An Evening At Alcott Center With The Flying Asbinis Traveling Sideshow Arts-Travaganza!

This past Saturday evening I had the pleasure of being entertained by a delightful group of performance artists including a comedian, dancers, poets, a juggler and a singer songwriter at the Alcott Arts Center in Kansas City, KS. 
  
  
To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. The acts I saw were just a small portion of what was offered during The Flying Asbinis Traveling Sideshow Arts-Travaganza!, a two-day event which also included paintings in every medium, pen and ink drawings, graphic novels, photography, sculpture and hand-crafted jewelry, most for sale and all by local artists. Saturday afternoon was family oriented with face painting and other activities for the younger set while the evening performances both days included some adult oriented material and was restricted to those 18 and over.
 
Unfortunately due to poor planning and scheduling on my part I only made it for the last 3 ½ hours of activities, but if my brief exposure was any indication of what the whole event was like to have been their for the entire thing might have resulted in over stimulation of my tiny brain.
 
After quickly browsing the visual art exhibits I headed for the theatre where all the performance art was taking place. First up after my arrival was Steve Williams, a budding comic, whose routine was entertaining although probably not quite ready for an appearance on late night TV.
 
Troupe Duende, a fusion belly dance ensemble with 5 members, was the next up with a performance so amazing it alone would have been worth the 30 mile drive I made to attend. All 5 ladies stormed the stage for the first number, shimmying, shaking, and contorting in manners one would not believe a human body could achieve, while all the time keeping in rhythm with the eerie sounds of eastern melodies and staying in synch with each other.
 
 
 
After their first dance they explained the reason they refer to themselves as fusion belly dancers is there are a variety of different styles of their art and they don’t limit themselves to just one. Their performance became even more astounding when they said what they were doing was improvisational and not choreographed. When they stepped onto the stage they didn’t know exactly what they were going to do, but much like jazz musicians they kept themselves coordinated by giving each other signals during the performance.

Following their opening number several of the members performed equally entrancing solo and duet dances, and finished their time on the stage with another rousing group dance.

When Troupe Duende finished, a series of performance poets took the stage beginning with the Flying Asbinis a husband and wife duo, Rachel and Lance Asbury, whose words dealt with life and relationships. Then Desmond “3-3-7” Jones and Theodore “Priest” Hughes, aka Recipe, took command with a rousing message about society, government and some of the dangers of living in the 21st century.

After these two duos stirred my mind with words that affected me so strongly adrenalin was pumping through my veins William Peck arrived with compelling words about the effects of religion on society. His delivery was loud, at times even angry. Some might find what he says offensive, but whether one agrees with his message or not, I find it hard to believe that anyone could spend more than a few minutes in his presence without thinking about their own beliefs.

Changing things to a more humorous tone, Jen Morris performed “I Like My Vagina,” an excerpt from the famous, or perhaps infamous depending on your point of view, Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler.

The entertainment then returned to the medium of dance as Betsy Barratt captivated the audience with a performance that can best be described with only one word, UNIQUE. She took the stage wearing a gauzy white hoop skirt, large flowers in her hair and covering her bust, and a bevy of black birds around her waist and on her head.  

As she swayed and spun to the music her slender arms and long fingers were as expressive as her face.   The birds were pulled from her costume and flung spreading across the stage.  The act ended with her kneeling front and center pulling a banner that read “He Loves You He Loves You . . .”  from her bodice.

 

 

Next Val Baul stepped onto the stage, and as all the lights were dimmed she juggled lighted balls. Her act was light-hearted and entertaining though perhaps a bit overshadowed by some of the performances before her.

As the theatre was re-lighted two more poets, Tony Plocido and Jason Ryberg took turns on the stage.   As with their predecessors their words were sometimes humorous and sometimes serious, but always with drama and meaning.

 

Singer-songwriter Aaron Fuhr closed the evening’s acts.  With a sound somewhat reminiscent of  Bob Dylan he shared a set of songs dedicated to his new daughter who was born just 2 days before. Though suffering from the lack of sleep typically brought on by new fatherhood and fighting guitar strings that seemed inclined to disintegrate as he accompanied melodies made both with his voice and a harmonica, he turned in a more than respectable performance and definitely kept the crowd entertained.

In summary, when I arrived at the Alcott Center expecting to see a group of good though perhaps not great entertainers I was taken slightly aback by the price of admission. By the time the second act concluded their performance I had no doubt in my mind it was $15 well spent. It was also heartening to know all the performers shared their talents for the love of the art, and the entire cost of admission was donated to operation of the Alcott Center whose staff is dedicated to sharing art with the community.

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See more of Dave Michael’s images here.  Aardvark Foto on Flickr

Photographs and text copyright Dave Michael.  No portion of this may be reproduced in any form without consent of the author.

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4 Responses to “An Evening At Alcott Center With The Flying Asbinis Traveling Sideshow Arts-Travaganza!”

  1. George Lenard Says:

    Dave: This is great! See if they want to use it or maybe a local publication or something. Truly. Not for money or fame for you, but just because the performers and sponsors should appreciate what you have done!

  2. Dave Michael Says:

    Thanks George, I’m sharing this with the Alcott Art Center and all the great performers. I’m sure it will be linked from some other sites, and I’m certainly open to other possibilities. One of the amazing things is this organization has not received any grants and has been able to survive solely on donations from the public.

  3. Trevor Butcher Says:

    All we have here is Kabaret, which is best left undescribed as that would mean thinking about it…

    😉

  4. Recipe images google imagesImagesWiki | ImagesWiki Says:

    […] the rest of the story visit aardvarkdude.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/an-evening-at-alcot… […]

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