Dancers and Music-Makers Creating Art Together in the Moment
Photos of Erinn Liebhard and Steven Hobert by Sean Smuda, design by Jaime Willems
Part performance, part participation, this unique event invites you to both witness and experience the electricity of dancers and music-makers creating art together in the moment as they explore connections between the social and the staged.
Social Animals brings together concert and social dancers, and musicians of various instrumentations and backgrounds, to cross-train and improvise together in performance in one on ones, duo on duos and as a full group. Held at the Icehouse rather than a traditional theater and featuring a dance floor open to all after the show, Social Animals seeks to gnaw at the gap between ‘dance you do (social) and dance you view (staged).’ The connections between social and staged dance ideas in America are dynamic, highlighting how cultural ideas and the people that practice them can thrive because of both their similarities and differences: come see this unfold through movement and music, and stick around after the show for ICEHOUSE’s weekly Sunday night dance party, Nightchurch. This event has been made possible in part by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council Next Step Grant, funded by the Legacy Amendment the voters of Minnesota made law in 2008.
These funds enabled me to further explore the dynamic connections between social and staged dance ideas in America, a curiosity that fuels all of my work as a dance artist. Specifically, I attended the International Swing Dance Championship in Houston, Texas this May to continue my study of how social dance forms (like Swing and House) are related to and inform staged jazz dance. I’ve shared the ideas I codified from this and other such experiences with the excellent local dancers and musicians I’ve been fortunate enough to work with on this project, moving and making music together improvisationally to research how our aesthetics intersect. Learn more about them below!
Meet the Artists:
Bob has been playing trumpet and singing around town for almost two decades, beginning with the groove improv group GST in 2001, whose “punk rock for grown-ups” approach to jazz gained them a following in the mid-2000’s and regular play on The Current (89.3) in its early days. Bob joined the first iteration of the Minneapolis band Eleganza in 2005, which morphed into a six-year journey on the Chooglin’ train. A high-octane blend of bluesy rock, soul and metal, Chooglin’ recorded with Fat Possum Records and toured the U.S. and Europe several times. During this time, Bob also played in the rotating collective known as the Minneapolis Free Music Society. Currently, Bob performs and records most often with BrassZilla, a “hip shakin’ beer jazz” quartet made up of brass and drums only (NO GUITARS). In recent years, Bob has regularly participated in cross-disciplinary jazz explorations in modern dance (Rhythmically Speaking, Visual Grooves, CHILL), spoken word (Bosso Poetry Company) and, of late, iNMiGRATiON – environmental sound installations created with music, poetry and performance by composer JG Everest. In addition to BrassZilla, Bob currently keeps the high energy going by playing with garage-rockers The Silverteens and contributes vocals and trumpet to Death, Sleep and the Traveler, a band/project formed to benefit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Ozzy Dris (Social Dance – House + Breaking + Rocking)
Ozzy is a 30 year old Filipino American born and raised in the Bay Area, CA and now residing in the Twin Cities, MN where his competitive and dance career started. Ozzy is known for his 17 year dance background in the styles of Breaking, Rocking, and most influentially, House Dancing. As a member of The Break Cops, Rock Lordz, Soul Steppers, Circle Theory, and the MN dance community, he strives to help expand the urban street/club dance culture in the Minnesota and all over the Midwest.
Maurice Fields (Social Dance – Swing + Breaking)
Maurice Fields III is an actor from Saint Paul whose earliest theatre work was as the Assistant Choreographer/Dance Captain in the Central’s High School production of Urinetown, their first musical. Since then, they’re career has soared, being in several well known pieces such as Twelfth Night, West Side Story, and Crazy For You. Maurice has been dancing for many years, and has experimented with many styles such as Vernacular Jazz, Bboying, Lindy Hop, Modern, Tap and Musical Theatre. They’re currently finishing a double major in Theatre and Vocal Performance at Concordia University in Saint Paul.
Steven Hobert (Piano)
Steven Hobert describes himself as a soul who plays, sings and dances while exploring life’s mysteries. His genre-blending piano, accordion and vocal music has been described as “delightful, innovative and viscerally inspiring” that “dazzles audiences with sincerity and playfulness to open up hearts and fire imaginations.” Based out of Minneapolis, he plays in Oudyano with renowned Syrian oud player Issam Rafea, tours as a soloist, leads the world beat-driven ensemble FireFlyForest Collective, leads the Wall Smashers Quartet and works as a freelance producer, composer and instrumentalist for countless shows with vocalists & ensembles in jazz, classical, world music fusion, sacred music and American roots music. Through his authentic and vulnerable expression, Steven aims to be a musical vehicle to spark inspiration, compassionate connection, and facilitate community and healing.
Reid Kennedy (Drums)
Reid Kennedy is a drummer and composer whose original music has appeared on Fox, Showtime, Starz, The Learning Channel, and more. You can hear him play around town with the likes of his group the Reid Kennedy Trio, Nooky Jones, Copper Street Brass and the Jack Brass Band, among others.
Erinn Liebhard (Concert Dance – Jazz + Modern)
Erinn grew up grooving at her dad’s rock band’s gigs. Guided by this inspiration and fondness for jazz and American social dance, Erinn has worked with creatives as varied as hip-hop artist Rennie Harris and the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers. She teaches for the Cowles Center and Zenon Dance, and presents her own new works and those by others through her company Rhythmically Speaking. She also performs with Contempo Physical Dance (Afro-Brazilian contemporary) and is an active writer, presenter and residency artist, sharing her groove, interaction and improvisation-driven approach to jazz dance. erinnliebhard.com.
Megan Mahoney (Bass)
Megan Mahoney is a Minneapolis-based bass player whose skills have taken her from dive bars and taprooms to festivals and tours. Since 2017, Megan Mahoney has been touring the world with artists from all over the country. When home, Mahoney is playing in all contexts expanding her musicianship and building lasting musical relationships.
Crissy Tolson (Concert Dance – Jazz + Modern)
Crissy Tolson has worked with numerous Twin Cities companies and artists such as Rhythmically Speaking, Alternative Motion Project, Loom Lab, Borealis Dance, Pedro Pablo and Laura Selle Virtucio. She is also a founding member of Painting the Room, a Minneapolis based music/dance/text improvisation group. Her performance has been highlighted by the Star Tribune: “She commanded such presence… articulating emotions with precision …downright terrifying”. Off the stage ,she has co-produced and directed three shows, “here i am” and “Duality” with Nora Anderson and solo produced “It’s Happening Now” which premiered at the Minnesota Fringe Festival in 2019. Crissy holds a BFA in Dance from George Mason University and recently went to Amsterdam to study improvisation composition under Katie Duck.