Artist in Residence Spotlight: Taking part in the Performance
This post is a part of a series of posts from UMS Artists in Residence. Artists come from various disciples and attend several UMS performances throughout the season as another source of inspiration for their work.
Barbara Tolzier works in photography with forays into media and video. After an engineering career that took her to Pennsylvania and the Netherlands, Barbara reconnected with photography in 2009 — she studied with Nicholas Hlobeczy in college — and in 2012 started taking photo classes at Washtenaw Community College, where she went on to earn an Associate’s Degree in May of 2016. She has exhibited at the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original and in group shows at 22 North Gallery, Washtenaw Community College, and Kerrytown Concert House. She lives and works in Ann Arbor.
Without any introduction, Igor and Moreno walk past white curtains onto a white stage. They stand there, looking at the audience. We know they can see us because the house lights are up.
They start singing. Eventually, they start bouncing. Then, while bouncing, they remove their street clothes (jackets, jeans, socks and shoes) to reveal t-shirts and gym shorts.
The two men bounce. They look at the audience. The lights dim, their song ends, and they continue to bounce, moving around the stage, occasionally hitting the place where the show’s floor is just-that-far-away from the underlying stage and making a different sound as their weight lands on it.
There is nervous laughter as the audience isn’t quite sure what is going on, except bounce bounce bounce, sometimes quieter, sometimes louder, sometimes upstage, sometimes downstage. Bounce bounce bounce. The rhythm is steady, the performers are watching us, interacting with us, bouncing through the aisles. Bounce bounce bounce.
There is no music. Only bounce. Only the interaction between the performers and the audience. The sound is reminiscent of so-called minimalist music. Bounce bounce bounce. Pattern but no pattern but exertion and bounce. And watching. They are watching us watching them.
Who are they seeing, those two men bouncing on a white stage? What do they expect from us?
They expect us to share in their experience. We do not bounce, not most of us, anyway. They bounce from backstage with stacks of red cups, those red cups that are so ubiquitous when the students return. We laugh, and we share the cups, passing them from viewer to viewer. And then comes the Vernor’s. And more laughter. And we pass bottles from viewer to viewer, each person taking a token amount, ensuring everyone can share in the boon.
It’s hypnotic. Bounce bounce bounce. Bouncing all over the stage, single and together. Occasionally one will leave the stage, leaving the other to occupy our attention, and returns bouncing to the same rhythm when as he left.
There’s an interlude, during which the performers change costumes by removing t-shirts that they’ve picked up on one of their backstage jaunts. The lights start to change: dimmer, warmer, more intimate. They see us with their costumes, shirts with eyes printed on them, as we watch them.
Bounce bounce bounce. Slowly we become aware of a droning sound, the sound of electronic feedback. Bounce bounce bounce morphs into a pas de deux as the sound intensifies. The eye shirts are removed. They stop watching us. The rhythm remains but the dance becomes less and less bouncy. They watch each other. The sound is a heartbeat. Sound replaces bounce. The men dance with each other instead of dancing to the audience. They whirl and spin and spin and whirl. We can hear their breathing. They sing to each other. They don’t see us, even when they face us. They spin. They spin. They spin. Their breath gets faster faster faster. The heart beats faster faster faster. The sound stops.
The pair dance off of the stage. The lights come up. It is finished.
I leave the theater in the quiet cold January night, texting one word: wow.
I realize I have learned something. Minimalism can evoke story. Oddness can influence emotion. Intensity can spur contemplation. Audience and artist together make the work.
Follow this blog for more updates from Barbara throughout this season. Learn more about Renegade this season.
Announcing 2016-17 UMS Artists in Residence
We are proud to announce the 2016-17 UMS Artists in Residence!
Multimedia: Simon Alexander-Adams
Visual Arts: Ash Arder
Music: Nicole Patrick
Literature: Qiana Towns
Photography: Barbara Tozier
The UMS Artists in Residence program is a public engagement project whereby applications were solicited from regional artists wanting to take “residence” at UMS performances. The program launched during the 2014-15 UMS season.
Five artists (including visual, literary, and performing artists) have been selected to use UMS performance experiences as a resource to support the creation of new work or to fuel an artistic journey. Residents will receive complimentary tickets to select UMS performances; a $500 stipend; gatherings with fellow residents; and behind-the-scenes access to UMS staff and artists, when available. In return, UMS asks that artists share their artistic journeys via residency entrance and exit interviews and on UMS’s blog; participate in select UMS Education & Community Engagement events; and share artistic work generated during the residency when possible.
“While UMS brings incredible performing artists from around the globe to Ann Arbor, we’re also deeply committed to the creative community right here in Michigan,” said Kenneth C. Fischer, UMS President. “UMS Artists in ‘Residence’ ensures that artists creating work right here in our own backyard have access to everything they need to inspire, fuel, and inform their projects. Artists play a vital role in our communities — they inspire us, they challenge us, they provide alternate perspectives. We want to ensure that Ann Arbor and Southeast Michigan continues to be a place where artists are supported and can happily call home.”
Follow these artists’s journey through the season on this blog.
Meet the 2016-17 UMS Artists in Residence
Simon Alexander-Adams – Multimedia
Simon Alexander-Adams is a Detroit-based multimedia artist, musician, and designer working within the intersection of art and technology. He has directed multimedia performances that enable connections between sonic, visual, and kinetic forms; designed new interfaces for musical expression; and produced interactive installation art. Simon has composed music for a number of short films, animations, and theatrical and dance performances. His compositions have been performed at international festivals, including the Ann Arbor Film Festival and Cinetopia. He also performs frequently on keyboard and electronics with the glitch-electronic free-jazz punk band Saajtak. Simon earned his MA in Media Arts in 2015 from the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance.
Ash Arder – Visual Arts
Ash Arder is a Detroit-based artist who creates installations and sculptural objects using a combination of found and self-made materials. Through both process and output, this work investigates the relationship between people, objects, and place in order to understand use patterns and value attribution at macro and micro scales. Ash’s work is primarily rooted in urban culture.
Nicole Patrick – Music
Percussionist Nicole Patrick was born and raised in Miami, FL. She has sought a diverse musical training with the intention of exploring a limitless life through the arts. As a member of the Michigan Percussion Quartet she performed and organized an outreach tour throughout South Africa. In 2014, Nicole was a recipient of the International Institute Individual Fellowship grant, which allowed her to travel to Berlin to work alongside Tanz Tangente Dance Company. She continues to compose original music for their works.
Nicole also performs regularly with her band, Rooms, and other indie, improvisation, and performance art groups around southeastern Michigan. She has collaborated and recorded on five albums with Ann Arbor-based independent record label Stereo Parrot. For two years, she has curated a concert series in an intimate house venue in Ann Arbor and is most excited to be co-director and founder of the new Threads All Arts Festival in Ann Arbor. Nicole is an alumna of Interlochen Arts Academy and graduated from the University of Michigan with degrees in Percussion Performance (BM) and Jazz & Contemporary Improvisation (BFA) in 2016.
Qiana Towns – Literature
Qiana Towns is author of the chapbook This is Not the Exit (Aquarius Press, 2015). Her work has appeared in Harvard Review Online, Crab Orchard Review, and Reverie. A Cave Canem graduate, Towns received the 2014 Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize from the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature. She is a resident of Flint, where she serves as Community Outreach Coordinator for Bottles for the Babies, a grassroots organization created to support and educate the residents of Flint during the water crisis.
Barbara Tozier – Photography
Born in Ohio, Barbara Tozier works in photography — digital, analog, and hybrid — with forays into video and multimedia. She settled in Michigan in 1997, after an engineering career that took her to Pennsylvania and the Netherlands. Barbara reconnected with photography in 2009 — she studied with Nicholas Hlobeczy in college — and in 2012 started taking photo classes at Washtenaw Community College, where she went on to earn an Associate’s Degree in May of 2016.
She has exhibited at the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original and in group shows at 22 North Gallery, Washtenaw Community College, and Kerrytown Concert House. She lives and works in Ann Arbor.
A recipient of the 2014 National Medal of Arts, UMS (also known as the University Musical Society) contributes to a vibrant cultural community by connecting audiences with performing artists from around the world in uncommon and engaging experiences. One of the oldest performing arts presenters in the country, UMS is an independent non-profit organization affiliated with the University of Michigan, presenting over 70 music, theater, and dance performances by professional touring artists each season, along with over 100 free educational activities. UMS is part of the University of Michigan’s “Victors for Michigan” campaign, reinforcing its commitment to bold artistic leadership, engaged learning through the arts, and access and inclusiveness.