Dig Baton Rouge

Blend on High

By Tara Bennett

 

Ever had a burst of creative energy at 1 a.m. in the morning? That idea may go to waste on an average Friday, but not for the nine artists who participated in the inaugural BR Blender.

In a move that brings fresh life into the local art scene, dance artists Mina Estrada and Coco Loupe designed BR Blender as an effort to bring artists from different disciplines together in order to explore the concept and practice of collaboration with the purpose of creating new works of art in a condensed time frame.

“We wanted to bring more artists of other disciplines together,” said Estrada. “We wanted to start cultivating a community of artists…I think the reward is the connections that we’re making. The opportunity to allow people who have never even met, to start exploring some unified goal together.”

Conceived in collaboration with nine local artists, BR Blender took place at the Hartley/Vey Studio Theatre last Saturday night. The lineup featured artists Jeanette Plourde, Harlee Trautman, Anna, Schwab, Roxi Victorian, Alex Barbier, Kay White, Rikki Willis, Reid Willis, and Sean Richardson, who all hail from different artistic concentrations, including theatre, dance, music, and visual art. Each artist was partnered up at random and given 24 hours to create a collaborative piece to present to a live audience. The connecting theme? Their dreams.

“If they had nothing else that they could find they felt could be a common interest then that could be a question,” said Estrada. “What are your dreams?”

With few limitations –merely technical– the artists wrestled with random ideas and worked to express them into organized pieces mashup with their artistic expertise. After racing the clock, the resulting works displayed the range of spontaneous creativity when under the pressure of a deadline. Raw, and organic, the structures turned into formulated creations including “still enough,” “Going,” “pillow,” and “#photobomb.”

The talent amongst the nine artists was mesmerizing as they took us on their journeys of self-reflection. Whether it be an improvised chair dance, a theatrical piece featuring tons of luggage, a dance expressing one’s inner emotions, or just a really good Katy Perry impression, the acts were moving as well as humorous. While the artists showed the audience an inner piece of themselves, they also got to know people outside their own artistic world and learned different processes.

“One of the reasons I wanted this to happen is because I sometimes think we get so myopic in our discipline that we don’t see what other people are doing,” said Loupe. “And we can’t necessarily go to every event, we can’t be out all the time seeing stuff. Well, let’s bring all that information in and let it build a stronger, richer experience for us.”

The creation of plays, dances, music and visual arts pieces within a 24-hour period is a growing trend in the arts world. Still a young concept, BR Blender is a first for the Baton Rouge arts community, but was positively received by audience members.

“It just gives me chills to know that [they’re] all here and that committed,” said Gerri Hobdy during the show’s Q&A session. “They started with this artistic excellence that was already there.”

Applying limitations to art is nothing new for Estrada and Loupe, who have experimented with the limitations of space in their choreography-based event “10 Tiny Dances.” Now, their newest initiative examines the limits of time. While Estrada would like to explore more limitations, she feels there’s still many more ways to explore the limitations of time and space.

“These have just been these minor challenges and…specific challenges,” said Estrada. “I feel like there are so many ways to setup structures that are going to continue to challenge artists, to develop in different ways, to create in different ways, to view their art in different ways…I think the next big challenge is how artists collaborate and create with non-artists.”

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