Mad King Thomas, Phone Dances (colon) Dances for the Telephone
“Irreverent, campy, and affectionately over the top, Mad King Thomas pursues a kind of pirate practice: a potent mixture of disdain for the commonsensical, affinity for the antidisciplinary, and flirtation with illegibility.”
Phone Dances (colon) Dances for the Telephone
We accept that the idea of a phone dance is a ridiculous conceit. That said, dance offers an intense experience of physical reality, and the telephone offers dissociation―the possibility for escape or for connection elsewhere. Phone Dances (colon) Dances for the Telephone examines the relationship between the body and mind during a hone call. These works look at how the two interact, each embracing the telephone’s potential for interruption and intimacy differently.
“A Dance for You” opens with a sign on the gallery wall instructing gallery-goers to leave a voicemail detailing what they need. Below the sign sits a stack of small cards with tips for a successful phone dance and space to write their stated need. Viewers are invited to take one as a reminder; a return call is promised within the month. These dances arrive as an unscheduled telephone call, interrupting the recipient’s life outside the gallery and offering a brief escape from the quotidian. Sometimes poetic, sometimes silly, and sometimes physically trying these live calls are tailored to the recipient based on Mad King Thomas’s top-secret and highly irregular decision-making process. “A Dance for You” disrupts the daily routine to claim everything as a dance.
“A Dance for Them” takes place on a raised platform in the gallery. One visitor at at time ascends the platform and, following instructions embedded in the floor, makes a phone call. Like a loud stranger on the bus, the conversation becomes the performance and the visitor’s forgotten body the dancer. Underscoring the incidental performances that occur when cell phones bring private conversations to public places, the theatrical framing of the call highlights the physical aspects of a conversation that may be intimate, disconcerting, or just plain boring. “A Dance for Them” digs into the discomfort and anxiety that can attend the split experience of disparate physical and mental locations, and emphasizes how our bodies struggle to communicate, even over the phone lines.
We value shit; we poop gold.
We put on sparkles that are one size too small, then we make dances that ignore most definitions of dance. We say yes! to eating sausages with Frank O’Hara, yes! to crawling out of trash bags, and yes! to homemade pageantry. We love the world with a fierce passion and a fiercer discontent. Our sympathy is with the human, the messy, the amateur.
We make performance to intervene in a broken, unjust world. We find connection amid chaos and harmony in contrarian cavorting. When we feel like bullshitting, we call our work “fractured postdramatic performance about power and identity.” We take our daily lived experiences, shove them together, and digest them into something performable. We layer these disparate moments and give them the chance to coexist in a strange and familiar landscape. Dead squirrels and star-gazing gods abut polar bears drinking Coke while relaxing on Astroturf, grilling the last orangutan. We reorder the world with our whole selves: imperfect bodies, subjective minds, and vicious humor.
Laughter opens the sutures that hold us together. Let’s not be held together, let’s not protect ourselves or slip quietly into entertainment. Let’s fall apart at the edges and at the center. Let’s make things more awesome.
Mad King Thomas
works in Minneapolis, Minnesota
mentor: Marcus Young
Mad King Thomas is the artistic collaboration of Tara King, Theresa Madaus and Monica Thomas. Founded in 2004 at Macalester College, they initially collaborated as a care-free creative outlet, but their shared interests in gender, cultural reference, humor, post-modernism, movement and hegemony led to the creation of their first dance and a long-time creative bond. Since then, Mad King Thomas has created small and large works for stages, galleries, screens, and virtual reality. Their work has been presented throughout Minneapolis, as well as Melbourne, Australia, Yaroslavl, Russia, and New York City.
Known for their sense of humor and delight in irreverence, they make dances that people often don’t think of as “dance” and art works that are sometimes hard to define. They investigate power and gender and are invested in the possibilities of live performance opening up discussion, activating audience and participants, igniting revolution and subverting the status quo, as well as expanding what the definitions of dance, performance, or art might be.