Get to Know Show No Show’s Gabrielle Revlock and Sasha Frolov
This weekend marks the premiere of Show No Show, a duet created and performed by Philadelphia native Gabrielle Revlock and Russian-based Aleksandr (or Sasha) Frolov. The pair began developing the piece during a 2014 residency at the Omi International Arts Center where they first met, and fittingly it follows two characters as they get to know each other. Speaking to FringeArts, Revlock noted that the two did not strike an immediate connection in their initial exercise together. As she puts it, “It was super awkward and did not go well and so I thought okay, tried that, didn’t work, no chemistry, moving on.” Thankfully the two had another chance to work together before the residency ended and something clicked: “We found a really good chemistry and share a sense of humor. I guess that’s why it continued.”
These notions of chemistry and humor are central to Show No Show. This is not a mannerly, polite meeting of two strangers, maybe sharing a cup of coffee and talking about the latest Netflix show or that hip restaurant that sells $10 ramen. This is, as described on both artists’ websites, “a truth or dare using a peach, a megaphone, two chairs, and a white tablecloth.” The work charts the process of two people really getting to know each other; all the awkwardness, vulnerability, cruelty, and tenderness—and not many boundaries to boot. Unpredictable and entrancing, they use each other and the space to mine the complexities of opening oneself up to another, laying bare the hilarious, maddening, and heartbreaking feelings that come with it. Without the chemistry and comedic sensibilities Revlock and Frolov share, such powerful notions would likely be lost on most viewers, but in their capable hands it’s strikingly palpable.
Seeing as we’ll soon be witnessing Revlock and Frolov getting to know each other onstage, why don’t we all get better acquainted with the individuals? Below you’ll find a brief sampling of works these startlingly accomplished dance artists have produced. Undoubtedly there are many great things to come from both, and Show No Show is one of them. Be sure to catch it March 24-26.
On her website Revlock describes her body of work as, “Projects [that] blur the line between living and performing… Imaginative and sincere, the works invite the viewer in and are intended to evoke emotional reaction and stimulate intellectual exploration. Speckled with humor and surprise, they also entertain.” While this is a pretty apt summation of her body of work—and is particularly tangible in Show No Show—it only hints at the breadth of her always surprising, genre-defying work. Here are a few recent highlights.
So You Think You Can’t Understand Contemporary Dance?
Revlock often addresses and plays with the belief that contemporary dance is inaccessible in her work and in this film commissioned by thINKingDANCE she attacks that fallacy head on. Born from her interest “in bridging experimentation and populism,” she provides a short, sweet contemporary dance primer with the help of her favorite 5 year old. The short has been translated into Italian, Swedish, Polish, Hungarian, and Russian (more on that last one later).
The Dance Apocalypse
The name of frequent collaborators Revlock and Nicole Bindler’s company as well as the title of its own work(s). The original title piece was described by the pair as “a genre-defying creative collaboration about two female artists in a spectacle-driven world,” and a “heart wrenching end-of-the-world love story that takes place within the context of a director’s commentary, a sensationalist talk show, and a million-dollar Kickstarter campaign for a feature length film.” Featuring Bindler’s talking navel, an invitation to audiences to spank the artists if they didn’t like the performance, a host of other surprises, and, of course, dancing, the daring and wildly entertaining show prompted Citypaper to write, “Their unpredictability was captivating.” Tied into The Dance Apocalypse was the artists’ real-life Kickstarter campaign to produce a film entitled Chicken Fight, the excellent trailer for which you can watch here. According to The Dance Apocalypse website, a Chicken Fight webseries is in the works. Here’s hoping.
Created in collaboration with Bindler, this cardio-dance class bridged the gap between dance and fitness education with a positive, community-oriented bent. Combining movement, lessons in anatomy, even a mock-marriage ceremony between Revlock and Bindler, the class garnered rave reviews from participants and received attention from ABC News. As one reviewer for thINKingDANCE put it, “Perhaps the most valuable and rare quality of CardioCreativity was that it frequently elicited sheer joy from everyone in sight.” Check out a collection of videos from the class here.
Frolov has danced for Russian and French companies, but has built an impressive body of original works through his ongoing collaborations with Anna Shchekleina and their company Zonk’a. According to their mission statement, “Every day we try to be very sensitive to the process of co-creation. At the right moment one of us assumes the position of leader or gives the initiative and becomes a good listener and performer. This process tests calmness and confidence.” Just as this awareness and interplay is essential to the power dynamics on display in Show No Show, you can see it at work in many of his pieces with Shchekleina.
One of Zonk’a’s earliest pieces is this duet between Frolov and Shchekleina. TimeOut Moscow praised it for its comedic sensibilities and precise movements, writing (and pardon the clunky translation drawn from here), “Something like [a] dance analog of stand-up comedy – the couple tries the movements, comments [on] each other[s] ideas, slightly squabbles, and from the mountain of dance… they get diamonds of exact and easy pases.”
So Вы Думаете You Can’t Понять Contemporary Танец
A Russian translation of Revlock’s “So You Think…” Not a remake or a straightforward overdub, it features additional footage in which Revlock and Frolov sit on a porch eating ice cream as Frolov translates and adopts childish mannerisms to reflect his 5 year old counterpart (though he behaves even more childish). He also eats some corn on the cob and halfheartedly mimes playing the cello.
My Love / My Life
Nominated for a Golden Mask—Russia’s national theatrical awards—for Best Production in the Contemporary Dance category, this show consists of two autobiographical solos—one from Frolov, one from Shchekleina. Frolov’s half, My Life, explores themes of love, transformation, and time as filtered through his personal experiences living in Yekaterinburg, Russia. In speaking with us, Revlock mentioned that seeing the piece sparked her interest in working with him, calling it “brave and personal.”
There’s plenty more great work to explore on Revlock and Zonk’a‘s Vimeo pages. Check them out, and come to FringeArts for Show No Show this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday!