Sep 14th, 2020
In this episode, I welcome Trenna Reed! Trenna is a professional dancer, choreographer, teacher, and the Program Coordinator for the Kansas City Fringe Festival. She shares about the various art forms she's gotten to be a part of, as well as the ins and outs of being on the adminstrative side of the arts.
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Intro & Outro Music Credits:
Bad Ideas (distressed) by Kevin MacLeod
Episode 18 - Trenna Reed
Lindsey Dinneen: Hello, and welcome to Artfully Told, where we share true stories about meaningful encounters with art.
[00:00:06] Krista: I think artists help people have different perspectives on every aspect of life.
[00:00:12] Roman: All I can do is put my part into the world.
[00:00:15] Elizabeth: It doesn't have to be perfect the first time. It doesn't have to be perfect ever really. I mean, as long as you and you're enjoying doing it, and you're trying your best, that can be good enough.
[00:00:23] Elna: Art is something that you can experience with your senses, and that you just experience as so beautiful.
[00:00:32] Lindsey Dinneen: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of Artfully Told. My name is Lindsey and I am so excited to have as my guest today, the wonderful Trenna Reed, and Trenna is a artist. She is also, oh my goodness, what should we call you? Like Administrative Organizer Extraordinaire. And there's like an actual job title for you, and I don't want to butcher it, but that's you in my mind...
[00:01:00]Trenna Reed: I usually just say Program Coordinator...
[00:01:03] Lindsey Dinneen: Oh, okay! Alright!
[00:01:03] Trenna Reed: To put a name to it.
[00:01:04]Lindsey Dinneen: Perfect.
[00:01:05] Trenna Reed: It's basically like, I would say an assistant to the ever fabulous Cheryl Kimmi.
[00:01:14] Lindsey Dinneen: Yes. Yes. And we'll definitely share a little bit more about that. But also Trenna is an accomplished dancer, choreographer and teacher, and is a lover of the arts in general. And she shares them with the world in a pretty unique way and in kind of an administrative capacity for the Kansas City Fringe Festival. And so I am so excited to have you on. Thank you, Trenna, for joining us today.
[00:01:40] Trenna Reed: Yes, of course. I'm very excited to be here.
[00:01:44] Lindsey Dinneen: Well, and I'd love for you to just tell us a little bit about yourself and maybe what kind of different arts you dabble in and just, yeah, share with us who you are. Thank you.
[00:01:54] Trenna Reed: Absolutely. Well, art is in my family in several capacities. So my mother is a dance teacher and we still teach dance together to this day, which is really amazing. It's one of my favorite ways to pass the time. And her mother was also a dance teacher and her aunt was a dance teacher. They each had their own studios. So it definitely runs in the family. My aunt was a dance teacher. She recently retired. And my other aunt, this is all on my mom's side, by the way, my other aunt was also a dance teacher early on, and then she transitioned to, I think, teaching English. And I still teach dance. My father, on the other hand, this is how art is also in our family. He was involved in theater and he's a wonderful singer. So he passed that ability to sing onto me. So I did choir and everything like that, all throughout elementary, middle, and high school. And, I still sing whenever I can just not as often. I was trying to get back into voice lessons before all of this craziness started.
[00:03:17] So hopefully after it's calmed down a little bit, I can get back into that as well. And my father actually got his singing from his father. So that trait has been on my father's side of the family. And I was also, as far as other arts that I've been involved in, I've also been involved in theater. I love acting, I haven't been able to pursue it as much lately, but I did theater all throughout high school, and I was in a play in college as well. It was an awesome experience because not a lot of dancers at my college got to be involved in, you know, straight plays.
[00:04:02] So that, that was a really cool experience to go back and revisit that art form in college. What else am I missing? Oh, I have a four and a half month old daughter named Sage. And she is just wonderful and, you know, has kind of put everything into perspective for me. I feel like it kind of makes art that much more meaningful because I want to pass on my love of art and the importance of it, that concept to her. 'Cause it really shaped my life. So I'm hoping that it can shape hers as well.
[00:04:45] Lindsey Dinneen: Absolutely. Yeah. And so when you're not teaching... so, so I guess what else do you do? Well, we got your job title earlier, but tell us a little bit about your involvement in the Kansas City Fringe Festival and that job that you have too.
[00:05:02] Trenna Reed: Sure. So actually for the Fringe Festival, my first year, I started off in, I would say a lighter capacity, as the head of ticket sales, which is called Fringe 411. So, that was my title the first year. And that was really all I worked on, 'cause it's very time consuming. And then, I kind of just stayed involved with the organization throughout the year after that. And then when it came back around time to do the festival in 2019, I was in a position where I could step up and on a larger role. And Cheryl's program coordinator had left 'cause she got a job offer somewhere else and started to go in a different direction with her career.
[00:05:55] So Cheryl asked me to kind of step up at least, you know, we weren't sure if it was going to be temporary until she found someone else, 'cause I still have other jobs too. So I wasn't, I didn't know if I could take on the program coordinator position full on, but I was at least going to step in for a little while until they figured out if they could find someone else to fill that slot on the team. So last year was my first year as Program Coordinator for the Fringe Festival. And I learned a lot. I continue to learn. There are so many aspects to putting on a festival and, when I was in college, I was on the performance track. So I didn't have a ton of opportunities to do behind-the-scenes work, besides the costuming work that I did.
[00:06:53] And working for the Fringe Festival has really allowed me to take on some more of those management roles, which I, I enjoy. I do. I didn't think that I would be that type of person to be in an administrative role, but it's really gratifying at the end of everything. And, you know, it teaches you patience and communication skills, to say the least.
[00:07:24] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, yeah.
[00:07:26] Trenna Reed: Yeah. It's just, it's been an amazing experience. And I mean, this time around will be a whole different animal because of everything going on. So everything's kind of up in the air with the festival right now, but, you know, the way things are going, unless we have to shut back down again, I think we'll be able to do the festival in some capacity.
[00:07:51] Lindsey Dinneen: Great.
[00:07:52] Trenna Reed: Whether that's trying to do some things virtually or just condensing it to like two weekends, we're going to try and think of creative ways to keep it going. 'Cause we really don't want to just have to shut it down completely for this year and lose that momentum, right?
[00:08:11]Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, absolutely. Well, and, just to give our audience some perspective who might not be familiar with the Fringe Festival, do you mind sharing some stats about the magnitude of what the Fringe Festival typically is, as far as all the different groups you're trying to organize and coordinate?
[00:08:31] Trenna Reed: Yeah, for sure.
[00:08:32] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, ' cause that's amazing.
[00:08:35] Trenna Reed: Yeah. I can definitely give you some ballpark. I can't think off the top of my head of what attendance is, but our festival is a pretty large festival. There's lots of different Fringe Festivals around the world. Some of them are really tiny and some of them are huge. Like Orlando Fringe is one of the biggest in the US, and I think put on something like 150 shows or something, or 150 different productions, which is crazy. We do around 75 productions. So that means there's 75 different performance groups or performers. If it's just a one person show, and each of those shows has usually five slots in which they perform. So we're coordinating, you know, 75 times five--I can't do that math in my head how many actual individual shows--and then we usually work with, I would say, between 500 and 750 artists within that. So, I didn't realize it was that many people until I was trying to go through and get some demographics. For our grant writers, we have to kind of go into detail about, you know, how many people are involved, how many artists are involved, our attendance, things like that. So I was going through and looking at all of the waivers that the performers have to fill out out. And I was like, "Oh my God, I didn't realize we have over, easily over 500 people involved in this festival, just on the performing side."
[00:10:22] Lindsey Dinneen: Wow.
[00:10:23] Trenna Reed: Yeah, it's, it's crazy. And it runs for 10 days. And, you know, we'll usually--like the first, well, I guess technically two weeks--because we start off with our visual arts, which is also another component of it. So that's adding another, I think like around 50 people, but another component of it that we're coordinating at the same time. And, you know, we've actually been trying to grow that aspect of it a little bit more. We don't want the visual artists to feel like they're in the background. So we usually start off with our visual arts opening. And that'll be usually--I think on a Sunday is when we usually do it. And then the following Friday is when the actual performances start for the festival and then the performances will go for 10 days. So it's a lot. We have a lot of volunteers that help and we wouldn't be able to do it without our amazing volunteer base.
[00:11:31] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, it is an undertaking. I commend you for your patience and your adaptability, because so much that you guys do and pour into that festival every year. So yes.
[00:11:46] Trenna Reed: You have to have some sort of faith in humanity to be able to do that.
[00:11:52] Lindsey Dinneen: That seems, that seems right. Oh my goodness. Yes. Well, thank you for sharing about that. And, I know you probably have like a zillion stories just from the festival, from your own art experiences, but does anything kind of stand out as something you wanted to share today?
[00:12:11] Trenna Reed: Hmm, I'm trying to think of specifically for the festival, because there's so much happening every day during the festival. And, well, this is, so I just saw-- this was a social media post on Mother's Day, and this is just like a little story to put it into perspective how hard our director for the festival works. So her birthday is June, I think it's June 12th? Or sometime around then. And, she was, I think, out to eat with her family. And her son, Brent, posted that she had forgotten that it was her birthday.
[00:12:58] Lindsey Dinneen: Oh my goodness.
[00:12:59] Trenna Reed: And I mean, this is, you know, par for the course for Cheryl, because she works so hard and never stops that she'll forget it's her birthday...
[00:13:10] Lindsey Dinneen: Oh, my word...
[00:13:11]Trenna Reed: ...until her family reminds her. I mean, because that's about a month away until the festival is opening. So we're getting pretty into the thick of it at that point.
[00:13:22] Lindsey Dinneen: Right.
[00:13:22] Trenna Reed: So, I mean, I have lots of little stories like that about Cheryl and she's just a peach. She's best. And I, we all love working for her and she is the heart and soul of the festival and her positive energy just exudes and it shapes the experience of the festival. And, she's always kind and patient, but she also knows when she has to draw the line and give tough love sometimes. So I think finding the balance for that is one of her strengths.
[00:14:06] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, I think so too. She is a remarkable woman. And yeah, I'm a huge fan. I think everyone who meets her are. You know, it's because she's just, like you said, she she's so kind and she's so inclusive, and then when she needs to put her foot down, she can. But until that time, she's just the loveliest, so much fun. I just, I love her. Yeah.
[00:14:34] Trenna Reed: Yeah, absolutely. Oh, I was just thinking of another, like, this is just kind of a glimpse into what it's like behind the scenes. So, when we're, like at the end of the night, what we do is we tally--well, that's a simplistic way to put it--but we figure out the ticket sales, and try and make sure that everything balances out, 'cause we keep track of the attendance of each show. 'Cause at the end of the festival, we handout the Best Of awards. And currently the Best Of is based on attendance for your show. So, you know, whoever has the most attendance for a certain venue wins best of that venue. So what we have to do at the end of each night is we have to count all the money, count all the tickets that we've received, see how many comps were used. And when we got down to the end of the festival and we're trying to figure out Best Of we were--you know, it's like 11:45 at night, and we're trying to get it out by midnight. But our last show for the night ended at, I think, 11:30. So, we're waiting for the last envelopes of the ticket tallies to come back and there's a couple of shows that are within one person in the audience to determine who won. And, I mean, it was like that for several of them.
[00:16:13] Lindsey Dinneen: Wow.
[00:16:13] Trenna Reed: So, and you know, sometimes the numbers don't add up and we're just like, I don't know if this is accurate, or how we can make sure that we have the most accurate count because the numbers aren't adding up.
[00:16:27] Lindsey Dinneen: So because you know, they're cross referencing. Is that correct? Sorry to interrupt, but just for context with somebody who doesn't know, 'cause you're cross referencing, from the usher count versus ticket sales or? Okay.
[00:16:38] Trenna Reed: Correct.
[00:16:39] Lindsey Dinneen: Okay.
[00:16:40] Trenna Reed: So we have the usher count and then we use our online ticket platform called Ticketleap. And some of our volunteers are not as familiar with technology. So sometimes they have issues getting everything entered into Ticketleap. And it's also stressful for them when they're trying to get people checked in and seated. So sometimes they don't have time to enter it in as accurately as possible. So, it's just a lot of different factors going into it that can affect the way the numbers turn out at the end.
[00:17:16] Lindsey Dinneen: So I know that it's been close a few years, but oh my goodness, I can't believe within maybe one audience member. It's that close? Oh, my word that's amazing.
[00:17:27] Trenna Reed: It was, it was stressful. I think we got the numbers out close to midnight. I honestly don't remember. I was probably delirious by that point.
[00:17:38]Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. Oh my goodness. Yes. Let's let's talk about Trenna for a second, folks. So, okay. So I had met Trenna-- because my company also performs at the Fringe Festival--so I had met Trenna briefly, but then we didn't actually, like, sit down and have a conversation until I think August, maybe?
[00:18:01] Trenna Reed: Yeah, it was the beginning of August.
[00:18:03] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. And so, and you know, and at that time, I found out she was pregnant. She shared that with me. And I just remember thinking like, "What? You just literally changed your entire sleep schedule for the Fringe Festival, because first of all, that is like 14 days of chaos." Oh my word. And then she's pregnant and she's such a powerhouse, still wants to keep, you know, doing all the things and, you know, up until her due date. So speaking of that, I was privileged enough to have Trenna as one of the choreographers for my company's Nutcracker production, which we called "Cracked!" And, so it was an original show, all original choreography to kind of celebrate Kansas City. So it's a little more unique in that way. And, Trenna is choreographing and setting the choreography and is at our shows being our Backstage Coordinator. And she's amazing. And--okay-- and she's taking our warmup classes. And how, how much time did you have left before you were about to get birth?
[00:19:12] Trenna Reed: I had about two and a half weeks. I felt pretty good. So I tried to keep active. Actually I'd say that the first trimester, I mean, you know, the first trimester is usually comparable with the third in that it's pretty hard. But I would say like my energy level was definitely lower for the first trimester than it was for the third. And I mean, you know, I just had so many things going on in November and December, so I didn't really have a choice.
[00:19:50] Lindsey Dinneen: Oh my goodness.
[00:19:52] Trenna Reed: You know, well, and my husband had to kind of put into perspective that I needed to slow down because I'm not good at taking care of myself in that sense, because I feel better when I stay busy. But sometimes I get to the point where I don't know how to balance my life because I try and make myself so busy. So, I was going to try and keep teaching until like, I think a week before my due date, or maybe like a week and a half before, and finally, you know, I was getting so tired from everything that was going on. And then he had to have a serious conversation with me and was like, you can't keep just going on like normal. So I'm really glad that he helped me put that into perspective because I needed that wake up call.
[00:20:48] Lindsey Dinneen: No, literally, folks, she seriously is a super woman. She shows up to every show that we did and our dress rehearsal and she's wearing heels, okay, looks stunning, of course, takes the ballet warmup class, and the. Does all the backstage coordinating and in theory, literally could give birth at any time. Like, yeah, just amazing.
[00:21:14] Trenna Reed: Can we talk about your sister, though?
[00:21:16] Lindsey Dinneen: Oh yeah.
[00:21:18] Trenna Reed: I had no idea that what she was, what, seven and a half months pregnant at that time? I, I, well, I mean, once I found out that she was pregnant, I was like, "Maybe she's like four or five months pregnant?" No, no. Seven months pregnant. Wow. I can't imagine doing Sugar Plum and being seven months pregnant.
[00:21:39] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, okay. So my sister is another superwoman. Yeah. She danced one of the quintessential roles of the Nutcracker which is basically the Sugar Plum Fairy role. We called it something different in our show, but, on pointe, plus she did Snow. Plus she was in all the group scenes, right? Like all the party scenes and Flowers, which was an insane dance. I'm just going to throw that out there. Yeah, I choreographed it. I can say that.
[00:22:08] Trenna Reed: Standing backstage and watching everyone on the side of the stage, like, heaving for breaths, you know, and Sophie had like some respiratory issues going on. She had to take her inhaler backstage. And I was like, I have been there. I know how that feels. I had to do that in that, I was the Sugar Plum for our production when my dance studio did the Nutcracker, and in between like the, variation and the Coda I had to take a couple puffs of my inhaler to get through it.
[00:22:41] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. I mean, so the Nutcracker is probably a difficult ballet for anyone involved, but with a smaller company, I mean, I make this joke, but it's, it's reality--you're either dancing or you're changing. There's no downtime. So as soon as those first notes of the, you know, opening number happen, you just...two hours, well, I don't know if it's quite two hours, but an hour and a half of like cardio. Yes. Yeah. And my sister's doing this seven and a half months pregnant and rocking it. It was a miracle. But anyway. Yeah. So I'm just curious, Trenna, is there like one thing that you maybe were surprised by, or that you learned? You know, that could be like anything about art or about organization or people or whatever, like something that's kind of stood out as maybe like unexpected when you started taking over the coordination of the Fringe Fest .
[00:23:41] Trenna Reed: I think the thing that's surprised me the most is just, you know, I'm so used to being on the performing side of it and I just, I get so much joy from that. I never knew that you can get the same kind of feeling when you're working behind the scenes for something as well. Because, you know, I would just describe--like when I'm on stage, I just feel like a different part of my soul has awakened. I'm getting really deep here, but that's the best way I can describe it. And towards the end of the festival, when we've done all the grunt work and everything is kind of coming together, it's that same feeling where I feel like the artist in me has come to the forefront, and it makes you fall in love with your art form even more. Or fall in love with, I guess, the Fringe Festival and what it represents, even more. Yeah, I just, I was surprised that I could get that Feeling from being a Program Coordinator as well.
[00:24:52] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense to me. I can relate, and that is really interesting. And that's great to know too, about yourself, that you do have so many different, I dunno, ways to--when you engage in the arts in general, you have then multiple avenues that allow you to feel that joy, which is awesome. Yeah, that's really cool.
[00:25:17] Trenna Reed: Absolutely. And, you know, I felt that same thing with costuming when my Alma Mater asked me to come back and fill in for the Costume Mistress position at Oklahoma City University for the dance program, because their costume mistress was having her second baby. And I had worked in the costume shop, while I was there getting my degree for my work study, and I had been heavily involved in that costume shop and knew the way that it operated and was familiar with the staff. So they asked me to come back and head that up for a couple of months. And, I was super nervous because the extent of my costuming was being involved in dance and theater and being around costumes, knowing how to sew once I got to college and the work that I had done in the costume shop. Besides that, I don't really have a background in like costume design or anything like that.
[00:26:18]So I was just kind of going in there and winging it. And, it was a really, really great feeling at the end of it, knowing that I had, helped to create and manage this amazing team, 'cause the students that work in the costume shop, I would not have been able to do that job if they had not been there to lead each other and really step up to the plate while the Costume Mistress was gone. And you know, I got that same feeling, watching the shows and watching the costumes on stage and seeing everything come to fruition, I guess. And knowing that I had made some of the decisions that contributed to the costumes working. So that, that was a really incredible experience too. And, you know, I don't know if I'll ever be like the costume designer or anything like that. I thought about exploring that avenue as well, but maybe that'll be something that I try to delve into a little bit more later in life. But you know, it was that same feeling of the artist in me awakening, I guess.
[00:27:43] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. And representing in a different way than, you know, than you had really explored before.
[00:27:49] Trenna Reed: Yeah, exactly.
[00:27:50] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. That's really neat. Well, thank you so much for sharing just about your experience. And I love hearing behind-the-scenes stories and, just, you know, it's so funny-- it's wonderful as an audience member, you get to kind of see the final picture and you don't get to see necessarily everything that goes into it. But I, I love the real talk of behind-the-scenes, 'cause there's a lot to it and it can get messy and it can, and it's difficult, but you look at the end result and you're like, wow, that's, that's pretty cool.
[00:28:26] Trenna Reed: Yeah. Yeah. It's definitely a gratifying experience.
[00:28:30]Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I just have a couple questions that I like to ask my guests, if you don't mind me asking you. Okay. So first, how do you personally define art or what is art to you?
[00:28:46] Trenna Reed: Hmm, I would say art is human expression, because I guess the way that I think about it is, of all the species on this planet, as far as we know, humans are really the only ones who can convey art and understand art. I guess dogs can watch TV, but you know, they don't really comprehend what's going on, so that, I would say, it's a human expression. And, for me it's just, it's art is love and passion, and it's how we express those emotions or any emotions, which is such an important part of being a human being.
[00:29:46] Lindsey Dinneen: Absolutely. Yeah. And what do you think is the most important role of an artist?
[00:29:53] Trenna Reed: Hmm. I think probably connecting to the audience, whether it be the person looking at your painting, or the person watching you perform, or watching the movie you created, just finding some way to connect to the people who are consuming that art.
[00:30:24] Lindsey Dinneen: I love that. That is a very unique answer. I've never heard somebody describe it like that before, and I think that's incredibly important. Thank you.
[00:30:33] Trenna Reed: Yeah.
[00:30:34] Lindsey Dinneen: And then my final question, and then I'll explain my terms a little bit, but do you think that art should be inclusive or exclusive? So what I mean by that is exclusive kind of referring to an artist creates something, they share it with the world and then they let the world interpret it the way that they will. So they don't really provide context. Maybe there's not a title, maybe you don't know the inspiration behind it. Versus inclusive where the artist does share something. So maybe it's program notes or maybe it's a description, or the inspiration behind. It is basically some context so that the audience has a hint of what's going on.
[00:31:16] Trenna Reed: Right. That's a good question, but I really think it depends on, it depends on the artist and it depends on the audience or the consumer of the art. Because, I mean, for me, sometimes I do like getting that context and it helps me understand what's going on better. And I feel like I have a better experience with that art form when I have that insight. But on the other hand, like, you know, like for instance, last night I was watching a show called Ray Donovan on, I think it's on Showtime. And there was a part where he picked up a Bible. And when he turned to the front of it, you see a cross. And then in the song that was playing, you hear an organ, they just kind of like snuck that in there as a sort of symbolism, and connecting the music to what was on screen. And it was cool for me to make that discovery on my own, as opposed to being told, "Hey, we put this in here because of this." You know what I mean?
[00:32:32] Lindsey Dinneen: Absolutely.
[00:32:33] Trenna Reed: So I think it depends on the person looking or experiencing the art, and how that artist wants to connect with their audience. Do they want them to figure it out on their own because it will be more meaningful that way? Or is it so abstract that they need some sort of context to be able to fully grasp and appreciate that art?
[00:33:02] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. That makes complete sense to me. Well, thank you again so much, Trenna, for being my guest today. I really appreciate it. And I just want to say on behalf of myself, but not just on behalf of myself, on behalf of the world, I really appreciate that you share your art with the world, whether that's you're dancing, you're choreographing, teaching. But just all the ways that you bring art to the world world, even, you know, singing or costume design and, and administration, the organization of it is so important. And so I just want to say thank you because when you bring that to the world, I think you make it a more beautiful place. So I appreciate that you share, and yeah.
[00:33:45] Trenna Reed: Thank you so much.
[00:33:46] Lindsey Dinneen: Thank you. Well, thank you also, everyone who has listened to this episode, if you feel as inspired as I do, I would love for you to share it with maybe a friend or two, and we will catch you next time.
[00:34:02]If you have a story to share with us, we would love that so much! And I hope your day has been Artfully Told.