Auteur. Savant. Mad genius. Many words are used to describe the enigmatic Dance Manager of the Elysium Cabaret, Wiz Nirvana. But by and large, he’s a man of few words, preferring to connect to his audience through the exquisite voice of his art – choreography and show management. We enjoyed this rare opportunity to get deep in the head of the man behind the curtain – an Elysium Interview with Wiz Nirvana that covered the critical subjects of where he draws his dreams, his work as a dance manager and RL workarounds like slow cookers and takeout.
What and who inspire the ideas for your dances?
I get my inspiration from many places. I would say a lot of it comes from YouTube, not just top 40 music videos, but clips from reality music shows (Voice, “Got Talent’, Idol), BBC Radio and about a dozen artists. I also get inspired by movies, artwork and books. I spend almost as much time in the Marketplace as I do in YouTube. Sometimes a single prop will inspire a whole set.
What first inspired you to pursue dance in Second Life and what was your very first dance?
Back in 2010 I stumbled across this interesting sim, with some stores, a skating rink, a drive-in movie theatre, and three burlesque show venues run by Ellie Criss and Slappy Doobie. I was intrigued and mesmerized by the shows they put on each week. A friend of mine started dancing with them and I helped with sets, until the bug finally bit.
My first set was a doozy. It had everything in it. And it remains one of my favorites. The curtain raises to an old laboratory. An animated Wiz head is connected to electronic devices and having a discussion with his memories, a dancing Wiz appearing in a cloud, in a blue tutu. All the while, a dubstep version of Bittersweet Symphony plays.
What does a ‘Dance Manager’ do, and why do you do it?
I’m not sure what other Dance Managers do, but this is what I do:
During the week, I put together a rehearsal lineup. During rehearsal, with input from management, I work out the final lineup. By “final,” I mean tentatively final, because sometimes things happen and a change needs to happen 15 minutes before the show. During the show, I do a few things: Make sure everyone has a correct tag on, monitor the script board and politely communicate with offenders about how they can reduce their scripts. And the pre-show announcements.
The lineup process takes quite a few things into consideration – from the length and pace of songs, the theme, and the overall pace of the show, to avoiding putting dancers in consecutive sets so they have time to prepare themselves. In a way, it’s another layer of choreography. Creating the lineups is why I do this.
What’s your typical work routine and what part of preparing your sets and dances challenges you most?
The routine used to be a bit more intense. For over a year I created a new routine each week. Now, due to RL changes, I have a lot less free time.
First of all, I keep a list of songs I want to use. I revisit them occasionally to see if I can come up with a way to translate them to the stage. I also have a general list of ideas for props or sets that need a song. Sometime finding the right animations takes the most time. I’ve had songs playing for hours on loop while trying dances to see how they work (or, most often, don’t work).
The hardest part for me is compromising. I have had to veer from my vision many times because the technology or resources were not available to present exactly what I had in mind.
Why is reality the worst game ever and have you found any cheat codes for it that you’d like to share?
Reality is too “real”! The advantages of virtual reality over everyday reality are the things that are missing: pain, mosquitos and other pests, traffic, TV, fire, flood, famine…
Cheat codes include inexpensive takeout food, microwaves and crock pots.
What does being a part of Elysium give you, as a dancer and choreographer?
Elysium has really been a family to me. A rather transient family, but a family none the less. I’ve been able to mentor and teach as well as learn new things because of the bonds I’ve created here.
Where do you see Second Life’s role in overall net culture going and do you have three – or more – predictions about virtual reality’s influence on global civilization?
I think SL needs to become three separate but related products. In addition to the current platform, a “game” version and a teaching version. Some efforts are in the works for a game version but I think it needs to be more like the adventure games created by Madpea, but in an interface you can access on your smart phone and with a strong group chat function. Monetized, of course, so that it pays for newer servers. The education platform would be completely separate from the rest of our world, but would include copies of builds of historical landmarks and environments.
It’s widely known that you like subs for lunch. Which are some of your favorites?
The first time the subject of “subs” came up in SL I said something like, “We are talking about sandwiches, aren’t we?” Evidently we were not..
My favorite sub sandwich is a rare roast beef with spinach, spicy mustard and horseradish sauce on a wheat roll.
What are your goals as an artist? Tell us what’s coming next for your fans!
To keep pushing the envelope, expand my imagination, and surprise myself.
I have over a dozen sets in various states of development, some are 5 years old.
As far as what’s next? You’ll know shortly after I know. [Wiz smiles.]
With an artist as prolific as Elysium’s one-and-only Wiz, we know he’ll be good on his word. If you have more questions to ask our wizard – or any other of our outstanding Elysium Cabaret artists – leave them in the comments below, tweet them to us @ElysiumCabaret or ask in person after our weekly 6pm SLT show, Friday at The Empire Room. And of course, stay tuned on this space for next Wednesday’s Elysium Interview with Jilley!