Category: CultureBytes

Whole Lotta Rosie (Herrera) at Baryshnikov Arts Center

Last summer I went out to Los Angeles at the invitation of my friend Ben who introduced me to the Miami-based dance sensation Rosie Herrera, who was working a look kind of like this:

Rosie On The Rock(s)

Rosie On The Rock(s)

In the fall our paths crossed again in Minneapolis and we had a grand time in the Twin Cities!

Now she’s coming to The Baryshnikov Arts Center with her new show Dining Alone that, much to my surprise, looks like this:

From Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre's 'Dining Alone' (Photo by Adam Reign)

Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre’s ‘Dining Alone’ (Photo by Adam Reign)

Dining Alone is billed as “an immersive dance theater work drawing from the drama associated with food and the dining experience.” Along with core members of her company, Rosie is bringing Miami performance art rock star Octavio Campos to add some extra sabor to the evening.

When I met Rosie and she told me that she began her performance career as a cabaret dancer working in nightclubs in Miami’s Little Havana, that she cut her teeth in a hybrid cabaret performance group called Circ X and assembled her ensemble from a group of fabulous, glittery nightlife friends, the first person that came to mind was the uber-fabulous Julie Atlas Muz, known for her ability to straddle the high/low divide (and pee while straddling it! totes jk.) Then when I learned that she was also a dancer/choreographer in for hip-hop and Latin artists I thought of Rockafella from Full Circle Soul. Then I found out she also trained as a classical opera singer and I was like, “Damn, girl, what can’t you do?” (Okay, I probably didn’t put it exactly like that.)

I have to admit, I have had a great time dining and drinking with Ms. Herrera but have not yet had the opportunity to see her work. Misha is quoted as saying, “Ms. Herrera is a woman of ideas who draws from cultures, experiences, and training not necessarily commonly represented in New York. Miami is so rich culturally, yet we see little contemporary dance emerging from that region. The performances at BAC will provide an opportunity for New Yorkers to connect with a young and adventurous artist from that part of the country.” The press release goes on to say:

In Dining Alone, a dynamic ensemble performs to music including live performances by a pianist and an opera singer. A series of surreal scenes unfolds incorporating food as a metaphor for loneliness and longing for human connection. An exploration of age, fragility, and isolation, Dining Alone amplifies the bittersweet, private moments of the dining experience with wit and sincerity.

Sounds like a good time to me!

The first two shows are apparently already sold out, so they added one more on Thursday, April 18 at 9:30pm.

Rosie Herrera’s Dining Alone 
Thursday and Friday, April 18 and 19 at 7:30pm
Baryshnikov Arts Center’s Howard Gilman Performance Space
450 W. 37th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues.
Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at BACNYC.ORG or 866-811-4111.

Dining Alone is performed by Octavio CamposIvonne Batanero,Leah Verier DunnLiony GarciaKatie StirmanRaymond Storms, and Melissa Toogood. Lighting design is by David Ferri.

Forest Fringe comes to Fusebox Festival in Austin, TX

Sex Idiot, Bryony Kimmings

Sex Idiot, Bryony Kimmings

Fusebox Festival blogger Shannon McCormick reporting from Austin, TX.

For the past nine years, Austin’s Fusebox Festival has sought to bring a sense of local, national, and international community and dialogue to the often isolated and far-flung practioners of new work, or experimental performance, or hybrid media, or whatever you want to call this thing–this emergent cauldron of new voices, this litter of artistic approaches still so slippery newborn they’re sometimes hard to identify as parts of the same family, much less nameable. In much the same fashion, the folks behind Forest Fringe have carved out a community-minded venue for like-minded souls, originating within the broader confines of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2007. So it was probably inevitable that the two entities would cross paths and collaborate. The 2013 Fusebox Festival will play host to a veritable British invasion of fresh talent courtesy of the Forest Fringe family. And like they’ve done in Edinburgh for the past seven years, they’ll be setting up something of a state within a state in Austin, with several Forest Fringe curated works installed at Salvage Vanguard Theater and operating inside the larger Fusebox experience.

Leading the way is The Travelling Sounds Library, an anthology sound installation under the aegis of Forest Fringe itself. The library presents a series of hollowed-out hardback books, each containing an MP3 player and a small program describing the audio content. Currently featuring audio pieces from Blast Theory, Duncan Speakman & Uninvited Guests, Finlay Robertson, Sleepdogs, Sue Palmer, Pat Ashe, Unclaimed Creatures, Tim Bamber, Harry Wilson, Iain Campbell, Ryan Van Winkle, Stan’s Café, and Alan Dunn (with frequent updates added to the library as Forest Fringe’s audio cohort grows), the library will be installed within the gallery/lobby of Salvage Vanguard from noon to 10 pm each day for the final six days of Fusebox. The Travelling Sounds Library even comes with an attendant librarian to help guide users through the experience and to suggest individual pieces.

Joining the Travelling Sounds library at Salvage Vanguard on the performance/installation side of the ledger is Andy Field’s Motor Vehicle Sundown, an interactive audio installation for two inside a parked car. An interrogation of our love affair with the automobile, the piece is pitched forward to a future world where the two audiences members are sitting inside the last car on earth as they ride through the wreckage of our present. Brian Lobel’s Carpe Minuta Prima invites participants to sell him a minute of their lives for a $1, capped with an hour-long presentation of the minutes he’s collected, with participants able to buy back their original minute or go home with a stranger’s. Rounding out the experiential installations is Forced Entertainment’s artistic director Tim Etchells’ Austin Fight City, a series of posters depicting current news events as brawls and fisticuffs.

Inside Salvage Vanguard’s theatrical space are another wave of Forest Fringe pieces, more traditionally theatrical ones but with the same expectation-defying aesthetics as the installations. Debbie Pearson’s The Future Show begins at the end of a purported performance and recounts Pearson’s entire future from that moment forward up until her own demise. Bryony Kimmings’ Sex Idiot is one-woman cabaret/variety show centered on Kimmings’ search for the culprit behind her contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Joining the solo performance pieces is Hitch by Kieran Hurley, an autobiographical narrative of Hurley’s hitchhiking quest to join the G8 protests in Italy in 2009. The only multi-performer theater piece is duo Action Hero’s Watch Me Fall, a work of Evel Kneivelesque daredevilry on a homemade runway in front of a standing audience.

With both Fusebox and Forest Fringe dedicated more than anything to testing new approaches, knowing if this particular new approach will take is hard to predict. But with collaboration, community and risk in both organizations’ genetic make-ups, the smart money is on win.

Get Ready For Austin’s 9th Annual Fusebox Festival this April 17-28, 2013

Ant Hampton

Ant Hampton’s Cue China

Culturebot contributor Tim Braun reporting from Austin, TX. 

The city of Austin has a festival almost every week now. South by Southwest, Austin City Limits, The Moontower Comedy Festival, Austin Comic Con and The Texas Book Festival are among the most popular. The city even celebrates Eeyore’s birthday, the glum sidekick of Winnie the Pooh, by inviting people to a park dressed in donkey variations. However, the Fusebox Festival has become Austin’s cool, quiet kid in the corner, offering a blend of theater, dance, music, “free range” art, film, and the unique Digestible Feats program where artists and chefs collaborate to create multifaceted, and tasty, experiences.

Founded in 2005 by artistic director Ron Berry in East Austin (think Williamsburg, Brooklyn with cowboy hats) Fusebox presents innovative works of art across a variety of different mediums. Fusebox functions as a mechanism, or a spark, for new ideas, new artistic models, and methodology. Three years ago the festival kicked-off with 200 dancers performing a Texas two-step on the Capital lawn to the music of contemporary composer Graham Reynolds, and featured talks, exhibits, and Texas shaped waffle making at the Austin Museum of Art. Last year Fusebox began with a riot grrrl explosion as 100 young ladies choreographed by Allison Orr stormed the Long Center for the Performing Arts as The Coathangers played. That festival included a nightly hub in a furniture warehouse, complete with a sustainable beer garden, Italian sandwiches, glow in the dark art, live music from a foot fetish band, and, yes, more waffles sometimes made with bacon, cilantro, and sour cream. In the past, names like Reggie Watts and Gob Squad have been included at Fusebox, not to mention our very own Culturebot.

This year Fusebox, in its ninth season of hybrid work, will feature over forty events in twelve days and fifteen different venues all over Austin. This year’s festival includes artists from across the globe from places like Australia, Belgium, Germany, Lebanon, and the UK. National artists from New York City, Boulder, CO, Boston, MA, San Francisco, CA, Kansas City, MO, Buffalo, NY, and Houston, TX joining dozens of artists from the Austin area. Watts and Gob Squad will be replaced by the likes of Mac Wellman, Ant Hampton, England’s Action Hero, Motion Bank, and the hometown Rude Mechanicals. Notably, the hub will float and rotate nightly across the city, creating an impromptu art party wherever it lands.

The 2013 edition of Fusebox starts on April 17 and concludes on the 28th. In the room of Austin festivals, Fusebox has found that quiet and cool corner to call its own. Some festivals have music, comedy, film, technology, and a hybrid slam of what is new and what is happening now, but Berry works the entire year to make his festival a one-of-kind occurrence, if only for two weeks. He won’t be dressed in donkey variations, but the art is free range, and his waffle irons are warm.

(Originally published on The Huffington Post).

Culturebot Scanner: Putting Performance On Your Radar (March 22-29)

image from JACK website

Levi Gonzalez

Any given day in NYC brings hundreds of choices of things to do and Culturebot Scanner is here to help put the good stuff on your radar. Here are some events to check out over the next two weeks:


Choreographer Levi Gonzalez will present more, a (mostly) solo dance work, at new Clinton Hill art space JACKmore was created during a residency at JACK and curated by Stacy Grossfield. Levi refers to the work as a “first step at looking at these ideas,” and tomorrow’s one night only performance will be the first public sharing. If you don’t already know Levi – which would be surprising since he’s a pillar of the downtown dance community! – he serves as Programming Advisor at Movement Research, Artistic Advisor for New York Live Arts’ Fresh Tracks Residency Program and Artist Advisor at Brooklyn Arts Exchange. More Culturebot on Levi Gonzalez here. The performance is @ JACK – 505 1/2 Waverly Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11238. Tickets $10.


Organized by the amazing Yelena Gluzman and Esther Neff in support of their experimental conference-as-performance coming this September, Theatre as Theory this Saturday features a lecture by Dr. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, an excerpt of G. Douglas Barrett‘s Hence Where Labor performed by Fahad Siadat and Robert Ashley‘s Public Opinion Descends Upon the Demonstrators, performed by Varispeed. The audience is invited to sell their written reactions in a silent auction at the close of the night. The event is @ Glasshouse, 246 Union Ave Brooklyn, NY 11206. Tickets $25 at door / $30 advance. Seating is very limited.


Culturebot and The Invisible Dog present The Brooklyn Commune: a public, artist-driven, collaborative design project investigating the economics of cultural production in the United States. We will examine common assumptions about capital, class, labor and value and how these affect aesthetics as part of a process of reimagining the way performance is framed, created, valued and distributed in the 21st century. To date, investigations of this kind have been funder or institution driven. Now it is time for the people outside the institutions to develop a platform and a vision for the future.  The Brooklyn Commune will consist of four public research sessions leading to a weekend-long congress at The Invisible Dog in October 2013.

Sunday will feature a presentation by NYU professor Randy Martin on the financialization of American life and artistic citizenship followed by musician/performer Cynthia Hopkins doing a real-life pre-tax time accounting consultation with Danielle Hlatky of accounting firm Pipia Cohen Hlatky. This will be followed by an Open Space session modeled on Improbable’s UK-based recurring gathering Devoted & Disgruntled.

Doors are at 1:30PM / Bring a pen & notepad or laptop to take notes / Bring water and snacks / Bring cameras, phones, digital recording devices, etc. Check out the FB page here.


The monthly performance series Performance Heart, curated by clown artist Matthew Silver, comes to Grace Exhibition Space this Tuesday with new work by Allison Brainard (including Culturebot’s own Maxwell Cramer), 2Shea, Ouija, and The Coccoon Project. 9pm @ 840 Broadway, 2nd Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11206. Suggested donation.


The awesome Ursula Eagly will show her latest project Self Made Man Man Made Land at the Chocolate Factory in LIC. The work premiered at Mount Treper Arts last summer, and now makes its landing in NYC. In addition to her long record as a choreographer, Eagly has a reputation as a unique performer, working with Kathy Westwater, Yoshiko Chuma, Daria Faïn, and others. The show will feature Eagly performing along with Abby Block, Kohji Setoh, and Elliott Jenetopulos. Self Made Man Man Made Land runs March 27-30, 8pm @ The Chocolate Factory Theater, 5-49 49th Avenue, LIC, Queens 11101. Tickets $15.


The gallery at The Kitchen will be open to the public next Friday afternoon as Tina Satter and her company Half Straddle hold working rehearsals. We love Tina and think this will be fun. This is part of The Kitchen L.A.B.  – “a new program devoted to presenting, discussing, and developing interdisciplinary works revolving around themes of common interest to artists in different fields—and, more specifically, considering the meaning and uses of specific words in contemporary art.” It is somewhat reminiscent of Culturebot’s Ephemeral Evidence project at Exit Art, but hey, it’s all good. We don’t mind that The Kitchen never returns our calls. 2-7pm @ The Kitchen, 512 W 19th St. New York 10011. Free.

SXSW 2013: The Future is Bright, Shiny and Familiar


Culturebot contributor Tim Braun sends this report from SXSW in Austin, TX.

We learned a few things at the South by Southwest conference this year. Wired magazine’s Bre Pettis wants to start a new industrial revolution, Elon Musk, the 41-year-old co-founder of Tesla Motors and PayPal, wants to take us to planet Mars by reinventing the space industry, and Sean Parker even showed up (doesn’t he every year?) to tell us about the future of what, well, whatever it is Parker really does (he had a documentary about his Napster days and how he changed everything we do). Since the launch of Twitter, Foursquare, and Pinterest over the past few years at SXSW, the festival took a decided shift to go “retro” in its deliverance of ideas and technology in 2013. I mistakenly walked into the “Future of Porn” symposium when I was looking for the Al Gore lecture, furthering my theory that Timmy Braun can’t lose. There is nothing new about porn, just the way you present it. In the same week Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires became the Pope, ushering in a new a fresh sense of the same ol’ Catholicism.

Despite the finest efforts of the former Vice President, or those of the porn industry, the most compelling content came out on the “Next Stage”, a curtained box that sits in corner of the trade show each year. This has become my favorite event at SXSW and the “Sustainable Storytelling From Disposable Content” (with Kenyatta Cheese, Sarah Kramer, Paul Octavious) was easily the most intriguing and useful seminar I saw. Dealing with the possibilities of telling stories in small, digestible chunks over time on the internet we looked at “Same Hill, Different Day” Octavious’ site-specific photo piece about his community in Chicago, and with the popular “One in 8 Million” from the NY Times, the panel discussed serial stories over digital content. Serials are nothing new, but, like my porn comment, it is all in how you deliver the content. With “Too Long To Read: The Future of Long Form” C. Max Mageeand Kevin Nguyen continued the discussion centering around 29th Street Publishing and their push of subscriber based interactive content. Perhaps the most à propos presentation I saw was by “Built 2013: Make and Tell” with Bike Hugger and Make Magazine, featuring a Spaniard who makes bicycles from old car parts.

South by Southwest started as a music festival, but has become much more. I haven’t even mentioned a single band yet, and I won’t. I didn’t attend any music shows. As SXSW grew they added movies. The most talked of movies this year were Joss Whedon’s version of “Much Ado About Nothing”, and the remake “Evil Dead” produced by the creative team of the original horror classic, but directed by the young Uruguayan Fede Alvarez. SXSW is now about bringing people from all over the world and across disciplines, then drop them into the heart of Texas and discuss the future, and what is happening now. What we learned at SXSW this year was the refurbishment of classic ideas, and building off of them to create something different. Of course, this idea in itself is nothing new. Chuck Mee has been doing it for years; it just took time for Musk and a few others to jump on the wagon. The future is bright, shinny, and familiar. Oh, and the future of porn? Just buy goggles. You’ll be fine.

The Movement Revisited: 651 Arts and Universes set it off with The Black Panthers and Young Lords

Universes "Party People" @ OSF

Universes “Party People” @ OSF

With the Occupy Movement arising in the wake of the financial crisis, finally calling attention to income disparity and economic inequality, we’ve become familiar with the idea of the 99% vs. the 1%. Every day we see a new video on the Internet, a new article, a new graphic, that shows clearly how things are out of alignment and in need of change. Even as the ideas and issues provoked by Occupy disseminate through the West, uprisings throughout the Islamic world call our attention to the gap between our professed democratic values and the way we operate in the world and as citizens at home. It may be the Internet age, but many of the struggles we face now have existed for a long time in different forms. The symptoms may change, but the disease remains the same. As we move forward into the 21st Century, what can we learn by looking back?

651 Arts, under the leadership of new Executive Director Shay Wafer, aims to find out. 651 Arts’ new initiative Movement ’63 is a series of performing arts, education and humanities events that reflect on 1963, one of the most catalytic years of the Civil Rights Movement, and its impact both historically and present-day. Wafer says of the initiative :

“Through the eyes and voices of contemporary and seasoned artists of the African Diaspora; urban, community and traditional historians; educators, students, local activists and community leaders, Movement ‘63 will reflect, renew and remix this fiery period in American history for a new ‘trans-media ready generation’ in the Borough of Brooklyn, New York and the surrounding diverse neighborhoods and communities.”

On Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 7:00pm 651 Arts presents the first of their Live & Outspoken series with performance group UNIVERSES in conversation with Ericka Huggins and Aaron Dixon ( former members of the Black Panther Party) and a founder of the Young Lords movement, Jose “Cha Cha” Jiminez. This esteemed group will converge at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn to engage in an exciting dialogue over the legacy of these historical organizations and their impact on the world today.

651 Arts Live & Outspoken series features live music, theatrical readings, dance, and provocative interviews and one-of-a-kind conversation. Each event offers insights into the methods, lives, artistry and social concerns of some of the leading performance innovators, as well as some of the rising stars making their marks on contemporary performing arts. This event will feature UNIVERSES performing an excerpt from their new work Party People, a theatrical performance commissioned as part of Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s American Revolutions: The United States History Cycle. The performance will be followed by a moderated discussion led by author and professor Johanna Fernandez.

Four decades ago, the Black Panthers and Puerto Rican Young Lords were young activists providing food and health care in their impoverished communities while in a desperate struggle to survive the systematic dismantling of their movements. Now they are 60-somethings untangling a traumatic past and an unclear future. Party People fuses theatre, poetry, jazz, blues, hip-hop, boleros and salsa to investigate the story and legacy of one of our country’s most recent revolutions.

651 ARTS Presents
Live & Outspoken
Featuring Universes in conversation with former members of the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords and showing excerpts from their new work Party People.
Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 7:00pm
Mark Morris Dance Center
3 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217


Cupola Bobber at The Knockdown Center March 15-16

Chicago-spawned and now Brooklyn-based art duo Cupola Bobber (the collaboration of Stephen Fiehn and Tyler B. Myers) perform their latest project The Field, the Mantel this weekend, March 15-16, at Knockdown Center, a new space self-described as:

an impressive anachronism: an expansive space on three acres in Queens but near Bushwick, where eclectic pursuits will converge to usher in a new era of experimentation, risk and economic sustainability. Through studied and diverse programming, Knockdown Center will pair business with art to disrupt the business of art and seek profitable ways to support courageous artistic production.

Located at 52-19 Flushing Ave in Queens, it sounds like mysterious and wonderful things are afoot.

In 2009 Cupola Bobber opened P.S.122’s season and we haven’t seen a whole lot of them since, so curiosity is running high! The Field, the Mantel uses 65 cardboard boxes, material from numerous historical figures including Buffalo Bill, Groucho Marx, Malcolm X, Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Jimi Hendrix to investigate and interrogate how we both make and use history. The characters, as seen through Cupola Bobber’s whimsical lens, confronts narrative history in a struggle to discover a new better future.

Of The Field, the Mantel, Monica Westin wrote in New City Chicago:

“What makes their work so compelling are the additional elements of Cupola Bobber’s homemade, minimal visual aesthetic and their charmingly inelegant, often hamhanded choreographed movements. This combination of the physically gawky and the elegance of their theoretical and philosophical explorations results in an absurdity that’s both very funny and profoundly humane.”

Get to Queens for The Field, The Mantel and see what these conceptual performance art vaude-villains have in store.

Cupola Bobber’s The Field, the Mantel
March 15-16
at Knockdown Center, 52-19 Flushing Ave Queens, NY 11378