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Making Art in 2017: Noa Schnitzer on The Currency of Belief

Posted August 16th, 2017

Noa Schnitzer. Photo by Heather Dawn Sparks.

Name: Noa Schnitzer

Show in 2017 Festival: The Currency of Belief: Trapeze and Spiritual Comedy

FringeArtsTell us a bit about your show. Where did the concept develop from? What are some questions you are tackling?

Noa Schnitzer: I am engaged in exploring the intangible elements that make up the gap between who we are and who we want to be (as a solo entity and as a community). To begin illuminating this gap is to understand where we come from as individuals. In this show, religion and gender are put under my artistic microscope. I grew up in an Orthodox Jewish community and decided to stop practicing at the age of 18. Over the years, prayers from this past pop up in my mind and stay with me for days. The fact that 15 years later these prayers have an  involuntary voice in my mind got me thinking about the strength and significance of prayer, practice, and identity in community. In The Currency of Belief, the voice of prayer holds space for the hidden seams in this one life I am exploring, my own. Through these illumination a question arises: is there anything that prayer is not?

FringeArts: How have your interests in or approach to art making changed in the last year? Have you found yourself taking anything new into consideration?

Photo by Abigail Bell, Michelle Bates and Heather Dawn Sparks.

Noa Schnitzer: I am more proactive in reaching out to people that I want to collaborate with. The thing that I always need to practice accepting is that my art is important, and while conventional parameters of success are an amplifier for my ego, I am the main amplifier of my ideas.

FringeArts: Tell us about an instance from 2017 where your interaction with art—either as creator or audience—provided some much needed solace or refuge from outside troubles.

Noa Schnitzer: It was at a Drum Like a Lady jam. LaTreice V. Branson has an amazing life force and it resonates through the community she invites around her. It is both powerful and humbling to feel the undeniable rhythm that everyone in the room was creating. Dance is my language and music, the pen strokes. We have reached a scary time where we need one another and we need the feeling and practice of being connected. The Drum like a Lady community creates this. No matter where a person is in their life the sound of a drum holding a RHYTHM awakens an inner essence.

East Meets West, Old Meets New: The Dreamlike Beauty of Hua Hua Zhang’s Experimental Puppetry

Posted August 16th, 2017

Hua Hua Zhang with a puppet from White Nights

You enter a room and are surrounded by translucent white. There are strange, undulating formations, and a strange, ghostly light filters down from a hidden source. You feel as if you are on the surface of the moon. Welcome to White Nights, the newest production by Hua Hua Zhang of Visual Expressions. Hua Hua has been working in puppetry for over thirty-five years, creating productions that are both unique in their style and dazzling in their beauty. She aims to combine Eastern and Western art in her work, as well as old traditions with contemporary styles. Her work breaks the boundaries that have defined puppetry for generations, combining it with poetry, visual art, dance, theater, and music. White Nights is an experimental work, a series of dreamlike scenes that can be interpreted in a multitude of ways by the audience, all aiming for a path toward peace of mind. There will be a half-an-hour preview of the show during the 2017 FringeArts Festival. The final show will take place in November.

The series of images in White Nights makes use of individual characters, some of them curious, others in love, others lonely. It will take place in the large gallery space of the Asian Arts Initiative. The setting is a giant desert, based on the Chinese poem Night. The audience will sit on the ground, around a small “pool of water,” and will be surrounded by pods that will serve as Chinese lanterns and shadowy silhouettes from Chinese ink paintings, as well as other symbols of a moon and a sun. The puppeteers will perform around the audience, who may interact with their movements. Musicians Bhob Rainy and Gamin Kang will also be present on the space, playing live music and interacting with the narratives. There will be four puppet performers who have been trained in the style developed by Hua Hua. The performers use the stylized movements of traditional Chinese performance, but use the puppets in an entirely different way, showing their entire bodies and moving with their objects. Interactions between the performers and the audience, and between the puppet performers and their puppets, cause constant questioning of their roles: the performer wonders, “Am I manipulating this puppet, or is the puppet manipulating me?” while the audience asks, “Am I watching the show, or am I a part of it?”

Curious Figure at the 27th Annual National Puppetry Conference

The characters in the show find themselves in the middle of a desert, and explore their environment, which changes throughout the show. There is a paper woman, a rose, a fairy, three masked persons, and a lonely “figure,” who has a magical dance with a balloon. These characters are reminiscent of The Little Prince: they are isolated from any recognizable society, however, they are familiar to us. “I don’t want to tell the audience what to believe,” says Hua Hua. “I want each person to interpret it on their own. I think contemporary art needs the audience involved, being a part of the creation, being a part of the journey, connection with their own journey, instead of just me.” Hua Hua creates each of these puppets herself in her home studio. She created the lonely “figure,” who has no name, when she, herself, was feeling lonely, and like many artists, used her craft as a cathartic motion. “The moment I feel that, I do the sculpture. I made the whole figure simple, with just one leg. When I’m making the piece, I don’t realize the origin. Art can release you, and tell you, you have something to show. It’s kind of a ghost—intuition, or instinct.” She follows the character of the puppet that she’s created to build the scene. “Sometimes, when I’m first creating the sculpture, I have no story, but my sculpture tells me the story. If I see, he’s a little sad, I follow the sadness, and I get a sad story.” Another puppet she made appeared as if he was looking for something. “This is the curious puppet, and he is a dreamer. I wanted to explore immigration. We dream. We dream about America, we dream about it being beautiful and creating freedom. He’s so curious. That is where I come in. I’m curious! What does this country look like? What is it like to be an artist, with a freedom of expression?”

While Hua Hua is highly skilled in both the creation and performance of her puppets, she was not able to fully express herself when living in China. “It was very controlling at that time, twenty years ago. I wanted to be an artist, but they assigned me as a performer. I wasn’t even a sculptor, but I wanted to make sculptures and paint.” She was able to make visual art after coming to the United States. She had trained at the Beijing Academy of Performing Arts, but in 1996, joined the University of Connecticut for a Masters of Fine Arts in Puppet Art. At the time, it was the only program of its kind. As a student, she was able to start sculpting and painting, and her professors found that she had an innate talent for making visual art. “I didn’t even know I had it inside of me.” She began creating puppets and developed an individual style, using the entire body to interact with the puppet. Later, she attended a workshop with

Hua Hua in her studio

legendary puppet artist Albrecht Roser. “I wanted to manipulate the puppet, and I wanted to learn how to control it, but he said, ‘Everybody, listen. Sometimes, you have to listen to the puppet, the puppet will tell you.’ It was very spiritual.” His work influenced hers, and she found that after creating a puppet, the goal of the puppet performer is to follow the whims of the character inside that object, rather than manipulating it completely. “I’m performing, but still, I feel it through me. I give the transition for the soul for the object.” Their entire body is often visible, unless occasionally hidden by long sheets of fabric that still move dynamically with the angles of the performer.

This is where Hua Hua Zhang’s shows become remarkably interdisciplinary. In order to be effective as one of her puppeteers, you must be highly skilled in dance and theater, as well as puppetry. She trains many of the performers that work with her, and is currently training the three that will be in the show. She trained many dancers for a long time, but then found that it was much better to train actors. “The movement is very stylized. You need to make sure you see, you think, you react, and then see again. You have to have both dance, and thought. I was working with theater, and it was a journey.” One of these performers is Elizabeth Weinstein, a Philadelphia-based movement artist, educator, and doula. Another is Travis Daniel Draper, who is trained in physical theater and animation. The third is Jeanne Lyons, who is an interdisciplinary performing artist. Both Jeanne and Travis study at the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training, while Elizabeth completed her study at the Headlong Performance Institute. Hua Hua enjoys working with actors like them immensely, who are still relatively new to the world of performance, and are excited about the unique opportunities that puppetry has for the theater.

The production combines all of these elements with original music. Again combining east and west, old and new, the two musicians will play their work live. Bhob Rainey (also composing for the Fringe Festival curated show Hello Blackout!) is a sound designer, who is also an award-winning composer. He uses electronics in much of his music, and will be intertwining these sounds with that of Gamin Kang. Gamin is a South Korean musician, who is one of the most celebrated traditional musicians in her country. She is the yisuja of the Intangible Cultural Asset Number 46 for two instruments, the piri and the daechita. She also plays a Korean oboe called the taepyeongso, and the saengwhang, a very ancient wind instrument. Bhob will perform on the drums at a point in the show, dressed as a demon and surrounded by additional demons. Gamin will be in the Fairy’s Dream scene, interacting with a giant flower. A fourth puppet performer, Chad Williams, will be intertwining his more traditional puppet style into the show. “He has a very standard, American hand-puppet style. I want to experiment by putting it into my Eastern show, and blend them together.” His puppet, however, will be minimalist, and he will be experimenting as well, using his full body to move with the puppet.

Three puppets from White Nights

Hua Hua is constantly working at the edges of these disciplines, and pushing forward the boundaries of puppetry and its potential. “I want to honor the tradition of puppetry as well as take a risk to push the limits of traditional puppetry into the contemporary. Most people see puppet art with a narrow vision,” she says. “Puppetry is considered entertainment for children, that can be performed by anyone.” While she does performances for families, they are much more traditional, and are not at all experimental in the way of her more avant-garde works like White Nights. Puppet art crosses the limitations of time and space, allowing us all to explore the furthest reaches of imagination and opening us to endless creative possibilities.” In order to explore its potential, she says that people must understand that puppetry is all about movement, not just in the hands. She teaches through the stylized performance art of the Chinese theater. “I teach my students that their feet are the connection to the earth, and sending the energy through their body to the puppet, to give a soul of puppet life.” Her puppets are not controlled by strings, or stuck onto poles. Instead, they are sometimes in the forms of masks, or large beings suspended on various sticks. While they look simple in form (albeit complicated in the detail on their faces,) learning the performance to master their technique takes time and practice.

Finding the “soul of the puppet” is the ultimate goal for her puppet performers, again asking themselves if they are controlling the puppet, or if the puppet leads them to move. This ambiguity is what drives much of her work, including the premise of White Nights. She was inspired by an ancient Taoist philosopher, Zhangzi. “He had a dream that he had become a butterfly, and derived pleasure from flying. After he awakened, he asked whether he dreamed he was a butterfly, or if the butterfly was dreaming that he was a man,” she says. “This ambiguity is explored throughout the show by blurring the line between reality and dream.” While her art acts as a meditation on her life experiences, it aims to do the same for anyone watching the show. “The show connects my life experiences and the experiences of others with today’s society, issues, and concerns. It connects with audience members, giving them inspiration to explore their true selves and, hopefully, find balance and inner peace.”

White Nights
Hua Hua Zhang/Visual Expressions

$10 / 30 minutes

Asian Arts Initiative: Dance Studio C
1219 Vine Street

Sept 19 at 7:30pm + 9pm

TICKETS + INFO

– Isabella Siegel

Photos: Richard Termine (banner, second photo, and last photo,) Hua Hua Zhang (sixth photo,) and Adam Danoff (all other photos)

Filipino Folkdance, Contemporary Ballet, and Motherhood: Annielille Gavino Kollman’s HERstory

Posted August 11th, 2017

Annielille Gavino Kollman in HERstory

What do you get when you combine modern choreography, folkdance polyrhythms, and a baby? The dances of Annielille Gavino Kollman strive to bring together eastern and western styles, while incorporating many other disciplines, and using a group of dancers diverse in both race and generation. Her newest work, HERstory, is a three-part production that investigates the theme of motherhood and culture, and is supported by the Small But Mighty Art Grant. Originally from the Philippines, Annielille’s dance is about her homeland as a mother, and acts as both a celebration and portrait of the women there as well as around the world. She first learned dance as a folkdancer, and now incorporates the styles from her country into contemporary movements. Much of the work is autobiographical, expressing Annielille’s experience as a mother and as a Filipina woman, but it also includes the backstories of the other dancers, who contribute vibrant rhythms by clapping, stomping, and yelling. It also includes spoken word through poetry written by the dancers and Lenora Howard, film projection by Jasmine Lynea Callis, and music composed by Maya Simonee. The work is powerful, dynamic, and beautiful, telling the story of motherhood in an entirely new way.

Annielille was born in the Philippines, and lived there until coming to New York after college. She attended the Alvin Ailey school of dance in 2000, which was a multicultural dance company, which catered to minorities who were often overlooked in the world of ballet and modern dance. She left the country “on impulse,” but she also left to escape extremely difficult circumstances. She was tired of being silenced as a woman, and of experineces of abuse by men.  “I was too vocal. I think that was the problem for them. I was too strong to be a submissive wife.” She had been dancing since she could remember, and was a highly skilled folkdancer. “It was just a way for me to get out of the country, so I just followed that, because I was good at it. It became cathartic to me, too, so I just kept doing it.”

After studying at Alvin Ailey, she danced around the United States for different companies, touring in Colorado, and then in Texas. Later she moved to Virginia, where she found very little creative dance, and a society that was less accepting of her than they had been in New York. “It was very segregated,” she says. “Being in a place where I saw Confederate flags every day of my life, I started to make art. I became a political artist at first, and more of a performance artist.” She had her daughter, and started teaching her dance. “When I didn’t have an outlet for dance, I started teaching her texture, colors, and letters through dance.” She also started choreographing for a Filipino folk dance group, where she began teaching her folk dances. She moved to Philadelphia two years ago, which was a welcome change. “I liked the grit, and a little bit of a faster pace. I love the row houses, and the little streets, where people can connect easier than in wider, suburban space. I feel more at home in cities like this.” Once in Philadelphia, she started dancing for Kun-Yang Li/Dancers, and soon, creating her own projects.

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Moving Against the Tides with Olive Prince

Posted August 9th, 2017

Olive Prince and Brandie Ou in Silencing the Tides

“In watching the tide and the ocean, I think a lot about how it slowly and suddenly shifts. You have to look at it closely, but it totally changes, from the beginning of tide to the end of tide. And I hope I do that with this space.”

Olive Prince founded her dance company in 2008, and since then, has been devising, creating, and teaching highly dynamic works of art. Olive Prince Dance (or OPD) works are often site-specific, such as past productions in the Magic Gardens and in the Iron Factory. For this year’s festival, however, the show is held in the Ballroom Philadelphia, and she is working with visual artist Carrie Powell as a conceptual collaborator for the show. Carrie is building a sculpture that will create an entirely new type of space for the dance. The show, called Silencing the Tides, is a work that exists under and around a large sculpture fabricated from clothing. The show is based on the idea of free will, juxtaposed with messages and metaphors from nature. She evokes strong images of the ocean’s tide, many of the ideas growing from the feeling of sand and the changing nature of the waves. The dancers sway between working together as large forces, and breaking out into their own movements. Sometimes calm, sometimes violent, they may break down barriers as if they were bodies of water, or they may escape each other as if they were sand.

Olive and Carrie are close friends, and the idea for Silencing the Tides grew out of conversations they had together last year. “We’re both artists, and we’re both mothers, and we often spend time together with our kids talking about art.” Carrie often writes poetry and creates drawings to go along with the ideas. She started making drawings that looked like piles of laundry. They talked together and started thinking about ideas of free will, as well as the forces of nature. Olive was drawing inspiration from literature she was reading, including “The Things they Carried” by Tim O’Brien:

“They did not submit to the obvious alternative, which was simply to close the eyes and fall. So easy, really. Go limp and tumble to the ground and let the muscles unwind and not speak and not budge till your buddies picked you up and lifted you into the chopper that would roar and dip its nose and carry you off to the world. A mere matter of falling, yet no one ever fell.”

She also brought in pieces of The Venerable Bede, from 703 CE (“The most admirable thing of all is this union of the ocean with the orbit of the Moon…the sea violently covers the coast far and wide…unwittingly drawn up by some breathings of the Moon.”) as well as Johnathan White and Mary Oliver’s short story, “Swoon.” “I had this really strong image of free will,” she says, “and going against the tide, and so we started exploring that.” Eventually the conversation between Olive and Carrie became the basis of the work. These conceptual conversations combining ideas from movement, visual art, poetry, are integral to the creation of new work, and it has become a defined process that they call in-the-round reciprocity.

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Whispers from the Wall: The Silk Graffiti of Aubrie Costello

Posted August 4th, 2017

Walking down many streets in Philadelphia is like wandering an art gallery for graffiti. The tags of artists like SAGA, KAD, and LAZZ fill the walls with a calligraphy that has become a unique Philly handstyle. These, along with colorful street art projects, have made the city a vibrant center for the growth and evolution of graffiti, some even becoming three dimensional installations. You may spot some of these words made of flickering strands of fabric hanging from a wall, a fence, or a bridge. This is the work of “silk graffiti” artist Aubrie Costello, who uses long strips of Dupioni silk to write phrases around the city. Although the pieces are often large, they feel intimate, like their speaker is whispering to passersby. Some of her work is hung on the streets, while other pieces reside in nature, and others still have migrated into gallery spaces. This year, she is collaborating with dancers Jess Noel, Leslie Davidson, and Fatima Adamu in an interdisciplinary production, Show Me What You Want Me To See, or SWMYWMTS. The dance performance will take place inside a gallery with its walls covered in silk writing. An accompanying film by Lendl Tellington follows the trajectory of a romance between Jess and Leslie in the apartment of Victoria Prizzia, which is similarly filled in Aubrie’s silk calligraphy. This is interspersed with a separate story of love lost, performed by Fatima in a cemetery, as well as shots of more silk words and phrases fill a forest in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. The work is also a collaboration with composer Josh Hey, who has created ghostly and powerful original score (with a few surprise musical guests!) This interdisciplinary performance is in an intimate gallery space, accompanied by a screening of the film. The curves in the silk are mimicked in the movements of the dancers, bringing through its ephemeral but powerful emotive voice.

Silk graffiti by Aubrie Costello in Gravy Gallery and Studio

Aubrie grew up in the quiet Pine Barrens, and went to a public school where the arts were nurtured. Without much to do in their area, the kids in this town chose to make art. “There were a lot of graffiti artists, and skate kids, and musicians that are in Philadelphia now in bands. So I guess we all had that deep itch to make stuff, and now we’re in a city that is more nurturing for that.” Aubrie’s father was a woodworker, who did everything with his hands. “He would even hand draw all of his estimates and specs and documents. He didn’t do anything on a computer.” Aubrie herself absorbed the love for “do-it-yourself” aspect of a project—if given the choice, she also prefers a more analogue approach to her work. She went to the Moore College of Art and Design in 2003, where she began studying fashion design before transitioning to a major in Drawing and Painting. While she loved drawing and making her own clothes, she couldn’t enjoy the business aspect of fashion. She threw herself instead into creating art installations, and began investigating new ways of using silk. One such installation involved a huge pile of high heeled shoes, bound, or “mummified,” in silk. She would cover the gallery wall with drawings that would mirror the installation. While she was at Moore, professors would often wander into students’ studio spaces to check out their work and give them advice. One such offering was from a professor who taught fiber arts, which she had never even taken. “She came into my studio one day, and I was using silk very differently. I was stretching it on canvas stretcher bars. She said she liked it, but she said ‘You’re not letting the fabric speak for itself.’ And that was one of the things that stuck with me, I actually think about that to this day. Sometimes I want to do more to the fabric, but then I think back to what she said. The fabric alone can have its own emotive quality.”

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Rare Opportunity to Take Gaga Workshop and Classes

Posted July 17th, 2017

A three-day Gaga Workshop, which includes a class and repertoire, open to professional dancers and dance students ages 16-and-older, is coming to the Performance Garage (1515 Brandywine Street) in Philadelphia, August 2–4. There will also be Open Gaga People Classes those three days, which are open to the general public (16-and-older), without the necessity of previous experience. This is only the second time that Gaga classes have ever been offered in Philadelphia.

Presented by Automatic Arts, the workshop and classes are led by Gaga Master Teacher, Or Meir Schraiber, who is a dancer in Ohad Naharin’s internationally renowned Batsheva Dance Company. Gaga is a movement language which Ohad Naharin, one of the world’s preeminent contemporary choreographers, developed over the course of many years and which is applied in daily practice and exercises by the Batsheva Dance Company members. The language of Gaga originated from the belief in the healing, dynamic, ever-changing power of movement. As explained by Naharin, “We explore multi-dimensional movement, we enjoy the burning sensation in our muscles, we are aware of our explosive power and sometimes we use it.  We change our movement habits by finding new ones, we can be calm and alert at once. We become available . . .”

The Gaga Workshop and Classes are part of a new program by Automatic Arts to bring one high quality professional dance workshop to Philadelphia each summer.

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Textbook Definition of Life: Interview with Dan Rothenberg of Pig Iron

Posted July 13th, 2017

“I think the question ‘Does a machine have a perspective?’ is another way of asking the question ‘What is alive and not alive?'”

Brilliant in their innovation and shining in their craft, the Pig Iron Theater Company has earned its accolades for its artistic excellence. The recipient of several Obie awards, the company never fails to amaze in its fresh, interdisciplinary takes on current events and social themes of the human experience. Dan Rothenberg is one of the founders and artistic directors of Pig Iron, producing their newest work, A Period of Animate Existence. This production has amounted to a huge collaboration between actors, musicians, and a number of choirs, culminating in a show about the human experience of climate change, in the form of a symphony. We caught up with Dan to find out about how the idea for this show came about, and what it’s been like to put it all together.

FringeArts: How did the title A Period of Animate Existence come into being?

Dan Rothenberg: Troy Herion proposed this title.  He looked up the word “life” in the dictionary.  It is a textbook definition. We were working with a few different sources of inspiration: Alan Watts, who talks about “the rocks peopling” as a way of imagining the beginnings of life on Earth, and understanding that we organic creatures are made out of exactly the same stuff as inorganic rocks. We looked at Richard Dawkins and “the Selfish Gene,” which talks about humans as big lumbering robots “operated” by genes within us.  This grade-school question: “what’s the difference between alive and not-alive?” remains elusive for both scientists and philosophers, even today.

FringeArts: How did you go about gathering your key collaborators, what were the artistic conversations you were hoping to foster between not just them and Pig Iron, but between each other?

Dan Rothenberg: Some of the collaborators are folks I’ve worked with before for years, like Tyler Micoleau (lights) and Nick Kourtides (sound). These are people I trust who have contributed to some of the Pig Iron work I am most proud of. I am working with the librettists Kate Tarker and Will Eno, and with choreographer Beth Gill, for the first time. We were looking for artists who take on big ideas and who care about form. People who make work in which the form is front and center.  Especially with choreographer Beth Gill, I wanted somebody with a deeply mathematical mind. Someone who sees the poetry in mathematics, since I feel that this piece is about seeing the world in terms of fundamental forces rather than as a set of relationships between people.

FringeArts: What prompted the five movements structure?

Dan Rothenberg: Gustav Mahler said that a symphony must be like the world, containing everything. So the five-movement structure is a symphonic structure. It’s our own “13 ways of looking at a blackbird.” A deliberate effort to get at something that’s too large to get your head around, by coming at it from five very different angles.

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Destruction, Renewal, and Creation: A Conversation with Tania Isaac

Posted April 24th, 2017

“I started to imagine all of these natural cycles of pressure and release that have created incredible phenomenon and the fact that natural forces woke in cycles of destruction, renewal and creation.”

Once called a “one-woman powerhouse of dance fusion,” Tania Isaac is bringing her fresh solo movement drama crazy beautiful to FringeArts for the first time. We got to have a quick conversation about her work and her process.

FringeArts: What made you think up the title crazy beautiful? Do you remember where you were?

Tania Isaac: I don’t remember where I was, but I had noticed one of those emoticon charts where you move the magnetic frame to the mood you’re in. I was trying to imagine creating a grid of moods using objects, then began to wonder why we spent so much time trying to be in the “right” mood all the time. I’m always plunging down a rabbit hole of questions about why everything exists as it does. I call it my eternal toddler. I started to be more curious about how anger and frustration and confusion and sadness became things we avoided and tried to fix rather than experience fully. Some time later I was in my kitchen watching my four-year-old old have a compete meltdown and was so envious for a moment that she got to feel all fully into it with every fiber of her being—and remembered that she laughed the same way.  Everything she was feeling she was fully experiencing viscerally. So while I’m not advocating adult tantrums, I wondered what happened to all of that sensation and power as we got older. And if it didn’t go away, what did we do with it when we learned to behave? Who decided what was appropriate and when and how it was best to express it? THEN I started thinking about volcanoes—which I’ve loved since I was twelve—and the pressure and nature of eruptions. I started to imagine all of these natural cycles of pressure and release that have created incredible phenomenon and the fact that natural forces woke in cycles of destruction, renewal and creation. Balance—of a kind? Could we do it? So I started to imagine what it might be like.

FringeArts: Can you describe the open notebook process you’re created?

Tania Isaac: The open notebook has been my way of sharing the questions I try to answer (that eternal toddler). The questions are usually about how we choose to respond to something within our society. I am curious about how others see the world and wanted to create a space we could step into that would allow us to be immersed in what we were thinking about and reading and how that might become translated into movement, action, imagination, and performance. I tried to create a space that could explain to my family what I did, how I did it, and why I insisted it was important. And it was about the space for exchange, expression, and conversation. I wanted to give the people interested in my work or simply curious and questioning about the world, a chance to play with this platform. I wanted an immersive world where ideas could float in space and on a paper and be available to everyone—where we could respond and could be archived. So the notebook is a room divided and created by hanging paper walls, with notes and ideas collected in rooms. It shows videos and photos and asks questions and invites you to write and record and respond. It’s a small maze and a place to indulge and sink into your thoughts.

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Everyday but Amplified: an interview with Faye Driscoll

Posted April 12th, 2017

Called by one journalist “the most promising performing artist of her generation”, and “one of the most original talents on contemporary dance scene” by another, Faye Driscoll has struck a nerve. But where does she source her deeply original work?  The New York-based choreographer gave us the lowdown on her newest work, making its FringeArts debut on Friday, April 14, Thank You For Coming: Play.

FringeArts: What is the idea behind the series Thank You For Coming?

Faye Driscoll: Thank You for Coming is the umbrella title for three distinct works. Each work manifests as radically different from the others, but they are all connected by the same question: How is making and experiencing live performance already a collective and political act? How can I make this politic more felt?

For me as a title Thank You For Coming presupposes that one is in fact there. It’s both a reminder and a gratitude in advance for this presence. The title first came to me while sitting in a taqueria in San Francisco.

FringeArts: And what made Play the right choice for the second installment?

Faye Driscoll: The ideas driving Play were present when I began Attendance—the first of the series—but I put many of them aside as Attendance took shape. Each work is a like a branch of a big weird tree: the branches look really different at the ends, but have similar roots. So when I began Play all of the concepts around storytelling, language, voice/body collisions, and ruptures were all there, ready to be grabbed and sunk into.  Each distinct work in the series is simultaneously its own thing and a longer conversation among the works. Because of how I am developing the series, several formal explorations that don’t make it into one work will sprout out in the next. Part 3 will likely have many of the ideas that didn’t make it into Part 2.

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FEASTIVAL is almost here

Posted September 24th, 2016

The 2016 Fringe Festival is approaching its end, and while it’s tragic that our lives can’t always feature such a bevy of thrilling and thought-provoking performance, I’m sure everyone is ready to return to their normal routines that include things like sleep. But before you settle back into that same old, there’s still a bit of celebratory fun to be had here at FringeArts. The 2016 Audi FEASTIVAL, FringeArts’ annual fundraiser, is coming to the waterfront Thursday, September 29 and bringing some of Philadelphia’s best restaurants and performers in tow.

santos_72

(photo by Neal Santos)

For the first time in FEASTIVAL history, co-host Michael Solomonov (Zahav, Abe Fisher, Federal Donuts) will curate a live gastronomic performance, taking advantage of the event’s Fringe Fire Pit and PECO Ice Station to prepare some divine dishes that will be served directly to guests. Chefs Solomonov, Nick Macri (La Divisa Meats), and Brad Spence (representing Alla Spina and the Vetri Family of restaurants) will heat things up, manning two rotisseries and a grill, while Chefs Greg Vernick (Vernick Food + Drink) and Peter Serpico (Serpico) will keep it cool over at the ice station.

Food won’t be the only thing there to grab your attention though. After all, this is FringeArts. Circadium, the nation’s only school of contemporary circus, will astound you throughout the evening with stilt walkers, jugglers, contortionists, and aerialists providing quite the spectacle. Returning for their second FEASTIVAL, FringeArts favorites Red 40 & The Last Groovement will be bringing their raucous clown funk party back to their old stomping grounds with an LED video stage provided by Tait Towers. Inside FringeArts at the Audi Artist Lounge muralist Juan Dimida will live paint a 2017 Audi A4 over the course of the evening, utilizing a mix of traditional painting styles and cutting-edge digital art to achieve his innovative vision. Meanwhile in the lounge, Brian Sanders’ JUNK, a consistent Festival favorite, will be showcasing their wildly imaginative and daring brand of physical theater.

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