While on tour with Core Project Chicago this summer, I had the opportunity to explore two new cities: Kansas City and Minneapolis. We performed “the dust” for the KC and Minneapolis Fringe Festivals. We spent two weeks in Kansas City, where we stayed with the incomparable Whitakers, followed by two weeks in Minneapolis staying with Peg, the veritable definition of ‘Minnesota nice’. Here are some highlights and observations from my experience as a touring dancer…
1. The reader: two weeks in a city is quite a stretch. I began to miss my thursday reader pick-up, chock full of interesting articles and things to do in Chicago.
V. The Pitch: KC's free ‘newspaper’ mostly consisted of ads and bar specials. No real journalism and not much on the local arts, music, and culture.
V. Citypages: Minneapolis fares better than KC in the arts, music and culture content. Citypages, however, is still ad heavy and mostly ‘fluff’ articles.
Verdict: the reader wins easily. I never realized how much information and entertainment I got from Chicago’s free paper!
2. Art museums: Chicago has all sorts of great places to engage with art and I was happy to find that our neighbors to the west (at least these two neighbors) are making art accessible as well.
Nelson Atkins Museum in KC: It’s free! All the time! And it’s full of great art! There is also a large sculpture garden perfect for a game of tag, frisbee, or a lovely picnic.
Walker Art Center in Minneapolis: also available for free but only on Thursdays thanks to target. It’s an impressive contemporary art center with another lovely sculpture garden. However, what excited me most was the merce cunningham exhibit. Cunningham is one of the founders of modern dance. His is also one of my favorite techniques to practice. The exhibit featured some of his innovative sculptural costumes, video of performances dating back to the early 1950s, and video of interviews with his dancers from throughout his career (1953-2009).
3. Local shops: being on tour requires discipline, self reliance and frugality. I tried not to drop precious grocery money at big chain stores but these local shops deserved every penny of my budget they received.
Artist and Craftsman Supply Store: KC a great little shop in a cool area of town called crossroads. I wound up with a couple of lovely postcards for family and friends as well as a nice little sketch pad.
Boneshaker Books: MNPLS wow this place is impressive. Down the street from a fringe festival venue this little shop had tons of interesting titles. The best part of this clean, bright, inviting store is the nook of independently published treasures. I took home a little collection of drawings by Britta Anderson called Black Hole Zine.
Design Collective Minneapolis: Cool stuff all made by local Minneapolis folks. In general the uptown neighborhood where this place lives has pretty neat stuff happening–lots of independently owned shops, restaurants, and performance venues.
4. Performance Venues: In both fringe cities we (CPC) were honored with amazing spaces to share our dance work.
Todd Bolender Center: This is the new home of the Kansas City ballet and boy is it beautiful! The studios are huge and flooded with natural light. The largest studio on the first floor is also a 180-seat studio theater, a performance dream space! Check out this virtual tour on youtube.
Patrick’s Cabaret: This space in Minneapolis provided a more intimate version of “the dust” than we performed in Kansas City with seating on three sides of the stage. It was a great exercise in keeping a show fresh with each performance.
5. Awesome Hosts: fringe festival volunteers sometimes offer their homes as a place for visiting artists to stay while in town performing. Cpc took the following generous and gracious hosts up on their offer…
Sandy and byron: these two are a fun and exciting couple that live in kansas city, kansas. Their spacious home on a golf course somehow managed to feel full with five cpc company dancers, one artistic director, one stage manager, and one composer. Byron makes prosthetics for children and sandy is a retired physical therapist. Together they are welcoming and hilarious great supporters of the arts.
Peg: This lady is Minnesota nice. She wasn’t home when we arrived at her house in savage, mn from kc so she just told us to go on in and make ourselves at home. Shortly thereafter her neighbor dropped off a freshly baked peach pie. When peg arrived home she greeted us all with hugs and she was like family from the start.
6. Wearing nail polish: it sounds so silly and simple but it’s true! I missed wearing nail polish for a month. My funky colored fingers and toes weren’t part of the costume design so they had to go during tour. I was happy to have my purple nails back!
Eight performances, four weeks, two cities, and one unforgettable experience.