Recent Activities & Collaboration with Zorongo Flamenco


Photo: Carleton Browne Illustration: Niels Strandskov
Photo: Carleton Browne
Illustration: Niels Strandskov











I haven’t followed appropriate entrepreneurial social media etiquette in recent months by writing regularly here, but my absence from these pages lately does not translate into lack of activity. Actually, quite a lot has been unfolding, and I’m ready to begin writing about it.

Here are some highlights of recent activities:

  • Developing “It is She Too,” a multi-screen creative screening built upon my show “It is She Who I See;”
  • Developing my configurable producing model for a touring version of “It is She Who I See;
  • Creating “SHE 3,” a large scale multi-screen, multi-stage immersive “happening” production for the “It is She Who I See” work;
  • Completing recording engineering for my “Five Books Choral Suite” from last year’s readings and recordings sessions;
  • Integrating the “Five Books Choral Suite” into my oratorio “Five Books: First Series – the Journey” and writing new scenes to complete my large scale multimedia hybrid dramatic work;
  • Mentoring the Arts Center of St. Peter (MN) in their work in the ArtsLab program and through a process of leadership transition and organizational transformation;
  • Conducting a comprehensive Board Retreat for the theater company Green T Productions to help them evolve to a new level as a organization;
  • Participating in discussions with Eastman School of Music about an exciting initiative to create new interdisciplinary, cross-departmental and inter-institutional degree programs integrating new technology into their curriculum;
  • Writing about contemporary music notation and performance practice;
  • Setting up an Events Page and a Shop on the Interference Arts web site; and
  • Collaborating with Susana di Palma and Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre on music and visual design for her show ConVivir – 7 Dances to a More Compassionate World.

I will be writing about all of these activities in the days, weeks and months ahead, but today I want to bring attention to my collaboration with Zorongo Flamenco.

Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre has a long history of bringing powerful and provocative flamenco dance theater experiences to the stage, combining the passionate soul of Spain with the lively innovative spirit of America. Artistic Director Susana di Palma’s latest work, ConVivir – 7 Dances to a More Compassionate World, is one of Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre’s most ambitious projects to date, transporting audiences to the passionate world of the Convivencia (“coexistence”) period in Spanish history when Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together in an atmosphere that was remarkable for its cultural vitality and lack of religious strife.

Directed and choreographed by Susana di Palma, audiences will be mesmerized by such acclaimed modern world masters of flamenco, hip hop, and Sephardic music and movement as Amir-John Haddad, José Salinas, Arcadio Marin, David Jordan Harris, Antonio Arrebola, Judith Brin Ingber, La Conja and Zorongo dancers. Venerable poetry fused with contemporary storytelling will inspire a range of emotions through this evocative spectacle at The Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts in Minneapolis April 4, 5 & 6, 2014.

For ConVivir I will be working with artist Candy Kuehn to create an integrated multimedia design. My music will merge with music from the astounding roster of collaborating musicians to create one of my signature narrative soundscapes. Candy’s powerful digital illustrations and exquisite costumes complete the vision for a fully integrated immersive design. We will build upon the powerful imagery in Aldo Moroni’s “civilization” sculptures and installations as source material, creating alternative visual worlds, bringing new dimensions to Susana di Palma’s trademark multi-disciplinary and multi-media productions, creating an engaging new dramatic work.

I am excited and honored to be working with Susana di Palma and Zorongo Flamenco on this deep and timely project, exploring a period when, amidst whatever struggles existed, people of different faiths and backgrounds were able to bridge their differences and find ways to live together, share cultures and advance human knowledge and creative assets. This theme resonates naturally with the underlying themes in both my Five Books and “She” projects, and this alignment furthers my personal, creative and professional goal to create and produce adventurous art advancing the well being of humanity. This project also launches a new collaboration with sculptor Aldo Moroni, whose work will infuse this production, and will also be evident in my Five Books work moving forward. Our colleague Susan Schaefer is leading an outreach discussion initiative to explore aspects of the convivencia period and the outpouring of intercultural (i.e. Islamic, Sephardic Jewish, and Christian) creativity that it fostered.

A funding campaign on Indiegogo has been launched to underwrite our participation in ConVivir. For information about the campaign please visit the ConVivir Indiegogo site, and help us bring this project to fruition. More information about ConVivir will be available as the project evolves. Join us for the show and the forum. It is going to be a wonderful probing adventure.

About Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre
Founded in 1982 by Artistic Director Susana di Palma, Zorongo Flamenco’s mission is “to enrich our community by drawing people close to the beauty and energy of the Flamenco tradition and, by expanding on that tradition, create an innovative art form that explores the issues of contemporary life.” ConVivir has already received support from the Goodale Family Foundation, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council, the City of St Paul Cultural STAR grant program, the American Composers Forum and individual donors. A MNOriginal segment about Zorongo can be found here.

Zorongo has a strong history of presenting the best flamenco artists to Minnesota audiences. For ConVivir fabulous local artists will be joined by visiting master artists from Spain and Sri Lanka. The company also continues its tradition of engaging the community by fostering a community discussion in St. Paul about the themes of ConVivir with scenes from the performance, hopefully making a lasting change in the way we interact with people of other faiths within our increasingly global community.