Amber Burns is a true advocate for the arts. She has worked as a dancer, choreographer, painter, teacher and is now Artistic Director of the Duluth Playhouse Family Theatre. This week she talks about her love of many types of expression, and how she builds the work of other people as well as the many disciplines of her own.
AB: When I think about my medium I more like to think about what I love to create, which is visual movement, whether it is through my choreography, directing, through sculpture or on a canvas. Sometimes my medium is paint and sometimes it is physical bodies. I am a dancer, actor, director, choreographer, and visual artist. When I was just three years old I started dancing at a studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota and when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I said, “I already am a dancer!” As I got older I developed passions for many other things, including drawing and painting. When it was time to pick a career and go to college I decided to b become an art teacher, and graduated from UMD in 2011 with a BFA in Art Education, all the while I was still dancing and teaching dance classes. At UMD I also received a minor in dance, and this is where I was introduced to the theater world.
We kick off 2019 with a profile of dancer and choreographer Erin Tope, who as her stage persona Miss Tallulah Creant, keeps busy with the Duluth Dolls and other burlesque groups, is a member of the band Red Mountain, teaches, and works to make dance of all kinds more accessible to audiences and those interested in participating.
I am a dancer, choreographer, performer, and dance teacher. My mother was a dancer and dance teacher so she put me in creative movement classes at age three. By age six, I was in ballet at Minnesota School of Ballet here in Duluth. While at Minnesota Ballet I also studied Jazz and Modern dance. At age eight I started figure skating with Duluth Figure Skating Club and continued to competitively skate until age 16, when I was accepted into Perpich Center for Arts Education. There I finished my junior and senior year of high school in their Dance Department, studying Modern Dance, Ballet, Dance Composition and Dance History extensively. I moved back to Duluth after graduating and began Performing with Over The Top dance company, with a focus on Latin Ballroom Dance, mainly Salsa. With that group I was lucky enough to attend and perform at Chicago International Salsa Congress as well as learn the inner workings of producing shows. I learned most of my production, technical, and backstage lessons in those days and that has definitely shaped who I am and what I am capable of today. After the Director of Over The Top Dance moved to Minneapolis in 2011, I started dancing with Grace Holden and through her got connected with Rebecca Katz Harwood at UMD.
On Oct. 19 and 20, Laura Goodman’s sensuous and powerful new ballet, “Curl, Uncurl and…” will be performed as part of the Minnesota Ballet’s fall performance, The Rite of Spring and Other Dances. Basing her choreography on the wave paintings of Karen Owsley Nease, Laura explores the elemental and generative forces depicted in Karen’s artwork. Karen’s paintings will be projected as the back drop during the performance.
On Friday, Oct. 26, 6 p.m., at Joseph Nease Gallery, Laura and Karen will present an artist’s talk discussing their work during a mini-exhibition of the paintings that were included in the performance. “Elemental Forces and Other Work” is the mini-exhibition of Karen’s paintings and will be on display from Oct. 19-27.
What was the origin of your collaboration?
Karen: Over dinner last year, Laura and I were discussing our respective work as artists, particularly her experience as a professional dancer and choreographer, which led me to suggest how cool it would be to have her “interpret” my wave paintings into motion.
Laura: Growing up in Duluth, Lake Superior has been a place for reflection and awe. It has been a backdrop that I have missed when living elsewhere. I first saw Karen’s wave paintings at her show “As Above, So Below” at the University of Wisconsin, Superior in 2017. The idea of choreographing a piece based on her paintings was exciting to me, and so I worked to find a way to do that. After a few conversations and studio visits with Karen, I approached Robert Gardner at the Minnesota Ballet. With his support of the project I applied and was awarded an Arrowhead Regional Arts Council (ARAC) Career Development grant.
Naomi Christenson dances, paints, designs and more. On July 13th and 14th, she’s dancing in Dances on the Lakewalk in Lake Place Park at 7 pm, an event organized by Doris Acosta of Freshwater Dance Collective. This week in Selective Focus, she tells about the event, and how her visual art and dancing abilities work together.
I work in a variety of mediums, from painting to fabric design to dancing. At the moment, I’m all about tap dancing! I’m not 100% clear how I first knew I wanted to tap, but I suspect it had something to do with watching someone else do it and thinking “That looks SO fun, I want to do it too!”. I’ve taken all kinds of technique classes in tap over the years, but only in the last few years have I worked on my own choreography in it. I think the more you create in any art form, the more you’re able to see your unique voice and style develop. I would say my tap style is playful and rhythmic.
The Duluth Playhouse production of Cabaret opened at the Underground this week and runs through August 19th. For this installment of Selective Focus, we hear from Cabaret Choreographer Brianna Hall.
I am a dance artist and choreographer. For my current project Cabaret, I created jazz dance. Although this is my first time choreographing a full musical, I made my choreographic debut in musical theater with “The Wells Fargo Wagon” for my high school show choir. In college I earned a B.A. in dance where I studied modern dance performance and composition. To the uninitiated, imagine modern as a lot of artful running & falling followed by rolling around on the floor.
“Ticonderoga” is the opening track of Washburn-based Reflectivore‘s self-titled debut album. The band has worked with director by Kjell Kvanbeck of True Norse Films on several videos. The latest uses footage from a live performance at the Red Herring Lounge during the Homegrown Music Festival. It’s the band and director’s “introduction to the live show being a multimedia/multidisciplinary performance.”
Get in shape for your swimsuit this summer with the high-energy zumba and bellydance classes at Eman’s Belly Dance Studio in Duluth. The summer special is $5 a class when you join up now. Call Eman at 218- 724-2691 or visit emansbellydancing.com.