The free Fusebox Festival — an eclectic celebration of art in its many forms — opens today and runs through Sunday at venues throughout Austin. As Michael Barnes explained in his preview, the festival isn’t just about artists showing off their creative endeavors; it also “urges them to engage with their audiences around the big ideas of the day,” such as the border and community health.
But new approaches to making art are at the heart of the festival as well — as evidenced by Line Upon Line’s “Potential,” a series of performances combining percussion, dance and lighting at the top of Mansfield Dam later this week.
Here are three top picks from among the Fusebox events from our preview story:
“Pancho Villa from a Safe Distance,” April 14-15, Stateside at the Paramount Theatre
This is one we have been anticipating for a long time. A chamber opera composed by Graham Reynolds, it was conceived and executed in collaboration with Rude Mechs director Shawn Sides and the Mexican theater collective Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol, which contributed the libretto. Using the biography of Pancho Villa, it plays with the culture and politics of West Texas through the eyes of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.
Bonus: Additional lyrics by poet and novelist Carrie Fountain.
“The score is part chamber suite, part rock opera and part cinematic soundscape,” Fusebox founder Ron Berry says. “The influences run from Chavela Vargas and Los Tigres del Norte to Shostakovich and Bartok to the Los Lobos offshoot the Latin Playboys.”
“Meeting,” April 12-16, Scottish Rite Theater
In this piece from Australians Antony Hamilton and Alisdair Macindoe, two performers interact with 64 robotic percussion instruments. Hamilton provides the irresistible movement, Macindoe the machine sounds.
Bonus: You have five chances to catch this 50-minute marvel.
“Technically, the dancers are ridiculously talented and rigorous,” Berry says. “The influences range from ballet to hip-hop and breakdancing, particularly popping. Conceptually, the piece is super tight. They take a particular idea and go very deep with it, which I really appreciate and enjoy.”
Al Volta’s Midnight Bar, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. April 12-16, Saengerrunde Halle
“Al Volta’s is especially exciting because it’s a super fun pop-up bar,” Berry says. “The food will be changing every night. It’s also an opportunity to meet other audience members, artists and arts professionals from all over the world. The artistic programming is some of the most fun and diverse in the festival.”
Why sit or stand around with the artists in an old German bowling alley?
“Let’s dissolve that barrier between audience, artist and art!” Berry says. “Let’s all hang out together and talk about the world. And then we combine this with our own love of bars. I spend a lot of time in bars, turns out. Occupational hazard. But I do love a good bar.”