What to Do In Salt Lake City
12 Minutes Max at the Salt Lake City Public Library is a monthly experimental performance series featuring three short works by local musicians, filmmakers, dancers, artists and just about anything that can be put on a stage. The kicker is everyone gets 12 minutes with a short question and answer period at the end of each act. That’s what is so great about this event. A little something for everyone. Not too long. You get a taste of different music styles or dance or film and then you can explore more in depth on your own.
12 Minutes Max happens on the third Sunday of every month at 2:00 pm at the Salt Lake Public Library, within the 40 blocks of downtown Salt Lake City known as THE BLOCKS.
Act 1: Salt Lake Electric Ensemble
This past Sunday I listened to synthesized electronic music by Nick Foster, Mike Wall, and Austin Booth. Together they call themselves the Salt Lake Electric Ensemble. These musicians merged three of their personal compositions. The first movement of the music featured electronic dance music along with a real drum set. It was soothing and rhythmic; a later movement was unworldly and eerie.
Act 2: Heartland
Dancers then joined The Ensemble featuring Molly Heller, a teacher at the U of U’s School of Dance, who presented a modern dance piece called Heartland. The dance demonstrated a series of works that explore moving from the physical spaces of the heart in an attempt to find one’s true self. It comes from Ms. Heller ’s latest body of research surrounding the heart. After the performance in the Q and A, Molly was asked what percentage of the choreography was planned and how much was improvised. Her response was surprising. She remarked that about 80% is choreographed, and 20% is improvised by how she was feeling in the moment. On the day of this performance, she felt exhaustion which she expressed in her dance by allowing herself to collapse onto the floor and to roll off the stage as if gravity pulled her against her will. As a novice to Modern Dance, I wasn’t sure how to grasp or interpret the meaning of the movements, but the improvisational element of it was dynamic, novel and riveting.
24 minutes was up.
Act 3: Survivor
The next 12-minute act was an animated short film entitled Survivor, in which we meet Margaret Dalglish, a Utah handcart pioneer who was a “bad-a.” This short featured the storytelling prowess and narrative of Will Bagley. Will is a fellow of the Utah State Historical Society and has written many books on Western History. He was joined by KUER’s RadioWest, Elaine Clark who produced the pioneer story told in a new and modern way with interesting, flowing animation overlaid on top of actual black and white film footage of the pioneer trails and Salt Lake Valley. Once the film was over, the question and answer period about the piece was enlightening. We learned that for each second of animated film required 45 man hours of production. We also learned where one can find the old Pioneer journals and news accounts; how nonprofits operate and how this film is a small drop in KUER’s bigger picture in their telling of Utah stories.
The collaborative, behind-the-scenes look at these two very different performances was impressive and unique. Knowing little about electronic music or modern dance or animated pioneer stories, these new forms of storytelling were all new to me, but the entire audience experienced it and I learned more about these different genres of art and I was left inspired.
Past performers of 12 Minutes Max include a film by Steven Stallings, a musical performance by BoBo, modern dance by Tyler Orcutt, a cabaret piece by Dream Meli, a film by Conner Long.
Next month there will be something else to participate in and learn about, 12 minutes at a time on the Salt Lake Library stage.
The Salt Lake City Public Library has a nice size auditorium for events such as these, with cookies, coffee, and mingling afterward.