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Follow This, TEDxColumbus

kqib premiere

by Alessandra Wollner

When Gabrielle Burton decided to make a film about drag performance in Columbus, she wanted it to work like a painting by Chuck Close.

From afar, Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens would look like a large-scale, photorealist portrait. But, come in a bit closer, and you begin see that the portrait isn’t at all what it appears. It’s actually a series of cells, multi-shaped and many-colored, that work together to create the effect of a single, unified image.

This, Burton thought, was the perfect metaphor for drag, an art form that blends and reinvents gender to surprise, delight, and challenge viewers who think they already know all about what they’re seeing.

 

kings-ProudMary

 

Nina+dancers

 

Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens (KQIB) dives, er, straight into the lively drag scene of Columbus, focusing specifically on two drag troupes—the Virginia West “family,” mostly drag queens, and The Royal Renegades, mostly drag kings. KQIB also shines the spot on the real lives and questions performers live offstage—expectations and (mis)understandings of biological sex and sexual orientation, parenting, and gender as a non-binary choice. The film also devotes a good chunk of time to the mechanics of drag. Without giving too much away, it involves reams of duct tape and Ziploc bags of clippings from your last haircut.

 

kqib_chris_at_mirror

 

Burton estimates she attended around 30 drag shows while making the film. She took a camera to all of them. In KQIB, you’ll see scenes from rehearsals, backstage prep, and live performances intercut with interviews of a handful of Columbus’ most well-known drag performers, including Virginia and Nina West, in and out of drag, as well as co-director of The Royal Renegades, Becky.

Burton very intentionally crafted a film with no narrator. She wanted the performers and community members themselves to tell the story, to give a sense not just of a the local drag community, but of drag’s greater significance.

“Imagine a stone dropped in a pond,” Burton said during our interview. “First, I wanted to answer the question What the heck is drag? Then, Well, what’s drag—and the LGBTQ world—like in Columbus? Then, I wanted to really blow audiences’ minds, to get them to understand the biggest picture, the outermost ring: sex, sexuality, and gender are three totally different things, which leads to the final question What does drag make possible?

Burton at TEdxCbusMid-way through filming, Burton gave a TEDxColumbus talk titled “How Drag Made Me a Better Parent.” Burton’s main point was about the way making this film helped her see and understand the nuance and complexities of gender identity and performance in a whole new dimension. It was perfect, but also dizzying, for the mother of two young children just beginning to come to their own dawning consciousness about gender and sex.

KQIB is the hard-won fruit of five years’ labor. But, if you’re going to give yourself a five-year project, you might as well give yourself a subject that’s fascinating, entertaining, and really, really fun, all of which drag has in spades…and sequins and, on occasion, copious amounts of fake chest hair.

Burton’s production company Five Sisters Productions, which she co-owns with her four real-life sisters, is about to launch KQIB, and the good news is that it’s coming to a few theaters near you, and also some far.

The Cleveland International Film Festival will screen KQIB April 2 at 9:15 pm & April 3 at 11:15 am, followed by a special forum based on the film. Burton and her sisters will be in attendance, as well as most of the stars of KQIB and performers from all the groups filmed. More info here

KQIB will also premiere in Columbus June 7th at 7pm at The Wexner Center, with a celebratory reception co-sponsored by Stonewall Columbus at 6 pm.

GCBdir-KQIB Marcie shoot - 13Other screenings include…

Buffalo, NY:  at the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival (BNFF) Sunday, April 17 at 2 pm with a Q&A with Burton, who is a Buffalo native.

The South
:  in the SouthArts Film Circuit April 20-28 to 6 cities for an audience engagement screening tour. Burton and her co-producer Ursula Burton will be at each screening for audience discussion after the film:

April 20, 2016: Williams Gymnasium, Oxford College of Emory University, Oxford, GA
April 21, 2016: Harrington-Peachtree Academic Ctr, Presbyterian College, Clinton, SC
April 24, 2016: Colleen O. Williams Theater, Winder Cultural Arts Center, Winder, GA
April 25, 2016: DP Culp University Center, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN
April 26, 2016: University Center Theater, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC
April 28, 2016: Jule Collins Smith Museum, Auburn University, Auburn, AL

Austin:  at the Austin Drag Fest Friday April 29th 
    3:30-4:30 – Nina West (one of the main cast of KQIB) Dragcast Live, then: 
    5:00 – 7pm – Kings, Queens, & In-Betweens with Q&A following with Nina West & Burton

Oakland:  at St. Mary’s College of CA May 4 at 3 pm with Q&A following with Burton

 

VirginiaWest profile

 

Alessandra Wollner is a third year MFA candidate in creative nonfiction at OSU.

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Follow This, TEDxColumbus

Still form annotated video illustrating allignments, the way in which Forsythe designs relationships in space and time Credit: Synchronous Objects Project, The Ohio State University and The Forsythe Company

by Rashmi Nemade

Have you ever wondered what your thoughts look like? I mean, really look like—to your eyes. I don’t mean how neural connections look in the brain, but what it would look like if your thoughts were translated into something physical. What shapes, sizes, formats, colors and patterns would your thoughts take? And could anyone else make sense of it?

This type of inquiry can be called physical thinking. It’s what the intercultural and interdisciplinary team of Norah Zuniga Shaw, William Forsythe and Maria Palazzi has been working on for almost a decade. In 2009, this team published a screen-based work titled Synchronous Objects for One Flat Thing, reproduced. Using dance as a starting point for visualizing thought, the team data-mined the choreography of William Forsythe. The deep dive unearthed alignments, cues and themes that are repeated and fragmented and recombined.

norah at tedxZuniga Shaw shared this work in her 2009 TEDxColumbus talk “Animating Choreography.” As she explains: “It’s like an ecosystem. There are patterns and agency: there are animals and plants that abide by a day-night cycle and those that do the opposite; there are elements of the ecosystem that are synchronized by seasons and temperatures, while other parts are unaffected; and there is simultaneous complexity in parts of this ecosystem as well. They all coexist together and, yet, separately. It’s a complex structure.”

In Forsythe’s dance, One Flat Thing, reproduced, there are multiple performers dancing around and interacting with multiple tables (the flat thing, reproduced several times) and each other. To capture data of the dance, the team used video of a performance and interviews with the dancers. The interviews capture data about cues given and received during the dance and the flow of interactions that result. The video shows visual patterns, for instance an arc created by arms and then by a head, then again by feet, emerges as one motion at different times in different directions by different bodies. The similarity is the arc, the complexity brought by changing times, body parts, directions, etc. This teasing out of a complex structure is how a simple aesthetically pleasing movement becomes a complex ecosystem that can be examined for deeper understanding of relationships and visual counterpoint.

 

Norah SynObj2

 

The results—the ecosystem of this dance, so to speak—are shown in a fluid, discovery-based website which can be explored by both novice and expert. The data are showcased as alignment annotations, cue visualization, concept threads, movement densities, 3D alignment forms, motion volumes and performance architectures, among other visualizations. Artworks in their own right, they are absolutely beautiful and captivating interpretations of the dance. Essentially, the data flows from dance to data to visual objects also in motion.

In 2014, Zuniga Shaw published a companion book Synchronous Objects: Degrees of Unison. In it, she writes, “This just happens to be dance, it could be mathematics, it could be architecture, it could be the movement of pedestrians on the city streets or the patterns in the tree canopies above our heads. What else might this dance look like? A storm of themes, a cacophony of difference, a polyphony of relationships, systems of organization, degrees of unison, patterns emerging and receding, isometries, fleeting forms of agreement.”

Since its 2009 launch at the Wexner Center for the Arts, the Synchronous Objects project has toured as a hybrid exhibition/workshop/lecture event to numerous sites in Europe and Asia with producing support from the Goethe Institute.

Norah VergeReduxDemo_BebeNotes-1024x576

Norah Redux_interactiveLemons-1024x576

 

Zuniga Shaw is currently collaborating with Maria Palazzi and choreographers Bebe Miller and Thomas Hauert on a project called Motion Bank: TWO. The two choreographers work separately, yet both use improvisation and engage directly with the nature of human consciousness and how the dancers work with their habits, tendencies, impulses and memories in action. In isolating their working strategies, Zuniga Shaw and her collaborators bring the viewer into a direct encounter with the dancing mind and the thinking body—hence, the term “physical thinking.”

So, it’s possible to do more than just wonder what your thoughts look like. Simply develop a physical manifestation of whatever you’re thinking of and then tease out the visual counterpoint. Simple…or complicated. Either way, it’s an extraordinary exercise that can take you into much deeper thinking and awareness.

Rashmi Nemade is principal at BioMedText, Inc.

Photo credits for Synchronous Objects and Motion Bank:Two: The Ohio State University and The Forsythe Company

 

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Events, TEDxColumbus

Central Ohio TEDx community small

Did you know that there are 10 active TEDx events in our community? Eight are represented in the above picture from our first-ever Central Ohio curatorial team gathering. We are thrilled to support these and other TED-like initiatives in town, helping to connect more people to each other and to ideas worth spreading. For the first-time, we’re publishing (and updating) a comprehensive list of all the TEDx events around Ohio, particularly those in Central Ohio.

Note that we are quickly approaching the TED conference viewing events. And, we’ve set the date for TEDxColumbus 2016 for Friday, November 4th, so mark your calendars! Nominations for speakers will open in April. We’ll keep everyone updated through our digital channels.

The 2016 guide to TEDx events in Ohio

Monday, February 15, 2016
TED Opening Session
8pm
$12.50
TED is broadcasting live its opening conference session to cinemas across the country. In Columbus, you can take in this event at one of 6 theaters: Easton, Lennox, Polaris,Crosswoods, Stoneridge, Pickerington or Georgesville. Find details and purchase tickets ($12.50) here. http://www.fathomevents.com/event/ted-2016-dream-live   

 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016
TEDxColumbusLive  
1pm – 5pm
Free
Official local viewing site for several speaker sessions of of the 2016 TED Conference at Westminister Thurber, 645 Neil  Avenue (Learning Center). No registration required. Come as you are!

 

Saturday, February 27, 2016
TEDxWorthingtonEd
1pm – 5pm
$25
This limited seating, first-time event at the McConnell Arts Center is organized by Worthington Educators.
http://www.mcconnellarts.org/2015/11/30/tedx-worthingtoned

 

Saturday, March 5, 2016
TEDxOhioStateUniversity
11am – 6pm
$15 – $30
This 5th Annual event driven by a large team of OSU students attracts nearly 1,500 attendees to Mershon Auditorium / Wexner Center and features faculty, staff, students and alums of OSU as speakers and performers.
http://tedx.osu.edu

 

April 2, 2016
TEDxNewAlbany  
2-7pm
$25/ Adults; $15/Students
A third-year event organized by students at New Albany High School at the McCoy Center for the Arts.
www.tedxnewalbany.org

 

Thursday, May 19, 2016
TEDxYouth@Columbus
(Elementary with Cols City Schools)
Columbus Museum of Art
Curriculum based event for 3rd-6th graders in CCS

 

Friday, May 20, 2016
TEDxAkron 
Details TBA
www.tedxakron.com

 

Thursday, June 16, 2016
TEDxCincinnati 
Details TBA

 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016
TEDxYearlingRoad  
4 – 8pm
Whitehall City Schools / City of Whitehall

 

September
TEDxToledo
(anticipated, not yet announced)

 

October
TEDxDayton 
(anticipated, not yet announced )
http://www.tedxdayton.com

 

Fall (TBA)
TEDxMarionCorrectional
Email najmuddeen@healingbrokencircles.org if you’d like to be notified of the event details.

 

November 4, 2016
TEDxColumbus
Capitol Theatre, Riffe Center
Tickets will go on sale in September. Speaker nominations open in April.
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