Photo by David Lekach

Photo by David Lekach

Tinsel Mammals have become a visual extension of the musical compositions I perform in public. They were first created for the 2014 Vive Latino performance in Mexico City and have now been presented in over 100 performances including special commissions for MASS MoCA, The PAMM Museum in Miami, Millennium Park in Chicago, IMOCA in Indianapolis, The Ecstatic Music Festival, The Kitchen NYC, Central Park Summerstage, Contemporary Arts Center Cincinnati, MCA Detroit, Kemper Museum Kansas City, The Broad Museum at The REDCAT, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Liquid Music Series and more. They were created in collaboration with visual artist Kristi Sword.

The Tinsel Mammals are choreographed costumed humans that perform during Helado Negro performances. The movements have been slowly choreographed and designed over the past two years. The first year with the Tinsel Mammals I would solicit volunteers town to town and come up with simple movements that reflected my own body movements when I performed. Through that process I discovered so much about my own performance and how to interface with dancers and audience. In 2015 I began working with dance companies to create more articulate movements I also wrote a new body of music to specifically work with this performance. With synchronized color lights I bounce color off of these shimmering mammalian tinsel fur beings in different settings such as clubs, galleries, performance halls and living rooms. Watch the video below of some of the movements! 

My initial intention with the Tinsel Mammals was to decorate the stage with visual movement that interacted the sound and music of the performance. The movements began as slow and non-sync based choreography, a slow-mo shimmer and shimmy so to speak. As I worked more and more with the Tinsel Mammals I found myself defining what the suits represented in the performance and as a body of work I began to realize they are en embodiment of the sounds generated and abstract interpretations of the movement of the compositions. When I would travel town to town getting volunteers to participate I found people who have always wanted to perform but never had the right opportunity. The discovery for both volunteer performer and myself was that the Tinsel Mammals gave them anonymity and freedom to be expressive with movement inside the Tinsel Mammals. Another idea that began to develop was what it mean to be this shimmering thing on stage that moved. Its anonymous but its also non-human, something beautiful and strange. The idea that we can love something without knowing what it is as an audience member. Letting people draw their own interpretations of who and what they were and why were they even there. It became beautiful and tender for me because the are almost like guardians for me and I'm their keeper. They are powerful in presence but I have to bring them to the places they need to be. I invite you to come see us perform.