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Tag: performance art


Horrible Imaginings Podcast #180: Rogue Artists Ensemble Puts YOU In A Japanese Ghost Story! Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin!

Oh boy, am I a sucker for a good Japanese ghost story. There is just something about them that resonates with me. I think it is the focus on spirits that exact a cruel form of justice and vengeance. The cold callousness mixed with an almost deserved karma. It speaks to me. I first read the English re-tellings of many of these ancient folklore by an author named Lafcadio Hearn, a sort of Brothers Grimm for Japanese supernatural stories, when I was in high school, and I have been entranced ever since.

So imagine my immediate interest when I heard that this Halloween season would introduce a new immersive haunt experience based on these stories! It is a magnetic and innovative DIY production from Rogue Artists Ensemble and East West Players called Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin.

Reggie Yip
Photo by Rebecca Bonebrake

In it, "you receive a letter from a woman who is haunted by a mysterious event in her past—and she needs your help. When you arrive at her family’s warehouse, you ascend to the fifth and sixth floors in a creaking freight elevator, followed by a voice that calls out through the shadows, drowning you in echoes of wells and engines and graveyards, in tangles of hair and snow, in sharp reflections of your darkest moments—a voice that may not be human."

I got the chance to interview the director Sean T. Cawelti, co-writer Chelsea Sutton, and Jasmine Orpilla, one of the lead actors of this piece, after experiencing it myself. I also wanted to get another perspective on the experience, so I invited my friend Kim Garland to co-host this podcast with me. She is a brilliant filmmaker in her own right, and you can check out her stuff here. I am happy to have her with me to give her account of the performance (and to protect me from ghosts)! This will be a spoiler free look at the process of bringing this atmospheric, creepy, and classic stories to life in an immersive way that encourages audience participation. I encourage you to check it out if you are anywhere near Los Angeles!

Jasmine Orpilla
Photo by Chelsea Sutton

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Performance Art: The Horror Cabal of Anna Yanushkevich!

Anna Y 2


Yanushkevich uses her background in ballet, circus, and other techniques to weave aerial, hoop, ballet, and interpretive dance with hypnotic, almost nightmarish, imagery. Her themes include insanity, witchcraft, Satanism, death, and bodily incapacitation in performances that fluidly meld the hideous with the beautiful, the terrifying with the magnetic. They are uncompromising in their rebelliousness, and we love them!

Joining Yanushkevich in her performance are two extremely talented performers:

Lilly Holiday
Lilly Holiday

Lilly Holiday has been a stripper or strip tease artist for over 12 years, starting her group Pink Boombox Productions in 2009. Lilly is now a weekly staple of the San Diego Burlesque scene. You can finder her every Wednesday night at Gossip Grill.


Hanna Denham
Hanna Denham Hanna Denham is a hand-balancing contortionist. Being relatively fresh to the industry with only four years of training, she has worked hard to achieve an unfathomable dream. With a love for performing, she always strives to give the audience something they won't expect. Not only did she fall in love with the art of contortion, but also with a desire to know the human body inside and out. Studying under body workers and working under coaches, she finds endless possibilities in the potential of the human form. "The ability comes from knowing how your muscles work," she says. "The only thing that holds us back is the lack of information." With that, she bends her life away--strong, as well as flexible!


We are proud to announce that Yanushkevich’s brand new outdoor aerial rig will get its maiden performance at this year’s festival! See history in the making! On the Botanical Lawn in Balboa Park at 9:15 PM, Saturday, September 10!
Photo by Dave Waldman

#143 Merging the Horrific with the Beautiful: A Conversation with Performance Artist Anna Yanushkevich

Photo by Mike Oehl

Photo by Mike Oehl

I often say I like to use this podcast to discuss horror in art, history, literature, film, and beyond. Film tends to hog the limelight there, but today I get to talk art. Specifically, dance and performance art. Russian-born Anna Yanushkevich has been performing her curious acts in San Diego for at least as long as I've lived here. They mix dark and sometimes disturbing imagery with the beautiful fluidity of classical ballet, aerial art, and other kinds of abstract or interpretive dance.

It's not often you can hear a horror fan say, "I'm going to check out this interpretive dance piece," but I hope acts like Anna's can help open people's minds to different forms of expression. That's one of the things I wanted to talk to her about. Anna Yanushkevich is not afraid of going to some very dark places in her work, and the result is that it can be even more effective than the scariest horror film. Her latest show was San Diego's first Black Mass, which was held back in June. People feel genuine discomfort at this and a lot of her other work, which is why I find it so important. Sadly, she is moving away from San Diego to terrorize the arts community of Northern California, so I knew I had to get her on the podcast before she left. Dammit.

Anna and I ask discuss:

1. Leaving San Diego

2. Who is Anna and what does she do?

3. The genesis of Anna's art

4. Merging horrific imagery with beauty

5. The importance of classic training

6. The process of choreography

7. Working with the neo-burlesque troupe Pink Boombox

8. Staging San Diego's first (and last?) Black Mass

fire dance

Listen to the episode: