This time last year, the City Arts Genre Bender showcase brought together pairs of artists from different disciplines who didn’t know each other and commissioned them to create brand-new work. Nobody knew what to expect, but the show ultimately featured transcendent robotic drumming, high-comedy scene sparring, piano chanteusing, a nude fit of laughter, cinematic choreography and a lot more.
This year we’re doing it all over again. After three months of incubation, five pairs debut their performances Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7 at Seattle Center’s Cornish Playhouse: photographer Steven Miller and theatrical powerhouse Sarah Rudinoff, conceptual artist c. davida ingram and musician Hanna Benn, rapper Raz Simone and multimedia artist Justin Roberts, vocalist okanomodé and aerialist Lara Paxton, and poet Sarah Galvin and musician David Nixon.
The performances remain a mystery until the curtain goes up, but we checked in with the artists to get a sense of how things were going. Read on, and stay tuned in the coming week as we roll out more information on these thrilling collaborators and collaborations.
What was your first brainstorm/rehearsal like?
RUDINOFF Brother from another mother! We realized we had been seeing each other perform for 20 years.
GALVIN We ate fries at the Oak, exchanged eerily similar childhood stories, compared eerily similar tattoos and cracked each other up.
NIXON She’d done her homework on me.
INGRAM For some reason a car with the brightest bright headlights kept blinding us from the street. Maybe a good omen?
ROBERTS Felt a little bit like catching up with an old friend. We pretty much talked about everything, really big stuff and really small stuff. Maybe some pastlife shit in there somewhere.
PAXTON I had no idea if we’d have anything in common but turns out we’re both interested in ritual, religion and “witchy-poo stuff.” We both love gospel music and harmonized voices.
How are your two practices are coming together?
BENN Call and response. Back and forth. A dialogue of sounds and poetics.
ROBERTS We’re spiraling into some sort of continuum—I’m not really sure what my art is anymore.
PAXTON Feels very natural. I have a strong physical/movement background with music, but little experience. SoulChilde is the reverse: a strong musician with a natural knack for movement and physicality.
OKANOMODE There’s been lots of giggling.
What has been the biggest breakthrough in your creative process so far?
ROBERTS We’ve decided to go “Full Cowboy.”
MILLER Three weeks in, we realized the whole first half of the piece had to be scrapped. We dumped it without hesitation and rewrote the whole intro the next day. I loved that we didn’t struggle with the text for more than 10 minutes before letting it go.
GALVIN I don’t want to give too much away, but I thought of a particular thing—something involving a dance—that created parallels between the pieces we were working on.
OKANOMODE Knowing that my way of producing is not linear or consistent but trusting that I’ll find my way to someplace where ever I end up.
What are you excited about for the show?
NIXON To see everything projected big.
RUDINOFF To see what it is we made.
MILLER I hope to hear an entire auditorium laugh their asses off at what we’ve created. I’m also hoping to touch people’s hearts.
BENN To feel completely new. Maybe most especially the prospect of being vulnerable. Perhaps we both will walk away from this experience with new superpowers.
ROBERTS Smoke. Mirrors. Seven cow’s tongues. CB radios. Lots of bedazzling.
Get to know the Genre Bender duos!
Photographer Steven Miller and theatrical powerhouse Sarah Rudinoff
Rapper Raz Simone and multimedia artist Justin Roberts
Vocalist okanomodé and aerialist Lara Paxton
Poet Sarah Galvin and musician/filmmaker David Nixon
Conceptual artist C. Davida Ingram and musician Hanna Benn