Women in the Arts 2019: Music Ma’am

61764028_10217288238090807_2184395838187372544_nOft-featured performance artist, Mary Elizabeth Micari, embarks on Part II of her auto-biographical, musical journey of self-discovery. Thanks to the “emo-90s” she has tunes to tackle her [first] marriage and her exploration into spirituality. She has enlisted MAC Award winner, Tracy Stark, to collaborate on the score and classical harpist, Richard Spendio, plus rock drummer, John Dinello, to spice the sound. “Don’t mess with success” said Dinello, when we mentioned her return to the East Village go-to club, Pangea. “We are opening with Lorena McKennit’s All Soul’s Night! Great compilation of songs!” replied Richard Spendio on social media.

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The Lady in Black 2: Between the Sun and the Moon, premieres at Pangea, 178 2nd Ave in NYC, on Saturday October 26, 2019 at 9:30 PM.
http://www.pangeanyc.com/show/mary-micari-lady-in-black-2-between-the-sun-and-the-moon-930pm/

Mary has quickly become member-emeritus of our women in the arts series. This time, we’ll span our questions over a three-part series about what it takes to create a sustaining and entertaining act in NYC cabaret and night clubs.

Your Lady in Black series is semi-autobiographical. What’s the message of this one? 

44591266_10215667222766437_4278137032858927104_nMy shows don’t have a specific message per se.  They are just what they are.  I am not out to do anything to make a statement.  I guess if there is one to be had its more about how we are all vulnerable and alive and life’s fucking hard.  Its also a bit about finding that one need not look very far or outside one’s self to find fulfillment.  Its inside all of us…the divine.

Tell us about YOU – the artist, entrepreneur, the woman.

This could take a year! I am a singer, actress, director, producer and all that based on my work in that area of my life.  I teach voice. I also have studied healing like Herbalism, Reiki, Aromatherapy, Sound and Music healing and much more.  I am a witch. Or as some like to say I am a Goddess Centered Pagan/Wiccan.  I read tarot, do astrology readings, magic and spells for others.  I do ritual and have a podcast on witchcraft.  I also teach the craft, astrology, tarot, herbalism and all the rest. 

These are based on diaries and journals – What’s it like telling your life story out there? 

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Mary chatting with music legend, Marilyn Maye, after Mary’s last “Lady” showing

It is pretty easy for me.  I find that the audience really is wanting that from performers. Even if I were playing a role not me, I would be using my own life to create the emotion of the character.  When I first asked the audience if they wanted me to read from my diaries on stage at the last show the answer was a loud, “YES”! People hide themselves so much now.  Social media is full of bullshit. No one shows their real lives.  I have no issue with being open about my path in this life.  I hope that I can help or enlighten.  It’s a female story because I am female but so many men enjoy it and are really seeing another side of women in this. It is wonderful to have people like and accept my story. It feels like I am sharing and that is wonderful.

What advice would you give a young woman starting out in the [live] music business? 

I am not really a music businessperson.  However, as I tell my young female students…self-produce, get it out there, and push it.  That’s all one can do.  Be authentic, be fierce, fight for your space, be good to other women.  Be kind to all people.  AND most importantly you better have the “goods” so do your work daily and never, ever quit.

 

We Salute an International Woman in the Arts 2019: Yokko!

EN /縁

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The visionary mind of performance artist, Yoshiko Usami (AKA Yokko), brings another far-reaching movement & dance piece to New York. EN /縁, sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council, will have a limited run (September 13-15) in Brooklyn at Triskelion Arts on 106 Calyer Street in Brooklyn reflects the deep connections we achieve in our lives – intentionally and unintentionally – positive and negative – for just one moment or for our entire lives.

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EN – the Japanese word for this, explores the positive effects of connections. EN is more than just people-connections. We create EN /縁 with people and all living things and even with locations and objects. EN explores the relationship between Nature and all living beings through Butoh dance and Physical Theatre. It explores whether we – as human beings – can create a relationship with people and things we usually take for granted. Every day we carelessly contaminate the Land and the Ocean and even the Air – and all those who inhabit them. EN shows how we can build bridges instead of burning them? Can we truly care for one another?

EN /縁 is 75 minutes but can give you messages that can last a lifetime.

TICKET INFO: $18- for Limited Advanced Sale (until 8/31); $20 General
https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4305278
PERFORMANCES: Sept. 13 @ 8pm; Sept. 14 @ 8pm; and Sept. 15 @ 3pm.

PRODUCTION TEAM

Choreographer & Director: Yoshiko Usami (AKA Yokko)
Costume Design by Deepsikha Chatterjee; Lighting Design by Rachel Zimmerman; Sound & Projection Design by Jorge Olivo and Alyssa L. Jackson; Installation Art by Pei-Ling Ho. Production Photography and Graphic Design by Krzy Sien; Production Videography by Mathew Kohn.
Rui Dun, Assistant Director and Bob Lyness, Associate Producer
The company features Miles Butler, Annie McCoy, Efrén Olson-Sánchez, Laura Aristovulos, and Yokko

Natasha Dawsen spoke with Yokko about the adventure that is her life in the arts. 

My background is as an Actor for a long time. I came to this country to be an international actor, 13 years ago. It has been quite a journey for me. As a foreign student, I needed to have some financial support, and applied one of the very competitive scholarship programs, and received a full scholarship. As the exchange, I served to the local communities, and shared Japanese culture and Performing Arts such as classical dance and martial arts. I formed a theatre group called Japanese Performing Arts company (JPAC), and gathered students, and taught them and held performances and workshops together. Through the activity, I received the International Understanding Award from the University of Oregon in 2008.

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“I think that is the beginning of my journey as a Japanese Performing Artist in the USA.”

After that year, I transferred to SUNY at Albany to prepare for a graduate program in Acting, and be accepted the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University MFA in Acting program in NYC in 2009. I wrote a one-woman show called BALDY which is an autobiographical play about my father, and relationship with me through my illness and our dreams. I performed and toured the show till early 2014. While I was touring this show, I encountered many audience members who were moved by the story. I  realized the impact of a universal theme to the society through live theatre. Meanwhile, I had to apply for an artist visa to stay and work as an artist.

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“And because I had to define who I am, where I am from, what  I have done, and what I do, for the visa appreciation,  I increased my self-awareness that I am a performing artist from Japan specialized in theater and dance.”

At that time, I was focusing on Japanese contemporary dance form, Butoh, and fascinating the craft, and creating the show with Butoh & Acting with my production team. We created the show, called Butoh Medea. It is a total fusion of theatre & dance (Acting and Butoh). This show has been received many awards, and has been touring nationally internationally since 2015. (Next show will be in Oct. 2019 in Czech) When we toured the show in Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2015, again, I encountered audience members who were moved, inspired and moreover and somehow encouraged for their Arts. At the same time, I was asked why I had to tell this story to society and what was my mission status. And so, I had to think deeper meaning toward what I do. 

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“All those experiences made me think about why I do and what I do.”

My previous ensemble work, SHINKA was about a story of living beings. It was about destruction and creation. It was about an evolving culture and our minds. When I started creating the show, I wanted to connect the current society and its issues we are facing on. And so, I corporated with overuse of plastic bags. Plastic bags are made of oil, and many countries create a war for oil. This show received many awards and nominated several awards, and because of this show, I received a grant from Brooklyn Arts council for our new project, En. This new show is about environmental issues and relationships between not only humans but also other creatures. 

thespis-18-small-reso_orig.jpg“I think the current society (and its issues) and nature have been motivating my creativity.  I also do believe what we see in the world is the reflection of our minds, and so, I would love to explore ourselves along with the social issues.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

4840382_origMy mission as a performing artist is to make a bridge between not only humans but also non-humans such as all living beings and nature. And I have been organizing an ecology and arts festival past 4 years in NYC (Unfix NYC). I wanted to do something to the world we live in, which is actually not new to me. When I was a child, I wanted to be a diploma, doctor, or lawyer. (or sports players) But my passion went to more acting, and have been pursuing acting career. After I graduated MFA program, and touring my shows and meeting people/audiences, and teaching theatre, and training Butoh with teachers consistently, I was inspired by each experiences. Moreover, I went back Japan in 2017, and I worked with one of the master teachers in Butoh, Yoshito Ono (Son of Kazuo Ono), and one of the exercises he guided us gave me a huge impact. He showed us a photo of children who were smiling. “They were born in a refugee camp. they do not know the other world than the camp”. He said. He asked us “We are not a doctor, or solger or politiciaons. We are performer. what we can do for these children as a performer? ” We danced for those children as our audience in his studio. This experience shifted me in a good way. I felt the responsibility. And it reminded the letter I received from an audience at the Edinburgh- “Thank you for sharing what art can do.” I did not understand much that time I received the letter in 2015. But when I worked with Yoshito Ono-Sensei in 2017, I felt like a seed rooted in me. Even though I have passion toward this theme,  the subject comes to mind more subconsciously, and very randomly, and I did not plan or intend to create an environmental show in the first place. I am more like following what came to my mind. Sometime I create a piece based on a dream I had over night. I usually see image or sound, and I follow what comes next, and keep exploring those images, I discover the piece to be born. 

 

DIRECTIONS to the theatre. 

We are at the corner of Calyer St and Banker St.

G Train to the Greenpoint Ave Stop. Walk south on Manhattan Ave, toward Milton St. Take a right on Calyer St.

G Train to the Nassau Ave Stop. Walk north on Manhattan Ave toward Norman St. Take a left on Calyer St.

L Train to the Bedford Avenue Stop.  Walk west on North 7th St to Berry St. Take a right on Berry St. Take a left on Banker St.

Buses near us: B32, B62, B43

Accessibility: Triskelion Arts is committed to making our Muriel Schulman Mainstage Theater welcoming and accessible to all. If you have any seating questions, need an accommodation, or require any other special assistance with purchasing tickets, please contact us at 718.389.3473 or info@triskelionarts.org. Our Mainstage Theater is on the ground level and accessible to those who use wheelchairs. Accessible seats are available for each performance in our Mainstage Theater and an accessible restroom is located on street level.

 

 

 

 

Women in the Arts 2019: Facing the music and dancing with Albena & Shelly

The new arts organization, From Scratch Performance Company, is more than just another theatrical company. it is a working body of art. It’s repertory holds many actors, singers, dancers, but also those that help them act, sing, and dance.

Their new artistic director is a playwright, for instance. Robert Liebowitz is a 40-year veteran of independent theater. He stand next to experienced designers, composers and Albena Kervanbashieva and Shelly Ellis Herrington. 

It’s possible to have a dancer or two in a rep but TWO PRIMA BALLERINAS? This company is showing all signs of being something special.

67395162_2495384977150171_1580520356878221312_n.jpgAlbena Kervanbashieva, a Bulgarian native, began in the hands of Ballet master, Pavel Stoitzev when she was seven. After making a name for herself in her native Bulgaria, she came to these shores and scored kudos as part of Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, Doris Humphrey Dance Company, La Ballade Ballet Company, Contemporary Ballet Theater, Jayne Persh and Dancers, Les Ballets du Monde and collaborating with numerous independent choreographers. She is currently a member of Dance Visions.

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Shelly Ellis Herrington trained as a Classical Ballerina on Point at the legendary Brooklyn Academy of Music. As she grew, so did her skills, she is now adept in Jazz, Tap and Modern Dance as well. She then added “singer” to her resume as a Soprano and Mezzo. Now she just needed the actor part to be a triple-threat. She went to Kingsborough College to hone those skills.

We sat down (not easy with two such agile artists) to discuss the upcoming event.

City Center – that’s great … are you excited? 

Shelly Ellis Herrington I joined this exciting and very rewarding Company because of it’s introductory presentation:  My very first meeting with them was at “New York City Center in Rudolph Nureyev Ballet Arts Center.”  I immediately understood where this Company was headed, and I made an excellent choice to be a part of it. As an Artist, I would have to be truly mentally incapacitated if I was ‘Not’ excited about having a Scene from my personal production of “HOSEKI” performed at this iconic Hall.  It is indeed an honor and a joy to be presented at The New York City Center.

What made you form/join this company?

13995598_10208655356594377_9075648485383827943_oAlbena Kervanbashieva I was very intrigued when I stumbled upon the “Spectatorum” organization (later renamed “From Scratch Performance Company”) – I really jumped at the chance to meet and collaborate with artists from fields other than mine (dance).

 

 

 

What make you different from other indie arts companies?

Shelly Ellis Herrington What makes me different from other indie arts companies is a lot of my productions are based on ‘Real Life’ situations.  Creating them into art is a gift.

Albena Kervanbashieva I am immensely honored to be offered 4 original music pieces by 3 composers from the company, who trusted me with my choreography. It is frightening and deeply rewarding at the same time to dance my own choreography, up to this point I’ve always danced other peoples’ works, I truly started “from scratch”.

What are your plans/hopes/dreams for the future?

Albena Kervanbashieva I hardly can wait to discover how far I can go with this and what a gift to be surrounded by such talented artists who are on a similar journey in their fields! I am so looking forward to having more creatives joining us and collaborating. When one starts from scratch there’s so much freedom to create original works – All that we have is ourselves, without copying or recreating anyone else’s. I’d love to co-create  full length productions of Theater, Music and Dance!

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Shelly Ellis Herrington My Plans, Hopes, and Dreams for the Future is to Produce 10 original productions of Plays, Movies, and Music.  I have every intention of being at the Tony Awards, Oscar’s, and Grammy Awards. What’s next for me is my Second Reading in the Fall of my original 2-Hour Theatrical Musical “HOSEKI/SHELLY” with Song and Dance.  WhooWhoo!

 

scratch invite