THE BOWIE PROJECT: A ROCK & ROLL SOUNDPAINTING Begins Tonight at Stateside Theatre
Award-winning choreographer Andrea Ariel, in collaboration with the Austin-based David Bowie tribute band Super Creeps and NYC's Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble, is bringing a hybrid performance of dance, theater, and live music in the form of Soundpainting to the Stateside Theatre starting tonight, January 30. Through the music of the famed rock and roll shape-shifter, The Bowie Project explores themes of identity in an experimental mash-up of a live music concert with theater and dance, creating an exciting, unpredictable theatrical and musical experience.
Ariel was inspired to create this production while working on previous projects with Soundpainting creator Walter Thompson and Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble in both Austin and New York. The language of Soundpainting is currently practiced worldwide. Together with Austin's premiere David Bowie cover band, Super Creeps, Ariel and Strike Anywhere members are investigating an innovative use of this sign language to guide, shape and remix material-musically, physically and theatrically-to explore perceptions about identity.
Developed in the 1970s, Soundpainting requires artists to step away from the familiar and predictable without knowing where the director will take them. This concept of live composing sign language for musicians, actors, dancers, and visual artists-working in the medium of structured improvisation-uses over 1,200 designated gestures that are signed by the composer/conductor, which indicate the type of improvisation desired of the performers.
The improvisational and unpredictable nature of the Soundpainting experience both reflects and complements David Bowie's shape-shifting personae, from Ziggy Stardust to Aladdin Sane and the Thin White Duke. "I feel like we're at a time in the world where how we want to be seen, our identity, is such an interesting subject," Ariel said recently to CultureMap. "Bowie is a master of changing identity, and that's what we're digging into here."
The Austin Chronicle commended Ariel and the Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble's past collaboration, Detour, stating, "Local choreographer Ariel and New York theatre artist Walker of the Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble have assembled a company of artists whose work flows together with little sense of where one art form ends and another begins, of which contribution belongs to whom." Always striving for exciting experiences within her performances, Ariel continues to break down barriers with The Bowie Project, working again with Strike Anywhere on this newest experimental endeavor.
Joining Andrea Ariel Dance Theatre for the performances of The Bowie Project are fellow New York City Soundpainters and co-creators, Leese Walker (actor); Rolf Sturm (guitar); Nolan Kennedy (actor); along with Austinites Adam Sultan (lead singer & guitar); the Super Creeps; and AADT dancers Steve Ochoa and Alyson Dolan.
As part of The Bowie Project and Strike Anywhere's artistic exchange in Austin, Ariel is teaming up with Adam Sultan to initiate the formation of a regular Austin Soundpainting group. Ariel and guest artist Walker are leading an introductory workshop open to Austin musicians, actors, dancers, visual and media artists. This future collective will serve as an incubator for artists interested in working in structured improvisation, exploring the language of Soundpainting and performing regular shows of a hybrid nature similar to that of The Bowie Project. A Soundpainting workshop will be held January 18, from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM, at The Off Shoot (at the east end The Off Center) at 2211 Hildago Street. A $10 donation is suggested.