellist has gone before...

The Upstager

All the world's an upstage.

Literary Life in Italy

Looking at Italy through literature

The Five Points Star

Cultural criticism, news, schmooze and blues radiating from Durham, NC

Silvina Spravkin Sculptor

A sculptor who makes her art in different media, such as marble, stone, and mosaic, in Pietrasanta, Italy

The Reverse Angle

Just another WordPress.com site

%d bloggers like this: