Local Current Blog

Eric Mayson and DaNCEBUMS collaboration to culminate in Tek Box shows

DaNCEBUMS perform with Eric Mayson and Toby Ramaswamy at Icehouse in 2016. (Photo courtesy of Emmet Kowler)

It’s been a busy year for singer, songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist Eric Mayson. Having spent a lot of time collaborating with other musicians on their projects, Mayson recently made the switch back to taking the lead on some of his own projects — releasing not one, but two different albums in 2019. From May 23 to 26 he will be performing one of those albums, It’s All Real, It’s All Fake, with dance group DaNCEBUMS at the Cowles Center’s Tek Box in Minneapolis.

As one of their last shows together, the night will be a culmination of the work Mayson and DaNCEBUMS have been developing for years.

“This process of working with dancers is my favorite way of composing,” Mayson said. “Improvising to movement feels like how music is supposed to operate and it’s as if it’s the same activity. Music and dance used to be one a long time ago, so it feels like a super natural way of creating.”

Mayson and the members of DaNCEBUMS have been working together for a long time. They first met at the University of Minnesota, where Mayson would play for the dance classes they took. Over the years they’ve collaborated on a number of projects, with music and dance each informing the other.

“I think the challenge and the beauty of working non-hierarchy is that you don’t necessarily have a clear image of what exactly you’re trying to achieve all of the time,” Mayson reflected. “Much of the time we just have either a title or a few sentences or a picture or a vibe that we’re all working towards in very different ways. We’re all kind of jumping from different shores and trying to swing towards some sort of middle, which I think is really fun.”

For It’s All Real, It’s All Fake, the music has meant something different to each of the musicians and dancers involved. From societal narratives to conspiracy theories, the internet and constructed social media spaces, each artist has approached the project in their own way, and it’s one of the main reasons Mayson is excited to bring it to a live audience.

“The title of this project, It’s All Real, It’s All Fake, is aggressively vague. It can be applied to almost everything,” he said. “We’re about to open this show and I think everyone has vastly different ideas of what this show means and what we hope people leave with after seeing it. That part of it is really exciting because it allows each of us to lean into that aspect that is most communicative to how we’ve been working and interacting with it.”

While it has been important to them to bring their work into non-traditional dance spaces, Mayson and DaNCEBUMS are excited to bring their work to the Tek Box. But wherever they perform, Mayson believes DaNCEBUMS have made dance more accessible to more people.

“We have been wanting to make an evening-like show for quite some time that puts that process on display and then bring it back into the theater and see what that feels like,” said Mayson, who plans shortly to reduce his musical activities and pursue pilot training.

“If you’re someone who feels like dance isn’t really accessible for you or you don’t want to sit in a traditional theater and watch a dance piece, you might want to check this out. It’s essentially pop-adjacent and the dance is pretty pedestrian. I think it’s a casual thing to approach and something that might feel a little different if dance isn’t normally for you.”

Simone Cazares is a student at St. Catherine University. Originally from Miami, Fla., she survives Minnesota’s cruel winters by immersing herself in the Twin Cities music scene.