Eulogy for the Avant-garde

As performed by Teresa Veramendi, Naropa MFA 2016, at Naropa University on October 9, 2014, on the occasion of the funeral for the dearly departed.

eulogyI will begin by quoting from some of our holy books.

Ecclesiastes 3:11. God has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, God has put eternity into the human heart, yet so that we cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

The Qur’an. Surat al-Baqarah 2:216. And it may be that you dislike something even though it is good for you.

We must remember to celebrate the life of the American Avant-garde, to hear the piping from that distant parade even from of the 21st century. It has not been so very long, though some might call our gathering outdated, or gay. So be it! I believe the spirit of the American Avant-garde lives on in all of us, indeed is with us at this very moment.

Some days, I imagine a world where every human being could open their consciousness to the spiritual dimension. Where we could all know that not only are we not alone, not only will our actions reverberate for the rest of humanity’s existence, but that there is unending wisdom from the past saturating in the very words we speak every day. Avant-garde. Did any of us here today really know the Avant-garde? Did the Avant-garde ever really speak to us on the level of spiritual truth? I believe so, for all of us, in our own unique relationships.

If John Cage could be here today, I believe he would be proud of all the Avant-garde accomplished in its relatively short life – the union of theatre, music, and dance is real. The invitation for a deep critique of mainstream culture heavily scents the air, yet many artists are too afraid to make the art that is called for by the Avante-garde, and by our time, as our species ambulates around the earth’s tipping point.

The illnesses ailing the Avant-garde were various: late American imperial crony capitalism, the general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American people, the well-intentioned academia, and technology.

I can speak personally and say that the Avant-garde changed my life, and I believe the Avant-garde will continue to alter my path, from beyond the grave. A romantic sensibility about a utopian future lives on in my heart. Many Americans are afraid to look forward since our path spells disaster.  The Avant-garde prods us, insisting that we must look forward, we must create visions of a future we might have, particularly when no one else will. The Avant-garde taught me to believe that there must be many ways to radically restructure the way the average human being sees theatre and life. There is still so much work to be made. So many truths to learn. So many products to sell! Okay that was tongue-in-cheek.

But really, what is the Avant-garde? What do Richard Schechner and Robert Wilson really have in common? And if we cannot discreetly define a thing, can we really be sure it’s dead?

Written by Teresa Veramendi
Naropa MFA Candidate 2016

Warrior Songs

Naropa presents a five-movement choral concerto by founding music faculty member, artist, jazz drummer, and improvising percussionist Jerry Granelli, in collaboration with composer Peter-Anthony Togni with funding from the Canadian government. Boulder’s Ars Nova Singers, one of the leading choral ensembles in the U.S., in its 28th season, will perform the piece. Anchored in Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s poetry, the work also draws from the Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross, the Roman Catholic liturgy, Da Pacem, and a speech Malcolm X gave in March 1964.

The Warrior Songs project gratefully acknowledges funding support from Arts Nova Scotia.

Video by Paul Fowler
Naropa School of the Arts Associate Professor

Tickets can be ordered via EventBrite

Where:
eTown Music Hall, Boulder, CO

When:
Saturday, October 11, 7:30pm
Sunday, October 12, 2:00pm

A portion of all ticket sales will benefit Naropa’s School of the Arts student scholarships. If unable to attend one can support from afar by purchasing a ticket which can be donated to a student who otherwise would not be able to attend.

Naropa Alumni Miss Their MTV in 2014′s Boulder Fringe Festival

When creator/director Colleen Mylott invited me to be a part of the creative process in the development of the Band of Tough’s (BoT’s) newest dance-theatre performance I MISS MY MTV, I immediately invited her out to coffee to discuss the project further. After years of devising, I discovered that this invitation is necessary before I agree to work on any large-scale performance project for a significant amount of time. It is important to me to know that the director values my time, my interest and my process and I have learned though trial and error that I can usually predict the quality of my experience from this initial one-on-one meeting.

Colleen and I met at the Laughing Goat coffee house late one night where I ate a delicious cupcake while she beamed about how excited she was for the project. We discussed her aesthetic and her vision for the piece and she invited me to jump head first into the creative unknown with her. She spoke to me about the BoT’s value in collectively created material and was clearly hungry to see what a group of other performers/artists could bring to the table. Her excitement was infectious and I left that meeting knowing that the process of discovering this piece would be a process I couldn’t miss out on!

The BoT’s was founded by a large group of (mostly) Naropa University Performance Alums and the company has continued to hold the values of Naropa’s creative environment within their process. They have somehow managed to truly integrate the various trainings that Naropa’s performance programs have to offer to develop their new works. With a blend of performance trainings from Suzuki & Viewpoints to LaBan effort actions added to a mix of performer-generated compositions (heavily influenced by Tectonic Theatre’s “Moment Work,”) the output was enormous. And the epoch 75min performance most certainly echoes’ its process!

The I MISS MY MTV directing and performance team is made up of 16 wildly talented individual artists and a solid 9 of us listed below are proud graduates of Naropa University:

Colleen Mylott, MFA – Director/Creator – BOTs Founding Member
Elizabeth Horab, MFA – Assistant Director

David Ortolano, BA – Performer/Musician – BOTs Founding member
Cynthia Ward, MFA – Performer – BOT Founding member
Karina Constantino, BFA – Performer – Associate Member BOTs
Monica Dionysiou, MFA – Performer
Kebrina De Jesus, MFA – Performer
Raheli Mendleson, BFA – Performer
Jenn Zuko, MFA – Performer

I MISS MY MTV premiered Friday Sept 19 as a part of the Boulder International Fringe Festival.
for more information and tickets click the link above)

Written by Monica Dionysiou
Naropa MFA Graduate 2013

The Gay Fantasia

Journey to Fringemeister
a postmodern poem

-fringe
/frinj/
adjective
not part of the mainstream; unconventional, peripheral or extreme.

-meister
combining form
denoting a person regarded as skilled or prominent in a specified area of activity.

Gay Fantasia began in a steamy summer studio session under the guidance of the indelible Leeny Sack in Lafayette Colorado. A box of twinkies picked up at the corner store en route to a week long artistic work making session where the focus was NOT, thesis topics and genres.

Legs up and we began….

Twinkies on the chest while I rest my head, my mind explores the possibly of why I spent $3.95 on the tasty, bankrupt, treat. Harvey Milk was the start and then I opened my heart to the scores of men that filled my mind from a plague of epic proportion and size; they poured out of my sockets into the pockets of the prohibition air conditioned space. Tears streamed down my face.

Foundation laid GAY FANTASIA was to be made.

Seven months of Tuesday nights and finally an opening. Panels hung with devastating pride. People weeping with sadness at final light of the night. Fantasia closed. Thesis complete. I tied a ribbon around that book and set off toward the sea.

Iteration II.

Get out the Endust.

Eight months have lapsed Gay Fantasia long since passed, but then he got FringeD.

The gay haunted house brought back to life the hope of honoring Warriors bright. A coming home for this Florissant fag; Immerse midwest into the plague.

Ronald Reagan Realness.

A scummy punk bar was to be his new home amidst the grime, grit, guitar strings for sale. Perfect. Fog machine on. Lesson learned be easy to work with so respect is earned. Brown out during his only tech made us think about how to project. Liz. We worked it out. Clip lights ready collapsible wall steady the Village People.

#Performance1Shaken&Uneasy
#Performance2ThePerfectStorm
#Performance3SettledIn
We end.

A man cried when we met after the fact he didnʼt share his name or his past but we both
knew. I cried too:

“This is why we made the piece…so people know…so people remember THEM…so….”

Closing night party and I was drinking a beer feeling good about the feedback honest
and clear.

Late in the night I was taken aback when the Exec Dir said, “Now letʼs hear from the
critics.”

We looked at each other…ugh…I had no idea they were at bay always afraid of what
they might say.

I prepped myself to hear the worst. Landon said Gay Fantasia and I felt hurt…breathe…trust the work…breathe…trust your voice…breathe…trust. He made beautiful and fair remarks deeming the work his pick of the arts…Gay Fantasia was a finalist. Sparkle Ta DAAA!!! was right there beside Naropa was proud of these two midwesterners that night.

The Victor WITH Pride FOR Pride FOR the WARRIORS…for Mark, Ron, Darren,
Liberace…

A blow of the horn a hat adorned a Festival closed.

Matthew R. Kerns

-fringe
/frinj/
adjective

not part of the mainstream; unconventional, peripheral or extreme.

-meister
combining form
denoting a person regarded as skilled or prominent in a specified area of activity.


Written by Matthew R Kerns
Naropa MFA Graduate 2013
Salt House Collective CO-Founder
Artistic Director, Waterloo Community Playhouse

#GratefulStLouFringe #SaltHouseCollective #MakeWork2013Ensemble

Spotlight on Molly Kampf– Final Stages of Rehearsing Her Thesis: “Grasping Broken”

We are approaching the
3rd and Final Weekend
of the MFA Theatre: Contemporary Performance
Work on the Edge
February Festival!

on-the-edge-postcard

This Weekend there are four (yes four!), thesis shows
for your enjoyment &  enlightenment:

Vicki Curtis’ Caryopsis
Saturday, February 22nd at 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 23rd at 3:00 p.m.

Kebrina Josefina De Jesus’ Definition of Magic
Saturday, February 22nd at 9:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 23rd at 5:00 p.m.

Hrefna Larusdottir’s & Jenni Messner’s The Way To Dusty Death
Saturday, February 22nd at 5:00 p.m.
Sunday February 23rd at 7:00 p.m.

Molly Kampf’s Grasping Broken
Saturday, February 22nd at 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 23rd at 1:00 p.m.

Check out this video of Molly and her three performers rehearsing
the final moments of Grasping Broken. Do they “have a piece”?

You decide… Come to the show!

To read blurbs about these offerings, visit the MFA Performance Calendar.
To purchase tickets, visit our page on Brown Paper Tickets.
All shows are free for Naropa students, faculty, and staff.

See you on the edge!

Spotlight on Jamie McKittrick and Her Thesis “SPARKLE: Ta-Daaa!!!”

Jamie McKittrick

SEQUINS! CUPCAKES! MAGIC!
oh my!

Jamie McKittrick
takes you on a wild, magical, mystery
extravaganza–
an exploration into the heart of
JOY.

I visited this tap dancing, sequence sporting, effusive artist and… I wanted more!
You will too!

So come with a joyful spirit (or not)
Saturday, February 15th at 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 16th at 5:00 p.m.
At the Nalanda Campus
6287 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder CO

“I fall in love everyday…It might only be for a second, or it might be for two hours, but it happens all the time, and that’s kind of wonderful.”

Join us in kicking off the second weekend of
Work on the Edge February Fringe Festival
Visit the MFA Performance Calendar to scope out
additional artist offerings.

All shows are free for Naropa student, faculty, and staff; alumni receive a two for one deal– so go to Brown Paper Tickets to secure your spot!

See you on the edge!

Spotlight on Ana Cantorán Viromontes and Her Thesis Show: Tree of Life

A ritual.

An offering.

An invocation.

Ana Cantoran Viromontes

I had the privilege to witness a moment of Ana in process. Her voice, her beauty, her power as woman and a performer–
so palpable.

If you seek to experience the marriage and exploration of
ritual and art
you will want to experience Ana’s piece.

Take a moment and view this short
behind the scenes video
of Ana during the rehearsal process of
Tree of Life.

Come See Ana’s Thesis:
Saturday, February 8th at 5:00 p.m.

Sunday, February 9th at 7:00 p.m.
At the Nalanda Campus
6287 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder CO

For more info about Work on the Edge February Fringe Festival visit the
MFA Performance Calendar

All shows are free for Naropa student, faculty, and staff; alumni receive a two for one deal– so go to Brown Paper Tickets to secure your spot!

A Little Post Script:
Ana has called out to the Naropa community to
contribute a meaningful object to
the alter of the ancestors
which will be on stage and part of Ana’s performance.
There are deposit boxes for your sacred objects
in the student lounge of all three campuses.

See you on the edge!

Spotlight on Nate Speare & His Thesis Show: SCREAME

Nate Speare Postcard

Storytelling. Longing. Euphoria. Nate, the protagonist returns to a sales job at a gelato shop and obsesses over its beauty, sadness and wildness. Here’s a moment in rehearsal where Nate explores the possible inclusion of the ABBA song, “Fernando” and it’s role in the narrative arc.

 Come see Nate’s full thesis performance:
Saturday, February 8th at 9:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 9th at 5:00 p.m.

At the Nalanda Campus
6287 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder CO

For more info about Work on the Edge February Fringe Festival visit the
MFA Performance Calendar

All shows are free for Naropa student, faculty, and staff– so go to Brown Paper Tickets to secure your spot!

See you on the edge!

Work On The Edge: MFA Thesis Performance Festival

We are less than two weeks away from the
Work on the Edge February Performance Festival
in which the second year MFA Theatre: Contemporary Performance artists present their theses– a culmination and integration of two years of studying and embodying Voice, Somatic, Viewpoints, Theory, Practice, and Performance.

on-the-edge-postcard

Performances are Saturdays and Sundays during the weekends of February 8th and 9th; 15th and 16th; 22nd and 23rd.

You can go to the MFA Theatre Performance Calendar for all the details on artists, venues, and tickets. Free for Naropa students, faculty, and staff!
To secure or purchase your tickets go to Brown Paper Tickets.com

So….

COME TO THE EDGE!

I’ll see you there.

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