Archive for March, 2009


April/May Inspire(d) Magazine on stands by March 28!

Featuring: David Cavagnaro & The Pepperfield Project, a chat with the New Zealand String Quartet, The Decorah Community Free Clinic, David Faldet’s ‘Oneota Flow‘, Roger Brooks (Destination Development) amazing tourism statistics come to Winn Co., Brownsville artist Sara Lubinski, reviews, calendars, live music round up, festival news, the Probituary, and more!!!

A huge thank you to all of our advertisers, supporters, readers, and fans from across the Driftless Region and the country! We hope you enjoy this new issue of Inspire(d) Magazine. If you’d like to subscribe – email benji@theinspiredmedia.com.

March 26, 2009 – 3:15AM – 24 degrees F

Greetings Inspire(d)ville!

As March makes one more chilly pass at us, Aryn and I are dangerously close to putting our April/May issue “to bed.” Itnever fails to be

Spring Frost Breaker - March 2009 - 412 Oak - (B. Nichols)

Spring Frost Breaker - March 2009 - 412 Oak - (B. Nichols)

an exciting process, this magazine making that we love so much. It was just Tuesday evening that I snapped this picture off of our porch – the air was incredibly balmy and fresh – like all of the frost decided to float out of the ground and create the most luscious amber air. We often joke about making a new logo for ourselves with bunnies & unicorns & rainbows on it – and we would truly be making mad fun of ourselves, except that there was the most amazing rainbow Tuesday evening, just as I was about to put the camera away. I didn’t see any unicorns, and we haven’t found a pot of gold yet, but we hope that this issue of Inspire(d) will help bring in a beautiful new season of Spring, growth, community, and beautiful weather. Thanks for tuning in – please stop back again soon as I’ll be posting more stories here throughout the next week – and – we truly are in the process of relaunching www.theinspiredmedia.com into something spectacular. Keep an eye out for us this Spring – and for bunnies & rainbows. Over and out for now, we’ve got a magazine to finish…       -benji

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The Diplomats of Solid Sound

The Diplomats of Solid Sound

The Diplomats of Solid Sound will be returning to Decorah Saturday, April 18, to play their brand of funky soul and dance music at the Steyer Opera House in the Hotel Winneshiek.
The Iowa City-based Diplomats of Solid Sound are a seven-piece band complete with Hammond B3 organ, baritone and tenor saxophones, and the vocals of  “The Diplomettes.” Formed in 2001, the group has entertained dancing audiences across the US and recorded three records. Since adding the Diplomettes in 2006, the outfit has toured extensively not only in the US but also Italy, France, and Spain. The Diplomat’s funk and soul sound follows in the footsteps of bands like The Supremes, Booker T & the MGs, and James Brown with their own style and original music in the mix. And like those musicians, the Diplomats keep audiences on their feet and moving. The last public party the Diplomats played in Decorah was New Year’s Eve at the Decorah Elk’s lodge in 2007.
The Diplomats of Solid Sound will be performing as part of the 7th Annual Women’s Weekend Out in Decorah. All are welcome and invited to the dance – men and women, young and old. Dressed up or dressed down, the crowd will be ready to get down.diplomats_stage
“The historic Steyer Opera House in the Hotel Winneshiek offers a great dance floor and ambiance for a fabulous night on the town,” said the Hotel Winneshiek’s Nancy Nelson.
The Diplomats of Solid Sound will play live at the Steyer Opera House in the Hotel Winneshiek, Saturday, April 18 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door and available at the Hotel Winneshiek front desk, or by emailing benji@theinspiredmedia.com. More information on the 7th annual Women’s Weekend out and The Diplomats of Solid Sound can be found at www.theinspiredmedia.com or www.decoraharea.com.

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A Q&A with Diavolo

by Aryn & Benji Nichols / Inspire(d) Media

A veritable dance circus is coming to Decorah – but instead of bearded ladies, lion tamers, and clowns, the performance company, Diavolo Dance Theatre, brings dancers, gymnasts, rock climbers, and actors.
Diavolo was founded in 1992 in Los Angeles by Jacques Heim in an effort to create large-scale interdisciplinary performances that examine the funny and frightening ways individuals act with their environment. They will bring their antics and props to the Luther College Center Stage Series March 17 at 7:30 pm.
Inspire(d) caught up with Diavolo performer Garrett Wolf to ask him a few questions about the show. Wolf is an elite level gymnast who has been a part of Diavolo Dance Theater since August of 2000. Raised in Alaska, he trained in gymnastics and garnered further skills in partner stunts at the University of Anchorage, Alaska, where he studied American Sign Language. Wolf’s stunt, dance, and acrobatic work has been viewed in many of the Southern California Theme Parks. His role in Diavolo has not been limited to Dancer; he has been Video Archivist, Rehearsal Director, Associate Artistic Director, Studio Manager, and Assistant to the Artistic Director, Jacques Heim. A working model for both film and television, Wolf’s professional skills are complemented by his enthusiasm for downhill skiing and sea kayaking.


I. (inspired) Diavolo is not your standard American dance company. Please give us a brief description in your words of what Diavolo encompasses as a performance group unlike any other.

W. (wolf) Diavolo embraces spectacle. Because Diavolo’s works incorporate athleticism, architecture, and pedestrian movement along with dance, our audiences become interested in a form of art that they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to see anywhere else.

I. Are there different prerequisites to becoming a Diavolo company member than in a more traditional dance company? Are there particular skills that make some resumes stand out more than others?

W. The dance world is becoming a fusion of all kinds of art outlets. The dancer needs to know basic gymnastics, the gymnast is being introduced to martial arts and aerial work. Similarly, the Diavolo performer needs to be skillful in dance, gymnastics, acting, martial arts, and aerial work, making them hard to find. We require a great amount of upper body strength, tumbling skills, air awareness, and they must be quick studies. But besides being talented, what really makes the Diavolo performer – something that can’t be seen on a resume – is the ability to be a team player. The 10 dancers teach, train, and perform as a team. The high level of danger within the dance does not allow the performer to be a single player.

I. The props used by Diavolo are very unique, such as doors, chairs, and stairways. What are the technical challenges of traveling with the Diavolo show? What outlandish props will be making their way to Decorah on this tour?

W. The most common challenge we face with our set pieces is their durability – they must be able to withstand constant usage, repetitive building/breaking down, as well as extensive travel. The sets are often made of steal, fiberglass, or a sturdy wood, so it is a heavy piece of equipment, and the freighting definitely makes up a significant portion of the annual budget! Pragmatically speaking, something as simple as the measurements of a theater’s loading dock becomes hugely significant for us, as there is often a chance that we won’t be able to fit all our pieces through. Fortunately for us, we work with an amazing team of designers and fabricators when constructing new set pieces. Foreign Bodies, for example, was originally planned as an 8 ft by 8 ft cube once put together, though the design changed to 7 ft by 7 ft because that would allow us easier access through most doors – theater/truck etc.


I. Is there a usual phrase you tend to hear when audiences come out of a Diavolo performance?

W. Yes… “The performance was amazing and different from what I’ve seen before, Thank You.” Also… “I’m so amazed by the level of commitment and teamwork displayed by the dancers at all times on stage.”

I. In Diavolo founder Jacques Heim’s artistic statement he speaks of wanting to “expand the boundaries” of dance in ways that offer audiences “a cinematic experience of powerful images and abstract narratives.” Diavolo represents something much more than just a classical or modern dance company – almost a new hybrid of entertainment that engages viewers on a different level, pulling in humor, awe, and surrealism. Why take dance to this new level?

W. Because we can. Audiences are interested in seeing something new and different. People can’t always describe exactly what it is we do, but there’s something very much enjoyable about experiencing the unfamiliar and new.diavolo-dance-020

The Diavalo Dance Theatre will be performing at Luther College’s Center for Faith and Life Tuesday, March 17, at 7:30 pm. Tickets go on sale Thursday, February 26, and are $22 with $20 tickets for seniors 65+ and students age 4 to 21. All are invited to experience the post performance discussion with the dancers and artistic director. For more information on tickets please contact the Luther College Box Office at (563) 387-1357, or visit www.luther.edu/programming.
More information can be found on the Diavolo Dance Theatre at www.diavolo.org.

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ArtHaus and Upstart Crow Theatreworks present:

“Women & Fiction: Virginia Woolf Speaks!”

Why is it, Virginia Woolf asked in 1928, that men have always had power and influence while women have had nothing but children? When asked to speak to the Arts Society at Newnham College for Women, she attempted to answer her own question in a provocative address that became “A Room of One’s Own” and has since inspired generations of women and writers. Kristen Underwood performs this original adaptation in a production that is both moving and funny.

Reservations encouraged. 563-382-5440

DATE: March 13-15, 21-22
TIME: Friday, March 13, 8:00 pm
Saturday, March 14, 8:00 pm
Sunday, March 15, 7:00 pm
Saturday, March 21, 8:00pm
Sunday, March 22, 7:00pm
COST: $10 adults, $5 students

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A Saturday in late Midwest Winter – what to do? Rent a movie? Go out to dinner with friends? Or drive to  Madison with 20 friends to eat mexican food, dress up in ridiculous costumes, drink, and head to the ‘Mad Rollin’ Dolls Flat Track Roller Derby Bout to cheer on the ‘Unholy Rollers’? Huh?

Mad Rollin Dolls Bout Poster 3_2009

Mad Rollin Dolls Bout Poster 3_2009

Perhaps this is all a bit strange; Let us begin at page 3 of the Mad Rollin’ Dolls official souvenir -complete-with-autograph-page program:

LISTEN UP: Derby can be dangerous. Please pay attention to the following and keep yourself and your loved ones safe while you enjoy the bout! TRACKSIDE SEATING AT YOUR OWN RISK – MIND YOUR CHILDREN – LOOK OUT FOR SKATERS – DESIGNATE A DRIVER.”

…..now those statements really tell both in plain english and rather more subtle ways what ‘the derby’ is all about, but just in case, here’s the actual mission statement – or something like it:

“Mad Rollin’ Dolls is a flat-track derby league based in Madison, WI, run by the skaters, staff, & volunteers. Flat-track derby is a hard-core sport played by independent, strong, modern women. Mad Rollin’ Dolls provides an outlet for female aggresion and self-expression. We encourage and organize women to participate in service to the community; we get fit, have fun, and throw killer parties.”


(above: Vaudeville Vixins vs. Holy Rollers, 3/7/09 Madison, WI)

Tammy Faye Undertaker, #700

(photo of Tammy Faye Undertaker by svheartphotography.com)

It would be enough fun to take in this sport as a harmless bystander, but in fact, Decorah native ‘Tammy Faye Undertaker’  (#700) skates as a blocker with the Unholy Rollers team. This Iowan gone Wisco-kid is not to be reckoned with while on 4 wheels. “TFU” as she is known to her fans, has only been skating for a couple years and had never skated to any extent until her interest in the Mad Rollin Dolls was peaked. Now her family, friends, and fans cheer her and the ‘Unholy Rollers’ on with rabid enthusiasm.

Roller Derby itself is a slightly complicated sport to follow. The basics are such:

“Roller derby takes place on a circuit track. It is somewhat unusual among competitive sports in that offense and defense are played simultaneously. The two teams playing send five players each onto the track — three blockers (defense), one pivot (last line of defense) and one jammer (scorer).”  To understand how points are scored by the various positions, follow up with this comprehensive Wikipedia article.

But the real deal with modern day Roller Derby is not the competitive sport itself; the heart & soul Derby resides in an almost rugby-like family association between the competitors and teams. Most matches are held in the Alliant Center Exhibition Hall in Madison with local vendors offering micro-brews, fruit smoothies, gourmet coffee, and pizza slices. All bouts not only raise funds for powerful causes, but are finished with fantastic parties in local bars with teams and fans mixing, drinking, re-hashing the highlights – the injuries, and the bouts to come. Roller Derby is not the television sport it once was – it is a female driven community that promotes fun, competition, and activity – it’s a way of life!

Find out more about Madison’s ‘Mad Rollin Dolls upcoming bouts by visiting www.madrollindolls.com

Upcoming bouts are on March 21, April 5 & 25, and May 16. See you there!

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Northeast Iowa and the tri-state area are a rich area for raptors – birds, including falcons, eagles, ospreys, hawks, and owls. Through the years several of these species have faced great challenges in living and breeding. The non-profit Raptor Resource Project based in Decorah provides incredible resources to help inform, educate, and work with raptors. RRP director Bob Anderson is well known for his work in the raptor world and also has a fantastic website with information about nests and on-line cameras to view them!

One of the latest cameras to come on-line features an in-nest view of the bald eagle nest near Decorah’s trout hatchery. You can view this nest by CLICKING HERE.

You can find out more information about the Raptor Resource Project and many other on-line viewing opportunities at  www.raptorresource.org.

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