'10 Minutes Max': Just Enough Time to Get Moving

The clock is ticking for local movement artists, as Dance Umbrella brings back its ever-popular program of new short movement pieces, '10 Minutes Max'

'10 Minutes Max': Just Enough Time to Get Moving

Dance Umbrella, the Austin service organization for movement artists since 1977, was originally conceived as a collective of choreographers who wanted to get a foothold with the Austin Arts Commission. Over the years, DU has become one of the leading forces behind dance in Austin, bringing in companies and dancers from around the world, taking on the role of a clearinghouse for dance classes, and helping local artists present their work. One of the most popular ways that it has done the latter is with 10 Minutes Max, an evening of new movement pieces, seven, eight, or nine different ones each night, no single one of which lasts longer than – you guessed it! – 10 minutes.

"Over the past couple of years, we've had people from New Orleans, Beaumont, Houston, e-mailing me asking, 'Can we participate in 10 Minutes Max?'" says Phyllis Slattery, who has been the Umbrella's executive director for the last 18 years. "It's expensive to produce a show by yourself, and the demand demonstrates that artists are desperate for a venue to produce their work. And this is such a great introduction for young artists into the community. Almost all of the performers this year are new to 10 Minutes Max. That's the way it is every year. It's a whole new crop. Olivia Chacón is a flamenco artist. Monica Caivano, who has been with Aztlan Dance Company, is doing a tango. Some are new UT graduates; some are seasoned artists trying something totally new. Liz Ganz's BeingLived Performance Company is presenting a piece of movement-inspired theatre. The show often blurs the boundary between dance and theatre. I ask everyone to write a description of their piece, but not everyone does. The one thing I know for certain is that each piece is going to last 10 minutes!"

Originally scheduled for two performances only, the show has expanded this year. "We had a lot of people apply, and I wanted to give them the opportunity to present their pieces twice instead of once," says Slattery. "That's entirely new this year. Performers want to perform, and we had so many that we expanded it to add a Thursday night show and a Saturday matinee to the Friday and Saturday evening performances."

The popularity of the show cannot be exaggerated, so make your plans now. Says Slattery: "We've only ever sold tickets at the door. This year, we're selling them online at www.danceumbrella.com. [10 Minutes Max] always has a good audience. People really like coming to see it because people like seeing something brand new."

10 Minutes Max will be performed Aug. 25-27, Thursday and Friday, 8pm, Saturday, 2pm and 8pm, at the new George Washington Carver Theatre, 1165 Angelina. For more information, visit DanceUmbrella.com.

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Dance Umbrella, Austin Arts Commission, 10 Minutes Max, Phyllis Slattery, Olivia Chacón, Monica Caivano, Liz Ganz, BeingLived Performance Company

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