For those of you longing for a rock concert that’s more of a spectacle than barroom social affair or a dance performance that isn’t a “tutus and Tchaikovsky” recital, take note of an upcoming event at the Lexington Downtown Arts Center. On Friday June 13th and Saturday June 14th Blackbird Dance Theatre presents “The Broken Queen,” featuring live score by Chico Fellini. A multi-disciplinary collaboration between Blackbird’s Jenny Fitzpatrick and music producer Duane Lundy, “The Broken Queen” is a live music and dance experience nearly one year in the making. I sat down with Lundy recently to discuss the Broken Queen project, the excitement of multi-disciplinary performance, and the resurrection (and future?) of Chico Fellini.
Under-Main: What was the origin of this collaboration?
Duane Lundy: Jenny Fitzpatrick, who’s the brain-child behind Blackbird [Dance Theatre], had done a piece called “The Great Grey” last year and had used my productions as the underscore. Then she had come to me to see about doing something more performance-based this year along with the dance. She has ten plus dancers and aerial silk work and felt like a good way to lift the bar would be to have a live band. For me it was a no-brainer to put Chico [Fellini] together.
UM: So this is the first new activity by Chico Fellini in a long while, what’s the story with the extended break?
DL: We played a ton of shows, did a bit of touring and did our album; I was already producing and had the [Shangri-La] studio so it just got so busy. I felt like we had a nice three year run of being really aggressive and it was super positive, but it felt like it was time to either do a new album or take time off. With schedules the way they were… it was at a good point. I think sometimes bands push and push without taking a breather. My production work was real demanding so I thought it was time to stop, but we’ve all worked together in different capacities since.
I had written a couple of new songs and then I had a few pieces that I had been working on with Justin Craig, now Musical Director on Broadway for “Hedwig” and my assistant for years. We had worked on some ambient pieces, some instrumental stuff and a couple of older Chico songs, and Jenny used that as a framework for the choreography. Then the band reconvened at the end of last year to talk about participating and everybody wanted to do that. We just picked up where we left off. The band has an identity to it, so we weren’t really searching much. There’s such a personal connection between us; it’s like a bunch of family members getting together, you just re-start the same conversation you ended a while ago.
UM: What was it about this project that made it right for a Chico Fellini reunion?
DL: I had been looking for an excuse for all of us to get together and play, but I didn’t want to do the more traditional “release and tour” route. Jenny was a fan of the band, and her dance & choreography, her look at how to incorporate music, is incredibly creative; she’s able to look outside the box of a waltz being a waltz and a contemporary jazz piece being a jazz piece. She’s melding different styles of jazz in with different types of things that I had given her and it had worked smoothly because she was picking up things that I was giving her and yay-ing and nay-ing things that she did and didn’t like. So I think we gave her 20 plus pieces to come up with the 13 or 14 that are the show.
She was kind to let us bring what we thought would be interesting to the table, sonically, and then let her work within that framework. It’s a real collaboration of the music and the dance that she’s been able to put together.
UM: What can audience members expect from the performances?
DL: It’s a really wild, interactive experience for the viewer. There’s so much dance, and the way the DAC is set up, you’re right there with it. It’s very dramatic. About 80% of [the music] is new. There are three songs from past work, most of which was unreleased, so in some ways it’s all new. Sonically, the sound envelopes everybody around. It’s this mass sound that’s happening while people are having an interactive experience with the dance. I think it’s a very wild show. It’s very smart too. It’s such a narrative-involved and intricate piece from the storyline Jenny put together and the abstractions of the dance, the aesthetic of the look of it… the genius behind all that is her.
Blackbird Dance Theatre and Chico Fellini will perform “The Broken Queen” at the Downtown Arts Center on Friday June 13th and Saturday June 14th, at 7:30pm. The DAC can be reached at 859.225.0370.