The Raving Jaynes - Jamie Graham and Amy Larimer - New York

Photo by John Leo
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Bios for The Raving Jaynes
The Raving Jaynes (Jamie Graham, Amy Larimer and Jay Rhoderick) present improvisations where movement, text and sound are woven, smashed and twisted together to transform what waits in the empty space into sweaty stories. The performers use a suggestion from the audience as inspiration for a collage of dances and scenes. The Raving Jaynes have been presented at dance and comedy venues throughout the Northeast including: The Built on Stilts Festival in Martha’s Vineyard, The Comedy in Dance Festival at Triskelion Arts, Dancemopolitan at Joe’s Pub, The NYC Improv Festival at The PIT, The Dragon’s Egg, Lehman College, The Unscripted New York Improvised Theatre Festival and The Tank. This summer, The Raving Jaynes will be presented at the Crisis Art Festival in Arezzo, Italy.

Amy Larimer (creator/director) is a dance/theater artist currently focused on blending dance and theatrical improvisation. Her work has been presented at a variety of venues including The 92nd Street Y, Dixon Place, DTW, Green Space, HERE, Joe’s Pub, The Joyce Soho, Triskelion Arts, and The West End Theater. She was a founding member of Nicholas Leichter Dance and toured internationally with Leichter for 10 years. She has also enjoyed working with Clare Byrne, Daniel Clifton, Colin Connor, Susannah Keagle, Polina Klimovitskaya, Patricia Nanon, Debra Wanner and June Wantanabe. She is a certified yoga teacher and the Artistic Director of the Dance Program at Lehman College.

Jamie Graham (performer), a Nashville native, received her B.F.A. in Dance and B.A. in English Literature at Webster University, St. Louis. She completed one year of post-graduate study at the Rotterdamse Dansacademie, Netherlands. Present projects include Naomi Goldberg Haas/ Dances for a Variable Population, Barbara Mahler and Jenny Rocha Dance Theater.

Jay Rhoderick (co-director) is a founding member of the long-running long-form improvisation ensembles Burn Manhattan and Centralia. Jay has taught improv for 12 years and has studied mask, Commedia dell'Arte, clown, and acting for more than 17 years. He has improvised with Jeremy Piven, Kate Walsh, Will Ferrell, Horatio Sanz, Stephen Colbert and many others. Centralia has performed throughout the U.S. and recently had its immortal song "Holy Shit" used in Showtime's TV spots. As an actor, Jay took part in the rollicking original NYC Fringe production of "Urinetown!"

Artist Statement
I create dance theater work that uses movement, text and song to explore characters generated through imagination, experience and observation. Currently, I’m fascinated by improvisation. In both set and improvised work, I enjoy discovering the eccentric edges and ordinary longings of the characters that emerge. I believe that humor is a valuable way to connect with the audience and I’m interested in exploring the relationship between comedy and tragedy. I have been influenced by the passion and feminism of the early modern dance pioneers, the innovation of Cunningham and Judson Church, the spontaneity and physicality of improvisational forms, the joy of social dance, the expressive possibilities of dance theater, the wit of stand up comedy, the vulnerability of singing and the philosophy of yoga. I am interested in the things we hide, the ways we separate ourselves from each other and what it is that makes us want to engage despite the risks. I am fascinated by the way change takes place and am curious about the role that art plays in that process, particularly in a culture that seems ambivalent about both art and change. I keep performing because I like it and because I believe it’s important for people to sit in a room together, be reminded of the crazy situation we are in as humans and to be moved by the ways that we keep on trying.

What do you hope to gain from this experience?
I hope to share the techniques that Jamie and I have been working with and exchange ideas with other artists. I am excited by the opportunity to exchange ideas with other festival participants and am interested in discovering ideas and approaches that can make my work more vital and relevant to the time we are living in.

Have you participated in Festivals before? If so, what worked and what didn't work for you? What would you like to see more or less of?
I have participated in several festivals in the past. What I enjoy most is communicating with other artists. However, traditional Q&A sessions are often unsatisfying to me since you can’t really get into a dialog. At the same time, I think that it’s useful to have a starting point. I would really enjoy a format where there is an opportunity for artists to talk briefly about their work and raise a few questions that they are interested in exploring and then have a more informal part of the evening where people can gather in smaller groups to follow their interest and talk about the ideas that were raised in the discussion. I find feedback about my work very useful but I also want to talk with artists about other issues and I think a more informal portion of the evening (maybe with wine) would allow the discussions to stray into interesting areas. I know that is supposed to happen anyway at festivals during free time but I think that it could help to officially dedicate some time to it to get the process started.
What the artists will be bringing to the Festival
The Raving Jaynes will shape a version of the following in the short form
Rave Plus is a 30-40 minute, long-form, improvised structure that combines elements from dance and theatrical improvisation. Originally trained as dancers, Jamie Graham and I have been developing dance/theater two-prov scores for the last 2 years. With our coach Jay Rhoderick, we have worked to create a highly physical, hybrid form of improvisation and designed different structures to fit particular venues and time slots. Rave Plus, the 30- to 40-minute version, is a new form and slightly different from the work samples I’ve submitted. In this next iteration of the form, we are interested in delving more deeply into the movement in the dance sections and developing more physical specificity in our characters. The form begins with a 5-minute improvised dance. We then ask the audience to title that dance and that title serves as the inspiration for the rest of the form, which combines scenes, monologues and dances. In this show, we follow two protagonists through a journey of transformation and also explore the characters that surround them. We use movement to heighten the energy of the performance as well as to create more abstract imagery to give the audience another way to experience the story. We work with the technicians as partners in our improvisations and ask the lighting designer to improvise the lights and the sound operator to select our music for us as we go.