Ben Gorodetsky // Photo by: Studio E Photography

This Saturday, July 14, Folk Lordz co-creater and Dirt Buffet Cabaret founder Ben Gorodetsky will be curating, hosting, and performing in a bonus Dirt Buffet Cabaret since departing to New York last summer. Mile Zero’s Communications Director Jasmine Salazar spoke to Gorodetsky over the phone and asked him 10 questions about Edmonton, his upcoming Dirt Buffet Cabaret, music, and more.

Jasmine Salazar: You’ve been away from Edmonton for almost a year now. When did you get back?

Ben Gorodetsky:  I got back in Saturday night [on June 16]– late, like around midnight or so and went straight to Improvaganza, the improv festival, and saw some buddies. It’s nice to be touching down and it’s still dusky out and stays light so late. It instantly felt like ‘Ah, the sights of home.’

JS: What was it like returning to Improvaganza?

BG: It’s awesome. Lots of great friends and jokes. Pool parties and delightful summer stuff.

JS: How long are you in Edmonton for?

BG: I’m here for four weeks. I’m working on a show right now with Brian Webb Dance Company. We’re doing four weeks of rehearsal, research and development on this new ensemble piece that’s going to be movement, storytelling, voice, and sound. It’s fabulous, really great work we’re getting into. That’s what’s bringing me into town and in and around that I’ve found ways to have fun and do some performance work with Dirt Buffet Cabaret, Improvaganza, and a few other things. I’m just filling up my schedule with bits and bites.

JS: Is this your first time back in Edmonton since moving to New York?

BG: Yeah, it’s been 11 months. Almost a year.

JS: What’s it like being back?

BG: It’s great. I ate at [Mamenche’s Restaurant] yesterday. The old familiars of the things that I love and miss. Biking is wild back here. I’ve changed my perception of space in a significant way, because New York is pretty dense and lanes are narrower. I’m also riding a borrowed mountain bike that is big and cushy and bouncy and very different from the road bike I normally zip on. It’s physically and psychologically expanding to have so much space around you as you bike down the street.

JS: You’ve been living in New York for 11 months now. Is there anything that you’ve seen there that you would like to see in Edmonton?

BG: I’ve seen some amazing specificity of people really digging into their niche, into their freaky unique flavour, and that’s possible because there’s a density of people so you can find your sub-speciality and someone will have established a series or space for that kind of thing. I don’t know exactly how to apply that to Edmonton, but I’m certainly excited about the specialization and pursuit of people’s individual flavours. I want to see more burlesque, which is something that has come to me in my life in the last year that I wasn’t doing a lot in Edmonton. I know there’s amazing burlesque happening in the city, I was just ignorant of it. But, in my own personal life and artistic practice, I’m excited about sexuality and performance that I’m suddenly more delighted about.

JS: We’re going to see some of this burlesque at Dirt Buffet Cabaret on July 14, is that correct?

BG: Yeah, I’m going to do one of my Ding Dong Daddy’s—the name of my alter ego—acts and I’ll share some other stuff like music-based and audio visual work that I’ve been developing. I’m going to show off all the tech stuff I’ve been learning.

JS: Sounds amazing! This previous season, as you might already know, Mile Zero Dance gave the reigns to eight Edmonton-based artists to run the Dirt Buffet Cabaret series, which is a format we’ll be continuing next season with the likes of Nasra Adem, Steve Pirot, Jake Tkaczyk, and more at the helm. As someone who’s curated the series for three years, what advice can you give to our new curators?

BG: Take calculated, but passionate risk. It’s great to have someone you know that’s going to be a banger on the line-up and you want to celebrate your friends and talented colleagues, but there’s so much fun to be had in having an X-factor, an unknown variable of a person that you don’t know that well or scare you or provoke you in some way, which to me is the most delightful element of a show. That’s my piece of advice: Scare yourself and go in blind—sometimes.

JS: For your show, you’ve curated a great line-up of artists such as Todd Houseman, Mustafa Rafiq, Louise Casemore, Sarah Ormandy & Alex Dawkins, Sean Arceta and Stacey Murchison. Tell us how or why you selected these artists to perform at your one-off DBC show. 

BG: Some of them are best old buddies. Todd is my creative twin/brother, so I always want to see what he does and I want to celebrate his work. I know he’s been working more in theatrical training at National Theatre School of Canada and I’m excited to see how that affects his creation work and he’s got such a powerful political voice in decolonization and the masks that he makes—Holy sh!$, I love talking about him…

There has been so many amazing Dirt Buffet performers over the years and people have often started things at DBC that have grown into full plays or performances or ideas and one person who did that the most effectively and interestingly was Louise Casemore. She wrote stuff like the beginnings of monologues or theatrical performances—a bunch of which that have grown into very successful theatre shows—and I wanted to once again challenge her and write something new. I want to know what’s going on inside your head. Sean is wild. He’s a b-boy who I danced with in [MZD’s] GWG show with Gerry [Morita] and Lin [Snelling]. He’s such a great break dancer and such a cool dude and a young dad like me and we connected on so many different levels. He does amazing b-boy/hip-hop dance, but he said for this show he’s challenging himself to do that and weave in a thread of autobiography of his journey to where he’s been. I can tell you about every one of these people, but basically all these performers inspire me in different ways and represent different voices of Edmonton today or Edmonton’s past. The X-factor for me this time around is Stacey Murchison. I don’t know her personally, but she came highly recommended. She’s a DJ and I wanted an after-party for this show and I wanted to have a dedicated person not just a Spotify playlist. She’s a house DJ, which I don’t normally listen or dance to house music but I just know it’s going to be sweet. I think pounding electronic music is exactly what Dirt Buffet Cabaret needs.

JS: If you don’t typically listen to house music, what are you listening to?

BG: Some of the broader genres that interest me most is hip-hop, specifically soulful, jazzy hip-hop such as Flying Lotus, Thundercat. I also love country music like Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Lee Hazlewood, who is this 1970s psychedelic country singer with this deep voice and I’ve been listening to a lot of his records.

JS: That’s it for my questions. Was there anything else you wanted to add?

BG: I’m looking forward to the show!

Dirt Buffet Cabaret #34 with Ben Gorodetsky
Saturday, July 14
7:30 PM (doors), 8 PM (show)
$10 (or best offer) at the door
Spazio Performativo, 10816 95 St.