Archive for the ‘Dance’ Category

Slideshow: Kill Me Now Preview at the nEW festival

Posted June 12th, 2009

Pics from last weekend’s preview of Melanie Stewart Dance Theatre‘s Kill Me Now, coming to the Live Arts Festival in September.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Images by Alan Kolc

Save the Date(s)

Posted June 12th, 2009

What are you doing next week? Spending your days on this blog, and then what I tell you to do:

>>>Monday: Double bill at The Piazza at Schmidts (N. 2nd St., across from Liberties Walk) – kate watson-wallace/anonymous bodies (STORE), and The Mural and The Mint accompanying a mob of Philly’s best dancers. Mike Kiley, who did the sound design for Nichole Canuso’s Wandering Alice at the 2008 Live Arts Festival, helms the listener-supported band (Download their album here, please donate if you like them.) They’re providing the soundtrack for what the Piazza’s website calls “Nichole Canuso’s roaming dance installation.” Nearly every dancer is involved with this year’s Live Arts lineup. You should go, but in case you miss it, catch our report and pics in this space next week. It’s free, at 7:00 pm, at the Piazza, N. 2nd St. between Poplar and Girard, across the street from Liberties Walk.

>>>Tuesday: Where else is there to be except at the Welcome to Yuba City Pit Stop at the Arts Bank (Broad & South Streets)? Get personal with Pig Iron’s Quinn Bauriedel, Charlotte Ford, Geoff Sobelle, and Dito Van Reigersberg, who will discuss the process of creating Welcome to Yuba City. Expect talk of clowns, cowboys, and American myth, followed by a reception with the artists. It’s free, at 7:00 pm, at the Arts Bank at Broad & South streets. RSVP to robin@livearts-fringe.org.

>>>Friday: Finalize your Artists U application. For the first time, Artists U is offering an open nomination process. Founded by Andrew Simonet of Headlong Dance Theater (more.), the project is, according to its site, “…a cooperative platform for helping performing artists with planning, long-term thinking, and problem-solving.” We, in fact, proudly host Artists U, and attest that it’s helped a lot of artists you know and respect get an administrative leg up. Letters of intent are due by email on June 20.

>>>Saturday: Twofer! Come by the Popped!/2nd Street Festival(s) in our new hood, and stop by our table to say hello. Bands and food and drinks all day, oh my. But keep your game face on, because that night is the previously plugged kate watson-wallace/anonymous bodies benefit party in Old City. Can you handle the 15-hour odyssey? More details on these next week.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo courtesy Pig Iron.

Dateline: Melbourne

Posted June 11th, 2009

Federation Square in Melbourne has been chockablock with action the past couple of weekends.

Two weeks ago at a Russian culture festival I watched a man in his mid-60s point and laugh as a much older lady fell down some stairs. I had hoped it was a performance, but it was not.

Last week Melbourne’s Indian students came together to protest the huge number of assaults on Indian students over the past couple of years in Australia. The country is, right now, very publicly examining and confronting racial issues. A few of the protesters were dragged off by police.

On Saturday, though, I saw some raw human joy restored in Federation Square, through Chunky Move‘s flash-mob-dance-happening, Moving One Hundred. When I was asked to cover Chunky Move’s flash-mob-dance-happening for the blog, I was delighted to play a small part in building a bridge between the Philly and Melbourne arts communities.

After the jump, pics from my walk through Melbourne’s laneways, cool stuff in Fed Square, and the Chunky Move dancers emerging from the crowd.

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You Deserve A Break

Posted June 11th, 2009

Good morning. You’re tired. Well, I’m tired, so I’m projecting. Restore yourself with this meditative video from Merián Soto’s Wissahickon Park Project. That set of site-specific performances in Philadelphia was part of her States of Gravity and Light series, which will continue in the Live Arts Festival this year with Postcards from the Woods.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

The A.W.A.R.D. Show! – Artist Profile: Gabrielle Revlock

Posted June 10th, 2009

SHARE! from Gabrielle Revlock on Vimeo.

For a brilliant artist, I’m a little surprised how much award-winning choreographer Gabrielle Revlock reminds me of a high school friend or an older sister. I expected to meet a mad scientist of sorts whose surplus of creativity would make her speak in code. Such is not the case with Gabrielle. She exudes energy, but is so approachable that I gratefully abandoned my role as interviewer-gathering-esoteric-pearls-of-insight, and had a nice chat instead.

Revlock grew up in West Philly* and attended J.R. Masterman High. She graduated as valedictorian, “something that would surprise people,” she says. Revlock began dance early, but never considered focusing on it in college. “I started ballet around age eight,” she says. “I loved it but I definitely had phases when it was just something I did, and times when I dreaded going to class. But I knew I had to get through the chore part to reach the better part.”

“[For college], a dance school wasn’t even on the radar,” says Revlock, who decided on Vassar College instead. “I was focused on academics. But that didn’t mean I wouldn’t continue . . . I liked Vassar partly because it had a really good dance program but it wasn’t a major.”

Revlock majored in art history, though she no longer gets much chance to wield her knowledge of 17th century Dutch paintings. “Through the lens of art, you learn about everything else,” she says. “And looking at art is a lot like choreography in a way. It’s open to interpretation. You can make up your own story.”

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Right Now

Posted June 10th, 2009

If you haven’t been paying attention to Hidden City yet, now’s the time. Taking contemporary performance and installation work into historical spaces citywide, the project is staking a claim for understanding the significance of Philadelphia history through the art of today.

Tonight is the first of only two performances of Re-Sounding at the Royal Theater, which has been closed since 1970. Innovative saxophone composition, film screening, and a video installation are designed to reflect the Royal’s history while entrancing you tonight. Oops, tonight’s already sold out. A few tix are left for tomorrow, though. Move quickly!

Tonight (sold out) and tomorrow ($20), Re-Sounding, Royal Theater, 1524 South Street, Philadelphia. 8:00 pm. Hard hat provided (seriously).

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Preview: Kill Me Now

Posted June 9th, 2009

Fame hungry contestants, sudden death dance offs, overly pretentious judges, winner take all in the fight for the ultimate prize.

Is this some mashup of I Love Money and So You Think You Can Dance? Nope. It’s Kill Me Now, a dance-competition-reality-show-cum-live-theatre performance debuting at the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival this fall.

During the nEW festival last weekend, Melanie Stewart Dance Theatre previewed their immersive show, with text by OBIE Award winner John Clancy.

Entering the theater space, a screen projected video confessionals of Kill Me Now characters. Inspired by reality television participants’ solo exchanges with the camera, the characters shared guilty secrets and deepest desires, creating the base for the performance.

After the jump: my preview of the eclectic, humorous group of over-the-top characters we’ll see in September:

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nEW festival: Gabrielle Revlock’s SHARE!

Posted June 4th, 2009

At times Gabrielle Revlock’s SHARE!, which debuted last night at the Drake Theater (Spruce and Broad Streets) as part of the nEW festival, felt like a metaphysical pinball machine. That’s not a bad thing, though. Beginning with a darkened stage and the crescendo of a heartbeat, Revlock worked her way through a string of ideas and miniature scenes that both ricocheted and rolled smoothly.

This feeling of flux, complete with costume and set evolutions, made it hard to understand how Revlock still managed a unified piece. One minute she beeped and churned like a machine, and the next she dangled like a marionette. My favorite incarnation reminded me of some wide-eyed Pixar cartoon. The dancers crouched and peeked at each other through their fists, emulating raised eyebrows with the twitch of a finger (theatergoers were treated to a sneak peak of this thread in a video installation in the Drake’s lobby).

“[The idea for SHARE!] started with shapes,” says Revlock. “If you take movements that have a lot of meaning, you don’t need that additional layer of theater. The shapes read as something on their own.”

The shapes of SHARE! speak of interactions, which Revlock fleshes out through her three characters’ encounters and asides. The three personalities – performed by Revlock, Bonnie Friel, and Gregory Holt – slid from narrating one another’s thoughts, to controlling one another, to moving in unison, to confronting each other, and back again, all within the brackets of Revlock’s colorfully clothed impressions of personality, relationships, and (gasp) good and evil.

Did I mention there’s neon spandex? Ski goggles? An excess of underwear? SHARE! can’t be summed up, at least by me. “Maybe it shouldn’t be . . . trying to do that fills me with anxiety,” says Revlock. “It is what it is.”

SHARE! will be performed again on Friday, and Revlock’s next gig is our very own A.W.A.R.D. Show.

–Mara Miller

Photo of Bonnie Friel seated on Gabrielle Revlock by Alan Kolc.

Your Performance World: Thursday, June 4, 2009

Posted June 4th, 2009

>>>Chunky Move, who’s bringing the innovative, strange, and elegant Mortal Engine to Live Arts this fall, has a cool show scheduled for Saturday (read about it in The Age). Titled Moving One Hundred, they’re using 100 volunteers to take over Melbourne’s Federation Square for two massive dance performances. You might be asking yourself: Why are they telling me about a show in Australia that I can’t possibly make? The answer: our Melbourne correspondent (we’re worldwide like that) is going to deliver a report and series of pics from square. If you do happen to be there, go check it out and say hi for us.

>>>Carolyn Huckabay continues to interview nEW festival performers on City Paper‘s The Clog. New post: Jaamil Olawale Kososko (The A.W.A.R.D. Show! 2009: Philadelphia; STORE).

>>>You know that one way or another you’re going to end up watching some portion of the 2009 Tony Awards on Sunday night. Among other reasons: they’re hosted by NPH, or Neal Patrick Harris, to those of you who haven’t seen the Harold and Kumar movies 1,000 times. John Chattman interviews him for HuffPost. And while I’m not the biggest fan of Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Serenity, Dollhouse), I do encourage you to watch NPH’s star turn in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Produced during the writers’ strike a couple years back as an Internet-only feature, it’s freaking hilarious. Anyway, Tonys are Sunday night at 8:00 pm on CBS.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

nEW festival Performances Start Tonight!

Posted June 3rd, 2009

The dance joy (not Meat Joy, that was dance but rather something else) that is the nEW festival starts tonight! Everything looks awesome, but a few highlights for us are, of course, folks who are coming our way this fall:

>>>Melanie Stewart dances in a solo adaptation of Deborah Hay’s I’ll Crane for You tonight and tomorrow, and previews Kill Me Now in two special late shows on Friday and Saturday.

>>>Gabrielle Revlock (The A.W.A.R.D. Show! 2009: Philadelphia) performs SHARE! tonight and Friday.

>>>Jaamil Kosoko (The A.W.A.R.D. Show! 2009: Philadelphia, STORE) rocks VIRUS on Friday and Saturday.

>>>Jen McGinn (The A.W.A.R.D. Show! 2009: Philadelphia) presents in the DanceHouse showcase of performers new to festival. Saturday.

For the full schedule, visit www.newfestival.net. And stay tuned for recaps from our staff, and profiles of nEW festival performers in the coming week!

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo by Alan Kolc.

kate watson-wallace/anonymous bodies Summer Freakout Fundraiser

Posted June 3rd, 2009

Mark Saturday, June 20 down on your calendars, boys and girls. Kate Watson-Wallace just sent us the lineup for the June fundraising event, and its gonna be a fun, fun night:

Performances by: kate watson-wallace/anonymous bodies and Martha Graham Cracker and her band

DJs: Mike Z (Making Time), Gregg Foreman, Ian St. Laurent, Mr. Cisum

Video: Klip Collective

Food by: The Latest Dish

Price: $10!

This, my friends, is what dope summer nights are made of.

Fundraiser for kate watson-wallace/anonymous bodies, Saturday, June 20, 8:00 pm to 2:00 am, 122 Arch Street, 2nd Floor, $10.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo by Josh McIlvain


Posted June 3rd, 2009

Interviews! We got interviews! Or at least links to them!

>>>We’re proud of machines, machines, machines, machines, machines, machines, machines. First workshopped at the 2002 Philadelphia Fringe Festival, and performed again in Philadelphia in 2007, the show is all grown up and opened last night at Manhattan’s HERE Arts Center. Peep the interview with Geoff Sobelle (at left; he’s in Welcome to Yuba City this fall) at Papermag.com.

>>>The Dance Journal blog (a good resource, by the way) runs interviews with Olive Prince, Jeffery Gunshol, and Jen McGinn (who’s dancing in The A.W.A.R.D. Show! 2009: Philadelphia) about their performances at the nEW festival, which starts tonight!

>>>Dean Wareham talks to Decider NY about rock star things and his memoir, Black Postcards. Dean & Britta are playing tomorrow night at Johnny Brenda’s. And don’t forget to read Dean’s Q&A with us about 13 Most Beautiful…Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo courtesy of Pig Iron Theatre.

Previews, Previews, Previews!

Posted June 2nd, 2009

>>>Meet the Artist: Pig Iron. Save the date – two weeks from today, Pig Iron’s Quinn Bauriedel, Geoff Sobelle, and Dito van Rigersberg talk about the creation of Welcome to Yuba City. At the Arts Bank, 601 South Broad Street, Philadelphia. Tuesday, June 16, 7:00 pm.

>>>Marilyn Jackson previews the nEW festival for the Inquirer. This dance crucible, a creation of Melanie Stewart (Kill Me Now), features Melanie performing a solo adaptation from choreographer Deborah Hay, and a slew of performers you’ll see in the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe this fall. At the Drake Theater, University of the Arts, 1512 Spruce Street, Philadelphia. Performances run June 3 through June 7, various times.

>>>UPDATE: City Paper‘s Carolyn Huckabay also has a very nice Q&A at the Clog with Gabrielle Revlock, who’s performing in the nEW festival (June 3 and June 5) and competing in The A.W.A.R.D. Show! at Live Arts this fall.

>>>Mike Daisey (How Theater Failed America, The Last Cargo Cult) is one of America’s few true raconteurs, and perhaps the only one who brings together disparate tales in a way that yields genuine insights about life and art. To get a taste of what’s in store for you this September, check out these YouTube excerpts from How Theater Failed America. But he’s not talking about us. We won’t fail you, I promise.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo courtesy Pig Iron Theatre Company.

Your Performance World: Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Posted May 27th, 2009

>>>Bristol (UK, not PA) blogger Matthew Austin just saw Back to Back Theatre‘s small metal objects at Arnolfini, and thinks you should know that it’s a “very, very brilliant piece of theatre.” We think you should know that too.

>>>Gabrielle Revlock, who’s competing in the A.W.A.R.D. Show! during the 2009 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, promotes her upcoming work SHARE! with a video at streettalkin.com. SHARE! will be a part of the first night of performances at the nEW festival, starting on June 3. The festival actually kicks off June 1 with community dance classes and workshops priced on a sliding scale.

>>>Heads up: The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, billed as the state’s “official Shakespeare Festival,” also starts on June 3 at DeSales University in Center Valley (just outside of Allentown and Bethlehem).

>>>And congrats to the Cincinnati Fringe Festival, which kicked off its sixth season last night. They too are feeding the blog beast, and both my excitement and sympathies are with them.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo by Jeff Busby

Photo Shoot: Brian Sanders/JUNK

Posted May 22nd, 2009

The Festival Blog crew headed over to Steve Belkowitz‘s Old City studio the other day to check out a photo shoot for a Brian Sanders project. At the 2008 Festival, Brian recreated the Flashdance club Mawby’s as the venue for his JUNK troupe’s irreverent performance Flushdance.

The bawdy athleticism of last year’s JUNK performers attracted a lot of critical praise. Watching dancers William Robinson (at left) and John Luna at the photo shoot, I’m guessing that the Brian Sanders/JUNK project for the 2009 Live Arts Festival is going to be remarkable. After the jump, more pics of the creatures William and John became under Brian’s direction.

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Choreographer Annie Wilson’s Opening Night Survival Kit

Posted May 19th, 2009

4-6 Valium

1 pack Lucky Strike Filters (trust, it’s worth it to import ’em)


$60 cash for last-minute emergencies/impulse buys (Wait! What?!? No one got the hula hoops yet? Where can we get 10 in the next 16 minutes??)

1 roll elastikon–like duct tape for the body

1 roll duct tape



As much wine as you and your audience can suck down post-show

Snack to wash the wine down with

Extra folding chairs for the sold-out audience

A nourishing “last meal” before the show

Plenty of sleep the night before (yeah, right)

A performance is like cliff-diving. You see a cliff in the distance and the water crashing on the rocks below it. You think, “Hey! I should climb that, and jump into the waters of ambiguous depth, current, and shark population. It’ll be swell.” When you finally reach the top and peer over the edge, it’s the week before the show. Nothing that was supposed to be done is done. You think “How the hell did I get here?” and “I don’t know if I can make this happen.”

And then before you can stop yourself you jump, free falling, not in control of your fate whatsoever, surrendering completely to the waves and the rocks and the sharks. The house lights dim. As the stage lights come up you are plunged in the primordial amniotic fluid of a whole other world, where images are murky and everything tastes like deep salty mystery. That’s if you’re performing in the work. If you have to watch it with the audience, you don’t hit the water until the show is over.

–Annie Wilson is a Philadelphia based dancer, choreographer, and writer. She will be appearing in New Paradise Laboratories’ FATEBOOK at the 2009 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival.


Go Spanish this weekend as the National Dance Company of Spain 2 performs at Annenberg.

Posted May 13th, 2009

The amazing Compania Nacional de Danza 2 (National Dance Company of Spain 2), under the direction and choreography of Nacho Duato, is gracing our fair city with performances from Thursday through Saturday (May 14 – 16) at the Zellerbach Theatre at the Annenberg Center (3680 Walnut Street). If you want to see what’s going on across the Atlantic, this is one of the best ballet-modern companies in the world. They make the impossible look easy and every movement, no matter how difficult, forms a compelling work of art. The second company is young, but they move in complete command, and never hurried–it’s almost like they take their time even when they’re flying through the air. Like much of Duato’s work, all the finishes are beautifully created images. Thursday night’s performance earned a long standing ovation. You can purchase tickets here.

–Josh McIlvain

Photo by Fernando Marcos.

Site-Specific Performance Potential: Fort Mifflin

Posted May 11th, 2009

Fort Mifflin (www.fortmifflin.us), one of Philly’s strangest, most amazing “unknown” sites, would make a terrific venue for site-specific performing arts work. The fort, which you fly over when coming into the airport, should be a major tourist attraction because of its size and its incredible history, but on a nice Saturday afternoon in May perhaps ten other people were there. Known as Mud Island, it was the site of a five-week Revolutionary War battle and in the early 1800s was built into a legitimate fort, and most of the ghostly buildings date from that time. Surrounded by a wetlands moat that’s home to egrets, great blue herons, and ground hogs, you can basically walk anywhere, even on top of the fort’s walls. There’s a lot of open grassy space within and without the fort, and along the riverbank are overgrown and unexcavated buildings.

Much larger than Eastern State Penitentiary, which has so successfully combined arts programming and historical tours, Fort Mifflin, which was also used as a prison during the Civil War, seems ripe for unique arts programming to draw people to the site, and for the fort and its surroundings to serve as inspiration to a variety of artists. It’s near the airport, down Enterprise Road where private jets are parked. On the way you might pass the wheelie-loving ATV kids, a subculture that is springing up in left-aside Philadelphia landscapes. Officially there is a $6 entrance fee, but where you pay for this is not obvious (it’s the “hospital” building); the staff is almost nonexistent and at times hidden and inebriated; visitors just seem to wander about. For added strangeness, every five minutes a large jet flies overhead at 300 feet and descending.

Directions: Near the airport. Go south on I-95, take Exit 15 Island Avenue/Enterprise Avenue. Follow Enterprise and at stop sign turn left onto Fort Mifflin Road. Times: Weds–Sun 10–4.

–Josh McIlvain

Photos by Josh McIlvain

Headlong Dance Theater lets audiences (and each other) in on their Live Arts Festival plans

Posted May 7th, 2009

On Saturday, April 4, Headlong Dance Theater (www.headlong.org) presented The Big Reveal to a packed house at the Arts Bank on Broad and South streets. Headlong’s three artistic directors–David Brick, Amy Smith, and Andrew Simonet–have choreographed as a unit for sixteen years. But for 2009’s Live Arts show, they have thrown their process out the window, and gone from working together to working separately and in secret. Under the guidance of choreographer Tere O’Connor (www.tereoconnordance.org), each of them sought to create a work built solely from the exploration of movement, and letting what emerged dictate the outcome (as oppose to predetermining a structure and fitting the choreography to it). The Big Reveal was the culmination of this initial phase of this creation, and it was as much as revelation to the artistic directors, none of whom had seen the others’ works, as to the audience.

The show started with David Brick’s piece (the audience learned who staged what at the end of the evening), which was partly inspired by photographs of dead soldiers on a beach. A tiny wooden figure model stood downstage, and as each dancer emerged onto stage, she or he would imitate, consider, or juxtapose their body in relation to the form the model (dancers enjoyed moving its arms and legs in a position they like best). From these actions, the dancers, having gained movement and poses from the figure, now explored with those movements with each other. One dancer went around high kicking like a toy soldier, others found solace with a kiss, each defined her own space and as a group they created new meaning to the spaces in between.

The next piece, Amy Smith’s, opened with the dancers clad in white, their arms disappearing into furry hand-warmers, and jumping up and down. Funny, odd, and at times systematic movements had the dancers struggling to become individuals even as they worked in tandem. “The piece ended up being about loneliness and it has a very abstract setting–my fantasy version of Attu Island, Alaska [check it out on a birders site here and some WWII shots here], which is the farthest island on the Aleutian archipelago,” explains Smith. “It’s cold, it’s lonely, there are birds, there’s fog, and a few people manning a LORAN station and listening to radio broadcasts from far, far away.”

The final work of the evening was Andrew Simonet’s, and took place in a workspace, complete with a working time clock. It became apparent that this was the workplace of the dancers, as one by one they would punch in, dance a bit, chat, strike a pose, eat. All the while a very humorous monologue gave instructions on maintaining one’s health and peace of mind. “The piece makes visible–and audible–the constant, invisible, absurd maintenance of the body,” says Simonet.

After the performance, a talkback session was held with the audience, the three artistic directors, the dancers, and Tere O’Connor. Method, reactions, and the intensity of the process were discussed. Having revealed the pieces to each other, the next phase of their creation begins: now the task for David, Amy, and Andrew is find a way to bring their suddenly disparate visions together.

Check out this write up by Lauren Friedman of Philadelphia City Paper.

–Josh McIlvain

Devynn Emory strikes a pose at the Big Reveal. Photo by Elizabeth Hershey.

Nicole Canuso (Niki Cousineau in background). Photo by Bill Hebert.

In-progress Preview of STORE by kate watson-wallace/anonymous bodies

Posted May 6th, 2009

Early this spring one Friday night, March 27th to be exact, at the Parlor (1170 Broad Street, the once funeral parlor, now headquarters to Headlong Dance Theater), kate watson-wallace/anonymous bodies performed an in-progress sneak preview of STORE. It was the first look at the show they will debut this September at the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival. Veiled figures rose from a floor of discarded clothes, and ever-so-slowly came to life, some tortured, some frenzied, some yearning for the best deals of years gone by. One man fornicated with a television. Farther off and facing the back wall, a couple with clothing-covered faces had a fleeting romantic encounter. After various intertwining movement, the entire group jumped for joy at all the possibilities of merchandise, licked their lips, ready to consume, and then choked to death on their own orgy of buying.

The piece lasted about 25 minutes, followed by a feedback session with the audience. Kate and her fellow dancers Heather Murphy, Makoto Hirano, Jaamil Kosoko, Lorin Lyle, and John Luna spoke of their improvisational research on the dance floor and their field-trip research to Wal-Mart, an experience some performers found frightening. While the show will ultimately be performed in an abandoned big-box retail store and not a rehearsal studio, audiences spoke of how they were sucked into this world of STORE, particularly the feelings of isolation, where each dancer seemed to be focused on him or herself, even when they were moving in unison.

One of the great things about the evening was that some, all, or none of what was seen may remain when the show is performed in September. At that time, not only will the choreography be fully realized, but video projections and original audio will also be fully integrated into the work. So the preview became a special one-time only performance featuring work that will never be put together the same way again.

Kate will be performing another in-progress excerpt of STORE Thursday, May 7, at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in Pittsburgh.

–Josh McIlvain