Meet Ms. Paris Wednesday 13 July, 2011

Post by LU Team Member Daisy Giles Alissa Paris Gilbert is one of a kind – that’s for sure. I remember the first time I saw her. I was taking a summer yoga class with a friend when I saw this tiny thing bounce into the room. Her flat top and neon spandex caught my […]

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Post by LU Team Member Daisy Giles

Alissa Paris Gilbert is one of a kind – that’s for sure. I remember the first time I saw her. I was taking a summer yoga class with a friend when I saw this tiny thing bounce into the room. Her flat top and neon spandex caught my eye, but after dropping the class after day one, (due to the lack of a challenge – thank you very much!) I forgot about the smiley young woman I had been intrigued by in the large mirrored room. It wasn’t until several months later when I stopped by my boyfriend’s college apartment/beat laboratory that I saw Alissa again and realized that her funk was much more than skin deep. She was coming in to do some recording on a track that my boyfriend had made for her. Her voice was sultry and soothing, her conversation was even better. We fed off of each other’s creativity, and over time, our friendship continued to develop. I wanted to take the opportunity of my first post with Live Unchained to introduce her to all of you.

NVT Photography, MUA Nancy Van Thorre

Dancer, singer, songwriter, and intellectual: Alissa Paris wears many hats.  I asked her when she first started dancing. She reminisced on a family reunion from her father’s side from when she was just a little girl. She remembers being on the dance floor with family members around her, cheering her on as she did the running man. “That’s the first memory I have of the bug setting in for performing. I’m sure I was exposed to things earlier,” she continues, telling me about how her mom had been a dancer and a performer in musical theater and how her dad had been a b-boy.

Her own eclectic dance style inherited from her parents, her teachers at North High School, New Jack Swing, Janet Jackson, and House Party, mirror her musical style as well. The songstress’ influences include legends like The Supremes, Billie Holiday, and Sade, but also alternative and pop greats such as The Cranberries, Fiona Apple, and No Doubt, admitting that their groundbreaking fashion sense, approach to the world, and free spirit personas played as much of a role in her life as their rhythms.

Photography by Lynda Jayne Iglesia, MUA Yvette Iris

“My mom always said I was born in the wrong time, that I was meant to come of age in the 80s.” And I will tell you firsthand, she can’t let it go! It truly is a way of life for her. Having just graduated from the College of Continuing Education at the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in Dance, Theater, and Social Justice, this free spirit is leaving me (tear) to go on to pursue adventure. Well, at least partially. She is leaving at the end of August and taking a year to travel the country in search of a graduate program on mixed race and multicultural identity, or at least for an institution that will let her create her own program as she did with her undergraduate degree. First stop? California. She will be checking out a few schools, catching up with family and friends, and also attempting to find the Puerto Rican grandfather that she never knew – which – in my opinion – is a separate adventure in itself!

After graduate school, she wants to continue her research on identity theory pertaining to race and culture, while simultaneously working on and sometimes working in combination with her own performance art. She is most interested in continuing her own performance programs in the community, working with all age groups from children (I recently was able to view a home video of the children’s dance class she teaches and it was seriously the cutest thing I have ever seen) to college students,  helping them utilize their passion to influence their own communities.

Although she has a soft spot for Broadway, she knows that there is much more to dance, theater, and song than what is seen on television. “Minneapolis taught me that it takes a village to raise a child. I always had a home base with my mom, but Minneapolis taught me about all the different languages, cultures, religions, art forms, spaces, and languages.” Some of her favorite Minneapolis spots to perform are the Triple Rock Social Club which happens to be across the street from her childhood home, as well as The Dinkytowner (R.I.P.) or just outside for block parties or any other outdoor events.

What’s my favorite place to watch Alissa? Oh – Patrick’s Cabaret of course. You will be missed – and I am sure that I speak with the rest of Minneapolis when I say we will be eagerly awaiting your return.

You can check out Lipset and Logan “Lokes” Uu’s The Level Heads Project on Facebook for free downloads of music featuring Alissa Paris. And, be on the lookout for Alissa’s upcoming solo album with producer Logan “Lokes” Uu – title and release date TBD – but you know I will keep you posted!

Ms. Paris by Daisy Giles

Keep living unchained!

Alissa Paris modeling for I.B.E. (Intelligent Black Enterprise), of “Usual Suspects”.


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