Woolly Mammoth Comes to Dinner is a Portland-based contemporary dance collective that will knock your socks off and back on again. Fresh and smart with a combination of choreographed and structured improvisation, with humor, manic elements, and Tammy Faye eyes, Woolly Mammoth Comes To Dinner—Katie Arrants, Rikki Rothenberg, Kathleen Keogh, and David Rafn (who brings much of the music and is a fashion student at AI)—make movement performance that might happen just about anywhere. What’s in a name? They, “use this moniker as an excuse to indulge themselves in non-sense, and then attempt to make something coherent out of it.”
The spirit of collab extends beyond the four, as they work with designer Diana Lang of )open((clothed) who costumes them (often in garments that invite their own kind of movement) and makeup artist Lauren Hobson. Woolly Mammoth Comes to Dinner threw down with many players in the larger contemporary dance community in Linda Austin’s Circus Me Around.
Here they take a minute to answer the questions of the ultra Q wherein we ask a few of Portland’s more interesting movers and makers a few pressing questions:
Photos of the Woolly ladies courtesy Chris Mulliken.
Qualities you most admire in design: (or performance)
Katie: Generosity. Also: risky athleticism, emotional rigor, antics. And frequently, absurdity and glamour.
David: I admire honesty and letting the freak-flag fly. It’s the 90s, you can do whatever you want!
Rikki: potential risk, real physicality, pedestrian-ism, humor, real emotion, people doing tasks, curiosity and transparency
Kathleen: imperfect beauty, accidental synchronicity, nonsense, the extraordinary everyday. Also, fake beards.
Qualities you most despise in design: (or performance)
Katie: Exclusivity. Pain.
David: Fear and trepidation. Pledging allegiance to the Satan of appearances, instead of submissively licking the hot Bodhisattva of ergonomics.
Rikki: fakeness, false/dramatized emotion, lazy movement as an excuse, fake beards.
Kathleen: blandness, perfection, lifelessness.
Katie: Page 259 of Augusten Burrough’s Possible Side Effects, over and over again. Not that I love him so much, but it’s a challenge. Also, my peers’ nonfiction.
David: Walter Benjamin-”The Arcades Project” Check this out……. “Each generation experiences the fashions of the one immediately preceding it as the most radical anti-aphrodisiac imaginable. In this judgment it is not so far off the mark as might be supposed. Every fashion is to some extent a bitter satire on love: in every fashion perversities are suggested by the most ruthless means. Every fashion stands in opposition to the organic. Every fashion couples the living body to the inorganic world. To the living, fashion defends the rights of the corpse. The fetishism that succumbs to the sex appeal of the inorganic is its vital nerve.” Holy shit! If only someone would say this out loud on “Project Runway”! I’ve also been reading “The Passionate Marriage” by David Schnarch Phd. Self-help is the new self-hurt!
Rikki: Anatomy of the Psyche and Eat, Pray, Love.
Kathleen: can’t seem to focus on anything right now, so I just read emails and case notes at work. I think my eyes are going bad from looking at computer screens. Oh, recently I read an article in Vanity Fair about Pitcairn Island that was shocking! And today I was reading about Joan of Arc.
Katie: It’s My Prerogative by Bobby Brown. The Streets. Also, documentary radio.
David: Always, all the time, SAMUL-NORI. A blistering exorcism of traditional Korean drumming and chanting. No black metal band on earth can do this shit.
Rikki: “in rainbows” Radiohead, Jens Lekman “night falls over kortedala”, Kate Bush “the kick inside”
Kathleen: Mostly Classic Rock on the radio. 106.7, 92.3, 105.9. Or the other day it was The 6ths. This morning it was Arthur Russell.
Katie: Hometown tour. Choreograph music videos. Create an evening-length show for a large audience in an unconventional location (i.e. a burned out building). Teach dance in Mexico.
David: Design costumes for an opera starring Bea Arthur, with set design by Ettore Sotsass, and music by Doug Theriault.
Rikki: Tour the world with a trunk full of sequenced costumes and a bus of our friends playing music and videotaping. Choreographing and starring in a music video. Any of the above mentioned musical acts would do.
Kathleen: a full length musical (maybe loosely based on Joan of Arc, David Bowie, and a pigeon)
Katie: Caring deeply about something.
David: Unconditional willingness to hug. This can be embodied by anyone and I will favoritize it.
Kathleen: Love (supernatural virtue! yeah!)
Katie: Eating at the New Seasons taste tests without planning to buy anything
David: Robitussin and Red Bull. In this scenario you mess with the Bull and you get the horn; only in jittery, slow-motion. I only do this once every three years.
Rikki: bacon, tuna melts with a side of steamy kale and some kombucha.
Kathleen: favorite—kombucha, bottled water, chocolate, chips and salsa, scallops. Most common—worry, irritability, jealousy
Katie: Paralysis by analysis. And doubt.
David: Thinking that life is perfectible.
Rikki: intestinal bubbling
Kathleen: bad teeth, passive aggressive, constipation, allergic to the world (bubble girl).
Secret superhero power:
Katie: Being in two places at once! Like Portland, Maine and Portland, Oregon.
David: I don’t have one, that’s no secret though.
Rikki: spitting chocolate on your face.
Kathleen: talking to cabbies, or strangers in general
That which keeps your afterburners firing:
Katie: Tacos. Fried eggs and kale. Sweet potato milkshakes. Imagining Woolly on a kick-ass tour with some fun bands.
David: Beautiful, loving, creative friends and family. That answer is somewhat predictable, however, so I will also say that really terrifying, ecstatic color combinations float my barge. Also, a good Cexfucx show will keep me going for weeks.
Rikki: afterburners firing baby dinosaur egg salad sandwiches
Kathleen: sitting still and watching the world
What you’d like to be when you grow up:
David: An autonomous creator living in dynamic harmony with a visionary community.
Rikki: a big woolly mammoth, with dreadlocks.
Kathleen: flower arranger, donkey tamer, skydiver
Portland’s best kept secret:
Katie: Make-up artist Lauren Hobbs. The music of Sonny Fields. Neko’s haircuts.
David: I don’t know what it is, but whatever it is I’m sure that it has nothing to do with me or anyone reading this, it is that cool.
Rikki: the stairs leading up to the field at Mississippi and Fremont.
Kathleen: no secrets here, or maybe all the places where stairs lead to empty lots and fields. I’m afraid they’ll disappear someday.
Portland heroes (sung or un-):
Katie: Felix Lilly, our ten year old lighting designer who fell out of a tree this summer and sustained serious brain injuries, but is recovering like a champ! And his family, of course. Oh, and DHS case workers! I’m serious. You try being the legal guardian for 50 troubled teenagers.
David: Rollerball. Absolutely dedicated veterans of weird-horror-funk-blissed-out-art-damaged-free-goth-power-pop. They are totally under-appreciated, and they are professional-grade sound-vikings. They do really well in Italy I’m told. I love them.
Rikki: Linda Austin, my acupuncturist and my therapist, ???
Kathleen: Linda Austin and Karen Nelson. And Lisa Sperlin (she speaks something like 11 languages, works in social services helping Asian families in the area with mental health crises, and saved up all her vacation time at work to go to tsunami-affected areas to volunteer and help the doctors and nurses help their patients (the survivors of the tsunamis) with resulting mental health issues. She did that for a month. Today she wished me happy birthday and said, “Long life, wellness, exceed…” and something else. She hugged me.
Interesting on the horizon (PDX):
Katie: A Woolly Reunion!!! And a Woolly fundraiser at Holocene to support our trip to Mexico to teach and perform at the Performatica festival, http://performatica.org/. Also, Linda K Johnson’s on-going project at the South Waterfront.
David: Good question. Oh yes! This years Art Institute fashion show will have some really fresh, young talent showing their senior work. It will definitely be worth checking out.
Rikki: a fundraiser for our trip to the Performatica Festival in Puebla, Mexico.
Kathleen: demolition and construction