ARTrageous brings visual art, music and dance spectacle to Farmington
Tijeras-based company finally back on the road after long hiatus
- ARTrageous performs at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7 at the Lions Wilderness Park Amphitheater.
- Tickets are $6 and $10, and can be purchased by calling 505-599-1148 or visiting fmtn.org/civiccenter.
- This weekend's show will be only the second time the troupe has performed since the pandemic began in March 2020.
FARMINGTON — The COVID-19 pandemic had a strong impact on performing arts groups of all kinds, keeping most of those groups sidelined for more than a year while mass gatherings were prohibited.
But it presented an especially big challenge for ARTrageous, which will be featured this weekend in Farmington. The Tijeras-based touring group combines elements of visual art with music and dance for a high-energy show that relies heavily on audience participation and interaction, often breaking down the wall between crowd and performer.
That approach has served the group well during its long run since it relocated to New Mexico from Oregon in the 1980s. So it should come as no surprise to ARTrageous fans that the 12-member troupe has no plans to discontinue involving the audience in its shows, despite the pandemic.
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"It's not an option for us," said ARTrageous member Lauri Francis, explaining her company's unwillingness to even consider eliminating that aspect of its approach to performing. "We knew we would figure it out. No matter what, we need the audience to be participating."
What has changed is the amount of physical contact between audience members and performers. Francis said ARTrageous performers now wear masks when they venture out into the crowd, and other aspects of the group's shows have been changed to ensure that everyone remains safe.
For instance, spectators are still encouraged to bring hats, shirts and other items of clothing to the show to be splattered with paint by a company member, converting it into wearable art. The only difference is, those items are collected at the front of the stage now instead of audience members joining the performers onstage.
"We've made some adjustments, for sure," Francis said.
But she hastened to add no one who has seen an ARTrageous show before is likely to come away from this performance feeling like the group has backed away from its trademark style.
"We are definitely going to interact," she said. "That's part of who we are. It's part of our fabric."
This weekend's show will be only the second time the troupe has performed since the pandemic's health restrictions began in March 2020. ARTrageous returned from the sidelines with a show last weekend in Louisville, and Francis said she loved being back in front of a live audience.
"It just felt a little rejuvenating and a little bit healing for everybody," she said, explaining the social distancing restrictions that were in place during the pandemic made it clear how important the human connection is to most people. "There's no better way to get that connection than through music, dancing and art. It's really healing for a lot of people."
Francis said ARTrageous members adapted to the pandemic by quarantining with each other at their warehouse in Tijeras, essentially converting it into a black box theater and soundstage where they shot educational videos and did virtual performances.
"We were able to do a lot of really cool things there," she said.
But nothing compares to the energy exchange ARTrageous members experience with live crowds, she said.
"We're very excited to be getting back out on the road, and we feel people truly, truly need the arts," she said.
While this will be the second ARTrageous performance in Farmington in a year and a half, the company may become a whole lot more familiar to local audiences in the future. Farmington Civic Center supervisor Randy West has said he has been in talks with ARTrageous about setting up a residency program for the company here, with the troupe coming to Farmington for a week at a time for a series of shows and educational workshops for students.
Francis said those talks are ongoing. While nothing concrete has been established, she noted that ARTrageous already has plans to do week-long residencies later this year in Alabama and Missouri, so it already has a template in place for how such a program would operate.
In the meantime, she encouraged local fans of the group to show up this weekend – and be prepared to join in the fun.
"I hope everybody comes ready to dance," she said.
ARTrageous performs at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7 at the Lions Wilderness Park Amphitheater, 5800 College Blvd. in Farmington. Tickets are $6 and $10, and can be purchased by calling 505-599-1148 or visiting fmtn.org/civiccenter.
Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or firstname.lastname@example.org.