FURY On - A Lot on Tap this Summer and Fall 2019!

Happy summer everyone - it’s hot as Fury Road out there on this June day - is this really summer in San Francisco?? Our FURY adventure continues, and we’ve been working furiously to get the new performances and projects we have happening this summer and fall off the ground. I’m extremely excited that we’re expanding the whole FURY project beyond our live stage shows with new collaborations and projects.

We’re especially pleased to be GOING TO TOWN - with a Pop-up performance at Oakland First Fridays on July 5th, and our fall full performances at Tortona Big Top - also in downtown Oakland, on Sept. 13-14. For First Fridays, we’re collaborating with a few other Oakland based artists: Muralists Last Ones and Guillaume Ollivier  will paint a large mural of dancer Adji Cissoko as "Furiosa" live during our performances, and DJ Kream (Oakhella) will spin between our three performances that evening. We’ll be at the 25th Street and Telegraph location.

We will also be kicking off our Kickstarter Campaign at First Fridays. We’re hoping to raise $40K to help us pursue all of these new opportunities. Besides the Pop-up and fall shows, the YASSOU band members and composer Kristina Dutton and players have been recording the music for a future digital release. We’re raising money to mix and master that, and since there is almost no such thing as releasing music without a music video these days, we are also making one of those! I’m pretty sure you’d agree that putting exquisite dancers like ours on film is pretty much necessary anyway - there needs to be a way for you to see them no matter where or when you’d like to. Check out our campaign when it goes live on July 5th. We had a lot of fun coming up with our rewards, and we hope they’ll entice you to help us out!

And finally, we’ve been given a wonderful opportunity to present FURY in a showcase at WAA - Western Arts Alliance - which is a large gathering of arts presenters in Los Angeles in late August. This is helping us build toward a tour for FURY next spring and summer.

Most of all, we really want to keep bringing our fans and our friends together around this whole inter-disciplinary odyssey. We’ve got a lot of energy around the possibilities, which feel fresh (like collaborating with muralists and DJs) and accessible (like recording the music for digital release), and like the art keeps inventing itself anew (like in our music video). We are excited that our performances and our Kickstarter will allow us to connect to more people and bring them along FURY’s growing creative adventure.

Yours truly, and Fury on… Kate

From left to right, your faithful music video director-Kate, choreographer Laura O'Malley and dancers Adji Cissoko, Maddie DeVries, Kat Eng (back to photo) and Frances Chung, 22 weeks pregnant! It was a blast.

From left to right, your faithful music video director-Kate, choreographer Laura O'Malley and dancers Adji Cissoko, Maddie DeVries, Kat Eng (back to photo) and Frances Chung, 22 weeks pregnant! It was a blast.

Teddy Roosevelt Said It Best

FURY was fantastic and so we are doing more. But I’ll talk about that in the next blog. This post  is about our premiere in September at The Midway in San Francisco.  We were thrilled that over 800 people came each of the two nights, and the feedback has been just what we hoped.  Some things I heard:  “I’ve never seen dancers like that!”  “The music rattled my bones.”   “It was way more ambitious than I expected.”   “This is by far the best show we’ve had here….”.

For me, seeing everyone work so hard over the prior year to bring this multi-faceted show together was incredibly rewarding.  The fun began early with all the conversations, meetings and rehearsals that happened.   But I’m sure it’s not surprising to know that it wasn’t easy putting on a show that big, multi-faceted and unconventional in its design to put ballet dancers and musicians together on a stage in the round to tell a modern adventure story.  And because blogs are better when we share real experiences, here were some of the challenges that stood out for me, your friendly producer.  

 

Honestly, it was scary feeling responsible for starting us all on a path that required super human hours and commitment from so many.  The musicians literally put in thousands of man hours composing, rehearsing and engineering; Dani the choreographer had to make and teach a full hour of movement seven times over for seven dancers in a very compressed time frame;  Brandon the art director had to pull all-nighters to make animations; Talia, my assistant editor had to take on about four other jobs – press liaison, Q-Lab programmer, social media manager, still photographer.  I could go on, but you get the idea.  Problems happened daily.  Stuff broke, people cried, I ran out of time to make good decisions, so relied on the good judgement of others to figure things out.  I remember calling Dani late one night the week before the show and saying, “I don’t want to jinx myself because it’s only 9:45 pm, but nothing has gone wrong yet today.”  And some things that went wrong were big – like show stopping big.  What I saw over the course of this production was the glorious and inspiring evidence that good people get shit done when they care.  I know the best thing I did on this show was gather a lot of very good and very talented people together who were in for the adventure with all they had. 

 

Another thing that was super scary was selling tickets – another new adventure for me, to put it mildly.  After an early burst of sales when we announced the show in May, we went through a ticket selling desert worthy of Mad Max over the summer months when no one is thinking about what they will be doing in September, much less buying tickets.  Lots of my summer mornings involved waking up before dawn to a voice in my head saying things like, “How about if I just call this whole thing off right now,” or searching my memory for those famous quotes that say things like “If you’ve never failed, you’ve never tried anything new.”

 

Despite what felt like Mad Max level madness at times, I know this wasn’t a real war and no one’s real life was at stake.  But what happened with FURY was important because people were putting themselves on the line, bringing their very best to make this complicated and risky show happen within enormous constraints.  And they pulled it off, full stop, no question about it.  It was all those things I heard people saying:  gorgeous, exciting, creative, layered, impressive.   As the instigator and overseer of this adventure, I know that all the creators on this show earned the words of my favorite quote of all from Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

While I’m sure all of us felt this way a time or two during the making of FURY, Adji has a unique ability to make near-death look stunning.

While I’m sure all of us felt this way a time or two during the making of FURY, Adji has a unique ability to make near-death look stunning.

Why "Mad Max - Fury Road" is not Just a Monstrous Melee in the Desert, or Why We Love It as an Inspiration for "FURY"

I’d like to talk about Mad Max – Fury Road as an inspiration for our show.  It’s contemporary, recognizable, and a head turner - all things we wanted when exploring movie references for our story.  But a couple years ago when I was coaxed into going to see the movie, it was one of those I expected to forget, thinking it would just be a big, absurd chase through a desert.  I was surprised to find that I left the theater chuckling and respecting it, and I’d like to share why.  For starters, its female and male heroes are equals - in drive, intensity, physical strength and mental stamina. 

We can probably chalk up even more points for Furiosa, who has taken it upon herself to rescue imprisoned women.  She and Max are also equals in their misery - dirty, hobbled and emotionally shelled-off, tortured by loss and despair.  They are both raw nerves who can trust no one.  They battle each other and everyone else until, finally, out of options and facing a hopeless future of more torturous isolation, each must transform in the core of their souls.  The risk each must take is an internal one, requiring equal measures of uncertainty and vulnerability.  They have to stop going it alone and rely on someone else. 

That’s one thing that touches us about Fury Road.  We all run into the wall of doom that total self-reliance throws up in front of us.  We all struggle with whom to trust.  A super hero’s courage is never more tested than when she must admit she’s wrong.  Don’t we all face the super hero’s challenge when it comes to that?  For Furiosa, admitting she’s wrong means facing the unimaginable – going back to the very place she thought she had left forever.  Never mind retracing a parched landscape and facing another death battle to get there.  This is one of the most interesting questions Fury Road brings up.  It asks us to ponder what is “home”, and the inevitable futility of chasing a place we can finally be happy.  Its stark question is that if your home is hell, isn’t that the battle you have to fight?  Isn’t real heroism found in facing what is, and bringing your talents, your power, and even your fury to making that better for everyone?  The desert blow-up of Fury Road unearths other deep questions about what makes a place home.  Is it as much a state of mind as a place?  Is it given to us, or do we make it?  Max and Furiosa survive, physically and emotionally because they decided to trust each other.  Is home really found wherever there are people you can trust? 

For we FURY creators, taking the audience on a ride that digs up these questions through awesome new, live music and movement by dancers at the top of the game is the kind of journey we’ve been waiting for.  We hope you’ll strap in and come along.  Yours, Kate

The FURY show asks what "home" is to you.

The FURY show asks what "home" is to you.

MAKING OF FURY: POST NO. 2

PIcking up where the last blog left off, the other things we're working on in the background are getting a new LLC set up, - (now called CandyBomber LLC - I spent the holiday in Berlin with my fam so that's a hint on where to look for what it refers to), getting contracts done, and most work of all: getting a website, Eventbrite  and social media sites to work, and work together.  Editor Talia St. Claire took on all of our online presence, and let's just say it's been a wee bit of work.  We also shot some video of choreographer Dani Rowe rehearsing a dancer, and interviewed James and LIlie for our social media posts.  Stay tuned for those!

Meanwhile, the creative side is humming along.  In the process for this show, music comes first and so James and Lilie started by making a rough outline of the length and mood of each story segment and event.  Then they started making music, which will continue all summer.  But we got the first drop from them a few weeks ago, which James described as the framework.  So I made quiet time in my kitchen with my morning latte to listen - hoping I would love it.  What I felt was this, "Wow, this is a show."  That sounds like it starts off huge and loud, and it doesn't.  The feeling was more like a "Stop, lIsten and watch because something is going on," kind of thing, and that felt great.  Based on that first music, Dan had some input and ideas for James and Lilie as she's thinking of movement and how the story will unfold with dancers.  So it was thumbs up to James and Lilie all around, and they can carry on.  We'll get our second drop of music from them in early June and I'll get them to write a post then about what they're doing.  In addition to themselves, they have a bunch of other musicians playing, recording, and writing for this show, and I can't begin to do it justice here.   

Next on the creative trail, James, Lilie and I met with Luke Acret, Creative Director to review the story arc because he's creating the look and visuals for each of the musical/story segments.  I don't want to give anything away, but suffice to say this part of the process is a gas - dreaming up amazing images to create the environment and atmosphere for the show.  There will be a lot of late nights animating those visual ideas - but more on that in a later post.  More soon.  

 

Lilie Hoy, Kate Duhamel, James Jackson and Luke Acret

Lilie Hoy, Kate Duhamel, James Jackson and Luke Acret

Come Along on the Making of FURY

FURY has launched and tickets are on sale.  It's exciting and ambitious, and I'm diving into the producer role for the first time.  It's a concert experience, and I think our Blurb describes it best, so I will copy that below.

 I'd like to share the process in a series of blogs with you as we go along.  Since this is my first post about FURY, I'll start back at the beginning.

 I was introduced to James Jackson and Lilie Hoy of YASSOU about a year ago by a friend who knew they had composed and played music for a stage production for Louisville Ballet, sharing the stage with the dancers.  I liked their music online a lot, so we met at The Battery in SF, and I was impressed with the way they were approaching their music and their collaborations.  I also just liked them both - a recurring theme as this team came together.  I asked them for a second meeting and told them I was thinking about doing a concert with very high level dancers, and basing the whole thing on a modern story.  I also said I wanted to do it on a "manageable scale".  They were in because it's the kind of collaborative creation they are all about.   At that point, I was totally in myself.  No more "If..."  Now it was only "How, who, when, where and what."

 Next I asked Dani Rowe to be the choreographer.  Her choreography is getting great reviews, and the recurring theme of  "I like her" was already there with Dani.   After my explanation, she was in too.  

 Next, James, Lilie, Dani and I met at Cavallo Point for coffee to choose the story.  I wanted a story that would immediately say, "Strap in, this isn't your typical concert or ballet", and movies have the story elements and recognition I was looking for.  I had a list of about 25 different movies I was interested in working with.  The four of us worked our way through the list, discussing each, throwing some out, keeping some on a short list.  When I got to Mad Max, James, Liiie and Dani all lit up like light bulbs.  Their immediate reactions made it clear - we're doing Mad Max.

 A side note about why the pop of pleasure when that movie came up - here's what I think.  Aside from the adrenaline fueled, fantastical adventure of the post-apocalyptic pile-up in the desert, at it's core, the story is actually about hope.  It's  about the most ferocious of battles any real hero faces - taking a risk to trust someone other than him or herself.  We are also digging the feminist equality and strength of Furiosa.  As one reviewer said, "blending grit and gravity to become the story's heart and soul."

 Back to our own journey.  Next, I called a number of lawyers and producers to make sure I wasn't going to be in any legal trouble.  Basically,  interpreting a movie through a music concert with dance is about as derivative as it gets, and I got the all clear as long as we're not using actual dialogue or video from the movies, which wasn't our aim anyway.

 Next, I told Dani who my dream team was for dancers, and we figured out what roles they could have.  We approached them to "guest" (ballet term for side gig), and they were all in too.  It's an amazing cast, and will be fantastic to finally have SFB and LINES dancers in a rehearsal studio together!

 Meanwhile, I was nailing down the date and lining up our first venue, The Chapel - a really cool music club in the Mission District of SF.  As I said above, I was trying to keep things to a manageable scale, so I was only planning for one night.  

 James, Lilie, Dani and I met a few more times to shape the flow of the concert - timing, mood, narrative arc, visuals, etc.  Lots of thinking went into this and continues now.  Dani also suggested I contact her friend and fellow Aussie, Luke Acret to see if he would come on as Creative Director to take the visual design for imagery, sets, and projections to a next level.  As you know, the Mad Max movies are also Australian, so the Aussie DNA is thick on this project now.

 We were off and running then, making music, visuals and all the rest.  I'll pick up from there in another post soon, but for now, here's the Blurb:

FURY is a new concert experience that is up-close and real, bringing together the collaborative music making of indie-pop group, YASSOU with another unusual collaboration between dancers from two different world-class ballet companies, San Francisco Ballet and Alonzo King LINES Ballet.  Principal dancers from SFBallet, Dores Andre, Frances Chung, Luke Ingham, Lauren Strongin and Joe Walsh, and from LINES Ballet, Adji Cissoko and Babatunji will share a center stage with musicians from YASSOU who are composing an hour of original music and sound.  Audience will surround the stage in an ever changing, post-apocalyptic world created with sets and visuals by Creative Director, Luke Acret.  Choreographer Dani Rowe is making movement for dancers and musicians who portray characters fighting for survival in a journey that moves between driving intensity and tender intimacy. 

 

FURY Website: 

https://www.furyshow.com

 

FURY Show Facebook Page link:

https://www.facebook.com/TheFuryShow/