Who created Little Boxes Theater?
A-K Arts Collective. Also known as Aaron & Kitty.
The first dance performance Aaron Simunovich ever saw was the Margaret Wingrove Dance Company at a very small black box theater in San Jose (CA) when he was eight years old. It was beautiful, simple and the live cello remained in his head for weeks. He spent the next five years convincing his mother to let him dance. By fourteen he was a scholarship student at the Academy of Ballet under Richard Gibson and then scholarship at San Francisco Ballet School. Some wild years came, but he returned to dance, and performed with the Oakland Ballet, Tucson Ballet, was blessed with the opportunity to perform with Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Peninsula Ballet, Capacitor, Janusphere (NY), San Francisco Opera Ballet, Racoco Productions (NY), Moving Peoples Dance Theater and has performed works by Robert Moses, Christopher Huggins and Gail Gilbert. For six months he was Artist in Residence at the Performance Art Institute where he had his first major opportunity for in depth collaborations with over a dozen different artists performing/acting in conceptual dance and performance theater after the grotowski style.
Kitty, aka Christina Linskey is from Portland, Maine. Yes she loves cats. Her interests in jewelry fabrication brought her to Maine College of Art, where she apprenticed for a minute. At the same time getting certified at Polarity Realization Institute (PRI), completing the Holistic Massage Therapy program. Her sister’s pregnancy brought her to Berkeley, California. Since then, she’s been in the Bay Area exploring interests and ways to make dollars including but not limited to: re-constructing fashion, metal art studies with Suzanne Pugh, co-owning the world’s only unionized worker owned peepshow, go-go dancing and baconstrip burlesque shows, model muse for renowned painter Carl Dobsky and the Safehouse Atelier & SVA, shooting with hundreds of photographers collaborating conceptually and attempting to absorb lighting tricks. After meeting the man of everyone’s dreams (Aaron Simunovich), they jumped into bed and business at once, sharing the Performance Art Institute residency for half a year, where she was featured naked in Life or Theater. Currently, she’s learning more about the language of dance and movement with her partner Aaron. They have joined forces to become A-K Arts and have artsy adventures all around America but at the moment dedicated to for better or worse in San Francisco with their baby, Little Boxes Theater.
Why did you start Little Boxes Theater?
After returning to the Bay Area in October of last year (2013) from about six months of road tripping across the country (we entertained the notion of moving to Cleveland and learning to weld) we were concerned to see how the continuing economic shift was affecting the attitude of local performing artists and felt like we could/should make a difference. Thus Little Boxes. The name is sort of a play on the Box that is our Space, what we see out our windows, and what is occurring in SF with all the condos being built everywhere. A reminder of our approach and our reasoning for intimate/affordable theater.
So, originally we were going to open a photography studio, since that was a direction that had been working out for us, but lucked out on an incredible space in the Dogpatch neighborhood of SF. The space is large enough for our Studio Theater (2,600 sq ft) and can house a few of our other interests. We saw this opportunity to work with all kinds of artists, to build sets for photo and dance shoots and a place where we could try out all the crazy ideas we’ve had for years and years.
How would you describe your activities and programs?
Well, our space is multi-use and carries a draw from a few different fields. We are as open to hosting a dance rehearsal or showing as we are to hosting group photography shoots. In fact the point of Little Boxes Theater, is to encourage these fields to interact; also, anything a little out of the ordinary, or maybe even a little messy/weird. We want to be able to inhabit those things that people are always a little wary of trying, and, also be able to turn the place back around for an audition or acting class or a rehearsal. I mean, we’ve hosted action sequences of vampire movies being shot here and music videos the same day as a full on dance company rehearsal or a showing! Our goal is to make space for everyone’s vision & accommodate their needs if at possible.
How many performers, dancers, artists do you work with?
It would be hard to say exactly how many performers or artists we work with as the number is always growing, especially with our ‘Free Last Fridays’ monthly mixer, performances & group shoots here. To date, we have hosted a number of professional dance companies for rehearsals & informal showings including: Post:Ballet, Project Agora, ZiRu Dance, The Anata Project, Detour Dance, REACH BC Dance Company, Pamela Hayes Classical Ballet, Haus Serpens Cabaret, to name just a few.
Is there anything unusual or unique about the work you do?
Art is Art, and as much as we would like to limit the rules around what can be done in a space, we, at the same time want to up the capabilities of our artists by providing a sprung floor and basic lighting and so on. It’s always a changing, shifting balancing act so in that daily attempt there is a uniqueness. Figuring out what works for whom and for how long and all that.
If no one knew anything about Little Boxes Theater, what would
you want them to know?
Little Boxes Theater is a space made for artists by artists on a shoestring budget.
We strive to provide low rates, as we understand first hand what it’s like to not have access. Our intention is towards an affordable, intimate performance space. If you are young and broke, a new artist, or an artist with something you want to test out on small audience in low cost setting, well that is what we are all about. We do our best to work with people where they’re at, wherever that might be.
We have a monthly open house the last Friday of each month; kind of open mic/variety show style. It’s the kind of event where a badass artist like Star Shine can make fiberglass stilts that attach to her pointe shoes and rock out an aerial performance that is totally jaw dropping, just to see where she is at with it.
We keep the “Free Last Fridays! (FLF)” a “free to perform and free to attend event.” We are always open to inviting and encouraging any artist that chooses to contact us, to share here at Little Boxes Theater. We’ve had seven FLF events so far which have included everything from aerialists, projection artists, faux queens, burlesque fan dances, live paintings, spoken word, butoh contortion, puppets, live music and yes dance, of course!
What has been the most rewarding part of your work?
To see people actually come by and be happy about being here and having people return to support us after their show/rehearsal/shoot is over. Since we are in the Dogpatch, which is still a little uncharted, it’s really special that people travel for us.
Do you have a favorite performance or memorable moment with the organization?
Erik Wagner (an amazing local teacher and choreographer) performed at Little Boxes Theater’s opening gala February 28, 2014. Erik’s piece was one of the most powerful performances we’ve seen in quite some time. Outside of it being shown in our space, we were just happy to see it.
What programs or activities do you have coming up?
We have a young artist, Stephanie Golden, who will be showing her contemporary/urban choreography mid October. We are always booking more performances & showings.
Currently, we are organizing more donation based classes for various forms of dance and movement, pole dance, yoga and live model fi gure drawing sessions; all open to the public. Eventually, we’d like to offer at least one “pay what you can” class each day. *If you’re interested in teaching or participating in any of these classes, contact us please.
No doubt we will be looking for teachers and people who like to learn. Most upcoming happenings are posted on Little Boxes Theater’s website, Facebook & Instagram. We will soon start posting our upcoming performances and activities on the Dancers’ Group community calendar as well.
What’s a future goal or dream that you have for Little Boxes
The next couple years are a little litmus test for what works during the particular shifts occurring in the Bay Area. Financially, we strive for Little Boxes Theater to be a self-sustaining space so we can focus on all of our dreams as well. I think we are pretty content to continue as we have been; we just want more artists using the space more of the time so that we can continue offering rates that won’t break the bank for anyone.
With 24/7 access, our available scheduling options accommodate both early birds & night owls, so we are crossing our fingers that artists will be highly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity we are presenting. We will also be building a small sewing shop here. And a cyclorama connected to the dance floor.
Do you have a favorite dance move?
En edane pirouette en attitude. Love em!
A favorite song to dance to?
Always changes. James Blake and Bon Iver together made a song called Fall Creek Boys Choir been into for a while. It’s gorgeous, deep, bass-y and conjures up all kinds of dancing in the rain at night-type thoughts. Other than that, Nina Simone covers Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne in an incredibly lighthearted way. Good to move your arms and legs around to.
What haven’t we asked that you want people to know?
We are fostering a feline. A studio Kitty. Her name is Phoebe.