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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Risk/Reward profile: OSLUND + CO

In anticipation of the Risk/Reward Festival, we’re presenting daily profiles of the artists involved.

Last profile: OSLUND + CO (Performing in the 5pm showcase).

Risk/Reward is here, and what better way to kick things off than to post our last profile, of the esteemed Oslund + Co?

If you’re a Portlander, you likely are familiar with this force of nature in Portland and beyond. As a choreographer, teacher and performer, Oslund is regarded as one of the Pacific Northwest’s leading dance artists. Throughout her career, she has advanced the discipline of contemporary dance through the exploration and creation of new work annually. Her work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Oregon Arts Commission, the New York Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, the National Dance Project, and the Regional Arts & Culture Council. She co-founded and now co-directs Conduit Dance with Tere Mathern which has provided a home base for Oslund Co/Dance.

You can read articles on Mary Oslund’s performance here and here.

You can watch clips of other Oslund Company/Dance performances here and here.

Of her work, Catherine Thomas in the Oregonian has said, “the veteran Portland dance-maker gives no quarter where aggressive pitches of flesh-on-flesh are concerned, but she wields her blitzkrieg choreography with brains and a scalpel's precision.”

In January 2011 her new piece, Childhood Star, will be featured by White Bird in their 2010-11 season.

For Risk/Reward, Oslund + Co will present Flora, a reworking of Anatomica (2010) and Fauna (2010) for three dancers, and Hand2Mouth is incredibly honored to present this work in the festival this year.

We’ll see you at Risk/Reward!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Risk/Reward profile: MIKE PHAM

In anticipation of the Risk/Reward Festival tomorrow, we’re presenting daily profiles of the artists involved.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! MIKE PHAM IS IN THE HOUSE! (Performing in the 8pm showcase).

Hand2Mouth has been friends with Mike Pham since way back in June 2007, when we shared the bill with Helsinki Syndrome (the performance art group Mike runs with Rachel Hynes) for the NW New Works Festival. As I recall, we instantly bonded over the fact that both our shows involved balloons and pop songs and total chaos (though theirs, unlike ours, also featured purple costumes and ribbon dancing).

We brought them down to Portland the first time in September 2007, to perform a late night show at our space during TBA time. Then the next summer we brought them down more formally in what was the first official Risk/Reward Festival. They brought their first draft of a blown apart version of The Importance of Being Earnest, which featured Prince, Godzilla, King Kong, and dozens of instant pudding packets.

Then in August 2009 they invited us to come to New York and do a split bill at the Ontological. That’s when I first heard Mike talk about his fascination with figure skating and Bolero. Little did I know he was already plotting a solo show!

So here we are. He’s made his show, and he’s back in Portland to sprinkle his magic fairy dust on our heads.

You can read reviews of Mike’s show at NWNW here and here and here. My favorite quote: "Mike’s performance was unexpected, without genre, shocking, sexy, funny, morbid, retro, futuristic and well hung.” (from the On the Boards blog)

And in case you’ve been admiring the postcards and posters, Mike designed those! He’s multi-talented.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Risk/Reward profile: ERIN LEDDY and H2M

In anticipation of the Risk/Reward Festival on Saturday, we’re presenting daily profiles of the artists involved.

So. Let’s talk about Erin Leddy (performing in the 5pm showcase).

As many of you know, Erin is a longtime company member of Hand2Mouth. She has been a powerhouse and a godsend since the day she showed up for an audition eight years ago, and an integral part of H2M’s work, from City of Gold to Repeat After Me to Everyone Who Looks Like You.

And that whole time she’s been thinking and dreaming about making a piece out of the 20 hours of tape she recorded in 2001 while living with her grandmother for a year.
This fall, she started working with Jonathan on making the material into a solo show, and spent a month in residency at Yaddo (which happens to be in the same town her grandmother, Sarah, lives). When she came back she dove back into rehearsals, and just last weekend they brought her show, My Mind is Like an Open Meadow, up to NW New Works for its first public showing.

I can attest that she cast a spell over the audience and brought them to their feet. Over at the On the Boards blog, Shango Los calls the show “a true joy to watch” and a lovely review in Seattlest came out today that says: “The closing applause was meant to credit the success of Leddy’s concept and performance … but we sensed some of it was for Sarah, too.

It’s been incredible to watch this process unfold, and we are so proud to be showing Erin’s piece for the first time in Portland at the Risk/Reward Festival.


And H2M is also excited to get another chance to try out our new show, Uncanny Valley, in front of an audience! That will kick off the 8pm showcases.

Risk/Reward profile: PAUL BUDRAITIS

In anticipation of the Risk/Reward Festival on Saturday, we’re presenting daily profiles of the artists involved.

Today's topic: Paul Budraitis (performing in the 5pm showcase).

Paul is a Seattle-based director, actor, and writer, as well as a teacher of acting and stage movement. As a Fulbright grantee, he studied directing at the Lithuanian Music and Theatre Academy under the mentorship of visionary theatre director Jonas Vaitkus.

For Not. Stable. At all, which he just performed at the NW New Works Festival and will present in its entirety at On the Boards in February 2011, he is collaborating with director Sean Ryan (who, by the way, will be on the panel about festivals in the northwest on Sunday, in his role as On the Boards' Regional Programs & Facilities Manager).

Jerry saw this piece at NW New Works and was blown away by its honesty and sense of danger. The Seattle Times says that “the raw, fervid desire and sense of danger radiating from Budraitis' stage presence, were potent,” and Jeremy Barker of the SunBreak talks about an earlier version of the show here.

We are honored to bring Paul and Sean to Portland, and can’t wait to see how this piece evolves.

Let's talk about Risk/Reward

Check it out, Jerry had a great conversation with Dmae Roberts on KBOO yesterday about Risk/Reward.

Monday, June 14, 2010


In anticipation of the Risk/Reward Festival next Saturday (June 19 @ BodyVox), we’re presenting daily profiles of the artists involved.

Today it’s The Cherdonna & Lou Show (performing in the 8pm showcase).

The Cherdonna & Lou Show is the brainchild of Seattle dancers Jody Kuehner and Ricki Mason. Jody and Ricki invented The Cherdonna and Lou Show to combine their choreographic backgrounds with their desire to create comedic politicized and personal performance. Cherdonna and Lou combine brains, brawn, and contemporary dance moves (and celebrities, and the artifice of drag) as they lip sync, piano sync, and tap sync their way through the decades in no particular order.

Here is what they say about the show on their website:
We are here to entertain you. And then maybe give you a different kind of feeling then being entertained, like sadness or fear, and then maybe your feelings will make you think about things during the show or even afterwards over cocktails. You’re not allergic to cats, are you?

Jerry drove up to see their performance during the first weekend of the NW New Works Festival (where he also say performances by Mike Pham and Paul Budraitis: stay tuned!) and has this to say:
Cherdonna and Lou are an absolute delight to watch onstage. Their performance exposes a flawed narcissism and humiliation through two personas that are simultaneously hilarious and endearing. Their playful, precise choreography and wildly contrasting body types inject a refreshing simplicity to the world of high art, while subtly sending very powerful messages about the roles we all put on and portray for the benefit of the world around us.

You can check out excerpts from their show here and see the video On the Boards put together about their “costume inspiration” here.

We can’t wait to let them flaunt their “cluelessness via odd-couple dancing and mumbo-jumbo musings, to hilarious and pathetic effect” all over Portland.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Risk/Reward profile: ANGELA FAIR

In anticipation of the Risk/Reward Festival next Saturday (June 19 @ BodyVox!), we’re presenting daily profiles of the artists involved.

Today: Angela Fair (performing in the 5pm showcase).

Angela was a crowd favorite at Risk/Reward last year, and makes solo performances that deal with obsession, dissemblance, romantic love and other prevalent mental and emotional pathologies. She explores characters through video, monologue, movement and power karaoke that satirize the narcissism in human experience. Her work has been presented at On the Boards’ Northwest New Works festival.

Angela is also an alumna of the outrageous, beloved House of Cunt, whose presence still lingers over the Portland performance scene like a mythical bejeweled beast of legend.

Check out Angela performing in this video she made with Grace Carter. I hear this character will be featured in her performance at Risk/Reward... we can't WAIT to see it.

Friday, June 11, 2010


In anticipation of the Risk/Reward Festival next Saturday (June 19 @ BodyVox!), we’re presenting daily profiles of the artists involved.

First up: Katherine Longstreth (performing in the 8pm showcase).

Before moving to Portland recently, Katherine lived and worked in New York City as a choreographer, performer, teacher and arts administrator. Her dances have been developed through the Fieldwork process and presented by Dance Theater Workshop, David Parker/The Bang Group, the Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Broome Corner Choreographic Platform Series, Context Theater, Fridays at Noon at the 92nd Street Y, Middlebury College, Performance Mix, the Festival of Independent Dance Artists in Toronto, and Piccolo Spoeleto in Charleston.

In March she performed her “Solos and Duets” at Conduit in a Portland debut, presenting work in a style “marked by clarity, musical acumen, gentleness, and now and then a hint of insouciance,” and demonstrating her “facility for evocative and sculptural movement.”

Needless to say, we are thrilled to be presenting her work this year at Risk/Reward.

And in fact, if you want a taste of Katherine’s work before Risk/Reward, you can catch some this weekend –- she is performing "High Seas, Wind Easing" alongside Keely McIntyre’s performances of "Subplot" and "Drift" with Noel Plemmons.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

On Being Wrong

Well, since I'm clearly fascinated with the counter-intuitiveness and messiness of creation lately, here's something else on the topic: this lovely interview with Ira Glass about being wrong. A lot.

I especially love this:
I feel like being wrong is really important to doing decent work. To do any kind of creative work well, you have to run at stuff knowing that it's usually going to fail. You have to take that into account and you have to make peace with it. We spend a lot of money and time on stuff that goes nowhere. It's not unusual for us to go through 25 or 30 ideas and then go into production on eight or 10 and then kill everything but three or four. In my experience, most stuff that you start is mediocre for a really long time before it actually gets good. And you can't tell if it's going to be good until you're really late in the process. So the only thing you can do is have faith that if you do enough stuff, something will turn out great and really surprise you.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Michael Kaiser

I know Marc went to Michael Kaiser's talk at PCS a few weeks ago, and mentioned a few of these ideas already. But I just came across Michael Kaiser's "Ten Rules" on Ultra and thought I'd post them here for further discussion. (You can also go to the Kennedy Center's Arts in Crisis website).

Michael Kaiser’s Ten Rules to Turn Around an Organization

1. There has to be a leader. In times of crisis everybody has a solution. But you need one leader to lead the charge.

2. The leader must have a plan. Kaiser doesn’t believe working harder is going to do it. “I ask them, ‘You were working hard at marketing before, right?’ Working harder is not enough.

3. You can’t save your way to health. You don’t get healthy by getting smaller, by doing less. He says, “My staff will tell you I squeeze every nickel til the buffalo poops, but that’s behind the scenes.”

4. Focus on today and tomorrow not yesterday. There’s no time for blame. When things are bad many people sit around talking about where it went wrong. That’s not healthy.

5. Extend your planning calendar. You have to plan your art. Most organizations plan their art too close to event. You need to plan four and five years out. First, you can make art better if you take more time. Second, you can do a better job fundraising. “I listen to the funder, find out what do they like to fund. I have menu of five years of projects, so I can choose best event for funder.” Finally, “It helps me to educate my audience to want to see something that is not so accessible. I’m excited about projects that are transformational. But this requires some education of the audience. And with time, you can educate in advance. Creativity has been beaten out of so many arts organizations. Planning ambitious work four years out, creating big vision is what’s needed.”

6. Marketing is more than brochures and email blasts. There are two cateogories, programmatic marketing to sell tickets and institutional marketing to get people excited about the institution as a whole. Kaiser gave a number of examples of institutional marketing including getting the Alvin Ailey Dance onto the Phil Donahue show, into the Clinton inaugural (as I recall), and having them do a Central Park performance.

7. There has to be one spokesperson for the organization, and the message must be positive. Often there are a lot of people in the organization talking about financial problems and not about what the organization is doing. There are many more funders that will fund organizations that are healthy than want to fund those in crisis.

8. “If you are in trouble, you don’t have time to focus on the $20 giver. I think the $20 gift is important, but you’ll run out of time chasing it if you’re in trouble. On the other hand, you also can’t be unrealistic and think you’re going to get one big gift.”

9. The board has to be willing to restructure itself. An organization goes through life cycle, and a board goes through life cycle too. The board that is necessary to launch an organization acts like staff. At Ailey, they sewed costumes and did bookkeeping. But that’s not the board that’s needed decades later.

10. You have to have the discipline to do the other 9 things all the time, continuously. Always evaluating the board, always planning.

Interesting. Let's discuss.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Past / Future / Present

Well, hello there.

Here at H2M headquarters we are resting up from our showing of Uncanny Valley at Reed (well, some of us are resting -- some of us are working on Erin's show which she'll be taking up to NWNW in 10 days. And preparing for Risk/Reward which will rock this town in 17 days. Ok, so I guess that means none of us are resting. I think it's safe to say that H2M doesn't really DO resting.)

In any case, the UV showing was wonderful and useful -- once again convincing us that showing our work along the way, in beta form, is absolutely necessary. We had two talkbacks in which we gathered vital information, and we also received feedback in the form of interviews & reviews.

But if anyone out there would like to tell us more: please do so in the comments! We would love to hear more about what worked and what didn't.

Thank you, one and all!