< BLOG

Archive for the ‘Presented Fringe’ Category

Tonight: Dean & Britta at Johnny Brenda’s

Posted June 4th, 2009

Come with us to see Dean & Britta at Johnny Brenda’s later on. They’re on a brief (as in three nights through Philly/DC/New York) before taking 13 Most Beautiful…Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests worldwide. Well, Europe-wide, mostly, at least for now.

If you’re lucky (and you probably will be), you’ll get to hear a few of the songs from the 13 Most Beautiful… soundtracks, and whet your appetite for the full performance at the Live Arts Festival this fall. To learn more about the show, check out our Q&A with Dean from earlier this week. See you tonight!

–Nicholas Gilewicz

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

Pushing Daisey

Posted June 2nd, 2009

Mike Daisey is unlike any other performer you’ll see at the 2009 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival. He’s not an actor. He’s not a dancer. He’s not directing or performing experimental site-specific work. He’ll be at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, home of the Philadelphia Theatre Company, seated in a chair, at a table. But his act is a bit of a high-wire one: Mike works with ideas, and without a script.

In a 2007 New York Times profile, Jason Zinoman wrote that, “At their best his shows recreate that rare moment when you can see a performer actually thinking through an idea.” Zinoman’s article details Mike’s process very well, but of perhaps greatest note is that Mike works with an outline, a framework for his monologues, and every performance evolves differently. Jean-Michele Gregory, Mike’s director, artistic collaborator, and wife, helps the flow of ideas cohere into a stream that illustrates Mike’s own thought processes, trials, and successes, and through these, explores broader cultural phenomena and problems. The wide-ranging subjects Mike takes on through his website, www.mikedaisey.com, hint at both the pleasures his shows, and at the challenges of unifying such disparate topics into one night of theater.

How Theater Failed America generated some controversy last year as Mike, a popular and respected performer, turned his both his wit and his critical eye on his own forum and on some of his own hosts around the country. Last spring, Gothamist.com ran a great interview with Mike in which he talked about the show and the theater community’s responses. That PTC, a renowned regional theater company, is co-presenting a show that is often critical of regional theater, is most definitely to their credit.

We’re hoping to have a Q&A with Mike about The Last Cargo Cult up pretty soon. In the meantime, you should definitely check out his YouTube channel, where he’s posted a number of short videos, excerpts from his performances, and a pretty harrowing video of an audience member coming on stage and pouring water over (and destroying) his performance notes.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo by Ursa Waz

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.

13 Most Beautiful…: Dean Wareham Q&A

Posted June 1st, 2009

From 1964 through 1966, Andy Warhol shot over 500 Screen Tests of people in and around his Silver Factory. These shorts feature some of Warhol’s “superstars” like Ultra Violet and Ingrid Superstar, artists Marcel Duchamp and Salvador Dali, and current and future cultural icons including Allen Ginsberg, Dennis Hopper, Bob Dylan, and Lou Reed. The films are surprisingly meditative, especially for the amphetamine-fueled crash through life that was the Factory scene.

The Screen Tests distill essential themes of Warhol’s work, especially his fascination with surfaces and the construction and performance of personality. Two years ago, the Andy Warhol Museum and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust commissioned the band Dean & Britta to write soundtracks to the films. The resulting performance, 13 Most Beautiful . . . Songs for Andy Warhol Screen Tests, is coming to the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival in September.

Dean Wareham (the Dean half) has had an illustrious career: fronting Galaxie 500; garnering accolades from pretty much everyone during Luna’s 14-year run; and since 2005, doing the same with Dean & Britta. (For details, see his memoir, Black Postcards.) In advance of Thursday night’s Dean & Britta show at Johnny Brenda’s (a regular concert, not the 13 Most Beautiful . . . performance), I talked to Dean about composing soundtracks to the work of one of modern art’s giants.

When did you see Warhol’s Screen Tests for the first time?
About two years ago, when Ben Harrison called me from the Warhol museum. I’d seen Kiss, which is one of [Warhol’s] earlier films, snippets of Screen Tests and a couple of movies. It’s probably a part of his work that people aren’t that familiar with. None of the films were on DVD until now. [These 13 Screen Tests, accompanied by the Dean & Britta soundtracks, came out on DVD last month.] The only Warhol films on DVD aren’t really Warhol films, they’re Paul Morrissey films like Trash, presented by Andy Warhol, but not directed by him.

What kind of impression did they leave on you?
There’s a lot of them – almost 500. Some of them are kind of boring, but some of them are great. I think it depends on the subject. Sometimes it was just someone pulled in off the street, sometimes it was Salvador Dali. I think strange things happen to people when you put them in front of a camera. They’re almost a psychological exercise, what people present over those three minutes, but then they’re played back at silent film speed of 16 fps [frames per second] for four minutes. If you slow down our facial impressions, like a mother looking at a baby, a myriad of expressions go by that we don’t normally see.

Read More

The Weekender: What You’re Doing and Why

Posted May 29th, 2009

If you don’t know, now you know:

>>>Tonight: Bread and Puppet Theater, world-renowned left-wing political puppetry from the wilds of Vermont, touches down in Liberty Lands Park for a free show tonight. Keep in mind, this brand of puppetry is geared more toward the inner anti-capitalist children of adults rather than toward actual children. Free, but donations accepted.
Tonight, 7:30 pm, Liberty Lands Park, North 3rd Street between Poplar and Wildey.

>>>Starting Saturday: the Peregrine Arts-produced Hidden City Philadelphia. We talked to managing producer Jay Wahl yesterday about reinterpreting historical sites through contemporary art and performance, and we are absolutely psyched about this project. Some of our staff are even volunteering! If you simply must see every site, Hidden City offers three-hour, $30 bus tours of the whole shebang twice a day on each of the next three Saturdays.
May 30 through June 28, various times, sites, and ticket prices. Visit www.hiddencityphila.org for a full schedule.

>>>Sunday: ARTspiration!, the Fleisher Art Memorial‘s community arts festival, takes over the 700 block of Catharine Street for family-friendly arts endeavors. My favorite: bicycle arts workshops that help cyclists of all ages trick out their rides. I hope there will be chrome. Be sure to visit the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe table, where we’ll be giving away two tickets to a 2009 Live Arts show of your choice!
May 31, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, 705 Christian Street, 719 Catherine Street, and the 700 block of Catherine Street.

>>>Sunday: You know you love Vox Populi and how they, along with Philly’s other art collectives, keep contemporary work vibrant in a pretty conservative art town. After saying hi to us at Fleisher and transforming your bicycle into an eight-foot-tall megalith, ride it on up to Vox Pop. PAFA‘s curator of contemporary art, Julien Robson, is having an open gallery talk with artists Stefan Abrams, Charles Hobbs, and Roxana Perez-Mendez, whose work is up right now. And in case you forgot, Sunday’s also the deadline for their fifth annual emerging artists exhibition. Jurors are Larry Mangel, founder of CerealArt, and young comer Ryan Trecartin. Who else is impressed/jealous that only five years out of RISD, Trecartin’s already had work in the Whitney Biennial and was featured in the “Younger Than Jesus” show at the New Museum? Yeah, thought so.
Vox Populi gallery talk, May 31, 3:00 pm, 319 North 11th Street.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

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

Bacon Is Delicious. And Mysterious. Unless You’re Vegan. Then Only Mysterious.

Posted May 27th, 2009

Mike Daisey is, bluntly, a brilliant performer. His monologue The Last Cargo Cult will see its world premiere at the 2009 Live Arts Festival, where he’ll also perform his show How Theater Failed America. Last month, he launched “Mysteries of the Unexplained” at Joe’s Pub in Manhattan. It’s a series of one-off, one-night-only performances, each of which takes on one mysterious topic.

Mike’s posted an MP3 of live musings on Facebook, the first topic. I can’t embed it here, but follow this link to hear Mike’s discursive and incisive musings on the social media giant. (And follow this one to become our fan.) As per his website, topics also include “Maureen Dowd, the death of print media, the movie Young Guns, the evolution of douchebags, and all points between.”

Next up, in case you haven’t guessed from the title of this post and Mike’s photo illustration above: bacon. Mike promises that over the course of the night, he will cook enough for everyone.

“Bacon tastes good.”
-John Travolta as Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction

Mike Daisey Presents Mysteries of the Unexplained: Bacon!

Monday, June 8 at 9:30 p.m.
Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, New York.
Tickets here.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo illustration via mikedaisey.com.

Live Arts Artist News: This Guy is Going to Assistant Direct at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre

Posted May 26th, 2009

Congrats to Alex Torra, who’s headed to Steppenwolf Theatre Company to assistant direct their production of Up. In collaboration with Steppenwolf, the Princess Grace Foundation, which funds scholarships, apprenticeships, and fellowships to dance and theater artists, awarded Alex a new grant taking him to Chicago.

Steppenwolf is a highly collaborative ensemble-based theater that regularly produces some of the best plays in the country. When I lived in Chicago, I had the chance to see (and adored) their 2000 production of novelist Don DeLillo’s play Valparaiso. From around the same time, everybody loved Orson’s Shadow, written by ensemble member Austin Pendleton, which ultimately headed to New York’s Barrow Street Theatre in 2005 for a highly acclaimed run. Their production of August: Osage County ultimately won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and for the same play, director Anna D. Shapiro won a Tony Award. Alex will be assistant directing under Shapiro; one of the cast members he’ll work with is Martha Lavey, who’s served as the artistic director of Steppenwolf since 1995.

Alex first appeared with Pig Iron Theatre (Welcome to Yuba City) in Anodyne in 2001, and an earlier grant from the Princess Grace Foundation reconnected him to Pig Iron in 2007. The June 26 performance of Up, which is both written and directed by past Award-winners, will serve as a benefit for the foundation.

Quick aside: When I was in Chicago, I would sometimes hit up Vinci, the excellent rustic Italian restaurant hosting the pre-show reception and dinner. This blogger, at least, gives it a hearty recommendation.

Up runs June 18 through August 23 at Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theatre.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo courtesy of Pig Iron.

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.

Read More

New Faces, New Fates

Posted May 20th, 2009

I never found much appeal in taking on a new persona. Sure, Halloween’s great; so are movies about Superman, Spiderman, Batman, and any other man that goes unnoticed by day and hunts villains by night. Sasha Fierce helps Beyonce double her ticket sales and publicity.

But even with all of these doppelgangers infiltrating our everyday lives, I never imagined I would want to invent my own alter ego. That is, before the launch party last Friday for New Paradise Laboratories’s FATEBOOK.

“People are so excited about creating fictional personas. . . . It’s like a masquerade ball,” says Whit MacLaughlin of his creation. “The whole FATEBOOK endeavor is a Petri dish.”

New Paradise Laboratories threw the party to introduce audiences to the idea of participating in FATEBOOK by creating online alter egos. FATEBOOK begins with character interaction and plot formation on Facebook and eventually culminates in a performance during the Live Arts Festival. The audience follows the performers’ stories as they develop online, and become a part of the show themselves.

In a hint of things to come, the night’s main attraction was the three large video projection screens surrounding the room. Some of the videos illuminating the room were of New Paradise Laboratories’s past performances. Others projections created the surreal effect of guests being illuminated by live streaming videos of themselves.

“The entire show is a catastrophic amount of stimulation,” Whit promises.

Watching myself and other guests interact in this way gave me new insight into how the FATEBOOK experiment mashes up the digital and real worlds. At the Live Arts performances of FATEBOOK, footage from the parties and live video from the show itself will be used to create a final, but indefinite product.

“Is it a show or a social experiment or a four dimensional movie?” asks Whit.

So I’m a convert: I’ve created my own alter ego. In fact, I think I’m hooked. I’m intrigued by a whole new persona to take part in a larger endeavor. And it might be the only time I’ll ever be invited to be a “performer” in a Live Arts show, so I—or, my online doppelganger—will be taking full advantage.

Look out for more FATEBOOK events in the near future. A workshop will be held at the beginning of July at which audiences and performers will shape the evolution of the story from the Internet to the stage. Two other parties will be held soon to bring the virtual and physical FATEBOOK communities together again.

–Jennifer Burrini

Photos by Matt Saunders

James Sugg Wins An OBIE!

Posted May 19th, 2009

Longtime Pig Iron member and Live Arts performer and composer James Sugg won a performance OBIE last night! Chekov Lizardbrain went off-Broadway at New York’s Ohio Theater last fall, and got a fantastic review from Christopher Isherwood in The New York Times.

Everybody is still psyched: Howard Shapiro reports on the win in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and at The Clog, Carolyn Huckabay writes that City Paper staff “can barely contain our theater-geek glee” – we can’t either!

Congrats to James from everybody here at Live Arts & Philly Fringe! He’s pictured to the left as a resident of mythic Yuba City, which will rise from the desert this fall as a dance-theater-vaudeville piece at the Live Arts Festival in September.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo courtesy of Pig Iron

Preview: 13 Most Beautiful…Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests

Posted May 15th, 2009

Dean and Britta‘s 13 Most Beautiful…Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests sets music to the screen tests of some of the best-known members of Warhol’s Factory crew, including Billy Name, Nico, Lou Reed and Edie Sedgwick.

The idea behind 13 Most Beautiful… is somewhat reminiscent of John Cale’s Eat/Kiss, a magisterial and deeply moving musical accompaniment to the eponymous Warhol films. The Andy Warhol Museum and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust commissioned Dean & Britta to write these soundtracks, and togther with the museum, they developed the multimedia performance that you’ll see at Live Arts this fall. In the meantime, you can watch this preview of the 13 Most Beautiful… DVD.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo by Rob Long

AUDITION TAPE: Jesse Paulsen

Posted May 14th, 2009

For FATEBOOK, the online/realspace party/performance hybrid that’s starting now and culminating in a live performance at the Live Arts Festival this fall, creating a richly interactive environment is key.

New Paradise Laboratories fostered this through the audition process, in which prospective cast members posted videos of themselves to YouTube. And video will be deeply integrated into the final performance, which features video-enhanced environments, live camera feeds, and a participatory performance of the final story of your FATEBOOK friends.

Here’s the tape of one cast member, newly minted Haverford grad Jesse Paulsen, whose tape is an adorably non-audition audition.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

TEN THINGS I LEARNED ON TANNA by Mike Daisey

Posted May 13th, 2009

Monologuist Mike Daisey will present the world premiere of The Last Cargo Cult at the 2009 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival. Cargo cults sprung up in various South Pacific islands mostly during the Second World War from from encounters with American military personnel and military cargo on these very remote islands. To research the show Mike visited the island of Tanna in the South Pacific, known for its John Frum cult (John Frum is a mythic American serviceman messiah of sorts). When he got back, Mike Daisey wrote some quick notes about his time there, which he originally posted on www.mikedaisey.com:

TEN THINGS I LEARNED ON TANNA by Mike Daisey

1. If someone tells you the reef is “flowering,” it means it has neurotoxins that roll your heart rate down to 30 beats a minute and then kills you. Also, when people call a place “Shark Bay” it is not figurative–it means there are many sharks, which you can see from the shore.

2. Kava is prepared by the plant being chewed by prepubescent boys, and then the pulpy mess is spat in a bowl, which is mixed with questionable water and then drunk. It tastes much like this description would imply.

3. When the volcano explodes, you can see the shockwaves in the air rushing toward you in the moment before it strikes you, and then the sound that follows. It is like God has punched you, or His hand is bursting up through the earth.

4. The John Frum celebrations are long: this year’s lasted nine hours, with a dinner break in the middle . . . from morning until nearly dusk. They act out scenes, a kind of living theater, with history of the island, America and other sources intermingled into a tremendous soap opera.

5. The many pieces of molten lava bursting from the volcano are the size of refrigerators and Volkswagen bugs. If one hits you the size won’t be the issue, or even fire . . . the heat is so intense that you would disintegrate. This has happened to visitors recently.

6. The Friday night celebrations, when the John Frum dance and sing all night til dawn under the deep night sky reflecting off Sulphur Bay, lit by the red glow of the volcano standing above the village like an angry God, is unforgettable. This I will carry to my grave.

7. When hunting a wild pig for dinner, you have to strike the pig solidly on the side of the head to knock them down, and then beat them with the pole until dead or dazed . . . then someone will slit the throat and finish the job.

8. A villager showed me his sacred Snoop Dogg amulet, I met people who worship Prince Philip of England as a risen god, and I talked with a man who had been taken by a documentary crew to New York City. He told me what he dreamed about, and the whole village sat together in silence, everyone naked except for penis sheaths and stone-age implements, listening to his stories of an alien land.

9. I spent a day with students at a school without water or power, where every book is a rare blessing . . . but confounding expectation, one out of every four had a cell phone. They charge them with solar chargers, like to play snake, and IM their friends to get together.

10. I learned a tremendous amount, made some lasting friendships, and reached across worlds just a bit. When I think about how alien this place seemed just weeks ago to me, I am surprised at my ignorance. It is an excellent lesson, and I am already missing this mysterious, primal island that has helped me a little to see our ordinary world in a new light.

–Mike Daisey

Photos by Mike Daisey.

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

test

Posted June 10th, 2008