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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: May 27, 2015

Esduardo Mariscal presents ‘Carne,’ a dance, music and multi-media performance piece at Portland Stage

Written by: Bob Keyes

The choreographer Esduardo Mariscal celebrates 20 years of performance art with his biggest project yet, “Carne,” on stage at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Portland Stage Company.

It involves dancers, circus artists, martial artists, actors and athletes, collaborating on a one act, 90-minute performance piece on the theater’s mainstage, with original music by Nicholas Brewer, poetry by Jennifer Lunden and a live mural drawing by Wyatt Barr, a former ballet dancer turned visual artist.

They work under the direction of Mariscal, who has been making art in Maine since 1995 and taught dance at Bates College and the University of Southern Maine.

He brings artists from different disciplines together, and asks them to cross collaborate.

“Dancers are going to act, actors are going to dance,” he said. “Some actors will sing. Everybody gets to do something other than what they usually do.”

The cast includes dancers from at least three companies, including Portland Ballet, Maine State Ballet and Art Moves. It is experimental in process, with a result that may change with each performance.

“The only one who knows the whole vision of it is me,” Mariscal said. “Everyone else is going in kind of bind-folded.”

Most of the performers in the cast are professionals within their discipline. But Mariscal likes to include non-professional performers — people who make their living as lawyers, nurses, contractors.

Longtime Maine dance artist Nancy Salmon will participate with what she calls “a small role” in the upcoming performances. “I’ve admired his work for years, usually a bit confused and always curious about it,” she wrote in an email.

He calls this piece “Carne” because of its physicality. Carne is the Spanish word for flesh, or meat.

“We’re talking about the flesh, talking about the body and what the body does,” said Mariscal, who is Mexican. “The body works, the body sleeps, the body breathes, the body falls in love. The body wants. The body hates.”

The one thing Mariscal insisted on is that his cast be fit; he’s taking advantage of the skills of the circus and martial artists, and expects everyone to perform at a certain physical level. He designed the piece with individual skills in the mind — and with the notion of pushing those skills. “People need to be in some form of physical training to be a part of it, so they don’t injure themselves,” he said.

Mariscal assembled a creative team to build a wholly original piece of art. Brewer wrote and prerecorded the score, and will accompany it live. Barr will create a charcoal drawing on a large paper panel mounted behind the dancers. He will begin on Thursday and conclude with the final performance on Saturday.

Mariscal arrived in New York from Mexico to study dance in 1993. Through connections he made in New York, he came to Maine in 1995 to teach dance at Bates, and has been presenting original work since.

“Nothing compares to the satisfaction of putting something together like this,” he said. “Nobody is getting paid. We’re all doing it for the love of it. It’s a great sense of community, of people coming together to something special.”

‘CARNE’ BY ESDUARDO MARISCAL DANCE THEATER

WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday
WHERE: Portland Stage Company, 25A Forest Ave.
HOW MUCH: $20, $10 students
INFO: esduardomariscal.com

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