freddyJet debuts ‘Twist’ on artistic performance
by Brooke Carbo
Jul 22, 2011 | 5147 views |  0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rani Welch demonstrates dance moves to her contemporary dance class. Photo: Alison Gene Smith/The Anniston Star
Rani Welch demonstrates dance moves to her contemporary dance class. Photo: Alison Gene Smith/The Anniston Star
Fifteen years after founding the Rover Soho, an acclaimed cutting edge performance studio in Manhattan, Rani Welch has returned to her native Calhoun County with her fearless brand of creative expression in tow. Welch, who studied dance at the University of Alabama, founded freddyJet, a refreshingly unpretentious local performance company, in June and is crafting a multi-functional art venue out of the vast shell of an old Oxford foundry.

The company’s first venture, a contemporary dance workshop, will wrap up Saturday with freddyJet’s debut performance, Twist, at Garfrerick’s Cafe in Oxford. Surrounded by her students’ homemade dance costumes and inspiration journals, Welch explained how she is showing her hometown “it’s OK to be a little cuckoo.”

What brings you back to Alabama?

I felt like there was enough art in New York, enough venues. I thought I could do more here because there is a lot of ambition and drive here, too. There is so much talent and I don’t know if it’s always being encouraged by the community.

I wish I had been turned on to something that was physical and theatrical at an earlier age. There were great things here, but I wish there had been a place that had said hey, it’s OK to be a little cuckoo. It’s OK to go crazy, to be emotional and dramatic.

I love New York. I miss it everyday, but it can be a very selfish place. Now I’m a little older, I’d like to do something for someone else.

What makes freddyJet special?

This is a safe haven for children, for people to be creative confidently. It doesn’t have to be dance. It could be martial arts, painting, writing — whatever makes the mind work. They just need to be stimulated in an environment where they don’t feel like they’ll be shot down or judged.

Every day I’m thinking, thinking, thinking what can we do here to just celebrate art? I love to see live music and dance come together. There are a lot of textile artists in this area, people who paint, photographers. There is something beautiful about collaboration. I want to bring all these different artists together under one roof.

What inspired the name of your company?

My father’s name is Freddy and I love that name. It feels like something fun and old-fashioned that we can twist around and make new again. And Jet is short for something that goes quickly. A quick change.

My family went through a really hard time this year. I watched my dad struggle and despite everything, go forward. That really inspired me. I’ve heard some negativity about the foundry. People are like, who’s going to come to that show? Every time I hear that, it makes me want to push forward and just do it. Why not? Why can’t we do it? It’s a great, positive thing for this area.

What is Twist’s audience in store for Saturday?

What the kids have learned this week is really physical theater. It’s a combination of modern dance and ballet, using their voices and their own rhythms and martial arts. But the root of it is contemporary dance.

We’ll also see live music, reggae, some drumming and some vocals. I’ve asked a barber shop choir to perform and a church with live vocalist and these girls and boys that do the most amazing Mexican folk dances.

Dave Garfrerick, the owner (of Garfrerick’s Cafe) donated the space generously for the workshop and performance. Our capacity is 76, and I think it’s going to sell out.

So what is next for freddyJet?

The space we’re moving into is unbelievable. It’s the skeleton of an old foundry on Front Street, where Old Oxford meets Old Anniston. There are six buildings. I want to start with a performance dance studio and then move into the other buildings. Maybe have a yoga center, a coffee shop. Make it like an artist community.

We will start in the fall with ballet, modern dance, choreography, hip-hop, yoga and Pilates. And we’ll have an easy-spirited class for the older crowd that’s a combination of dance, Pilates and stretch. Dancing is not for one specific age group or body type. Everybody can move. That’s the most important thing to me, that it’s available to whoever wants to do it.

If you go …

What: Twist, the debut performance of freddyJet.

When: 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: Garfrerick’s Cafe, 655 Creekside Drive, Oxford

Tickets: Show $10, at the door or reserve by calling 646-808-9080. Dinner at Garfrerick’s Cafe and the show $40, reserve by calling 256-831-0044.

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freddyJet debuts ‘Twist’ on artistic performance by Brooke Carbo

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