Article written by dance company founding member, Robin Harrison.
After three years on pause, Sister Kate’s Science Museum is finally happening! Founding member Robin Harrison describes the journey.
When I was in 5th grade, my school required all the 5th graders to perform in some short school plays. We had class auditions to cast the show, and I auditioned for the play “The Fisherman and His Wife”. I was REALLY close to getting the role of the fisherman’s wife, the co-starring role. It was between me and one other gal in my class. In a scene where we were supposed to act out being angry, I chose to go a little “too intense” in my acting and well, I lost the role to the other classmate. So, they ended up casting me in the only thing that was left: one of the kids playing “the ocean”. I went from being runner up to…. Water.
I was 11 years old then. It’s 30 years later, and I’m about to play the role of a volcano in Sister Kate’s Science Museum.
Some things never change, but boy, am I thankful to be playing a volcano soon.
Three Years Ago
Let’s take another step back in time to March 2020. I know, I know….our favorite year.
We [Sister Kate] were working on our spring cabaret, Sister Kate’s Science Lab, totally unaware that the world was about to come to a standstill halt. We’d recently finished learning all of the choreography for the show (14 numbers in total), and had just completed our first full show run on March 8, 2022.
Within a week of that full show recording, Seattle would very quickly begin to shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. At first we planned to take a 2 week hiatus and see where things were at. We had a show coming up, after all.
But, as we all know, it was not meant to be. I specifically remember the virtual team meeting on Zoom where we decided to cancel the show altogether. Everyone was so sad, and I kept the positive energy and a smile on my face, letting the team know that it was all going to be okay, and that we were making the best decision out of safety and health concerns for ourselves and our community. The second the meeting ended, I cried off camera.
That break extended longer and longer. Months started to pass. We pivoted and created some of the most incredible dance music videos, completely socially distanced and remote, of course. The work we were able to produce during this time is some of what I am most proud of in our history, and frankly, it kept me going, mentally and emotionally. Being bound to the house, unable to see friends or make art socially, I quickly delved into one of the deepest depressions of my life. My dancer body fell apart as I gained weight and my joints began to ache from the weight and lack of regular exercise. Like many, I struggled. But I got through it.
It’s currently May 2023, and we are preparing, once again, to perform our little jazzy chorus girl science show. It will be at the Rendezvous in June – tickets are on sale now!
It’s interesting to revisit a show after a three year hiatus. So much has happened in our lives since we were last expending all of our creative energy into this show: engagements and marriages, babies, first homes bought, loved ones lost, career changes, and team changes.
It’s fairly rare to get to revisit a piece of art that was never produced. In a way, I am incredibly thankful to have had this forced break. I truly believe that our 2023 version of our “science show” is way stronger and cohesive cabaret than the 2020 version would have been.
- Revisiting the old show run videos from pre-pandemic, we realized that the overall show energy and tempo was pretty chill/low. We decided to up the energy levels, so some folks chose to replace their songs with more uptempo numbers.
- We changed the overall concept from that of a “Science Lab” to “Sister Kate’s Science Museum”. The show has a more unified storyline to connect all the numbers together.
- We went from 14 numbers to now having 18 in our show – by far our biggest show to date. But, seeing that this is our 10th full-length cabaret, it feels fitting to go big, right?
- The costumes this time around are OUT-OF-THIS world! Not that they wouldn’t have been great in 2020. However, during these past few years, we had a LOT more time to think about “what we’d do differently” if given the chance. These are some of the best show costumes we’ve ever had, without a doubt.
Sister Kate’s full length cabarets always reflect something that is truly and authentically Seattle: a bunch of nerdy dancers, who have a passion for the music and performance of the jazz era, coming together and pushing our performance limits into a quirky themed concept for an audiences’ delight at a vintage vaudeville theater and bar in downtown Seattle. It’s unapologetically real and produced with love.
As I sit back at practice and watch our dancers spin with butterfly veils and stomp out a dinosaur dance, I can’t help but feel a calming presence, even through the chaos, stress, and pressure of show prep. How lucky we are to have all survived the last few years as a team, to still be together creating, and to now be thriving and preparing to present our art once again on a Seattle stage as a small arts org. Will I cry on opening night? All signs point to yes.
And I, for one, can’t wait to dazzle audiences by being a volcano.
Love and science,
Original founding member of the Sister Kate Dance Company (est 2006)