MUSE 105

In 2017, the American Dance Festival marked its 40th anniversary in Durham. An actor's most successful role is an unusual one. A unique maker space brings musicians together with industry professionals. Plus, an art gallery works to provide healing & peace during some of life's most difficult moments.

AIRED: October 24, 2017 | 0:26:46

- [Laura] Coming up on Muse,

the American Dance Festival inspires dancers

and audiences alike.

- We ask ourselves, what is dance?

I think that's what we're doing,

is, like, sitting with the idea of what is dance?

What is movement?

Here, at ADF, it's inspiring.

It's made me fall back in love with art

and creativity again.

- [Laura] Plus, the most interesting and top-selling

Tupperware lady you'll ever meet.

- And then, I started making more money doing this

than I ever did as an actor.

I'm like, well, shoot, I don't wanna

live in Hollywood anymore.

They have earthquakes and crazy people.

- [Laura] And a dedicated maker space

provides a creative community for musicians.

- In the city, we don't have a concentration

of music industry and you don't have

the opportunity to network and meet

other musical entrepreneurs.

- [Laura] An art gallery offers and opportunity for healing.

- And, the best answer I have ever come up with

is it's good for our families

and it's good for the community.

- [Laura] That and more on this episode of Muse.

- [Man] Quality public television is made possible

by the financial contributions of viewers like you

who invite you in supporting UNC-TV.

[upbeat music]

- Hi, I'm Laura Ritchie.

Thank you for joining us.

On this episode of Muse, this story is close to my heart

and my home.

To celebrate the American Dance Festival's

40th year in Durham, we go behind the scenes

of their unique summer program where modern dance students

from all over the world gather together

to learn and perform.

[mystical electronic music]

- [Jen] Okay, group one.

- I wake up and then, I come here

and I'm greeted by the heat and the atmosphere.

We start sweating in, like, the first five minutes.

Being able to know myself and being able

to warm up the right way, I swear,

I just learned how to warm up the right way.

Learning about your body and learning about

your body anatomically through the outside and the inside

is just so important.

It's so important.

- My foot helps me go around.

My foot transitions my pelvis.

- [Aija] Jen talks a lot about sharing

the weight with the floor.

- Nice, Owen.

Let yourself fly open.

- [Aija] The ground is giving you as much energy

as you're putting into the ground.

- One, two, three, two, two, three, one.

And, you have to work on your focus.

- You know, people, often times, witness the glamour

of what it is that we do,

but we're constantly preparing ourselves,

disciplining ourselves to engage in this work

to be masters of our work.

The mental capacity in which you must possess

in order to prosper in whatever class

that it is that you're taking,

this is not for the meek.

- I've been dancing for four months.

Here, I was like, what am I doing here?

I was like, just pack your bags,

don't be crazy, you know?

Yeah, that was a big jump into the unknown.


- What are we going through?

What got us here to this point

to be all together, collectively,

from different parts of the world to where we are right now.

And then, how do we make this work?

- [Madalena] One day, one of the classes,

Nialove told us go outside and choose a place

that you're gravitated towards,

and when I chose that place, I don't even know

why I chose that place.

- With all art, it all begins from improvisation.

Often times, we don't know what it is,

what it is we're inspired by,

but we know we're inspired to create.

Here, we've been going out into community

and developing a movement dialogue,

movement phrase work.

We ask ourselves, what is dance?

And, I think that's what we are doing,

is we are sitting with the idea of what is dance?

What is movement?

It could be dance to whomever is watching.

- I had to audition for Gregory Dolbashian,

who's based in New York, a choreographer

and it was my birthday, was my callback audition.

So, I was like, I really hope I get in

and then, I got into Gregory's piece.

Just the trust, I feel like, that goes into that,

trusting you with their work,

but also you trusting them with showing you in a good light.

- You used to acknowledge the whole group right there.

You were in your own world today.

See that because when you engage yourself with other people,

you dance way differently because you feel like

you have something to respond to

and you have something to invest in.

So, when you find those places where you know you thrive,

we have to use them and find ourselves in those places

as much as possible, right?

- Dance is all about the unknowing, you know?

And, being perfect means you know everything

and you know yourself, you know what I mean?

And, you're in this place where you don't

have anything to learn.

I've learned so much more about how to

really break the barriers of myself

of when I'm afraid to go there

and then, I get there and I'm like,

what was I so afraid of?

- And you're that powerful that you can

literally reconfigure a space.

Every single day is a new discovery,

but we're in different places, you know?

And then, the space is always yielding.

To occupy space is really super important.

Where do I know myself?

But, lots of times, we don't know

what we know about ourselves until we get tested.

- First weeks of ADF, I was all entangled inside of myself.

Maybe levels of insecurities and doubts that I had?

I didn't know what happened our how I got there.

The particles changed.

It was a beautiful communication between me and the space

and the site

and at some point, I'm not Madalena anymore

and the site is not that site anymore.

We connect and melt each other together

and create an organism.

That place gives me the ability to be whatever I want,

the possibility to express things that I didn't know

that I had inside of me.

So, it's a liberation feeling.

It's like a freedom.

- Dance is numerous things, but a great portion

is physicalizing and expression.

I think that's what a lot of art is,

it's like creating and not understanding

where the creation is coming from,

but understanding that, later on, stepping back

and saying, oh, that's what that moment was.

- This is a reminder of the standard that we have,

this is a reminder of the goals we're working for,

and this is a reminder of the culmination

of all of this time and practice and work

that we've been going for, so I've seen a lot

of transformation in these six weeks.

So, please, don't stay where you thought you were.

That has passed.

Go into the unknown of what's happening to you.

[cheering and laughing]

- This experience is extremely magical.

I've learned so much about myself

and moving with other movers.

The energy that is cultivated by all the people together,

it makes everything worth it.

It's so fulfilling.

- Here at ADF, it's inspiring,

it's made me fall back in love

with art and creativity again.

Something in my life may seem impossible

or that I might be coming up against a wall.

Dance reminds me that I'm more than capable

of taking on that task.

We're warriors.

- It has been a crazy trip.

What I got from all of this,

I'd rather perform more, like I give you some instruments,

but you, as a person, you find your own way.

What ADF brought me was I'm gravitating more

towards this parallel between dance and psychology.

Use it to access that state

that each one of us has

because I believe every person can do amazing things.

If going to a certain state of creativity,

it's much more finding your voice and your light

inside of you.

- Every time you move, no matter what movement you're doing,

you have the chance to be remembered.

Every time.

Every time

- Ever been to a Tupperware party?

How about a Tupperware party hosted by a drag queen?

Meet hostess extraordinaire, DWI Miss Tennessee,

and actor Kevin Farrell.

[upbeat playful music]

- DWI is my character to sell Tupperware.

D's a little trailer trash.

She's not very classy.

She kinda can talk like a truck driver.

Her look is just out there, it's loud, and it's out there.

I'm like a clown,

but she's fun-loving and she likes to have a good time.

If Suzie Hostess says she's having a Tupperware party,

chances are all her girlfriends are like, oh, really?

You know, I just went to a jewelry party last week

and now I've gotta go to a clothing party next week,

but then, when they see the picture of DWI,

then all the girls are like, oh, my god.

I've gotta go to that.

How exciting!

Okay, we'll get started in just a second girls, woo!

Are y'all drinking?

'Cuz I'm prettier when you're drunk.

Her character is from Tennessee

and she was the last sole heir to the Jack Daniels fortune.

So, she had a little drinking problem.

So, DWI is really driving while intoxicated.

How fun is that?

It's incredible.

So, I grew up here in Columbus, Ohio.

I went to Centennial High School,

then I went to Miami University of Ohio.

I worked as an actor for about ten years in Chicago.

I got cast on an episode of Frasier,

which took me out to Los Angeles.

I played David Hyde Pierce's look alike on an episode.

- Oh, everyone, this is Rodney Banks.

[audience laughing]

- Hello.

- Dr. Niles Crane.

- How do you do?

- The pleasure is mine.

[audience laughing]

- So, that took me to Los Angeles

and then, I started working as an actor pretty non-stop

and then, I started selling Tupperware and it just took off.

Before we get started, I wanna do a little survey.

Now, how many of us have ever been

to a Tupperware party before?

Raise your hands.

Very good, quite a few of us.

Was it a Tupperware party like this?

Hell, no.

2007 to 2010, I was number one in the nation.

So, four years in a row, I sold more Tupperware, personally,

than anybody else in the nation.

And then, I started making more money doing this

than I ever did as an actor.

I'm like, well, shoot, I don't wanna

live in Hollywood anymore.

They have earthquakes and crazy people.

So, I decided to move home, here, two years ago.

So, now I'm back and I live in Powell.

Woo! Oh, my god.

I know, I'm a Buckeye.

I think, really, Tupperware has grown to embrace

the drag queen aspect

'cuz there are other guys who sell in drag.

I'm not the only one.

We are actually bringing Tupperware

to a whole new generation of people

who don't even know that Tupperware is still around

and we do it with such an entertaining aspect to our show

that the people just find it more fun.

♪ Pickles and cheese, zucchini and carrot

♪ Season and serve some fine tasting ferret

♪ Your food has never tasted so fresh to date

Right, okay?

I would say that 95% of the people come to see DWI

and then, they buy the Tupperware afterwards.

Tupperware Corporate is really on board with what we do

because we're selling more product

than half of their sales force,

but there are people who don't understand what I do

and that makes me sad because I'm an actor

who dresses up as a character.

I come as Kevin, I get dressed up as D at your house,

and I take D off and I leave your house as Kevin

'cuz I don't drive around town in drag

and I don't go to the shopping stores as D,

I don't hang out and go to the zoo as D.

It is a character that I put on and a character I take off,

much like any character in a live play at the theater.

The business side of my business is huge

because I average four to five parties a week.

So, if I'm not working, I'm in my office,

I'm calling hostesses to confirm their dates,

I'm dating new parties, I'm entering all the orders.

Sometimes don't show up in shipments,

so I'm calling the warehouse to make sure that

orders are fulfilled.

When I moved to Los Angeles, I thought I was gonna be

this big time television actor,

I was gonna have my own show,

I was gonna have this huge house in Beverly Hills,

and it was all based on being an entertainer.

What happened was I got exactly what I wanted,

but it just came in a different package,

which is amazing.

Come up and touch and feel,

the Tupperware include, all right.

[women laughing]

I just wanted to be a paid actor.

Now, my paycheck comes from Tupperware,

it doesn't come from NBC or CBS or Showtime.

I'm selling just as much here as I was in Los Angeles.

There is really a need for a drag queen Tupperware lady.

I love the fact that 20 year olds to 90 year olds

can come to my parties and have a good time.

I really just want to entertain people

and for them to have a good time.

Now, as I said, my name is DWI, Miss Tennessee, woo!

The FedEx man is here to deliver Tupperware.


- Every art scene needs a home base,

a space for collaboration, skill sharing,

and community building.

Join us in San Antonio, Texas where musicians, producers,

and music entrepreneurs are working together

across genres to create a hub for the business of music.

[bass strumming]

- This is a concerted effort to combine forces with people.

You have somebody that's good at programming drums,

or you get with somebody who's got cool keyboard beds,

and then, bam, you might have something, right?

But, I think that's what big cities have.

They just have more people doing that.

We kinda need some center for people to do that.

We have libraries, we have geekdom-type things for tech,

but we don't really have anything like that for music.


- I'm Edwin Stephens.

I am founder and CEO here at San Antonio Sound Garden.

It's a co-working space.

We're the number one, only co-working space really

for musicians here in San Antonio.

We've got normal business hours, nine to five,

and musicians or small record labels

or anybody that's a musical entrepreneur

or creative, really, can come down here

and it's a place to be around like-minded people

and other creatives.

[live music]

In the city, we don't have a concentration of music industry

and you don't have the opportunity to network

and meet other musical entrepreneurs who are using

these approaches to building their business.

You don't learn because a lot of that happens,

the whole business is relationships,

and so, that's been something that people have

really enjoyed a lot is being able to come down here,

ask somebody who does know, from a legal perspective,

and from a business perspective,

what steps do I need to take to be more professional?

Sometimes it's people who are a couple of steps behind

and sometimes they need to be around people

who are a few steps ahead,

but then, some of us guys who are a few steps ahead,

we learn a lot from some of these younger guys

who are thinking of ways that I've never thought about.

- I heard about Sound Garden at a local show.

I had just moved back and I was trying to get

into the local music scene.

We have metal, we have tejano, we have Hip Hop,

we have jazz, we have electronic dance music,

we have so many more,

but you would never know because it's not in one place.

So, I think one of the great things that Sound Garden

is doing here is that they're bringing all of these

different genres together and they're making

a big community out of something so separate.

- Geographically, San Antonio was sort of offset

from the rest of the country,

but we're very close to Mexico,

so we have this confluence of cultures,

but it's difficult for people to believe a band

from San Antonio can become a nation

or a worldwide sensation, but there's several who have

because I think, musically, we have tons of talent

and it's a cool culture to come from.

When I was growing up, I really wanted to move

to another bigger city, but right around that time,

I met Michael Morales who hired me to play in his band

and it was through him that I ended up

doing these productions and learning

how to produce records from him.

So, I ended up staying here and working

with all of my friends and it's been fantastic.

It's been great.

The town really could use something like this.

Here, it feels like you would be around

a collective of people who really do wanna just start

creating things together.

[guitars strumming]

♪ I only wanted to make you

♪ Feel beautiful

- It's all about just being around,

getting all the creatives, all the musicians

in one space, concentrated.

I think that there's something to having that critical mass

that you have an opportunity for magic

and a collision of ideas.

♪ Made a mistake

My hope is that story, because I think people

get attached to stories so much more

that the stories of these different artists

start to emerge.

If you think about Eric and Joe,

they're such interesting people.

Some of the stuff that they've done,

their catalog of work that nobody knows about

is really performance-level art in a whole other--

People will discover it someday and they're gonna go,

oh, my gosh, these guys were here in this little season.

So, we like to tell this story now

and we'd like to get it all out to everybody.

♪ Echo on your voice

♪ But I made a mistake

♪ I made a mistake

- I really think art should be everywhere

and some of my favorite art experiences

have been in unconventional spaces.

Find out how a funeral home in Lakeland, Florida

is using the transformative power of art

to offer solace and peace during

some of life's most difficult moments.

[light piano music]

- I'm often asked, why would you put an art gallery

in a funeral home?

And, the best answer that I have ever come up with

is because it's good for our families

and it's good for the community.

[light piano music]

- Platform art is known for it's non-traditional events

that we host and create.

We received a call from the managing partner

of the Lakeland Memorial Gardens and Funeral Home

and the gentleman had an idea of including artwork

in the funeral home.

We asked him the hard questions.

Did he think people were actually gonna stop by

the funeral home to see the gallery space?

How would this be perceived?

We were not completely confident that this was

such a great idea,

but after more conversations and we came to the facility,

we realized that they were willing

to actually renovate a small room, painted it,

put in track lighting, lovely furniture

to really create a formal gallery space

and they also shared that they have about 2500 people

a month come through the facility.

So, with all of those details being offered in front of us,

we were thrilled, actually, to jump at the chance

and help them create a gallery.

- If you've ever been to the funeral home

because you have lost a loved one,

a good amount of time is wishing you were anywhere else,

but where you are

and this room sorta kinda gives you the ability

to step out of that for a little while

and go somewhere else, yet still be within ten or 20 feet

of where you need to be and it allows time

for some reflection, gather yourself again,

and make the face to come back.

[light piano music]

We're one of the very few places in Pope County

where you have a funeral, cemetery, crematory,

and social center all wrapped into one.

The response at the beginning was was very mixed.

All positive, but mixed as in, at first,

they may be a little ambivalent about

why would you do this?

Just not what people think of.

And, the truth is, is most people think of a funeral home

and it's immediate sense of dread.

We now have people who come to our funeral home

for no other reason but to come here

and it makes the time when you do have to come here

a little less frightening and a little easier

to be able to bare.

[light piano music]

- [Laura] Thanks for watching Muse.

Visit our website to see more art stories

and if the arts are making a difference in your community,

tell us about it.

Send us an email to

We'd love to hear from you.

[upbeat music]

- [Man] Quality public television is made possible

by the financial contributions of viewers like you

who invite you to join them in supporting UNC-TV.


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