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Posts Tagged ‘Tangle Movement Arts’

Getting In A Tangle: Meredith Rosenthal Goes In the Forest

Posted September 7th, 2018

A Fringe Festival favorite since 2011, Tangle Movement Arts is a contemporary circus arts company whose performances mix traditional circus like trapeze and acrobatics with dance, theater, and live music to tell multidimensional stories. Tangle’s work reflects individuals of diverse identities, with an emphasis on queer and female experiences, and is devised collaboratively by its all-female ensemble.

Meredith Rosenthal

FringeArts spoke to Meredith Rosenthal, a member of this ensemble, about Tangles new work In the Forest—an immersive world of circus-theater that surrounds the audience with a 360-degree display of aerial dance, live music, giant yarn sculptures, and circus magic. The show comes to the 2018 Fringe Festival September 12-15, at the Sanctuary at the Rotunda in West Philly..

FringeArts: How did you become involved with Tangle?

Meredith Rosenthal: About five years ago, Lauren Rile Smith discovered me at a student showcase at Philadelphia School of Circus Arts. My first ever performance! She asked me to be a guest artist for a TinyCircus show, one of Tangle’s pop-up circus events.

FringeArts: What do you like about the company?

Meredith Rosenthal: Tangle feels almost more like a community than a company. Everyone is so supportive and encouraging. We try to make accessible circus for the masses, whether it’s by outdoor performances or our energetic narrative shows.

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2018 Festival Spotlight: Circus Shows

Posted August 23rd, 2018

Contemporary circus is a growing genre in the performing art world, especially here in Philadelphia, and this year, Fringe artists are exploring its potential. Don’t miss these shows that push movement to new extremes!

Circadium Presents: Autopilot / Galactic Garden Party
Circadium
Double bill: Autopilot is a circus-based examination of how life’s instructions are given, taught, or learned, and how we navigate life with and without those instructions. Galactic Garden Party utilizes juggling, dance, scientific lectures, and theater to show the wonders of Earth, and what lies beyond the atmosphere in the cosmos.
More info and tickets here

Dead Flowers Circus Sideshow
Dead Flowers Circus Sideshow
Avant-garde performance ensemble Dead Flowers Circus Sideshow presents a veritable filth olympics. Mind and gender-bending spectacle, entertainment guaranteed. You may witness: A demonic clown host! Omnisexual burlesque! Heavy metal standup! Extreme acts of Sadomasochism! An authentic Arabian dance! Some Rock & Roll! Audience participation is not required, but volunteers have a lot of fun. No one bleeds but the performers.
More info and tickets here

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2017 Festival Spotlight: Family Friendly Fare, Part 2

Posted August 27th, 2017

Just because it’s at the Fringe doesn’t mean you have to leave the kids at home. Check out some of the Festival’s productions appropriate for all ages. Bring the whole family! Check out Part 1 here.

 

A Period of Animate Existence @ Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts 
Pig Iron Theatre Company

Children, elders, and machines contemplate the future in a time of dire predictions and rapid technological change in this work of symphonic theater. How do we contemplate the future in such a perilous time, an era called the “Sixth Extinction,” when up to 50 percent of all living species might die off? An inspired, large-scale melding of music, design, and theater, A Period of Animate Existence investigates the intense, unnamable emotions that arise in a time of extinction. More info and tickets here.

 

Photo by Michael Bach.

Lost in the Woods @ German Society of Pennsylvania
A Moment for Music

Lost in the Woods is the journey of two starving children who must find their way in a world that threatens to both empower and devour them. This family-friendly romp through Hansel and Gretel’s forest is a multimedia adventure featuring classical, jazz, and pop singing, lip-sync, and dance. More tickets and info here.

 

Photo by Michael Ermilio.

 

Life Lines @ Christ Church Neighborhood House 
Tangle Movement Arts

Seven women collide and are changed forever. In this dynamic circus-theater show, strangers meet their match, empty rooms listen in, and women find their power in flight. Tangle’s acrobats climb trapezes and aerial silks as they face sudden changes, spark chain reactions, and test the hidden threads that bind us.

 

Worktable @ BOK
Kate McIntosh

We provide the hammer, you do the rest. Worktable is a live installation that takes place in a series of rooms, which visitors engage with one at a time. Having signed up beforehand for a specific time slot, you enter and can stay as long as you like. Once inside there are instructions, equipment, and safety goggles so you can get to work—it’s up to you to decide how things come apart, and how they fall back together. More info and tickets here.

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Poetry in the Air: Tangle Movement Arts brings Life Lines to the Fringe

Posted July 26th, 2017

Rebecca Mo Davis in Life Lines

In their seventh consecutive Fringe Festival show, Tangle Movement Arts uses the poetry of aerial dance and acrobatics to express stories of loss. The show is Life Lines, and it blends together circus arts, theater, and live music.  Philadelphia-born Lauren Rile Smith is one of the producers of the show and founders of the company. “Life Lines is a portrait of a community that is recovering from sudden losses,” she says. “It follows the story of three different women who are processing and healing from really unexpected change: one losing a lover, one losing a sense of safety or security, one losing a sense of connection with others.” In line with much of Tangle’s past work, this show is intensely emotional. The artists use their movements as a physical language to express feelings of loss, “like when you literally feel like the ground can’t support you, or that the person who’s holding you will drop you suddenly.”

Lauren grew up in a family of artists. She’s the oldest of four sisters, all artists: one sister is a violist, one is a playwright, and another a glassblower. She had never practiced circus arts – she had been on the track to become a writer. But while studying English at Swarthmore College, Lauren encountered the writings of a dancer and acrobat that guided her in another direction. “I’ve had chronic pain for most of my adult life. She wrote about her body as though it were a companion, a creative project, a creative constraint, something to take care of, and something that took care of her. I was mesmerized by the possibility that really anyone could relate to their body that way, and I thought, I want that.” She began learning the trapeze in 2009, and found that the nature of the exercise, along with becoming stronger, diminished her pain. All at once, she found herself falling in love with the art form of trapeze. “I loved the way it married these concrete visual metaphors with these surreal actions, like spinning upside down.”

With a couple of friends, she started Tangle Movement Arts in 2011, as an all-women group that was barreling head-on into a new and growing contemporary circus arts movement. Their first show, Ampersand, was in the Fringe Festival that year. Since then, they’ve put on two major shows each year, along with smaller pop-up productions in between. Even though she’s from Philly, she found herself thrown into the Philly arts scene in a new way, discovering that it was a vibrant and innovative community. She met many artists that moved Philly specifically to make art. “I’m finding that it’s such a welcoming community, and the different artistic communities have such great overlap.” One of these artists was Megan Gendell, who wrote the words that inspired Lauren back in college and changed the way she viewed her body. (She has since collaborated with Tangle, in past shows Tell it Slant and Points of Light.)

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Fringe at 20 Profile: Lauren Rile Smith

Posted September 6th, 2016
Lauren Rile Smith headshot

Lauren Rile Smith (photo by Karen Rile)

Name: Lauren Rile Smith

Type of Artist: Trapeze artist and circus-theater producer

Company: Tangle Movement Arts

List of Fringe shows I’ve participated in:
Ampersand, Tangle Movement Arts, 2011 – Producer/Performer
You Don’t Say, Tangle Movement Arts, 2012 – Producer/Performer
Break/Drift/Resist, Tangle Movement Arts, 2013 – Producer/Performer
Loop, Tangle Movement Arts, 2014 – Producer/Performer
The Girl’s Guide to Neighborly Conduct, Tangle Movement Arts, 2015 – Producer/Performer

Fringe show I’m participating in for 2016: I’m producing and performing in Tangle’s 2016 show, Surface Tension, at Neighborhood House Sept. 14-17. We use trapeze and aerial silks to get under the skin of a Tinder date turned rocky relationship, an advice columnist who could use a taste of her own medicine, and a well-mannered office worker who snaps under pressure. It’s a circus-theater exploration of how much we see past the surface of other people—how much can you really know someone—at home, in the office, 20 feet in the air?

Tangle Movement Arts at FringeArts 4

Smith and Sal Nicolazzo (photo by Michael Ermilio)

First Fringe I attended: The first Fringe show I saw was 2008’s The Destruction of the City, and Also an Itinerary for Visitors, a show that was collaboratively devised by the theater ensemble Ad Hoc, using found text and live music and puppetry to evoke the ruins of Pompeii. I went to the performance because I had friends in the company, but also because I was curious about this multidisciplinary ensemble-generated devised-theater thing– what was it like? I was a writer and editorial assistant, just beginning the slow pivot in my life that eventually transformed me into a trapeze artist and ensemble-based circus-theater producer. True to its name, Ad Hoc only ever produced that one show, but the taste of freedom and magic potential I got from that Fringe show has inspired me ever since.

First show I produced/created at the Fringe: The Fringe Festival was the platform that launched my circus-theater company, Tangle Movement Arts, in 2011. On fire about the radical potential of circus performance, I wanted to make a feminist circus-theater show that mixed techniques from aerial acrobatics, dance, theater, and queer storytelling. I gathered a group of likeminded troublemakers and we worked obsessively for most of a year to create Ampersand. I had never produced a show before, but had this deep sense that it was possible. Sometimes I felt aware that I was re-inventing the wheel over and over, but that almost made me proud—say what you like, this one’s MY wheel!

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2016 Fringe Festival Spotlight: Circus arts and acrobatic theater

Posted September 6th, 2016

Philadelphia has become a hub for forward-thinking and stunning works of circus art and physical theater. Check out some of the 2016 Festival’s offerings of performances that push movement to new and exciting extremes!

RAPHSTRAVAGANZA-THE-KINETIC-EXPERIENCE-232x300

 

Raphstravaganza The Kinetic Experience @ Philadelphia City Hall Courtyard Raphael Xavier

Leading hip-hop artist and 2013 Pew Fellow Raphael Xavier will bring together masterful street performers, extreme BMX riders, acrobatic contortionists, and live music for Raphstravaganza: The Kinetic Experience, a contemporary circus-style performance in City Hall’s courtyard. Featuring jazz composer Bobby Zankel. More info and tickets here.

 

exile body

Mark Wong, Nick Gillette, Ben Grinberg, Lauren Johns, and Nicole Burgio (photo by Kate Raines)

Exile 2588 @ Painted Bride Art Center
Almanac Dance Circus Theater

Exile 2588 is an acrobatic folk-music space epic adaptation of the story of Io set 572 years in to the future. Smashing together the genre of space epic with the sweet strains of American folk music, Almanac’s physical vocabulary swells to include break dance, static trapeze, and ever more innovative ensemble acrobatics, asking timeless questions about mortality and how much control we have over our bodies. Almanac’s signature style of physical storytelling, dance, and circus will be accompanied by an original song cycle by Chickabiddy (Aaron Cromie and Emily Schuman). The piece is outside eyed by Pig Iron Theatre Company’s Dan Rothenberg. More info and tickets here.

surface tension

Lee Thompson and Lauren Rile Smith (photo by Michael Ermilio)

 

Surface Tension @ Christ Church Neighborhood House
Tangle Movement Arts

How far can you see beneath the surface? Tangle’s acrobats explore life’s hidden currents and push through the forces that pull us together. Merging circus arts with theater, dance, and innovative storytelling, Surface Tension uses trapeze and aerial silks to dive into a world of fixed points and sudden changes. More info and tickets here.

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With Retroact, Tangle Remixes Its Repertoire

Posted March 14th, 2016

Nostalgia is big business. It sells ad space during blocks of reruns on late-night television. It pushes drinks on club theme nights where people only want to dance to The Cure, Joy Division or Bauhaus. It’s probably mentioned multiple times in half the job descriptions at Buzzfeed. These days it’s easy to get cynical about nostalgia’s all-pervasive influence. It’s a tool that’s easily exploited, turning it from something pleasurable and personal to a hollow cash in on our shared recollections. But then there are those much welcome instances that remind you looking back can be a means of celebration, of reaffirming identity, of sharing something that remains relevant with those who missed it the first time around. Tangle Movement Arts, Philadelphia’s all-female circus arts theater company, is just about due for some of this nostalgia and this weekend they will have it. Their latest show RetroAct, a circus-theater remix of the most exciting moments from their oeuvre of aerial dance theater, comes to Christ Church Neighborhood House from March 17–19 and should not be missed.

Tangle - RetroAct 2

Photo by Michael Ermilio

Since 2011 Tangle and its ten woman company of artists and collaborators has brought multidisciplinary, multidimensional storytelling with an emphasis on queer and female experience to spaces high above any other stage in the city. Mixing traditional circus arts like trapeze and acrobatics with elements of dance, theater, and live music, Tangle tells their stories in a manner few could ever dream of imitating. “We believe that circus arts can be a powerful tool for challenging assumptions about what bodies should look like and what they can do – from floating upside-down, to subverting gender roles,” poet and performer Lauren Rile Smith, Tangle’s founder, recently told FringeArts. “Circus arts is a context in which women build muscle, men move gracefully, partners lift each other into the air, and everybody can defy gravity.”

Taking its name from the possibilities that arise when things get complicated, Tangle has produced ten full length shows, five of which enjoyed successful runs as part of the last five Fringe Festivals, and numerous pop-up projects along the way. Each highlights women’s strength and queer stories while rendering complex, oft-unspoken ideas into remarkable physical feats. The Girl’s Guide to Neighborly Conduct, which premiered at the 2015 Fringe Festival, followed six longtime housemates whose lives are quietly upturned following the arrival of a new neighbor. You Don’t Say took a dinner party setting and subverted the expected smatterings of small talk and flirtation by translating them into acrobatic explorations. Timelines looked to the past, present, and future to examine notions of time and the female body through a series of pieces that included a daydreaming 1950s office secretary, vaudevillians, and the evolution of life on earth.

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So Much To Do This Weekend!

Posted May 27th, 2014

What’s come to our attention:

27-Jim-1024x682

27, New Paradise Laboratories

Remember New Paradise Laboratories’ hit performance 27 in the 2012 Fringe Festival? Whether you missed it the first time or are eager for more, 27 returns Thursday, May 29th through Saturday, May 31st at the Painted Bride Arts Center, 230 Vine Street. Members of the “27 Club” of talented musicians who passed away at the age of 27—Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, and Jimi Hendrix—explore purgatory and deal with a new arrival to their group. Questions of musical genius, mortality, and the afterlife coalesce in this performance pulsing with music composed by guitar prodigy Alec MacLaughlin. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, and can be purchased online.

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Kate Aid of Tangle Movement Arts. Photo by Michael Ermilio.

Looking for some circus arts this weekend? The Porch at 30th Street Station has been showcasing a series of dance and physical theater performances this spring and summer. On Saturday, May 31st at 2pm and 4pm, the Porch will come alive with acrobats and aerial dance in Tangle Movement Arts’ free performance of their new and original work Passages. The urban circus-theater will explore daily life in urban Philadelphia and play with the idea of 30th Street Station as a public center for Philadelphia. The rain date is Saturday, June 8th. More information can be found at: www.tangle-arts.com

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Performers in CATCH Takes Philly

After you leave 30th Street Station, head over to The Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N American Street at 8pm on Saturday, May 31st, for the explosion of performance events that is CATCH Takes Philly. Usually confined to Brooklyn, this weekend CATCH joins Philadelphia’s Thirdbird for a night of dance, theater, video, performance, and beer. CATCH Takes Philly will feature Tei Blow, Cara Francis, Meg Foley, Groundswell Theater Company, Cynthia Hopkins, Jaamil Kosoko, No Face Performance Group, Brain Osborne, Matt Romein, and Saúl Ulerio. Tickets are $15 at the door, beer included.

Round off your weekend by attending the culmination of a year of research into voice and movement improvisation by the Leah Stein Dance Company on Sunday, June 1st, at 5pm. The renowned composer Pauline Oliveros developed the deep listening method of incorporating environmental sounds into musical performance, and has been working with the Leah Stein Dance Company to explore the relationship between deep listening and movement. Oliveros, Stein, seven dancers, and seven singers will conduct a free performance, panel discussion, and opportunity for audience participation at The Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine Street, this Sunday. More information can be found at: www.leahsteindanceco.org.

Leah Stein Dance Company conducing research with Pauline Oliveros.

Leah Stein Dance Company conducing research with Pauline Oliveros

–Miriam Hwang-Carlos

Tangle Movement Arts brings new circus arts show to Christ Church

Posted March 31st, 2014

“I love the chance to have a dozen women perform on stage together, with different body types, gender presentations, and personal styles, and illuminate their individual stories and their interactions.”

Tangle - Timelines 1 - Anne Saint PeterCircus arts has taken root in Philadelphia over the past several years, with a number of artists and companies opening up creative approaches that push the form in new directions. Tangle Movement Arts, one such company, integrates typical circus elements, such as acrobatics, into dance and theater. This weekend the company’s new production Timelines uses this combination to create a narrative about time, evolution, and the female body, spanning past, present, and future eras. The show premieres at Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 North American Street, April 3 to April 5. We caught up with artistic director Lauren Rile Smith who filled us in on the inspiration for Timelines, the women performing in the show, and the performance space.

FringeArts: How did the idea for Timelines begin and how did it evolve?

Lauren Rile Smith: Like the rest of Tangle’s shows, Timelines was built by all the performers in a long-term collaborative process. We started sharing ideas and putting together the concept in October 2013, right after our Fringe Festival performance Break/Drift/Resist. This show’s theme is female bodies in time, so it developed into a mix of shorter aerial solos that focus on aspects like evolution, healing, and aging, even comic timing—and then, for our final act, a half-hour long ensemble piece inspired by tropes from feminist science fiction. The final act, “Tomorrow Girl,” is a fantasy of time-travel in which a 1950s secretary daydreams of a radically different future—and then finds herself transported there.

Tangle-Rehearsal3FringeArts: Are you working with any new performers for Timelines? What are some of things you are doing that are new for a Tangle performance?

Lauren: Timelines includes Tangle’s core nine-woman ensemble, plus a few guest artists, including Meredith Rosenthal and Caitlin Donaghy. Meredith’s act echoes life evolving on earth millennia ago, rising out of the ocean and into the air via body contortion and aerial rope. Caitlin is a hoop artist, and she, Lee Ane Thompson, and I are creating a three-person dance that moves between the ground and the air, inspired by the precise mechanism of clockwork and the lightning-quick connections you might make when meeting a new person for the first time.

Additionally, I’m excited that our friends Megan Gendell and Lauren Feldman from the world-famous New England Center for Circus Arts will be performing as special guest artists. Their dynamic, playful duo trapeze act is really stunning and I got to preview it when we performed with them at the HOT! Festival in Manhattan last year. We’re thrilled to have them perform with us in Philadelphia!

FringeArts: What makes you most excited about this show?

Lauren: I love the chance to have a dozen women perform on stage together, with different body types, gender presentations, and personal styles, and illuminate their individual stories and their interactions. From a storytelling perspective, I’m most looking forward to Timeline‘s big finale, which is a love letter to science-fiction tropes. In creating it, we talked a lot about movement styles for different people and times: if the 1950s secretaries have very purposeful, direct gestures, maybe the people of the future are fluid and indirect by contrast, and they would consider, for example, a handshake to be the height of rudeness. We got to explore a lot of swinging, spinning, sliding movements for the people of the future, including my personal favorite, a brand-new aerial apparatus made of multiple loops suspended from the ceiling.

And purely from my perspective as a producer, I’m very excited to be at Christ Church Neighborhood House, a beautiful theater. Tangle’s full-length performances have typically taken place in giant warehouses where we build a temporary theater just for the length of the show so it’s a big treat to have lighting, seating, and a tech booth already in place! And the Neighborhood House brings together such a great range of smart, innovative dance and theater; we’re glad to be joining their community.

Sweet, thanks Lauren, we look forward to the performance!

Timelines
April 3 + 4 at 8pm
April 5 at 3pm + 8pm
Christ Church Neighborhood House
Tickets ($15-20) available at www.tangle-arts.com

Photos: Anne Saint Peter (top), Michael Ermilio (bottom)

Social Acrobatics Turn Physical in Tangle Movement Arts’s Break/Drift/Resist

Posted September 4th, 2013

Experience the throes of social acrobatics as interpreted by a the close-knit band of intensely physical artists of at at the intersection of dance, theater, music, and circus arts, as Tangle Movement Arts returns to 2013 Fringe Festival with Break/Drift/Resist. Tangle Movement Arts transcribes transcribes the diverse challenges posed by everyday engagements into a dense forest of trapeze work. FringeArts recently spoke with founder Lauren Rile Smith to clue in on her unique vision, get a breakdown of the piece, and discuss her anticipations for the Festival.

FringeArts: When did you get your first taste of circus arts?

Lauren Rile Smith: My first exposure to circus arts was via LAVA, a Brooklyn-based feminist performance company that merges acrobatics and dance. I had no background in dance or gymnastics, but I was transfixed by the strength and range of their performance. Since then, I’ve been obsessed with interdisciplinary circus as a platform for community-building, putting strong women onstage, and performances that challenge expectations for both genre and gender.

BreakDriftResist-PressPhoto2FringeArts: How did Tangle Movement Arts get together?

Lauren Rile Smith: We formed Tangle in 2010 with the goal of making circus-dance-theater with feminist values. To me, circus arts provides a context in which to question our assumptions about what bodies can do— and not just in the obvious ways! In our shows, you get to see a body upside-down or spinning twenty feet in the air, but you also get to see women who lift the weight of their own bodies and the bodies of others, blend flexibility and strength, and demonstrates powerful physical intimacy that doesn’t need to be sexual or romantic. It feels like a powerful tool for building queer and feminist community, and allows us to tell stories that aren’t usually represented on stage.

Tangle began when I and seven fellow acrobats came together to create our very first show for the 2011 Philly Fringe. Our sold-out debut Ampersand put us on the scene, and we’ve continued to make aerial dance theater, from our collaboratively devised full-length shows to our popular, free outdoor showcase series, tinycircus. We’ve had such great support from Philadelphia audiences. The visibility of circus arts is rising nationwide, from giant touring shows like Cirque Éloize’s Cirkopolis coming to to the Kimmel Center in 2014 to the aerial yoga classes springing up across Philadelphia. Tangle’s interdisciplinary mix of circus, dance, theater, and live music has put us in touch with these diverse communities in a way that continually inspires us.

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Weekender: Random Things To Do This Weekend May 16-18

Posted May 16th, 2013

Here’s 6 suggestions about what to see this weekend. There are more than 6 worthy possibilities, but we were too lazy to find them.

The Gambling Room Color Blue Note Wanna-BeThe Gambling Room opens this weekend at the Papermill Theater, 2825 Ormes Street (in Kensington). Starring Dan Tobin, Calvin Atkinson, and Sebastian Cummings. Written and directed by John Rosenberg. May 18th through June 9th, all shows are Saturday and Sunday at 2pm. Tickets are $10. Read the Metro Article and the FringeArts Blog interview. Reeling from the death of their father, two young Americans attempt a coup d’état from a rooftop in Saigon.  John and Jack, rising stars in the US diplomatic corps carry out their father’s final command: meet the embattled President of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, and furnish him with a list of American journalists to be silenced.

This is the last weekend to catch  Philly Improv Theater’s (PHIT)  The Bat, an improv show that takes place entirely in the dark. We are happy to report that this show first appeared at the 2011 Philly Fringe, great to see that it continues! At the Shubin (407 Bainbridge Street), May 16-18 at 7pm, with a midnight show on Saturday as well. Tickets at www.phillyimprovtheater.com.

Lauren Rile Smith and Sarah Nicolazzo rehearsing Invert! at The Sanctuary. Photo by Michael Ermilio.

Photo: Michael Ermilio.

Tangle Movement Arts has been creating a distinctive brand of circus-dance-theater for the past few years now, and May 16–18 at 8.30pm, they take over The Sanctuary at the Rotunda (4014 Walnut Street, Philadelphia) with their new show Invert! (TICKETS!Invert combines vertical flirtation, glittery sequins, feminist history, and a cordless power drill. Tangle’s seven-woman cast travels through simmering duets, a torch-song trapeze solo, a celebration of campy drag traditions, and a tribute to Rosie the Riveter complete with on-stage power tools.

Dance Theatre of Harlem has returned! After an eight-year break, the company is back on its feet and they will be performing at the Annenberg Center for Performing Arts May 16-19 (with 2 shows on Saturday), 3680 Walnut Street. This is their first tour since coming back. Here’s an article all about the company’s return. Program includes work by Donald Byrd, Balanchine, Robert Garland, and Helen Pickett.

And let’s not forget the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby and Trenton Avenue Arts Festival. Both start around noon on Saturday, with the heart of the action at Trenton Ave and E. Susquehanna (in Philly, not Trenton as in that place in Jersey), just off Frankford Ave in East Kensington. It’s a great fair and the derby is fantastic because you get to see things like this:

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Doing The Invert: Tangle Movement Arts Brings Their Style Of Circus To The Rotunda

Posted May 9th, 2013

“I discovered a radical potential in circus arts to challenge our assumptions about relationships, gender, and what bodies can do.”

Lauren Rile Smith and Sarah Nicolazzo rehearsing Invert! at The Sanctuary. Photo by Michael Ermilio.

Lauren Rile
Smith and Sarah Nicolazzo rehearsing Invert! at The Sanctuary at the Rotunda. Photo by Michael Ermilio.

Tangle Movement Arts has been creating a distinctive brand of circus-dance-theater for the past few years now, and from May 16 to 18, they will be taking over The Sanctuary at the Rotunda with their new show Invert! (TICKETS!) We caught up with Tangle’s founder Lauren Rile Smith to learn about the show, the company, the burgeoning circus scene, and what it takes to put a show like Invert! together

FringeArts: How did Tangle Movement Arts come about?

Lauren: I formed Tangle in 2010 with the goal of making circus-dance-theater with feminist values. I discovered a radical potential in circus arts to challenge our assumptions about relationships, gender, and what bodies can do. Aerial dance is a context in which women can build muscle, men can move gracefully, and everybody can defy gravity. This inspired me to found Tangle—I wanted to make collaborative performance in that radical spirit!

So I gathered a group of seven collaborators with similar visions to embark on the project of making our very first show for the 2011 Philly Fringe. We collaboratively devised Ampersand, which was a sold-out hit, and since then we’ve continued to make aerial dance theater. Our work includes both full-length shows created by company members, and our popular, free outdoor showcase series, tinycircus. We’ve been so honored by the reception we’ve gotten—there’s been an explosion of interest in circus arts in the past few years, and Tangle’s interdisciplinary mix of circus, dance, theater, and live music has connected us to diverse communities in a way that fuels us.

FringeArts: Tell us about the new show Invert!

Lauren Rile Smith and Sarah Nicolazzo still rehearsing Invert! at the Rotunda. Photo by  Michael Ermilio.

Lauren Rile
Smith and Sarah Nicolazzo still rehearsing Invert! at the Rotunda. Photo by Michael Ermilio.

Lauren: Invert! is an evening of all-new aerial dance theater. With a nod to queer history, “invert” being a 19th-century term for gender nonconformists, as well as the basic image of circus arts—a body upside-down, Invert! aims to upend viewer expectations. Using trapeze, aerial hoop and rope, and acrobatic partner balancing, Invert! features vertical flirtation, glittery sequins, eerie reflections of inner strife, a spoken-word monologue performed on trapeze, a celebration of campy drag traditions, and a tribute to Rosie the Riveter complete with on-stage power tools.

We have found that in mainstream storytelling, relationships between women are often erased or turned into stereotypes. Invert! counters that by projecting intimate and dynamic relationships between women who perform alongside each other and literally lift each other’s bodies. The dynamic aerial and partner acrobatics of Invert! will be interspersed with tango solos by Juilliard violinist Caeli Smith—we’re excited to bring this show to the majestic and rarely seen Sanctuary at the Rotunda.

FringeArts: How do you determine what pieces fit into a Tangle show?

Lauren: All of Tangle’s work is collaboratively devised by the members of our company, through a long-term cooperative effort. Without a central director or choreographer, Tangle makes creative decisions as a group, sharing input on all aspects of the rehearsal and performance process. Our creative process is based in group and solo improvisation, a continual dynamic of group feedback, and planning sessions in which we develop the structure, written and musical accompaniments, and conceptual framework behind a show. In planning for Invert!, we brought together inspirations as diverse as female WWII engineers, Greek statuary, the tango music of Astor Piazzolla, and a Marilyn Hacker poem.

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Philly Fringe Vital Stats: Lauren Rile Smith

Posted August 13th, 2012

Kate Aid of Tangle Movement Arts. Photo by Lea Deutsch.

With the 2012 Olympics having come to a close (I’ve already begun prepping for Rio 2016), this year’s gymnasts have been the beneficiaries of my awe, my respect, and my envy (as an 8-year-old, I overheard my coach use the word ‘promise’ once…in a sentence…some time). I live for the aerial events–the uneven bars, the rings–and cheered on Gabby Douglass, as the ‘Flying Squirrel’ defied my rudimentary knowledge of physics.

I am already experiencing the post-Olympic blues. Luckily, the 2012 Philly Fringe will be my ‘hair of the dog,’ the pint that quells the nauseating withdrawal from NBC Primetime Coverage, and at the fore is Tangle Movement Arts, a contemporary circus arts performance group. This year the company will showcase their work on trapeze and rope in You Don’t Say; an ambitious and lofty (ha!) goal.

After the jump: Founder Lauren Rile Smith answers our questions.

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