Thursday, January 14, 2010

Twin Souls - the Joy of Being Found

Tonight, as promised - a continuation on the theme of musicians. I've decided to take a brief rest from illustration, to show off a different side of my creativity - one that, although not physically related to drawing, has everything to do with my inspiration. Ladies and gentlemen... my name is Danielle Bennignus, and I am Charleston-Mad.

Matt Tolentino, my darling and muse, directs an 18-piece fox-trot orchestra - the Singapore Slingers, dealing mainly in popular dance tunes of the 1920s and early 1930s. He is rightfully very proud of the group, as they have graced the Dallas music scene for well over a year. I love him for it, as many of their signature pieces would likely have fallen through the cracks of American culture - the Slingers are keeping some absolutely wonderful works alive and well. Aside from the simple fact that I love listening to this genre of music, I love dancing to it. As tonight's blog title suggests, I truly feel as though I've been found - by a man who understands my archaic, borderline obsolete interests - Twin Souls, to be sure. And so, it really was only a matter of time before Matt and I collaborated, and put on an act like the one in the clip above.

I learned to do the Charleston years ago, during my time with the Flying Cloud Academy of Vintage Dance in Cincinnati, OH. Joan Walton, a wonderful dancer, taught me to do the dance with enthusiasm and precision - the late Patri Pugliese showed me steps I'd never seen before, that he learned from his mother, who had been a champion exhibition dancer in the 1920s. I try to be authentic in my steps, and roll out all of the gusto I can muster - the way it should be. So, the opportunity to perform "Nagasaki" with the Slingers was welcome, indeed. This is one way in which I can pay tribute to my Matt - his work, as well as the efforts of every member of the orchestra.

In the clip, you can see Matt directing the group, as well as megaphone-singing, with me on the stage behind. On top of that, the velvet banner that graces the stage's right side was made at home - I designed, scaled, laid out and sewed it from the ground up. A Christmas present for the love of my life - but as well, an illustration project, only in this case done in fabric, rather than paper.

There are other such projects I've worked on - costumes, millinery, window displays, etc, which will make their way into the blog. Despite my frequent focus on the drawings, there is so much more to see... I thought this would be a wonderful way to introduce some of the other work that I do. And so, yes - again - here's to musicians - and tonight, to the one who holds my heart.

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