popsicle vs. dandelion

Subterranean Arthouse is hosting a summer of Third Wednesday performances that look at m(d)usic, d(m)ance, flocks, pods and monsters with two of the Bay Area’s performing art collectives: Dandelion Dancetheater and Daniel Popsicle. These scheduled collisions of movement and music ensembles will surface their common interests, contrast their anxieties, and forge more ideas about dismantling the distinction between artist and ordinary person.


  • Wednesday, July 20
  • Wednesday, August 17 with special guests Lucio Menegon and artists from ThingNY
  • Wednesday, September 21

All shows begin at 9pm. Admission is $6-$10 sliding scale.

About the Artists

Dan Plonsey
Since 1978, Dan has written more than 200 works for large and small ensembles. Recent commissions have come from Real Time Opera (New Hampshire), the Bang on a Can People’s Commissioning Fund (New York), Theatre of Yugen (San Francisco), the Museum of Children’s Art (Oakland), Milkbar International Film Festival (Oakland), the Berkeley Symphony Children’s Concert Series, and New Music Works (Santa Cruz). Plonsey was awarded “Meet the Composer” grants to accompany the Bang on a Can and Milkbar commissions; he was awarded an American Composers Forum “Subito” grant for the work with Theatre Yugen. From the mid-90’s on, Plonsey’s largest body of work has been written for Daniel Popsicle, his 10-20-person
ensemble of unfixed instrumentation. Plonsey has also written many pieces for ensembles of multiple (3-13) saxophones; and for chamber opera. He recently began a series of concerti for “guitar and strange ensemble,” the first of which being What Leave Behind for Fred Frith and Toychestra. He recently finished an opera with libretto by Harvey Pekar (of American Splendor
fame), which premiered at Oberlin College, January 2009. In December, 2009, he also received the prestigious Broad Fellow Award.

Eric Kupers
Eric has directed, choreographed, and performed with Dandelion Dancetheater since its inception, creating numerous works that have been presented throughout California, nationally and internationally. He has spent the last decade focused on creating and developing a physically and disciplinary diverse performance ensemble within Dandelion, that is passionately
collaborative. He is deeply influenced by his work as a performer in the companies of Della Davidson and Margaret Jenkins. Eric is an Assistant Professor of Dance at Cal State University East Bay and is heading up the development of an Inclusive Dance Program at the university. Eric has created commissioned works for AXIS Dance Company (supported by a Princess Grace
Award for Choreography), Big Moves, Cal State University East Bay, California Choreographers Festival, Dancing in the Streets/NYC, and choreography for projects by John Killacky, California Shakespeare Festival, and Highland Summer Theatre. He has been a resident artist at ODC Theater, Jon Sims Center for the Arts and CELLspace.

dandelion dancetheatreDandelion Dancetheater
Through dance, collided with experimental theater, video, writing, music, and image, Dandelion Dancetheater aims a kinesthetic microscope at the ever-changing intricacies of the human heart. Its work is emotionally driven and grounded in a fascination with the intersections of bold risk-taking and public accessibility. The company, which was founded in 1996, is committed to the
individual and combined artistic visions of Kimiko Guthrie and Eric Kupers. It views the bodily exploration of human vulnerability, strength and paradox as a potent means for personal and collective growth, and through teaching and creating with people of diverse sizes, shapes, ages, cultures and abilities, Dandelion Dancetheater allow viewers of all walks of life to find
themselves reflected in its work.

Dandelion has received numerous awards and grants, including a Dancemaker grant from Dance USA/Irvine Foundation, a Gerbode Foundation Choreography Commission, a Rockefeller MAP Fund grant, an award from the Grants for the Arts non-recurring events fund, a grant from the Wattis Foundation, and repeated funding from the Zellerbach Family Fund, the Theatre Bay Area CA$H Program, San Francisco Arts Commission, an anonymous foundation and many individual supporters. Dandelion has received a Creative Work Fund grant with AXIS Dance Company to create the physically integrated dance piece “Dislocation Express” in 2011.

Daniel Popsicle
photo by Myles Boisen

Daniel Popsicle
was founded by Dan Plonsey in September 1999. As he tells it:

Sometime shortly before lunch in the mid-to-late 90’s, I had the opportunity to reconnect briefly with my teacher: composer, writer, artist, multi-instrumentalist Anthony Braxton. We, the Great Circle Saxophone Quartet, were passing through Middletown Connecticut. Among much warm and welcome encouragement, Professor Braxton urged each of us to write “music for the next millennium.” At that moment, a vision of the ensemble now called Daniel Popsicle came alive in my head.

It would include both western instruments and a motley assortment of mismatched instruments from around the world: emblems of a science fiction future that’s at least as much past: a smaller world, perhaps apocalyptically decimated. Only one saxophone — the rest having been melted down for unimaginablee future-to-the-ancient machinery. It would include women and men, good readers and bad, friends who would come to rehearsal by car, by train, or on foot from a house five houses away.

We cleared aside the minimum clutter necessary from the garage, then I wrote 15 pieces (each of which is represented entirely on one page of 16-staff manuscript paper), baked a couple pies, and Daniel Popsicle was formed.

Plonsey took Braxton’s call for “Music for a new millenium” to mean that it was time overdue for a paradigm shift in the musical world: that existing forms would be no longer sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of the new world-to-be. Daniel Popsicle therefore strives to evoke and bring into being a world less cynical, less troubled and less cluttered, in which art can be as simple as it wants to be, and in which everyone can participate. A world more in tune with our nature as animals, but striving beyond equity (a noble goal) to true generosity.

The music played by Daniel Popsicle is not classical, jazz, rock, or any established genre; rather it is simply Music of El Cerrito: music which is happening here, wherever that largely imaginary, ideal, idealistic here is for us, and for you too. The music is simple: emerging from whatever Plonsey was humming that day, which might have something to do with music he heard last week or as a kid growing up in Cleveland Heights. The music is there to sweep you along, down a creek in an innertube. The music is there to provide color for your art and imagery for your blackberry pie-making. (We hope that you have a bush nearby.)


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