"Circulation" at Patrick's Cabaret.
“I’m juggling multiple balls in my brain at the same time!” Erinn Liebhard said as she swept by during the intermission of “Circulation: Connecting Through Embodying Rhythm," the show she curated last weekend at Patrick’s Cabaret. Indeed, as the person that put the show together, emceed it, had two pieces in it and performed in it, the choreographer and performer had to access her multiple talents for the showcase, co-presented by Patrick’s.
Her work exemplifies one of the strong traditions found in the Twin Cities dance community of independent dance artists putting together grassroots and self-created opportunities. “It comes out of necessity,” Liebhard said. “It’s an interesting challenge.”
For “Circulation," Liebhard brought together a bevy of local artists all working somehow with the theme of the embodiment of rhythm. That meant pieces that followed the jazz dance tradition, Latin-influenced dance, contemporary movement that responded and connected to rhythm, tap, hip hop and improvisational pieces that featured dancers and musicians playing off each other.
The highlight of the evening was a piece by Magnolia YSY (Yang-Sao-Yia), whose ensemble of seven Asian American women dancers had the audience howling in delight. These dancers were fierce, and YSY’s electric, emotionally gripping and utterly tantalizing choreography proved she’s a choreographer to watch.
Also notable were Darrius Strong’s STRONGmovement, with a piece that investigated intimacy, competition and the struggles of human connection, as well as impressive work by Karla Grotting and Karis Sloss, the latter of Eclectic Edge Ensemble. There was also some non-dance entertainment as well. Dameun Strange performed his science fiction-themed “Skyopener Medley” on opening night, See More Perspective offered wordplay and BrassZilla provided pre-show and intermission jazz tunes, in addition to performing for two of Liebhard’s pieces.
There was even a bit of vaudeville in the show, with two presentations by The Summer Coats, a dance and music duo with guitar playing Chase D. Burkhart and tap dancing Molly Kay Stoltz singing duets. Charming and a bit bizarre, their act featured folky tunes with an added percussion provided by Stoltz’s feet. They’ve got a lot of skill, but need to work on looking out at the audience, rather than each other. A little more confidence and performative spunk would go a long way.
As for Liebhard herself (pictured above at left, with Ayana Dubose and Molly Stoltz in Karla Grotting's "No Habla Español"), she performed a fascinating give-and-take with keyboardist Steven Hobert, riffing off each other in a dance-music duet. In another piece, “All Blues,” Liebhard created a choreographed structure for a group piece that played with the idea of improvisation in the jazz standards tradition. She presented a more formally choreographed piece, “Chameleon,” as well.
The element she was most concerned about was hosting the show, which she says she had the least experience doing.
“I feel powerfully about accurately representing what we are doing,” she says. She did a lot of preparation with the words she was going to say, making sure she imbued people’s performance experience with the reasons why she thinks rhythm embodiment is more than just fun. “I take it super seriously,” she says.
“Circulation” marked one of the last chances to see this kind of eclectic collage of local talent at Patrick’s Cabaret’s current space. The news that Patrick's will be leaving its digs at the end of May was a big blow to the Twin Cities performance community, since Patrick’s has been a place where artists such as Liebhard could not only present their own work, but shine a light on other underrepresented artists as well.