Recently in Ensembles Category

Photos from the Modet Dance Collective's half of Collected and Conscious.
Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11 & Opening Night, Friday, June 12, 2015.
Dancers: Miranda Baldwin, Amy Dahlem, Lily Jean, Dina Kats, Erica Reid, Melissa Talleda, Laura Wagner, and Anna Zordan.
Choreography by Amy Dahlem, Lily Jean, Dina Kats, Erica Reid, Rebecca Robertstad, and Anna Zordan.
Lighting by Henry Bateman.
Photos by Greg Inda.

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg IndaCollected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

The above photos are from an improvised dance Melissa and I did based on audience answers to a posted question.

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

From my piece Ebb and Flow.

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

From Lily's piece, Bo'i (Come With Me).

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

From Dina's piece, F**ck it All.

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

From my piece Take Care.

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

From Rebecca's piece Time.

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

From Anna's piece, Losing It.

Collected and Conscious Dress Rehearsal, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

From Amy's piece, Fiya Wata.

Collected and Conscious, June 12, 2015 Photos by Greg Inda

A Fundraising Campaign for Modet!

I am running a Kickstarter campaign to support my upcoming dance performance entitled Collected and Conscious June 12-14 at Links Hall in Chicago. Here is the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2130177332/collected-and-conscious  This project is so very near and dear to my heart. Here is why:

If you are a reader of my blog, you know that growing up, dance was my life. I wanted to be a professional dancer. I performed in the Nutcracker every year and our annual dance recital was a highlight of every spring. Unfortunately, due to the constant pain in my crummy knees and the potential for more dislocations than I already had, I had to stop dancing full time when I was 18. I still dabbled in classes here and there, and I choreographed when I was able. I switched my focus to comedy when I was in college and moved to Chicago almost 15 years ago to study that craft full time, while choreographing musicals and sketch shows on the side for extra money.

Through the years, I have not only created a successful comedy career that I continue to work in to this day (see: any other post on this blog), but I have established myself as a sought-after choreographer in the burlesque, musical theatre, comedy, and kids theatre worlds. I've danced a little bit, but mostly focused on choreography for others.

In 2013, the planets aligned, and I started my own dance company with a group of amazing women who were looking for a stress-free place to dance and create dances together. The Modet Dance Collective debuted at the Bridgeport Arts Center in conjunction with the Artemesia After 40 Art Opening, and partnered with the Living Room Playmakers to create our first full-length show, Future Perfect Tension, which was performed at Stage773 on June 15, 2014.

In the fall of 2014, Melissa Talleda, a member of Modet, brought her previous dance company from Baltimore, Shmib Dance, to Chicago. Shmib is a modern dance company, which is not a discipline I trained in, but I am having the most amazing time dancing in the company. So now I am dancing in TWO companies, and I could not be happier about it. Yes, my knees still hurt and grind, but I am better about care, rehab and management of the issue, and I know my limits and how to push them.

I feel like it is a rebirth being able to reconnect to the art form I love most. Here I am, 35 years old, living my dreams and feeling stronger and better than ever!

Modet and Shmib are teaming up for this summer's show, Collected and Conscious, at Chicago's dance theatre, Links Hall. The show will be presented in 2 parts: The Modet part of the show is centered around the things in life that we are tortured or burdened by, and when we feel like we are in control and when we don't. Pieces for this portion are choreographed by different members of the collective and are in a variety of styles. The Shmib portion of the show is inspired by the concept of exponential growth, and will be presented in one 45 minute piece. This portion of the show will be performed to live accompaniment from the band Teach Me Equals.

I love working with these amazing dancers and creating the art that I want to create. The pieces that we are creating are emotional, beautiful and silly, and it is the best form of therapy that I have experienced (and I've been in a LOT of therapy!)
I am also pleased to announce that a piece that Melissa and I choreographed for our show last summer was selected to be performed in Links Hall's annual benefit gala THAW on March 19th! We are so excited! Here is the full lineup:

THAW performers.png
SO! The Kickstarter. We are looking to raise money to help with production costs for a weekend of shows in Chicago. Rent, costumes, designers, marketing--it all adds up. If you live in Chicago, first I would like you to come see the show this June. But if you don't, or you are unavailable that weekend, it would mean the world to me if you would consider making a donation to our event. My birthday is in April, so consider it an early birthday present! :)

Our campaign ends March, 22, but the sooner we can secure the money, the better. And remember, with Kickstarters, if you don't reach your goal, you don't get a dime.
THANK YOU for your consideration, and THANK YOU FOR BEING YOU!!!!
xoxoxoox

Comedy. Life.

| 3 Comments

In April of 1999, I decided to move to Chicago to pursue comedy. My move date was going to be May 2000. I spent that year hustling--I visited several times, lined up 2 jobs, registered for classes, found an apartment, made friends. Somewhere in there, my friend Jason Chin recommended me for a documentary that was being produced about 4 improvisors in various portions of their careers. Jason was one of them, as well as the lovely Rachael Mason and some guy named Jason Sudekis. And I was person #4--the newcomer. Since I didn't live in Chicago at the time, I conducted my casting interview over the phone. One of the producers, a guy named Steve, called me, and we had a hilarious chat about comedy, art, life and our shared love of the movie Waiting for Guffman.

Sadly, the project fell through a few months after my arrival, but I stayed in touch with Steve. He invited me to sit in with an improv group he was putting together. I did. That group (The RIngmasters) performed for just a little while, and then turned into a different group at the Playground Theater (Pastor of Muppets, which I didn't join at the beginning, but would later on).  Steve was a brilliant thinker and would often put together a night of spectacle. One night, he put together a mystery improv team, Shuddupyaface--we were each given codename (of African American actors--I was Agent Jackson) and we were to show up to the theatre but not mention to anyone that we were performing. He called us one by one to the stage where we performed together for the first and last time. The only kicker was that there was almost no audience at the theatre that night, so if you weren't in one of the other 2 established teams performing, it was correctly assumed you were in the mystery team. It was a super fun night.

There were video projects and other one-offs here and there. Along the way, I met some other guys that Steve went to college with--other comedians with the same sensibilities. In October 2004, Pastor of Muppets famously signed up for a sketch show slot for 4 weeks, and then didn't write one. Steve and his buddy Paul threw together a concept for a gameshow that they would host along with another friend Bryan as timekeeper. They posted auditions for weirdo variety act style comedians, and I of course signed up. Shortly before auditions were to be held, Steve emailed me saying that all but 3 people canceled their audition slots and asked what my bits were going to be. I described them to him, and was cast. And just like that, we put on Don't Spit the Water. After a few limited run engagements, the show ran weekly for years, and took us to SC, NYC, LA and even on TV with our own half hour pilot.

With the start of that show, the official comedy group of Blewt! was formed. Among many other things, we've produced a prank web series (Silly Funny Goof Gang), a standup showcase (Blewtenanny), a weird conceptual show starting Jared Logan and Kumail (The Demon Who Never Appeared), a Kenyan-penned melodrama (The Nairobi Project), a call-in cable access talk show (Talkin' Funny), 8 seasons of a super amazing hit talent competition judged by hyper-intelligent apes from the future (Impress These Apes--season 8 just wrapped last night--crazy) and a performance showcase television show (Steve Gadlin's Star Makers). On the side, Steve launched a stick figure cat drawing company called I Want to Draw a Cat for You and went on to score a deal with billionaire Mark Cuban on the show Shark Tank. We've had numerous members of Blewt! over the years, all awesome. Some have moved onto LA, some have moved on to their own creative projects. At the core, though, is Steve, Paul, Bryan, Fuzzy and myself.  We're a great team. We are constantly creating and putting more and more weird out into the world. TimeOut Chicago once called the creation of Blewt! one of the top 10 best moments in Chicago comedy in the 2000-2010 decade. Being in one of the biggest comedy cities in the world, that is a huge compliment.

With our 10 year DSTW anniversary approaching and the last season of Apes behind us, I've been thinking a lot about life and comedy and my life in the performing arts world. I have my hand in a lot of projects--I dance, I choreograph, I write, I perform, I direct. I am often full of anxiety and self-doubt. But these last 9 weeks of Apes has been something else--comforting. Being back with Steve, Paul, Bryan & of course Fuzzy is like going to a reunion of family or old friends. It's like going home. It is easy, and it is fun. I laugh so hard with those guys. Working with the same group of people is really a gift--we know how each other works and how to get the best product. We've laughed a lot lately with taking on this last Apes--we used to fight and argue over the smallest details, but now when someone makes a suggestion, the rest of us are like "yeah, that sounds good." As Steve said "We're all so old and agreeable now." Steve, Paul and Bryan are all fathers, and we all have different priorities in life, but we all love to create something stupid for the enjoyment of others--"Comedy to Delight and Confuse," as the Blewt! tagline says.

Sitting on the panel with the other Apes is one of my favorite things. There's no pressure to be stand-out funny up there--we just inhabit these characters and riff off of each other. A spectator last night told me that while the show is focused on the contestants and their performances, one of the joys of watching the show is watching the Apes interact with each other, because of our comfort level and camaraderie. I love that.

Every moment in our lives helps make us who we are today. We are a summation of experiences, and each person we meet enhances our lives in some way. I realize how amazing it is, when talking to people about Blewt! and our shows, to say "I've been working with Steve for over 14 years." I am grateful for all the crazy ideas he has come up with over the years and for all the opportunities I've had to work with him on those projects. I'm lucky to be able to say that he is one of my closest friends.

The world needs to laugh, and it's a gift that I get to help make that happen. I can't wait for what's next.

FART.

Modet!

We're getting closer and closer to our big show on June 15th! You don't want to miss it. Tickets are $12 at the door, showtime 8pm at Stage 773! I'm excited to show the world our pieces, and I can't wait to share the stage with the talented playwrights from the Living Room Playmakers.

Modet-Formation-Logo.jpg

I love this photo, taken by Chad Eschman of LRP, at a recent rehearsal. I love the lighting, the energy, and how we all look so happy. We are performing one of Melissa Talleda's pieces here.

See it yourself!

FPT June 15 event poster.jpg

Poster and logo design by Jessie Good.

Kirk and Scotty Represent at C2E2 on CBS

Sherri Blossom and Greta Von Tapp represented this morning at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo on CBS Chicago this morning. Watch the clips here and here!

Traditions: KOKO Christmas

In July of 2002, the world's best improv team, KOKO, was formed. The following December, we held the first annual KOKO Christmas gift exhange. The group went through many changes over the years, such as 3 people leaving the team, but the 5 of us that remained went on to be stronger and better than ever. The core group of KOKO is an amazing group--my best friends and the most talented people I know. Though it is rare that we perform (we didn't perform together for about 5 years, but had a brief reunion show in the middle of a snowstorm earlier in 2013), the tradition of KOKO Christmas is an important one. We've never missed a year. It's also the one time in the year we get to see Jane Menendez, RN, so it's a tradition we have to continue til the end of time.

This year's KOKO Christmas was amazing, and the gifts exchanged were thoughtful, sweet, and special--just like the KOKOs.

I love you guys!
(Front row: Megan Hovde, Andrea Strening Back row: Jane Menendez, RN, yours truly, Rebecca Hanson)

And for funsies, here's 2 throwback photos from our famous pool shoot from February 2005 (photos by Fuzzy!)

I Shot This

Come see SNORF! November 16th at 2pm at the Playground, $5!

SNORF! Saturday!

Hey you guys!

EricaSnorf.jpg

Do you live in Chicago? Do you like puppets? Then you should come see the SNORF! the Saturday Afternoon Monster and Piggie/ Variety and Comedy Show, Saturday, July 20th at 2pm! Tickets are only $5! What a steal!

Cast and Crew.jpg

Check out www.thesnorfshow.com for more fun!



WE DID IT!

| 1 Comment
Don't Spit the Water reached our goal! With 10 days left to go, too!
Many many thanks to all my friends and family (I'm looking at you Jan!) who donated to the cause. I cannot tell you how much it means to me.

The shoot date is scheduled for June 14th! If you are in Chicago and interested in being a member of our studio audience, please leave me a comment below or shoot me an email!

Much love!

Less than $1,000 to Go!

THANK YOU SO MUCH to all of you who have donated to Blewt! Productions' Kickstarter Fundraiser for our TV pilot of Don't Spit the Water! The response has been amazing and we now have less than $1,000 to go!

Here is the video!
 
We've also recently had some really great press:
Time Out Chicago
Columbia Chronicle
The Onion AV Club
Trib Local
and the Chicago Tribune (well, sort of)

This is so very exciting! Thank you all for your support!!