The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Jun 13, 2011

An interview with Rudi Goblen

Posted by laflor

Rudi Goblen is a permanent fixture in Miami's performance arts scene and is currently a member of Teo Castellanos’ D-Projects, a collective of culturally trained artist creating provocative contemporary performance, Octavio Campos’ Campostion Hybrid Theater Works, Rosie Herrera’s Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre and the interactive performance troupe CircX. I spoke to Rudi about his solo work, his inspirations and what it's like to work in a collective.

Neil de la Flor: Rudi, why do you dance? Rudi Goblen: I ask myself that same question often. It’s the closest I get to flying. That, and I’m used to it — been doing it so long.

ND: You just spent a month in Costa Rica performing your one-man dance theater show, “Insanity Isn't,” and teaching dance/b-boy workshops. What is (or isn't) “Insanity Isn't” about? RG: "Insanity Isn’t" is about a man named Acey Sickly waking up to an American nightmare plagued by financial burdens, media propaganda, his 9-to-5, apocalyptic prophecies; his wife, Miss America; his boss, Mr. Backlash; and religious beliefs. It’s the story of a man learning to be sane (which is crazy), told through rhyme/text, b-boying, live music and beatbox.

ND: Compared to working solo, what's it like to perform a one-man show vs. a multi-man-woman show? “Insanity Isn't” vs. Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre?

RG: It’s different in many ways — speed, rhythm, technique, timing, delivery, etc. When you have a lot of people on stage, you're able to play with all these things a lot more. I think, when your alone, at times you kind of have to pace yourself, ration things out, or you just don’t have that many choices — which is when more choices pop up. But, when I’m alone on stage, I feel as if I’m performing for the gods, as if aliens, ancestors and Native Americans are all hovering over me in a spaceship, shining the lights that seem to be coming from the grid above. But in reality, it’s coming from them so they can see me. As if I’m in one of those huge conferences that happens in "Star Wars" when all the galaxies, planets and species come together to make a decision. And the decision is will I be let in or kept out. Sometimes, I feel like a jester, and my job is just to make them feel good, enjoy themselves, entertain, make them feel something, leave them thinking. When with a company, the spirits, deities and universe are all still very much involved, present and potent. But, it’s nice not to be alone. I once heard an old jazz musician say, ”You gotta be willing to die alone or with the people you’re on stage with, when on the stage.” I feel the same way. It’s not harder or easier, just another experience.

ND: "Fat Boy" with D-Projects just premiered at the new Miami Light Project Lightbox Studio. I saw the first "draft" of the performance during the Here & Now festival. How do you feel about it now that its over? What are you reflections?

RG: I feel proud that we did what we did, in the time we did it in, with the obstacles that were thrown our way. We got a lot of good feedback. I feel relieved and excited. We’re just getting started, though. We have a long journey in front of us with "Fat Boy." The work is never done. The biggest challenge was time and getting everyone in the same room at the same time.

ND: Who is/are your biggest inspiration/idol in any genre?

RG: Life, mother, brother, son, my crew, Flipside Kings, David Axelrod, Cab Calloway, Nina Simone, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Pharoahe Monch, Michael Jackson, De La Soul, Kool G Rap, Bjork, Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Portishead, Pink Floyd, UMC's, Das Efx, Billie Holiday, Sam Cooke, Charles Bukowski, William Burroughs, The Three Stooges, Curtis Mayfield, Fela Kuti, Charlie Chaplin, James Brown, Dr. Seuss, Stevie Wonder, Sly & The Family Stone, Freestyle Fellowship, Medeski, Martin & Wood, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "The Fifth Element," The Neverending Story," "Labyrinth," "The Dark Crystal," "Style Wars," "Beat Street," "Wild Style," "Oh! The Places You'll Go," "1984," "Brazil," "Donnie Darko, "Adaptation," "The Fisher King," "Jacob's Ladder," "What Dreams May Come," "Born Into This," Chris Cunningham, Michel Gondry ... um, yea.

ND: Wow, lots of inspiration. So, if you couldn't dance, what would you do?

RG: If I couldn’t dance, I’d love to play piano like John Medeski and sing like Cee Lo, Cooke and/or Calloway. But, I can’t so I would probably be painting, doodling with graphic design/film (writing, acting, recording, editing, scoring), and making a lot more music.

ND: I know you just finished working with Tarell McCraney and Lucas Leyva on a film called "The Bus." What was your role and did you have fun?

RG: In the short film "The Bus," I was one of three narrators telling the story of one woman’s experience with Miami-Dade’s mass transit. Yes, I had fun.

ND: What's next?

RG: What’s next is I’m writing my third one-man show, "Lascivious Rising." "Lascivious" is about the complexities of sexuality, relationships, insecurities and “love”—loving to have sex, loving to be in control, loving to be submissive, adults, children, maturity, free spirits, old souls, fantasy worlds, friends, liars, control freaks, power struggles, the jealous, the prude, the straight, the gay, the shy, the bold and the opposite of all of that.

I’m also working on finishing two books, "Insanity Isn’t: The Monologues," and "Sunni Nights: The Book Of."  And, finally, I’m looking forward to touring "Fat Boy" in Baltimore, Atlanta and New York. I can’t wait to go to Alaska. I’m going to be there teaching/sharing the bill with Teo Castellanos for three weeks. He is doing his one-man show "N.E. 2nd Ave," and I’ll be performing "Insanity Isn’t."

ND: And the most important question: What's your favorite meal before a performance?

RG: The right one, at the right time.

Rudi Goblen is a Miami-based writer, dancer and actor who has performed with The Roots, Mos Def, and De La Soul. He has also been dancing for more than 17 years and is an acclaimed B-Boy. With his crew, the Flipside Kings, Rudi toured and competed in, judged and won various events. In 2003, he joined Teo Castellanos’ D-Projects, a collective of culturally trained artist creating provocative contemporary performance. He is also a member of Octavio Campos’ Campostion Hybrid Theater Works, Rosie Herrera’s Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre and an interactive performance troupe called CircX. Goblen is also a recipient of the Future Aesthetics Artist Regrant (FAAR) funded by the Ford Foundation in conjunction with the Future Aesthetics Cohort. He is currently teaching and touring in and out the country with his two one-man shows, "Insanity Isn’t" and "Fair Welling." Both shows were commissioned by Miami Light Project and the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts for Here & Now. For more information on Goblen and his upcoming performances, visit or

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