Digital Playbill: Sp3

sp3 program

Photo by Bill Hebert

About the Show

About <fidget>

Creative Team

Artist Statement

Bios

Nerd Out

Supporters

Coming up at FringeArts

About the Show

In our age of alienation through technology and political divides, simply being together has become a political act. Sp3 deals abstractly with themes of alienation and the technologized body. We call into question the concept of “presence,” and ask how one can remain present, embodied, and engaged, allowing art in general and the body in specific to remain a site of resistance to complacency.

Through pattern-based repetitions that loop and evolve, Sp3 weaves sound and movement into a fabric of shifting performance qualities, approaching “presence” as material to be shaped and cultivating a sensitivity to time unfolding, to environment, to human relation.

Oscillating between analogue and digital synthesis, Sp3’s music relies on algorithms to produce a layered, multifaceted sound world that resides in the territory of pulse pattern minimalism. Sp3’s six dancers create clear, formal architectures that are populated with densely textured movement.

About <fidget>

2018 is <fidget>’s 10th anniversary year! Founded in 2008, <fidget> is a platform for the collaborative work of Megan Bridge (choreographer) and Peter Price (composer/video art), who bring in additional ensemble members depending on the needs of each project. As collaborators and artistic partners, Bridge and Price have created more than twenty original works that involve live performance, sound, and visual design. <fidget>’s work has toured in the US to Detroit, New York, Pittsburgh, and Phoenix, and internationally to Berlin, Dresden, and Dusseldorf, Germany; Poznan and Bytom, Poland, Johannesburg and Grahamstown, South Africa, as well as Bogotá, Colombia, Vienna, Austria and Zurich, Switzerland. <fidget> has created new work in residencies at West Chester University and Arizona State University, with dance companies Group Motion (Philadelphia) and Walking Gusto Productions (Johannesburg) as well as at the LABfactory in Vienna. In 2009, <fidget> opened thefidget space, a warehouse live/work space and experimental performance venue in Kensington, Philadelphia. <fidget> receives funding support from the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and has also been supported through grants from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, The Independence Foundation, The Network for Ensemble Theaters, The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania. www.thefidget.org

Creative Team

Lead Artist Peter Price Choreographer Megan Bridge in collaboration with the dancers Composer Peter Price Costume Designer Patricia Dominguez Lighting Designer Mark O’Maley Dancers Megan Bridge, Marie Brown, Ann-Marie Gover, Megan Wilson Stern, Kat Sullivan, Zornitsa Stoyanova

Artist Statement

The origin of <fidget>’s collaborative work is multimedia dance theater, an orientation that follows the historical legacies of Bauhaus, Ausdruckstanz, 1960’s experimentalism, performance art of the 70’s and 80’s, and developing digital multimedia. <fidget> aims to challenge conceptual paradigms in the arts and humanities and to deepen thinking about culture and the nature of human experience. <fidget>’s work strives to cultivate a sensitivity to time unfolding, to the actual material of space, and centers around demystifying the performance experience, for artists and audience alike.

Legacy and historicity is an important aspect of <fidget>’s work. The company has cultivated relationships with the work of master artists in its lineage in experimental American performing arts, for example with the John Cage Trust, with composer Robert Ashley, with electronic musician Bruce Haack, and with choreographers Lucinda Childs, Steve Paxton, and Lisa Nelson.

<fidget>’s performances are complex worlds, shifting landscapes, awkward dystopias with rules of their own. Referential and even appropriationist, the work is grounded in the discourses of contemporary art, culture, and theory (we like experiments), and can be seen as a sort of metaphysical spelunking: churning up bits of evidence with which to construct a biological commentary on the characteristics of a rapidly approaching post-human era. Somatic, improvisationally generated movement is choreographed into formalist structures.  Interactive technology creates a sonic and visual environment which breathes in response to the dance.

Central to <fidget>’s mission is decreasing the distance between art and life, between theory and practice. We do this by raising our family in our live/work space, and opening our space to other artists, researchers, and cultural workers who are making an impact on the world around us through hundreds of daily acts of creativity and resistance to the mainstream.

Bios

Megan Bridge is a dancer, choreographer, producer, educator, and dance writer based in Philadelphia. She is the co-director of <fidget>, a platform for her collaborative work with composer, designer, and musicologist Peter Price. In January 2016, Bridge joined the faculty of the dance department at Temple University as an adjunct professor, where she teaches a variety of studio and lecture classes. She writes and edits for thINKingDANCE, and has published articles in Dance Magazine, Pointe, and The Dance Chronicle. She has been an artist in residence and guest teacher at Haverford College, West Chester University, Franklin & Marshall College, and University of Arizona. In 2013 she was named “Best of Philly” for stage performance by Philadelphia Magazine. As a professional dancer Bridge has worked with choreographers and companies such as Group Motion, Steve Paxton and Lisa Nelson, Jerome Bel, Willi Dorner, Lucinda Childs, David Gordon, Susan Rethorst, and Headlong Dance Theater, and has studied with Deborah Hay, Xavier LeRoy, Miguel Gutierrez, and Jan Fabre. She has toured as a dancer and choreographer to cities throughout the US and abroad in Austria, Colombia, Cyprus, Germany, Japan, Lithuania, Poland, South Africa, and Switzerland. She lives with her husband and two kids in a warehouse space in North Philly.

Marie Brown, originally from Jacksonville, Florida, moved to Philadelphia in 2005 after graduating from Radford University with a BFA in Dance.  While in Philadelphia, she had the honor to work with a variety of companies and independent artists such as Scrap Performance Group, Group Motion Dance Company, MacArthur Dance Project, StoneDepotDance Lab, Chisena Danza, Beau Hancock, Jodi Obeid, and Olive Prince Dance.  She has recently returned to Philadelphia after graduating with an MFA in Dance Performance from The University of Iowa and is most recently working with Chisena Danza and Megan Bridge.  She is currently an adjunct professor at Temple University and is also  looking to create her own work after many years of identifying as a performer through a program called HATCH.  She looks forward to continuing teaching and exploring dance for years to come.

Patricia Dominguez is a Philadelphia based artist that dabbles in both performance and design. She enjoys experimenting with fabric and is forever interested by how costume is part of the experience of the performance. She has worked with several independent choreographers in the Philadelphia area as well as directs ArcheDream for Humankind, a black light mask and dance theater company.

Ann-Marie Gover studied Modern Dance at University of the Arts in Philadelphia. After graduating in 2013, Ann-Marie performed both domestically and internationally with Brian Sanders’ JUNK. More recently, Ann-Marie has collaborated with MAC Cosmetics (Dubai), Curet Performance Project (NYC), Kate Watson-Wallace (NYC/PHL/Chicago), and Lucy Kerr (NYC).  In 2015, Ann-Marie participated in the National Dance Institute Teacher Training Program. She has worked as a Dance Educator at Koresh and with Ballet X’s Dance eXchange Outreach Program. In 2017, Ann-Marie piloted “I see you,” a movement workshop for LGBTQ youth. Ann-Marie is also a fitness educator and certified Pilates instructor. She graduated from Drexel University’s pilates program in 2015. She trains clients at Equinox Sports Club (NYC).  Currently, Ann-Marie is the co-artistic director of an untitled opera based on Ovid’s “Metamorphosis” in collaboration with Rocky Bostick and students at Yale University.

Mark O’Maley is an instigator of space, bodies, &amp; ideas – who wears his heart on his sleeve, and the sky on his arm. He lights mostly dance as people talk too much as it is. Recent lighting designs include 50 Song Memoir for Stephin Merritt &amp; The Magnetic Fields which premiered at Mass MoCA &amp; Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival before an international tour including CAP/UCLA, Primavera Sound Barcelona, Edinburgh International Festival, Barbican Centre, and The Melbourne Festival; Trio A with Yvonne Rainer, Continuous Relation for Kyle Abraham, Solo In Nine Parts for Jessica Lang, City Of Rain for Camille A. Brown, and Beautiful Human Lies with Rennie Harris’ GrassRoots Project. Many years ago in the 215 Mark designed for the likes of Headlong, New Paradise, Pig Iron, Megan Bridge/&lt;fidget&gt;, Moxie, Rebecca Sloan, Brian Sanders’ JUNK, Nichole Canuso Dance Company, Emmanuelle Delpech, Liz Staruch, and so on. But his favorite 215 work was that of Reactionaries – which he co- directed with Bethany Formica. Mark has served on the dance faculties of Rutgers University, University of Colorado Boulder, Franklin Pierce University, and Arcadia University. O’Maley earned his BA from the University Without Walls program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and his MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College.

Peter Price is a composer, electronic musician, and digital artist. Peter is co-director of thefidget space, a platform for his collaborative work with choreographer Megan Bridge. The project is based in Philadelphia as a research laboratory for new forms of art, performance, and media. Peter Price studied at Oberlin conservatory and the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and completed his doctorate at The European Graduate School / EGS in Switzerland where he now teaches music philosophy as a Professor of Media Theory and Music. Peter’s compositions for ensembles of acoustic and electronic instruments have been performed by the Relache and Network for New Music ensembles, and he has performed as a laptop soloist in performances of works by John Cage and Pierre Boulez with Orchestra 2001. Peter has an extensive history of collaboration with Group Motion and other dance companies and performance artists in Philadelphia as a composer and video artist. His work has toured to Tokyo, Poland, Lithuania, New York, Vienna, Berlin, Dresden, South Africa and most recently Bogotá Colombia.

Megan Wilson Stern is a movement artist and educator who recently left her home in Philadelphia to travel, learn, and work towards creating a life in a more rural setting. She has been thrilled to be able to come back to work on Sp3, her first project with <fidget>. While living in Philly, Megan worked with many companies including The Naked Stark, Leah Stein Dance Company, and Anne-Marie Mulgrew and Dancers Co. She performs improvisation regularly and has worked for many years as a teacher and organizer of Contact Improvisation. Megan loves working with kids and has taught creative movement, ballet, and Yoga to young children at the University City Arts League and Koresh School of Dance. She taught Yoga at studios and gyms around the city and at Temple University. Megan is currently completing training to become a Feldenkrais Practitioner, and is certified to teach group classes in the Feldenkrais Method.

Zornitsa Stoyanova is a performance artist, curator, lighting designer, photographer, filmmaker, teacher, writer for thinkingdance.net and mom of two little boys. A native of Bulgaria, she creates, produces and presents performing art and video under the name Here[begin] Dance. Presently, she works as Programs and Finance Coordinator at Mascher Space Co-op. She questions the ideas of the constructed structures of performance and pushes the boundaries of social propriety. Mylar reflective material and custom lighting are integral parts of her most recent work, which focuses on abstracting the female body, feminist ideas and imagery. She is an advocate for parenting artists and is getting better at juggling travel, rehearsals and art-making with nursing, washing, playing, walking, cooking and not sleeping. She keeps sane by listening to sci-fi books from female writers. Any recommendations on that front are deeply appreciated. www.herebegindance.com

Kat J. Sullivan is a dancer, choreographer, and writer currently based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Starting at the age of 13, she received her early dance training at Dance For Joy in Brielle, New Jersey. She graduated with a B.A. in Dance and a minor in Anthropology from Franklin & Marshall College in May of 2014. During her years of undergraduate study, she performed with the F&M Dance Company all four years, which included reconstructions of Martha Graham’s Celebration and Mark Morris’ Polka. Kat also practiced, performed with, and lead the campus’ compositional improvisation ensemble, Just Say Yes. Upon her commencement from F&M, Kat had received a Hackman Summer Study Scholarship to research the teaching and experience of compositional improvisation with Pamela Vail, as well as the Excellence in Choreography Award. Since moving to Philadelphia in July 2014, Kat has been performing and creating work regularly. She has performed with companies such as Trio C, Antonia & Artists, Anne-Marie Mulgrew & Dancers Co., and <fidget>. Kat has performed and produced work throughout Pennsylvania and New York; notably, in Koresh’s Come Together Festival (PHL), the Philly Fringe Festival (PHL), and the Triskelion Arts Comedy in Dance Festival (NYC). Her summers have continued to include studies at the Movement Intensive for Compositional Improvisation (MICI) with The Architects in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In addition to ongoing rehearsals, performances, and projects, Kat has taught as an adjunct at Temple University and works as a writer and member of the Communications Team for thINKingDANCE. Her writing is published regularly on TD and has been featured on CurateThis. Her other artistic endeavors and collaborations include an ongoing photography + dance project with photographer Paul H Taylor and various pick-up projects with other artists in Philadelphia.

Nerd Out

The title Sp3 is shorthand for “space, pulse, pattern, and presence,” four abstract concepts that sparked our research for this work. Although we started out with the aim to make an abstract, formalist performance work, we found that narrative and reference kept creeping in. Sp3 obliquely grapples with the increasingly post-human nature of modern living, where technology is wedged between us and everything, breaking into our interpersonal relationships as well as our relationships to time and our environment. With this work, we seek to disrupt this interference, relocate the organic, and position the notion of presence as something radical.

There is a cyborg or post-human feeling to some of the movement—not starkly robotic but still imbued with something uncanny. The movement quality, coupled with the music’s oscillation between digital and analogue synthesis, invoke philosopher Paul Virillio’s notion of the “point of bionic contact,” when technology and the body begin to come together. Sp3 manifests our ideas around the ‘sharpening of affect’ that we see both in the media and social interactions, and especially at the intersection of the two: social media. We ask ourselves how abstract conceptual properties like space, pulse, pattern, and presence modulate affective relationships and contribute to the ‘sharpening.’

An Uncanny Approach to Presence: An Interview With Megan Bridge and Peter Price

FringeArts: What was the first idea behind Sp3?

Peter Price: Sp3 is shorthand for space, pulse, pattern, presence. So the initial kernel of the work came out of discussions around those somewhat abstract concepts. We knew we wanted to make a work in a way we have not in some time—mostly set choreography to composed music.

Our last large piece was to preexisting music by the late great composer Robert Ashley, and much of our collaborative practice involves improvisation of both music and dance. So it had been some time since I wrote a piece of scored music of significant scope and Megan choreographed to it.  We began by thinking about the different ways these concepts map to sound and to the body. What does pulse mean and how is it articulated musically or by a dancer? What does playing with pattern do compositionally or choreographically?

Megan Bridge: Peter and I were having brunch (sans kids . . . rare!) on the day after Dust closed at FringeArts, and we were discussing our next projects. We knew that Peter was going to be the lead artist on our next collaboration, and after making Dust I was really excited again about music coming first and letting the body be moved by sound, treating sonic material as a physical phenomenon in the space, and figuring out what it does to the other material that occupies that same space.

In terms of the evolution of the work, I’d say we started very abstract, just playing with material, but as stuff started to stick we realized it had this dark, uncanny vibe. The mood of the piece started to feel very related to our perception of the world around us right now—tension-filled, edgy. So for me the biggest evolution is witnessing that mood and subtle narrativity weave its way into the work.

FringeArts: How is Sp3 structured? What does that structure enable you to do?

Peter Price: Part of the original conception of the piece for me was that the music was going to be continuously pulsed over for about an hour. So the historical models would be the classics of “pulse-pattern minimalism” like Terry Riley’s In C or Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians. As we developed the piece that conception evolved and much of the first half of the piece is now concerned musically with non-pulsed dark atmospheres. The second half of the score remains continuously pulsed and unfolds in six main sections. Each of these sections, though sharing tempo and meter, has their own characteristic sound world and compositional approach to rhythmic pattern. A major concern compositionally is exploring the balance between novelty and redundancy so that the perception of the passing of time changes from section to section even if the clock time of the pulse does not.

FringeArts: What makes you nervous about creating/doing this work?

Peter Price: Sp3 will be the longest continuous score I have written for <fidget>—sixty minutes is a lot of music. Megan and I have had many conversations over the years about what we would like to see in the interactions of music and dance, or more broadly sound and the moving body. So, I want to not only produce a score I’m happy with aesthetically but one that maps out an aesthetic position that answers the questions we’ve had about what music can do for dance and vice versa.

Megan Bridge: This is the first work EVER that I have made where I am really transmitting my own movement aesthetic, generated from my own dancing—mostly improvising—body, on to a group of dancers. In the past, I either had my dancers generate the phrase material with me collaboratively, or I had them improvise their own movement sequences which I would shape. So, this is different.

I auditioned this cast and selected the five other dancers besides me who I felt most embodied my own movement aesthetic, who could sort of “do” me in a way. And then we started improvising, and talking, and moving, and talking, and dancing, and talking, for several intensive workshop or rehearsal periods over the last two years starting in fall of 2015. As the work developed I became more able to describe the kind of movement approaches I was looking for—sequencing spine, for example, and articulated joints—and we kept building up piles of qualities and characteristics, movement portfolios you could call them.

It’s an extremely personal movement aesthetic that I have built over years of improvising to Peter’s music, and it is super exciting, and new, and a little strange for me to see that translated onto other bodies. I think it’s done that way in a lot of modern dance, but because my background is more post-modern, we tend to avoid those kinds of hierarchies—in the same way that we tend to avoid the “music first” hierarchy. So, for me, it feels daring to circle back to those approaches.

FringeArts: How does your personal and artistic attraction to technology play into Sp3?

Peter Price: As a composer I have always been first and foremost an electronic musician. So technology has been integral to my artistic process. One of the great opportunities a work of this scope affords me is the exploration of new technological approaches to my compositional vision. The score for Sp3, while unified by an overall compositional approach, is quite diverse in technological detail. Much of the sound world of the piece is colored by the rich sounds of analog synthesizers and I’m thinking in terms of oscillators, filters, control voltage step sequencers, but simultaneously I’m working with digital synthesis and computer based manipulation of sound, or even algorithmic generation of material. In the generation of materials I also found myself borrowing from the techniques of DJs I admire as much as from more traditional composers.

Megan Bridge: Conceptually, there is a definite technological thread running through this work. From the very beginning when Peter and I started improvising together for this piece, the movement coming out of my body had a cyborg-feeling to it. There is an uncanny approach to presence, and to how we are using the face and gesture. Not robotic, but somehow post-human. We had a body of movement that we called “creatures,” but the creatures were never quite animalistic—there is something more there. It’s not denying the organic or biologic, but there’s something more there, something layered on top. Tweaked. Like what might happen to humans at the “point of bionic contact,” as philosopher Paul Virillio says, when technology and the body come together.

FringeArts: What have you been working on most in fine-tuning?

Peter Price: The balance between novelty and redundancy is a prime concern. We are also very concerned with the balance between abstract explorations of space, pattern, et cetera, and affective qualities of mood, atmosphere, and even hints of narrativity.

Megan Bridge: We set out to make a very abstract, non-narrative, structuralist kind of piece, but over time our human anxieties over the quickly changing social and political landscape began to make itself felt more and more. So we talk a lot about what we call the “sharpening of affect” that we see both in the media and social interactions, and especially at the intersection of these two: social media. We ask ourselves how abstract conceptual properties like space, pulse, pattern, and presence modulate affective relationships and contribute to the “sharpening.”


Supporters

Special thanks to FringeArts and their entire staff for helping us bring this work to the stage for the first time. A big shout out to Sarah Bishop-Stone for her tireless support on this project along the way. And a huge thank you to the dancers in this project, including those who participated in earlier versions of the work and development workshops, and whose invaluable creative input is all over the work: Kate Abernathy, Elise Alvarez, Audrey Bova, Antonia Brown, Marie Brown, Maria Carroll, CrystalNicole, Ann-Marie Gover, Loren Groenendaal, Gina Hoch-Stall, Nafissa McClenny, Chelsea Murphy, Jenny Sawyer, Nina Scalia, Megan Wilson Stern, Kat Sullivan, Zornitsa Stoyanova, Grace Ten Broeck, and Mary Weese. Finally, thank you to our kids, Tristan Price (choreographic and compositional assistance) and Freya Price (rehearsal assistant), whose curiosity, intuition, and patience are invaluable parts of our creative process. Sp3 was developed in part during Camp Fringe 2017 at FringeArts, Philadelphia. Support for <fidget> provided by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.


Coming Up at FringeArts

Clock That Mug or Dusted
Cherdonna Shinatra
February 22-24

This conceptual and inspirational homage to feminist performance artists—from Anna Halprin to Janine Antoni—plays on the body as a canvas for social change, rebellion, and personal expansion. Hyperbolizing the normal humiliations of human existence, Jody Kuehner’s beloved drag/dance bio-fem icon Cherdonna Shinatra uses birthday cake and drag make-up to produce a work of that’s part contemporary dance, part performance art, with a stage that becomes like a living canvas. Clock that Mug or Dusted draws on vintage feminist ideals to find what present day queer/drag feminism might be.

The Saturday 8pm performance will be ASL interpreted by Hands UP Productions.