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Archive for the ‘Dance’ Category

Experience Philadelphia Museum of Dance at the Barnes Foundation

Posted October 1st, 2018

The 2018 Fringe Festival performances of Boris Charmatz’s manger, were part of a larger project, Philadelphia Museum of Dance, which concludes in a  free public event at the Barnes Foundation on October 6 with a rich collection of performances.

The day-long event will explore the tension between public and private experiences, while offering a new opportunity to engage with how dance and visual art are exhibited. Known for his innovative exploration of choreographic assembly, internationally acclaimed French choreographer Charmatz co-curates the six-hour (3-9pm) public performance. See the full schedule here.

The event will allow its audience to explore new experiences, in a novel kind of museum that permits audience members to move through outdoor and indoor performance locations and witness choreography performed around and among fellow museum-goers. Guests will witness the Barnes Foundation transform. With dance performances taking place in nearly every corner, the museum will seemingly come alive. Audiences will interact directly by wandering through the dance “galleries.” As with any museum visit, it will be up to the audience to find juxtapositions between the exhibits. Performers will be spatially adjacent to audiences, with no proscenium separation, or interspersed with the audience, to facilitate maximum audience-performer interaction.

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Excerpts from the Manifesto for a Dancing Museum by Boris Charmatz

Posted September 20th, 2018

This weekend’s performances of manger are part of a larger project, the Philadelphia Museum of Dance, copresented by Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design with FringeArts and the Barnes Foundation. The project presents Charmatz’s ideas for a new kind of dance and a new relationship between dance and public. He explains these ideas in his Manifesto for a Dancing Museum, excerpted below.

It seems to me that the designation “Museum, Dancing Museum” could function like a door flung wide open to culture and the art of dancing that we will not change into a sanctuary.

(…) Dance and its actors are often defined in opposition to the arts that are said to be perennial, lasting, static, for which the museum would be the favourite place. But today if one wants to stop obscuring the historical space, culture and choreographic heritage, even the most contemporary, then it is time to see, to make visible and bring alive the moving bodies of a culture which largely remains to be invented. And if one wishes the choreographic tradition to pursue the new technological trends and truly embrace the trans-media space of the contemporary world, then it seems to me that under the designation of “Museum” the artists will be able to have fun and create freely.

To not cut the matter short, ten commandments:

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The PINK HAIR AFFAIR Returns, Heartbroken

Posted September 14th, 2018

A collaborative dance company started by UArts grads in 2007, the Pink Hair Affair a series of playful Fringe pieces in the late ‘00s showcasing their choreographic talents. Several of the Pink Hair founders —Annie Wilson, Christina Gesualdi—went on to become key figures of the Philadelphia dance world, but the company lay dormant for the last few years as its members spread across the world, from Oregon to Panama City.

Company director Laura Jenkins recently returned from Los Angeles and has revived the much-loved company for a 2018 Fringe Festival production, The HeARTbreak of a Serial Monogamist, with performances at The Whole Shebang September 17 + 18. The piece deals with the middle stages of grief, that time after the initial shock, when people simply offer the advice of “time will heal”. Jenkins compiled her  experiences with grief—break-ups, moves, career changes, deaths—and turned them into an interactive interdisciplinary work that shows there are tools we can use to help us through the rough times.

She spoke with FringeArts about the project.

FringeArts: What inspired the show?

Laura Jenkins: I moved back to Philly in October 2017 (after living in LA for just under three years). I knew once I got back that I needed and wanted to put on a show again, and I thought the Fringe Festival would be a good way to ease back into the dance scene here. I originally wanted to do a show idea I’ve had with PINK HAIR AFFAIR for almost 10 years now… but life happened. In April of this year, I had a strong desire to do a show based on experiences I was going through, experiences that I’ve been through and little did I know, experiences I was going to go through. It sort of evolved from the need to heal and process grief. Creativity is and was a huge part of my healing process and I felt driven to share it—to normalize this feeling of grief, and to let people know it happens to the best of us.

FringeArts: What themes/messages do you want to convey?

Laura Jenkins: I want to share the grief that we all go through (or will go through). I want to normalize the feelings of despair, depression, feeling lost and alone, feeling crazy and angry, feeling so sad and heartbroken you don’t know what to do. I also want to show that there are ways to deal, tools to use to get your through. To note that this shitty time is important for us to go through — because it’s where we learn, grow and tap back into our true selves or maybe even find ourselves. To stay present during the dark time and not just hide in our bed or fall into a replacement relationship.

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Take Two Plunges with Brian Sanders JUNK

Posted September 11th, 2018

Brian Sanders’ JUNK has sold out Philly Fringe shows every year for almost twenty years with innovative, ingenious, and boundary-defying choreography. This year, us “JUNKies” have double the chance to see the highly physical, energetic dance company: For the 2018 Fringe Festival, JUNK is presenting TWO shows: FIGMAGO (through September 23) and Plunge (through September 22).

Daytime

A multi-faceted artist, Sanders shows us his family-fun side with FIGMAGO, an ongoing collaboration with muralist Meg Saligman.

Meg Saligman’s Theatre of Life mural.

“Meg and I share a lot of the same aesthetics,” Sanders tells FringeArts. “Bold but not over-the-top, dynamic, intense and emotional.”

The artists connected at the dedication of Saligman’s Theatre of Life mural on Broad and Lombard streets. “I repelled down the face of this giant mural and danced among the painted figures,” he says. “We always knew we would work together but we just didn’t know when and how, but the right space and the right time brought about FIGMAGO.”

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Scenes from a Life: Miguel Gutierrez on Discovering John Bernd’s Enduring Influence

Posted September 11th, 2018

Miguel Gutierrez initially joined collaborator Ishmael Houston-Jones in a limited role on a project reconfiguring dance by experimental East Village choreographer John Bernd. Watching videos of Bernd’s shows and reading about his work, Gutierrez quickly realized he needed to immerse himself in the project. The resulting Fringe Festival show Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other works by John Bernd, mashes up works by the influential choreographer, whose work flourished during the era of experimental dance in 1980s New York, and whose life was tragically taken by AIDS in 1988.

Running this weekend, with performances on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the highly anticipated show combines Bernd’s last seven pieces into a new dance performance that honors the choreographer’s memory and imagines what dance would look like today if the community had not been decimated by the deadly AIDS epidemic. As a contemporary Brooklyn artist and performer who creates dance-based performance, music, and poetry, Gutierrez witnesses the lasting impact of Bernd’s multidisciplinary work on dance today and on his own work. He spoke to FringeArts about finding roots in the past and continuing Bernd’s legacy into the future.

FringeArts: What was your introduction to the work of John Bernd?

Miguel Gutierrez: I’d only known about John Bernd peripherally for the many years I had been in New York. It wasn’t until Ishmael asked me to help him out with this project that I sat down and watched his pieces. Within five minutes I knew I wanted to be involved in whatever way I could with this project.

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Scenes from Opening Weekend

Posted September 10th, 2018

The Fringe is OPEN for business!!!

Opening weekend kicked off with hundreds of performances in every corner of the city, from deep south Philly to the Art Museum steps, from the Delaware Riverfront to University City. Relive some highlights with this photo diary of performances.

 

Anu Tali conducts Heiner Goebbels Songs of Wars I Have Seen at FringeArts. Photo by Joanna Austin, AustinArt.org.

Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium’s production of Eccentricities of a Nightingale by Tennessee Williams, at Bethany Mission Gallery through September 23. Photo by Joanna Austin, AustinArt.org.

An audience member experiences Tania El Khoury’s Stories of Refuge, at Twelve Gates Gallery through September 28. Photo by Joanna Austin, AustinArt.org.

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Remembering 2012’s Le Grand Continental As It Gets Super for 2018

Posted September 6th, 2018

The 2012 Fringe Festival kicked off on the steps of the art museum with a large-scale spectacular of dance by Montreal-based choreography Sylvain Émard. As we prepare to return to the iconic steps for a brand-new extravaganza combining the pure delight of line dancing with the fluidity and expressiveness of contemporary dance we look back on the 2012 show. Dozens of the non-professional performers from six years ago return this year for the bigger and better Le Super Grand Continental in three FREE shows this Saturday and Sunday. You should too.

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Building Trust with Darcy Lyons

Posted September 5th, 2018

“Security is both a reality and a feeling and they’re not the same thing… The foundation of security is trust, both personal trust and global trust.” —Security specialist Bruce Schneier, an inspiration for 2018 Fringe Festival piece Proceed with Caution

Fear. Insecurity. Trust. Security.

The topics broached in Lyons and Tigers’s Proceed with Caution (September 7-9 at The Iron Factory in Kensington) are relevant on a personal, political, and geopolitical level. This new full-length dance theater work explores security in a time of global violence, the Trump presidency, police brutality, mass shootings, and the #MeToo movement. Through dance, the show asks, “How do humans build trust?”

Creator Darcy Lyons spoke to FringeArts about her timely show.

FringeArts: What was the inspiration for Proceed with Caution?

Darcy Lyons: In 2012, I created a short version of this piece that was about rational and irrational fear. I have always wanted to return to the piece and this year felt like the right time. The initial inclination came from my own struggles with anxiety. The concepts around fear and trust are important to me to continue to explore, especially in the uproar of the Trump administration.

FringeArts: Can we ever really trust anyone about anything ever?

Darcy Lyons: Yes. Trust has a lot of layers of meaning. We are constantly working with trust in our everyday lives.

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Location, Location, Location: Performance Garage

Posted September 2nd, 2018

Venue: Performance Garage

Neighborhood: Spring Garden, North Philly

2018 Fringe shows: Moving (“Dancefusion & Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble come together to present three works by legendary choreographer Anna Sokolow”), KCBC X KCBCII (“The Klassic Contemporary Ballet Company and KCBCII perform in their second annual Fringe Festival”), Church & State (The AJ Harper Dance Project and a. dance theatre create innovative, thought-provoking works that touch on the sacred and political dynamic in today’s society), Ruckus Dance: Knockout (in guide, Baby’s First Time to Philly, “a performance from the Boston-based group Ruckus Dance featuring guest artists Subject:Matter”_.

Description: Originally a nineteenth-century horse stable that served “Millionaires Row” on Spring Garden Street, later converted to an automobile garage. Opened as a performance space and host of dance classes in 2000 and underwent a massive $2million renovation in 2016/17. Currently looking for capital funds for Phase II of the project.

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Solo Dance for People Who Don’t Like Solo Dance: Metal & Kind’s Indestructible Flowers

Posted August 29th, 2018

This Fringe, two instructors at Philly’s dance studio Urban Movement Arts (UMA) combine their talents in a collage of new solo work designed for folks secretly underwhelmed by new solo work. Coming from diverse dance backgrounds, Lily Kind and Mark “Metal” Wong showcase multidisciplinary work grounded in social and folk dance and “a kind of analytic optimism”.

Lily Kind. Photo by Katrina D’Autrement

Metal & Kind talked to FringeArts about Indestructible Flowers, the pitfalls of solo dance, and the role of UMA in Philadelphia’s dance and hip-hop scenes.

FringeArts: What common pitfalls do you see in solo dance work?

Mark “Metal” Wong: It’s really easy to get pretentious when you’re the only one up there. I’m trying my best not to be. But by nature, I think that all solo work is a little self-indulgent, so I try to embrace that and have fun with it to an extent as well.

Lily Kind: I agree with Mark. And I prefer a more vaudevillian theater tradition, where the audience is in more of a dialogue with the performer. By contrast, the traditional concert theater agreement is very safe for both performer and audience, and I think that can make for pretty boring solo work, where the artist has already surrendered any experimental elements by being inside a historically aristocratic construct.

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2018 Festival Spotlight: Family Friendly Fringe

Posted August 24th, 2018

The Fringe isn’t always adults only! Everyone is welcome at these fun, engaging performances suitable for the whole family.

Chichi Chip (an ode to the Gnarly)
Philly Kerplop
An interactive performance featuring hip-hop dance and a live marching band, taking place in Philly’s iconic LOVE Park. Philly Kerplop’s display of humor and daring physical dexterity will activate the park spaces in ways that feel both familiar and awe-inspiring.
More info and tickets here

FIGMAGO
Meg Saligman Studio
FIGMAGO is part art installation, part room escape, and all parts wonderfully immersive. Enter the mind of a muralist as you explore secret passages and mesmerizing art to discover a mysterious mural that comes to life. YOU become the artist as the story unfolds. Hands-on and phone-free fun for all ages!
More info and tickets here

Garden of Vessels
Sina Marie (I Am a Vessel Youth Initiative)
Welcome to the future of the pop-up garden phenomenon. Imagine a garden where imagination and technology fall in love, cultivating the minds and innate abilities of the youth to a full bloom. Visionary Sina Marie creates an interactive experience. A diaspora from the underground up! We welcome you to…the Garden of Vessels.
More info and tickets here

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Chuck Schultz Is That Guy Sketching the Fringe

Posted August 23rd, 2018

Who’s that guy sketching in the back of this Fringe show? It’s probably (though not necessarily) Chuck Schultz, a fine art-trained sketch artist. Schultz’s sketches of dance and theater provide a visual review of Philadelphia performing arts year-round and he brings his talents to bear on numerous Festival shows every year.

Schultz recently sketched FIGMAGO, an ongoing mesh of art and dance which runs as part of the 2018 Fringe Festival. He spoke to FringeArts about how his work intersects similarly with different art forms.

FIGMAGO

FringeArts: What’s your background?

Chuck Schultz: I grew up in New Jersey. I lived on a farm. When my parents divorced I lived on the Jersey Shore. I liked to draw people, or super heroes, and when I met another artist in Toms River, NJ, I decided that is what I am: an artist. I first attended Delaware College of Art and Design in Wilmington and I moved on to get a certificate of fine art painting at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.


When I graduated college I tried to weave myself into where artists could find work. I been fortunate to be able to work with author Thom Nickels, photographer Katherine Weber, Thomas Kerrigan at the Kimmel Center, hairstylist Julius Scissor, and writer Chris Munden. I worked with an exceptional couple in Conshohocken: Jim Victor and Marie Pelton, alumni of PAFA. They are making food sculptures that give you an appetite! It is that effect that I am trying to copy.

FringeArts: How did you get into sketching theater?

Chuck Schultz: I always wondered what was happening inside theaters. I would just walk by while getting from point A to point B and I felt there must be something special inside them. When my father died in 2011, I began spending a lot of my time painting in Ocean Grove, NJ, where I met David Bates, a retired actor from the 60s who worked in movies, theater, commercials, and helped start The Muppets with Jim Henson. It was only natural for me to draw what I saw when going to the theater. It made me feel connected to the artists.

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Sorority of Storytelling: Sisters Combine Choreography and Bodypainting in Paprika Plains

Posted August 22nd, 2018

Natalie Fletcher and Jessica Noel are two talented creative sisters, but they’ve never performed on stage together… until this Fringe.

Fletcher, winner of the inaugural season of the body painting reality competition show, Skin Wars, will team up with Noel, a dance-theater artist who directs performance/education space and performance company Philly PACK, in an interdisciplinary storytelling performance inspired by singer Joni Mitchell’s 1977 album Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter. Paprika Plains will run September 21 and 22 at 7 p.m. at the Philly PACK garage in South Philadelphia.

Natalie Fletcher bodypainting.

“This collaboration is something we’ve wanted to do for a while, but the timing was never right, until now,” said Fletcher.

Fletcher and Noel spent their childhood in Amarillo on the plains of West Texas and the sisters’ production tells a story of two sisters growing up in West Texas, finding their individual paths, but always coming back together with a common language: love. Lily Blaines-Sussman, a member of the Philly PACK company, will dance as the young dancing sister, and Noel will dance as the adult. At various times throughout the production, the dancers will pause and Fletcher will come in to the performance, painting the dancers, the backdrop, while pushing the story along.

“We are attempting to tell a story with choreography and bodypainting,” says Noel. It’s a truly interdisciplinary Fringe performance: There is also a sculptural installation, theatrical lighting elements, and live music—Philadelphia musician Heather Blakeslee of Sweetbriar Rose will play Joni Mitchell covers as the audience enters.

“We want to transport the audience to a very specific world as soon as they enter,” adds Noel. “The world is Joni Mitchell and paint. Heather and the bartenders will be painted by Natalie before the show starts. The whole project is somewhat of an installation.”

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A Super Grand Interview with Sylvain Émard

Posted August 22nd, 2018

Renowned dancer and choreographer Sylvain Émard’s infectious fusion of traditional line dancing and contemporary dance, Le Grand Continental ®, has been presented at locations around the world, including Canada, the United States, Mexico, South Korea, New Zealand, and Chile. After presenting his show in the 2012 Fringe Festival, Émard is back in Philadelphia with Le Super Grand Continental, an even bigger public dance spectacle.

Presented as part of the 2018 Fringe Festival, Le Super Grand Continental will see a cast of 200 non-professional dancers take over the famous steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, performing all new choreography and eventually inviting the audience to join them as the performance space becomes an open-air dance party. FringeArts talked to Émard about the inspiration for the show, his memories of the 2012 Fringe Festival, and what we should expect this year.

FringeArts: What inspired the first Le Grand Continental®?

Sylvain Émard: As a kid, the first time I danced outside my home was at our church basement where there were line-dancing classes. Maybe that is why I was and still am fascinated by line dancing. To a point where I was often incorporating it (a bit more sophisticated I must say) in my stage work. Then I came up with this idea of choreographing a dance piece that would mix contemporary dance and line dancing. At first I thought that this would just appeal to Montréalers because of the great popularity of line dancing here. To my surprise, I realized that although line dancing is not that popular everywhere, there is a desire for the people to get involved in an artistic project and dance is perfect for that. It has no language limitation. It is somehow universal despite the specificity of the style.

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Something to Chew On: Boris Charmatz on manger

Posted August 20th, 2018

Boris Charmatz subjects dance to formal constraints which redefine the field of its possibilities: a potentially infinite canon of gestures in his 2016 Fringe Festival piece Levée des conflits, inert bodies of children, animated by adult dancers in enfant. The stage is a notepad where he jots down ideas and organic concepts in order to observe the chemical reactions, the intensities, and the tensions engendered in their encounter. In manger, the center of gravity was subject to displacement: how to set bodies in motion not with the eyes, or with the limbs, but with the mouth? Gilles Amalvi talked to Boris Charmatz in 2013 about the ideas behind this delectable contemporary work.

Featured in the 2018 Fringe Festival, manger is presented in partnership with Westphal College of Media Arts & Design as part of Philadelphia Museum of Dance.

Gilles Amalvi: An important starting idea for you was the “not very spectacular” dimension of the action of eating, swallowing. Is this line of thought still relevant?

Boris Charmatz: Absolutely. The creation, as I now see it, increasingly tends towards a form of disappearance: treating food in terms of swallowing it, blotting it out. But then, this calls for careful, precise planning, very unlike the rather raw principle that I had initially envisaged. To tackle the dimension of disappearance, the dimension of blockage, of impediment—in speaking, dancing—I find some subtle, precise mechanisms, bordering on invisibility in order not to just dangle in front of the audience a vision of bodies in the process of ingesting.

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Can You Feel the LOVE Tonight? Fringe Comes to LOVE Park

Posted August 17th, 2018

Love is in the air at this year’s Fringe Festival. It’s suspended seven feet off the ground and arranged in an instantly recognizable design. That’s right: Fringe is coming to LOVE Park.

Located in the heart of Center City, the park is home to Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE statue, which has become a symbol of the City of Brotherly Love and which serves as the photogenic entrance to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Originally laid out in 1965 as part of an urban development project by city planner Edmund Bacon (father of actor Kevin Bacon), the park was designated “JFK Plaza” to honor the assassinated president in 1967. It became better known by the moniker LOVE Park after Indiana’s famous wordmark sculpture was placed there in the late 1970s.

The park became known as a hub for Philadelphians to meet, chat, take a lunch break, go for a dip in the fountain, and hone their skateboarding skills. Situated just across from City Hall, it serves as a haven from the busy streets of the city and a resting point for workers, residents, and tourists. Closed in 2016 for a $26 million redesign, LOVE Park reopened on May 30, 2018, with a brand new look.

To celebrate the grand reopening, FringeArts teamed up with the Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (with support from ArtPlace America) to present three FREE shows by leading local arts as part of the 2018 Fringe Festival: An Unofficial, Unauthorized Tour of LOVE Park, Chichi Chip (an ode to the Gnarly), and Same Picture Different Poses.   

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Evalina “Wally” Carbonell and Those We Carry

Posted August 16th, 2018

Known affectionately as “Wally,” Evalina Carbonell is passionate performer and creator—an innovator who creates sensual, inspired, highly physical dance that unearths humanity and frames it with clarity. A principal artist at Roxey Ballet Company, dancing as a principal artist from 2005 to 2011, she joined the internationally active Philadelphia company Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers in 2012. As a solo artist, she has presented nationally and locally, including at the last three Fringe Festivals (Traces of She, 2015; Fore-ign/Fore-out, 2016; Mujeres, 2017).

This year, Carbonell premieres her new work Carry Me, an evening-length dance work for five women dedicated to those we carry, those who carry us, and all that we carry inside. (Before the Fringe you can catch a preview 8/24 at The Gathering at the Sculpture Garden and “Dine with the Dancers” 8/29.) She told FringeArts what she’s carrying and what she hopes to communicate.

FringeArts: What are you carrying right now?

Evalina “Wally” Carbonell: At this very moment I am carrying, “Cain,” my son who is due to be born on November 21. I am also carrying the feelings from the rehearsal I just held; a blend of urgent, energized bursts of equal parts thrill and fluster. Lastly, I carry my head in my hand as I consider my strategy going forward.

FringeArts: How has the experience of motherhood affected your art?

Evalina “Wally” Carbonell: Motherhood has given me an increased appreciation of time, efficiency, creativity, generosity, fear, and flexibility. I have learned the values of improvisation and energetic momentum, as applied to life as well as dance. My art has become both more physically demanding, and emotionally fulfilling. The more I expend, the more I absorb. There is less time to waste and the risks I take feel more weighted.

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What’s Going On Underneath: Meg Foley on The undergird

Posted August 14th, 2018

“The goal is to touch without touching—like really feel and be moved to tears among this long landscape of talking about what our bodies are doing, what we imagine they could do, and about death/loss/grief.” Meg Foley

For the last seven years Meg Foley has been experimenting and and refining her improvisational performance practice, “action is primary”. For a year, she paused every day at 3:15pm to dance, wherever she was, embracing the practice’s central tenet to “hold what you are doing at the center of what you are doing, even as slips towards new centers.” After developing the practice individually, she began to investigate how it could be used to make a group dance.

Foley’s entry into the 2018 Fringe Festival, The undergird is a four-person piece which explores the artists’ “felt experiences” of grief and death in a rhythmic celebration of where memory and imagination live inside the body and how they can be remade through movement. FringeArts talked to Meg about her intriguing title, performance practice, and process.

FringeArts: The undergird” is an intriguing title. How did you come up with it?

Meg Foley: I knew I wanted to use action is primary, an improvisational practice I’d been developing and performing at that point for almost seven years, to make a piece about grief and my relationship to mortality/death, which at first I was like “oh duh, it’s about my Dad dying”. And it is, but quickly I realized it was about something much bigger. I started writing early on and a lot of other material—my experience as a parent and of child birth, my relationship with my mother, the feeling of my own skin—emerged.

I knew that I was trying to stay close to something that I was either pulling away from or avoiding; I was trying to move towards the center rather than away. And I think I had an image of cement and rebar and how it’s held together, a little bit like going down into the boiler room or something to get to where all the mechanicals are.

I think a lot about the action and embodied sensation of words and linguistics, and so it was very clear to me that the title of this piece was a noun. Also thinking about something stretching underneath, holding other things up, or a constant underpinning. Because right away when I started working on the piece, I started thinking about time as a primary material and research point and also thought about earth matter and our bodies as part of that, so in that sense The undergird is both sort of biological and emotional/personal in terms of what’s going on underneath and throughout all the time.

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Bringing Dance Where It Does Not Belong: Monica Bill Barnes on The Museum Workout

Posted August 13th, 2018

After a six-month run at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum Workout comes to the Fringe Festival with a unique opportunity to rediscover one of Philly’s most iconic institutions. Known for its impressive steps and collections of art spanning 2,000 years, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will host the 45-minute contemporary dance/participatory workout routine led by Monica Bill Barnes and Company. Author and artist Maira Kalman, known for her New Yorker cover illustrations and her books for children and adults, chose the artwork along the tour and provides commentary on select works and dance partners Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass lead high-energy, choreographed exercise throughout the many galleries.

The experience turns the typical museum visit on its head and forges a new relationship between visitors and art, to the tune of “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” (and other high-energy numbers mixed live by creative producing director Robert Saenz de Viteri). We talked to Monica Bill Barnes about the process of developing this work and the how it fits into her company’s mission.

FringeArts: How did the company come up with the idea for The Museum Workout?

Monica Bill Barnes: When the Met [The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City] first approached the company about making a show for one of their galleries, we were skeptical about creating a show in the midst of so much art. We did not want to add more art to this wealth of art. But the opportunity felt exciting and a challenge that we wanted to take on. I visited the museum with each company member and while Kelly Hanson and I were standing in the armor gallery looking at all the knights in shining armor, we started to wonder how long it would take to jog through the entire museum without stopping to look at anything, how many miles it would be, what song would we listen to and would that actually be an interesting thing to encounter as a visitor to the museum? We loved the idea of running in our signature sequin dresses that we have worn for several shows with the brand of running shoes that I grew up watching my dad run marathons in. These sequin dresses are designed to feel a bit like a suit of armor but with sequin.

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Steamy Nights On the Plains: An Interview with Trajal Harrell on Caen Amour

Posted July 11th, 2018

Trajal Harrell is a dancer and choreographer who uses history to inform the contemporary dance he creates. Known for the series Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church, parts of which were performed in the 2014 Fringe Festival, Harrell recently completed a two-year residency at MoMA, where he turned his attention to butoh, a form of Japanese dance theater. That study informs his entry into the 2018 Fringe Festival, Caen Amour, a new work that draws inspiration from dance styles of the near and distant past. Harrell gives viewers a look into the hoochie-coochie shows of the early 20th-century, positing that perhaps this early form of erotic dance served as an origin of dance as a modern artform. His piece, which premiered at the Festival Avignon in 2016, is an invitation into a historical imagination, Harrell’s vision of the exoticized, orientalist peep shows that drew in crowds a century ago. FringeArts talked to Harrell about his historical influences and the different styles that all exist in this innovative dance work.

FringeArts: Do you remember how you decided upon the title Caen Amour? Do you remember where you were when you decided upon it?

Trajal Harrell: I don’t remember where I was but the title was an attempt at a cheesy title for a hoochie-coochie show. Another, for example, could have been “Steamy Nights on the Plains.” In the case of Caen Amour, the title is a mix of the city Caen, France, and the word for love in French. Because of my touring schedule, Caen is the place I’ve spent the longest consecutive time since 2009. It’s still reigning. Also, Caen Amour when you say it could almost sound like “quand amour” which means “when love?”

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