After last year’s three-day conference in France, the feedback was “can we do this for a longer period next time?” So we did! This year’s conference was a jam-packed eight days long, here in our home city, Chicago.
Nineteen French visitors joined more than forty American professional and amateur singers and coaches, and hundreds of others at events all over Chicago to learn and promote the art of Cabaret.
We started in Hyde Park at the University of Chicago’s International House with a series of film screenings and two Razzle-Dazzles, multimedia presentations which celebrated 110 Years of Cabaret in Chicago. We heard from performers, filmmakers and historians: Cheryl E. Grant, Julia Cook-Ravel, David Marienthal, Clotilde Rullaud, Charles Troy, June Sawyers, Holly McGuire, Bob Moreen, Jacques Protat, and Elizabeth Doyle. And closed the day with eating, drinking and socializing at a Thanksgiving-themed party in Hyde Park.
Then, we got to work the next day at master classes and workshops led by Broadway performers Faith Prince and Alex Rybeck, burlesque artist Kyle Hustedt, jazz singer Spider Saloff, director Dale Calandra, singers and coaches Greta Pope and Elisabeth Howard. French artists Christian Pagès and Clotilde Rullaud brought their expertise in movement and vocal techniques.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Cabaret Connexion conference without heartfelt conversations about the art of cabaret performing. We learned about the singer’s relationship to the audience with London-based Paul L Martin. We listened to many points of view regarding the economics, business and future of cabaret in roundtable discussions led by John Rich (of Chicago DCASE), Hilary Feldman (AOK Cabaret), Karen Kohler, and our own Claudia Hommel.
There were plenty of opportunities to hear each other, and the professional faculty perform. Nightly concerts! The grand finale was a showcase for participants. It was so moving to hear how far we had all come in one week of practicing and workshopping our songs. Faith Prince and Dale Calandra directed.
Now back to work. We have plans to finalize for 2019 . . . . in France!