Sunday, October 30, 2005


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Penny Tschirhart, Susan Blair, Alicia Moore Chew, and Lindsey McGill in The Cooking Show
Photo by Leticia London

Imagine Carol Burnett as a post-modern dancer, now add a touch of mother Teresa, and you get Jane Weiner. Since arriving on the scene Weiner has consistently cranked out a steady stream of compelling dances. Her opus on all things eatable, The Cooking Show, is back on the stove. This wild and crunchy romp comments on everything from the mind-numbing silliness of weight- loss commercials to American’s love affair with the stuff of their sustenance. There’s even a little romance with a piece of meat. In between food fights there's a compelling and hilarious dance.

She’s gathered her favorite group of savvy dancers/performers including, Susan Blair, Bonnie Boykin, Janie Carothers, Alicia Moore Chew, Amy Ell, Siri Ell, Christian Holmes, Jim Lawrence, Lindsey McGill, Joe Modlin, Erica Sandberg and Penny Tschirhart with a special guest appearance from Ibiza Restaurant’s Chef Charles Clark, pianist Vinhlac Stephen Tran, as well as students from the Kid’s Play Ensemble. Between donut gobbling, cheeto stomping and flour flinging, we found a chance to chat. Forgive the food puns—the willpower weakened.

The Cooking Show was a smash hit last time around. Is this a reheat or did you redo the recipe?
It’s a re-heat, but I added quite a few new ingredients.

There’s a good amount of food flying in the show. You seem like a bit of a troublemaker. Were you the kid in the cafeteria that started the food fights?
Yes. I was. I remember standing in the corner a lot.

Food and Dance. How do those words go together?
They are both a huge part of my life.

At one point it looks like Amy Ell has a love affair with a piece of meat? Care to comment?
Amy Ell is a fabulous actress. Her use of subtleties also amazes me. She plays in a coy and smart way using just the right amount of energy with her character to keep her reactions both believable and a surprise. Here is a devout vegetarian shaking it up!

There’s one serious section of the dance. Talk about the down side of food.
I see it all over, so many girls especially unsatisfied with themselves. It runs rampant, “look like this or that’” or otherwise you just don’t fit. We get messages to feel bad about ourselves from movies, TV, and Magazines, which causes this low self-esteem epidemic.

Somehow you manage to snag the best dancers in town. How much of the cooking do you let the dancers do?
I come in with set movement phrases, but they are so good with my movement, that I get to mold and re-shape. I love it when they take liberties and show their flavor. The partnering always happens when everyone in that section is there and I think, “Who would be the neatest/coolest to move thru the air right now.” So I need them, and their energy. They also add so much commitment and passion that very soon the movement and the pieces are their own.

Aren’t rehearsals a bit messy?
We usually wait until very close to show, because yeah, we are really messy.

How did you get the idea of combining Betty Crocker and opera?
I have Alicia and her wonderful ability of making the serious dramatic and humorous. With her sense of trying just about anything I throw her, I thought it would be fun to take the back of a peanut butter cracker wrapper and put it to a Gregorian type chant. “Blessings to Julia Child” came from the actual ingredients and Alicia’s very funny side,

Inquiring minds want to know: are the dancers really eating the donuts?
Come and find out for yourself.

Do you, can you, cook?
If I put my mind to it, yes, but I very barely have a mind at the end of the day. I have a great guy now that cooks real nice, so I am treated to that on a rather frequent basis and that is swell.

What’s your next dish (piece)?
My next piece is called See Me. I want to use a blind person, and a very young child, my company, and Terrence Karn. No pun intended, but as much as I love The Cooking Show, I long to sink my teeth into this piece.

Hope Stone presents The Cooking Show on November 5th at 8 p.m. & November 6 at 2:30 p.m. at the Cullen Theater Wortham Center. Tickets are $25, and if you bring non-perishables (5 items minimum) the cost is $20. Call 713-526-1907 ext. 1 for information and reservations.