Theorist Festival Goes Multimedia on the Zilker Hillside

Tech haters gonna love hating technology (and vice versa) this Sunday

Because Amy Morrow – Austin-based founder of arts collective The Theorists and globetrotting teacher with Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company – can’t stop asking “What if?” That’s why the stage anchoring the city’s beloved Zilker Hillside will be spilling over with movement and music and more this weekend.

Because these Theorists are, ah, they're … dancers? … actors? … performance artists?

“The Theorists are a very inclusive collective,” says cultural entrepreneur Morrow, a smile brightening her young face. “I wouldn’t say dance collective, because we’re not just dance. We’ve got movers and shakers, people of mixed abilities and backgrounds and ages. We have open classes each week, with what we call Theorist Fellows – so we have a psychologist and a physicist in residency, and we’ll soon have a database architect and a geologist in residency, to kind of mix science with the arts. And we’ll have them take class with us, and they’ll get in the studio and be an influence on our creative process.”

So – art and science? That’s the theory?

“We see ourselves as artist-citizens,” says Morrow, “and our heart is to collaborate inclusively, to create networks and opportunities, to create homegrown art – even if we do it internationally. We’ve had artists come from Mexico, Ireland, Canada, Israel, and more, but the idea is that we promote Austin as a whole.”

The group’s constant industry and cross-pollination is what’s led to this Sunday’s Theorist Fest that, among the live music and dance performances, will feature an interactive installation called “Because I Hate Technology” by multimedia savant Jason Akira Somma.

“It’s all been coming together for a while,” says Morrow, who first met Somma on New Year’s Eve in NYC nine years ago. “I’ve been hosting professional development workshops for artists, and events for non-dancers to join our artists in the studio. And we’ve had performances at the Zilker Hillside Theatre for three years, and I’ve been co-hosting events with the Texas Performing Arts Center. And this year everything just collided on the same eight-day week, and I said, ‘Hell, it’s a festival. It’s no longer separate events – this is Austin, it’s a festival!’ And it starts at the Zilker Hillside this weekend and, the following week, the professional development workshops – including master classes with Kyle Abraham – will be at UT.”

Oh, and don’t forget Sunday’s nightswimming opportunities, too, citizen: Always a good idea to take a dip in Barton Springs, that’s our theory.

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