The Vermont Performance Lab (VPL) kicks off the second edition of their Progressive Performance Festival today, September 4th. Founded by Sara Coffey in 2006, VPL is an incubator space for contemporary dance, music and performance. Festival organizers have selected artists that "touch on themes of social justice and cultural memory, and shift the way we relate to our hand-held devices."
The performance art powerhouse -that is- Carmelita Tropicana (aka Alina Troyano) and her award-winning, filmmaker sister, ELA TROYANO, will preview their latest sci-fi film/performance/lecture hybrid, Schwanze-Beast today and tomorrow. The work encounters topics like climate change, gender, species preservation... and also poses the question “What separates human from beast?”
Because Performance Is Alive strives to share the voice of artists directly, I reached out to Carmelita and Ela regarding their new project. Despite an insane rehearsal schedule, they generously provided further insight into their project which can be found in full below. Enjoy and get out to Vermont! - Quinn
Quinn Dukes: How do you navigate between the boundaries of performance art, theater, film and dance?
Carmelita Tropicana / Ela Troyono: It's all fluid, hard to even tell what the boundaries are for us. Performance art can become theater, theater can become performance art.
QD: What is a Schwanze Beast?
CT / ET: Literally, Tail Beast in German.
QD: Ela, can you discuss how you harness the live aspects of performance thru film? Do you believe it carries the same essence?
Ela: Performance is the soul of film.
QD: Alina, Has Carmelita Tropicana transformed per your research at VPL "into animal behavior and scientific methodology"?
Carmelita Tropicana: I am becoming more hyena day by day. Studying hyenas through research with Jamie Tanner at Marlboro College was enlightening and showed me the passions that scientist have and their connection to an artistic sensibility. Scientists and artists think outside the box.
QD: As sisters, the two of you have been collaborating for quite some time now. How do you maintain such a fruitful bond?
CT/ET: It's easy since we live in the same building, each on a different floor. The more interesting question might be how our mother is a fountain of ideas.
QD: For those of us who can't make it to Vermont, how can we view the work?
CT/ET: We will be posting updates, video and photos on our Facebook pages so please Friend us! And follow VPL!!!