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Happy Hour on the Fringe: Conversation with Mariana Arteaga

Posted June 24th, 2019

On this episode of Happy Hour on the Fringe, we share a drink with Mexican public practice artist Mariana Arteaga. Mariana is the artistic force behind Úumbal: Nomadic Choreography for Inhabitants, and she shares the original inspiration for the piece when it premiered in Mexico City. Now, part of the 2019 Fringe Festival in September, Úumbal is an exercise in meeting, recognizing, and celebrating a community gathered for the joy of movement and exploring new ways of moving through public space. The choreography of Úumbal is developed of, by, and for Philadelphia residents who donated their best dance moves to the project, and crafted by  Mariana and a local choreographic team. Úumbal: Nomadic Choreography for Inhabitants runs September 7, 13 & 14 as part of the 2019 Fringe Festival.

Listen to the episode and read the transcript below.

Feature Photo by Alejandra Carbajal

Conversation with Mariana Arteaga

[Music Intro]

Raina: Hello and welcome to Happy Hour on the Fringe. FringeArts is Philadelphia’s premier presenter of contemporary performing arts. I am Raina Searles, Marketing Manager here at FringeArts.

Tenara: And I’m Tenara, I’m the Audience Engagement Coordinator at FringeArts. We invite you to pour one up and enjoy our conversations with some of the most imaginative people on this plane of existence.

Raina: Now, at the time this episode comes out, summer is in full swing at FringeArts. We have our free outdoor movie series featuring popular hits every Wednesday at 8:30, in our beer garden. We have Happy Hour deals from La Peg with a beautiful view of the water front. And, we on the FringeArts staff are working hard to make sure the 2019 Fringe Festival is ready to launch this September.

Tenara: So, today, we’re excited to be chatting with one of the artists who will be helping us launch the 2019 Fringe Festival with an exciting participatory dance piece on the heels of Le Super Grand Continental from 2018. Today, we’re talking with Mariana Arteaga who’s doing … Can you say the name of your piece?

Mariana: Úumbal.

Tenara: Úumbal.

Raina: Welcome, Mariana.

Mariana: Thank you very much for receiving me here, Raina and Tenara. And FringeArts, of course.

Tenara: Yes.

Raina: So, our first question that we always have to ask is, what are we all drinking for this episode of Happy Hour on the Fringe?

Mariana: Definitely coffee. I am addicted to. I’m having coffee because I already had some lunch and every time I eat I need my coffee after.

Tenara: Yeah, it’s one of those post meal stupors that you go into and, it’s like ready for a nap. Yeah, I feel that. I’m drinking water.

Raina: Yeah. I’m having, I’m in all natural Snapple. Takes Two To Mango tea. So, a very fruity flavor today.

Tenara: Amazing. Cool. We’re talking about Úumbal today. Can you tell us a little bit about where, where the idea for Úumbal came from.

Mariana: Úumbal was a response to a political situation that I was having in my country, Mexico. I mean, I like, I collect thinking as a Mexican citizen, I don’t know if you’re familiar, there were 43 students that disappeared and they were from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero. And first the first idea was my reflection about a body that is not visible anymore, and what does it say? Which is, for me, one of the greatest ways of torturing a country. And this idea of disappearance and this idea of not finding where this part is. So my reflection was about how important it was to make a body visible. And also it has to do with a conversation with virtual territory and geographic territory with bodies that are virtual and bodies that are walking in the streets.

Mariana: And this idea that also these bodies disappearing being seen physically in the space and public space. And at the same time when this happened, there were some demonstrations in my city against these phenomena that happened, this disappearance. And I notice during the demonstrations that there were a policeman or military groups being able to encapsulate part of the demonstration. And I noticed that it was really well rehearsed and choreographed.

Tenara: Choreographed.

Mariana: Choreographed and so it made me think about the power of choreography, whether you use it to be repressive, but maybe also I remember about some other kind of choreographic demonstrations that have made a great impact in our global history, which was for example, the Standing Man protest in Turkey in 2013. So I had these two comparative ways of making a statement through choreography. So this my field – my field is dance and choreography so, I thought that if there were policemen that could make this all choreography in order to repress the others, what about if we could rehearse a citizens ways of freedom or ways of organizing ourselves and to make a visible, collected body that organizes and that inhabits the public space in a different way. That’s how Úumbal was born as a nomadic choreography for inhabitants.

Tenara: Can you give our audience a little context? I think we in the states probably heard about 43 disappeared students, but we may not know the deep political things that were going on in Mexico. These were college students.

Mariana: Yeah. They were studying to become teachers and they were trying to make some protest. Now the thing is, I have to remember because I don’t want to give out wrong information.

Tenara: Mm-hmm.

Mariana: The information, what I hear about this, they wanted, they stole or they took from some bus companies, tourist bus companies, some buses in order to come to Mexico and make this big protest, like every year for the killing of students in the ’68, right? So, that happened. Some people were warned about it. So, some policeman and militaries formed a zone and would try to stop these students for going or taking these buses, right? But the way of doing it, like, they stop two buses in the way they crossed in front of the buses and they wouldn’t let them go on. But one of the buses was like going around and when they captured these students, this last bus, they were supposed to take these students to one kind of police station and one part and in the way of delivering these students to that part, they disappeared and nobody knows where they are.

Mariana: At the same time when they stopped the first two buses there were some confrontations and two students were killed already in the confrontations. I will like to just to have accurate look –

Tenara: Yeah, that’s fine, definitely.

Mariana: To say that what I’m saying is absolutely true. But, it’s going to be a longer story in terms of the – this idea is kind of cris-crossed also with the Narco war that the criminal organizations that are in Mexico, because there is like this agreement between militaries, Narco power and they have control everything. So ,we had been in this for the last 12 years in these kinds of situation that people would disappear and then there would be found later on in this, I don’t know how to say it in English, that you create this collective –

Tenara: Grave?

Mariana: Graves, yes.

Raina: Oh, okay.

Mariana: So, in all these 12 years, like thousands, thousands of people having killed had disappeared and till now they are starting to discover new grave-sites. Yeah.

Tenara: Wow.

Mariana: So, but this was, so this was the frame. So what happens that of course we know there is a frame where the students can’t go out of the law, right? But at the same time, the way of solving this is for this kind of violence and extreme violence, which is disappearing the bodies and till now nobody knows where the bodies are.

Mariana: Yeah. So they were allegedly taken into custody. Like it says on September 26, 2014, 43 male students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teacher’s College were forcibly taken and then disappeared in Iguala. So yes, they were organizing to go to this demonstration in Mexico City. That would take place October the second and there is a saying from 1968 until now, we do not forget after second and there was a massive killing of students who are in the protest of the ’68 in a very important public square in Mexico City that is called the Three Cultures Square, which in Spanish is Plaza de las Tres Culturas.

Mariana: So people every year we’ll go there and say “we do not forget”, right? So they were illegally taken into custody by local police members from Cocula and Iguala, but it is said that he was needing collusion with this organized crime, right?

Tenara: Oh, I see.

Raina: I guess just to kind of clarify, was the problem that they stole the buses or was it that they were going to protest?

Mariana: I think no, it’s not a way of going to the protest, it has to do with that kind of political geographical tensions in Guerrero where they are from. Guerrero is called Tierra Caliente. So it has, it is kind of warrior state.

Raina: Okay.

Mariana: And also some kind of nobody’s land. So is it well known that the police people, and as I said in narco power, would always work, assemble and so create their own kind of law.

Mariana: So, and this kind of a violence pattern that increases, with the rival or with the – not the rival, but opening up this narco power groups so everybody could know when this happened and the disappearance between the transporting these students from Cocula to another place that this way of disappearance has to do with this complexity. But this complexity, it’s not only about the ’68, it’s about power, it’s about money. It’s about the geographical place where Guerrero is. It has to do with the history of Guerrero. So yeah, I mean, the story’s pretty much as I said it to you, I was absolutely right, but I think I didn’t say it properly.

Tenara: No, It’s okay.

Mariana: So, what am I going to like kind of read it to you. Yeah. They, they were intended to travel to Mexico City to celebrate is no, not celebrate, commemorate the annual story of the 1968. So, the local police attempted to intercepted these buses.

Tenara: Again, because they had stolen the buses?

Mariana: Yeah, they have taken and that there is a practice by students that is kind of –

Raina: Is that common?

Mariana: It kind of also global thing. It’s not that we do it every day or like, oh yeah, they’re gonna take and then when they return back. No, but there is a practice in these university students that sometimes they might do that. The thing is that during that time there are so many gaps about what happened and who has information of where are they? And that’s the question, like where are they? Because there was like, for example, after a while there was so much social pressure about this that they said that they had found like this kind of grave, collective grave. So there was a group of forensics from Argentina. They’re really specialize people and they came to, you know, make tests and they said no, these are not the bodies. Still.

Raina: They’re just other bodies.

Mariana: And yeah, still they were other bodies, right?

Raina: So, the government’s response was to try and say that they had them even when they didn’t?

Mariana: Yeah. And there’s this kind of thing of we are doing the best that we can. We cannot find it but you don’t see like, they really working on finding out what happened. So yeah, I mean there were special groups, so the narco, they are located specifically in Guerrero, their group of power that controls locally and they are always, or almost all the time your relationship with the governor or the mayor or with the right in during times of this happened, during the times of Enrique Peña Nieto’s presidency. I think what is more, how can I say? This layer, or the layer underneath it is that, this is a story that is exhausting as society because it’s not the first time.

Mariana: And so imagine a society that is this receiving this kind of information or this kind of sensation of that you are living in, like no law at all and suddenly the happens to the promise of a Mexico of the future for students. Not that all lives are not important, but it’s like a symbolic thing and it’s very clear that they have disappeared.

Mariana: I think it has to do with the story how we name things and the importance of naming the things that are happening. So for me also these 43 students were not like only the 43. It was a way of naming all the thousands of bodies that had disappeared before. Like to make something, to embody something where ewe can create to support them but also all these bodies. So like it was the first time in my life I would see every day like demonstrations through demonstrations and demonstration and it was like – the streets of one of the main avenues in Mexico like packed full of people doing these protests.

Mariana: But it was the state of the nation, right? It was the state of the citizens. And it was, it was urgent to manifest this, anger and also this grief, it’s very important to grieve. But, at the same time, I think there was so much anxiety because you are only able to really grieve when you have certainty of that a body’s death

Raina: Right.

Mariana: While the body’s not death and it has just disappeared, and it in this kind of limbo that is not alive and it’s not death. So, how can you process that? And I think to be able to be conscious of that as a society that made us protest in this way. And for me also what happened is that I had never left my city in that way. It’s funny when I have never lived in war conditions, in other kind of political conditions and more extreme, but that doesn’t mean we’re not living in a very violent situation or we haven’t been living.

Mariana: But I hadn’t been very conscious of how this could affect us until that moment that, for the first time I’ve felt my city that is full of life, sad and undermine it.

Raina: Undermined, yeah.

Mariana: And it was a shock for me because, I would watch these videos at the demonstrations and everything what was happening. I was watching this in Japan, I was doing this artistic residency. So, for me, like arriving and just walking through the streets and feeling dizzy with like, “What’s going on?” It was very unique and sad and the sadness takes power to people.

Tenara: I think a lot about the kind of eruption of action and protest and an urgency that happened after Parkland. The school shooting in Parkland High School. That’s not coming from the state, which is different than the situation you’re describing. But similarly it’s violence enacted against students, the future of tomorrow. And what came out of it was the most – I mean, I don’t think that in my life as I have experienced consistent school and public space shootings in the United States, like the news of them, I haven’t felt that kind of – I felt like after the kindergartners, we were just all depressed. Like none of us could do anything about it.

Tenara: And like just the deep, deep sadness. And then after Parkland all of a sudden, because the students themselves were then starting this –

Raina: Speaking out.

Tenara: Yeah, they were speaking out. That felt similarly, like there’s something really electric happening that then pulls at the threads of all the states of the nation. If we’re talking about this, we have to talk about lobbying. We have to talk about racism. We have to talk. Like it just, it made us all start talking about things and yeah. Yeah. I’m resonating a lot with what you’re saying.

Mariana: The other thing that I didn’t discover, but later on, six months later, I will get there. It has to do with how does a collective lives you. So those were, I mean that was the situation, with the Ayotzinapa students. But as you can see, the situation itself reflects other historical, political realities that we were carrying out by that moment. Like everybody was like, “Oh”. Yeah. So, that was the situation.

Tenara: So can you tell us a little bit about Úumbal and the design of the piece as a way of pushing against the invisibility of these bodies?

Mariana: Yeah. I thought that our response had to be in different layers. First, against the disappearance is the appearance of a body and the appearance susceptible of a voice, a collective body. So I thought that the public space would be the place to do that and to take this kind of structure of doing things in the street, and to go through streets as our way of protesting.

Mariana: But at the same time, I thought that the idea of the rehearsed, the possibilities as a society to imagine ourselves living differently and like the only way of being a counter part of that would it be to kind of empower us and to take care of the other and to have agreements and to be able to negotiate and to be able to perceive and to be in public space in different ways that a demonstration is, right?

Mariana: Like we had to rehearse this possible ways of meeting each others. So there is this, other woman, really admired that is Hannah Arendt and she said freedom is also rehearsed. So, that was resonating with me very much this like phrase. I was like, yeah, we have to practice our own freedom and we have to feel what could that be? That made me think of structure of a nomadic choreography. Not a choreography that was going to be in a square where it’s meant to be when you’re doing this big festivals or celebration. We needed to be walking through the streets and dancing.

Mariana: Dancing is the way I communicate things. And also dancing for me was a way of recovering this power and the power of joy to be able to confront things. There is something very magical about this, this idea of living collective joy as a way of power. This idea of power to the people.

Mariana: But I really believed in that, because I had been doing some other collective choreographic works and I had witnessed it in them and in myself. The fact of that and the fact of that is that I was willing to be with others and to negotiate and to enjoy of the other and to trust the other. So I was talking in this global way, but I was very interested in the micro revolutions and in the micro politics.

Mariana: That’s for me where the things could lead us to little fractures that eventually will come in some kind of change. I’m not thinking in any like big pictures of – I do not believe in this kind of thing. I think because of our social economic health system, global system, that’s not that possible. So that’s why I was interested in this kind of micro politics. So if I say like, if we can expand it 50, 60 people or something, it’s gonna be great.

Mariana: And it’s going to be great just the fact that there will be 50 or 60 people willing to do that. It’s just like, so that’s another thing. And also this idea of if we were going to do a collective statement, then even if I had to say yeah, or if I could guide the project, the boys should be collective. So I say I’m not going to tell the others to dance my dance steps because, then they’re only talking about me.

Mariana: So how can I do it too to make it collective and to listen to the voices of everybody. That’s why I thought like, well that’s the steps of the people would be our raw material. That’s how the first phase was born. And then that thing led to the other. Like, say yeah, and the construction should be the same. The choreographic construction should not only be lived by me or by a choreographic team, but also by citizens.

Mariana: And it’s also a way to be needing and recovering some kind of power that you will acknowledge or you will recognize that you know and you didn’t know, that you know. And then third phase would be like calling to these other 50 citizens that will like to be part of this project.

Raina: So I’m curious, this piece has such like resonant meaning in Mexico City and with kind of all the history around the politics, what does it mean to bring this piece to Philadelphia and how do you translate meaning, or how do you find new meaning in building this with Philadelphia residents who, you know, don’t have that same kind of political history.

Mariana: It’s interesting because that doesn’t mean there is a political discussion going on right now. You’re right in terms that it’s a different one. What resonates with me and that the thing that made me want to do the project outside Mexico was a conversation about diversity.

Mariana: Some kind of racial encounter or dis-encounter maybe, that I could even sense walking the city. And, FringeArts say like, “we are very interested in a project like yours because community.” And I say, “yeah”, but the discussion is political, like I say, the origin of part of this. So we’ve got a long conversation and I say like, “we really think that we need some kind of way of encountering each other.” And there are Latinos, African Americans or white people. There are immigrants from Puerto Rico, Honduras, Cambodia, Vietnam, you know? And, in a way there are not like points of encounter maybe between all these people. Right. So, that was the political discussion. And for me, it was like lights there because as a Mexican I do also reflect a lot about this immigrant condition and its relationship with, the United States.

Mariana: And of course in this presidency is more, how can I say it? Tense. It’s more tense right now. Yeah. And we start our relation with the idea of getting out of the country to have a better future and what happens and what is the life of these immigrants here? So these are the things that I was really interested. I was really interested to find some kind of social dialogue conversation that we could work in. which doesn’t mean that of course we’re going to achieve it like that, right?

Mariana: Like, I mean, we still don’t know it. But for me, what made me say I want to be in Philly is intention. We have to start from one point. And the point is to be open to that intention and to work through that intention. It might happen, it might not happen, but that consciousness and then in the process to be learning what it takes to have that conversation. It gives us clues, reality clues of how to need better those bridges, to have the conversation.

Tenara: Do you find that Philadelphians are open to that intention so far, in your awareness?

Mariana: So far it’s been very interesting because I am like, my first approaches are with FringeArts team and with a choreographic team that is from Philadelphia. So in terms of human beings, like in terms of the space, it’s another conversation. I will go first with the people.

Tenara: The people.

Mariana: Well, first is the FringeArts team that they are the ones calling me. They have this urge, this intention, this desire of going towards there, which I really like in terms of that Úumbal is not in the regular production – performing arts production system because it’s a long term peace, it’s not made in 15 days or one month. It takes time and time is what makes it possible. Now, what I found is that FringeArts is also learning through this project a lot of things and that for me is the most palatable thing because it’s opening these reflections and this conversation in our FringeArts, I believe. I think I have this perception.

Tenara: You’re right. Yeah, I would say you’re right

Raina: Yeah, we’re learning a lot.

Mariana: So, with the choreographic team, I think it’s – the learning process for me has been different. First, because I ask clearly, I ask a diverse group that if we were going to have a conversation like this, I needed in the group a diverse group. It’s been interesting. Of course this choreograph team is really open. For some reason they were interested and they are working. They are also speaking out loud about the tensions about the neighborhoods and about the way a body moves, for example.

Mariana: And what power or un-empower body it might represent for a Latino than from African American, then from a white American, right? So this kind of dialogue and conversation is just giving me a side, a perception of a difference. Like there’s difference between though all these people, but it has become more clear through the neighborhoods.

Mariana: Not for the people that I’m working with side by side, but with the neighborhoods is the geographically designed city that barely is and what are the streets telling you? The way it’s organized, the street, how the houses are, the people that are outside of houses, how do they see us when we are walking around. And that is, in a way, giving me some disconnection. What talks about the city as it is, disconnection in terms that there is, only in a few places, there is this crossing intersection of conversations of our diversities.

Tenara: Philly is very segregated.

Mariana: That’s my perception so far. So, I think that definitely is not a process that a product like this will achieve. Like, “oh yeah, we made it.” Like, it’s so complex and it has to do with distribution of power, it has to do –

Tenara: Housing.

Mariana: It’s a conversation of race and a lot of conversation it has come out is gentrification conversation that is changing a lot of things. But, also that gentrification is related to race.

Tenara: Yeah.

Mariana: So far this reception about people, I still don’t know. I’m in that moment that I’m just perceiving only, and it’s in a very, very early stage. But what I have to say there has been for me really like a wake up call and I don’t know if the choreographic team is aware of that, is what has happened in the neighborhoods when people see three African Americans, one Latina and one white American walking together.

Tenara: This is you and the choreographic team?

Mariana: Yes.

Tenara: Yeah.

Mariana: So for example, that little example, it has been very interesting. Just the fact to see four or five people walking together and walking now, because we are walking to go to one place to the other because we need to work, but we’re just walking the neighborhood.

Mariana: And that is something that mainly people are like watching like, what is this? It’s not common. And that tells you so much. And in some neighborhoods that could be seen as, what? Like, what are you doing here? Like are we your curiosity? Like, this kind of a little bit defensive way. What, are you like, why do you want to come here and change the world, kind of. And another is just to an observation. And in others it’s a lot of curiosity, maybe. So, but like for example that it says so much about the idea of what a city is like, or how is it organized? What kind of conversations are needed? Also talks about the idea of walking, the use of walking. The abstract idea of walking, something I can see people, I feel like use a lot their cars versus walking.

Mariana: So that’s an interesting reflection for me. These are the things that I’m learning. And the other thing that I’m very happy about is that even the choreographic team hadn’t been in many places that we walked through.

Raina: Yeah.

Tenara: That’s great.

Mariana: And that tells me a lot about how a person maybe that lives in Philly, relates to the geographical space. Maybe it reduces too specific points and not very much moving from there. It’s a way of organizing life. But it’s interesting because everything is crossed by economy by cultural thing. Maybe.

Raina: I think it is really interesting because like I went to school in West Philly and obviously FringeArts is in Old City and when I was in college I would come to Center City, I’d come to Old City. And so when, now I still live in West Philly because I was kind of like looking for housing and I was like, well I know this area.

Raina: And so I kind of stayed in West Philly and like even now, just thinking about like the Market Frankfort line is like my go-to. But that doesn’t really include the Broad Street line. Like, I’m still learning about South Philly, North Philly, Fishtown areas, like all that’s still very new to me. And so, I think one thing that’s really cool about the Fringe Festival is that I get to go to so many different shows in different neighborhoods, but even that is like I might just be driving there. I don’t usually walk to a specific location and kind of explore the full neighborhood around that place.

Tenara: It was the Fringe Festival that that taught me the geography of Philadelphia, because when I moved to Philadelphia in 2016, I moved in August and the festival started a month later, and I just decided that I was going to see like four shows a week and I would get on my bike and I would just, I’d be like, I don’t even know where I am right now, but because I was like on my way to see a show, I really got to know how the city was laid out. And, so I would go to see shows. Like I lived in West Philly at the time too. And so I would go to see shows in Old City, but also in North Philly and also in South Philly and just like all over the place.

Tenara: And it’s, yeah, there aren’t a lot of occasions that people have to move on a map that is different then like, here’s where I live, here’s where I work, here’s where my friend lives, here’s where my gym is, here’s my favorite restaurant. And, that’s like it. You know? Those points on the map and the most frequented and so it’s not very common for people to have reasons to have to go out into different spaces.

Mariana: Definitely. I think it tends to happen in big cities. Cities at like for example in Mexico City that might happen because it’s so big. The city is so big. But anyway, the range of movement of, or transportation, is wider than I have found here.

Tenara: What, the Mexico City’s public transportation is –

Mariana: Like, the people in Mexico City, we tend to go a little bit further. I can say, but, and it’s not that I’m criticizing something, I’m just saying that we have a different cultural approach maybe and maybe also it is crossed with economical condition, of course. But like the phenomena itself is that we move more through the city.

Tenara: Well, I think there’s also something that’s a little bit lifestyle about it too because like I think about – Philly is really so big. Like, Germantown and Mount Airy. Those are…Glenside–

Raina: Those are part of Philly.

Tenara:  –Those are neighborhoods in Philadelphia, but they’re so far away and they’re so inaccessible by public transportation. The people who end up living there are people who are older or have families or commute in their cars to work. And I just think a lot about people that I know that live in those suburbs, that is still technically Philadelphia, their lifestyle also means that they move on a different map because they drive different places. And, to me to go out there, it’s like that’s so far away. It’s like going to a different state because then I’m just like on my bike and I’m going from West Philly to Old City. I’m like, I can’t go out there, you know? But it’s like, actually the city is enormous and so, and the kinds of lifestyles that different geographies promote, it’s just so different.

Mariana: And I also, my reflection it’s about like, it’s not the first time that I listened to this comment about some cities in the United States that do not have a very good public transportation system. And in Mexico we had kind of have the opposite. We have really good transportation system that connects everything with everything. The only thing that we have more people than the public transportation. I mean like our prop one, the connection lines.

Tenara: There are too many people.

Mariana: But, that there’s not enough, way too many people and yeah, that would be the problem, but that makes us be able to go to different places.

Tenara:  And Philadelphia’s public transportation really is commuter. Everything is pointing in the direction of Center City to get from West Philly to South Philly, even though the most direct route would be like southwest or southeast, you know you have to go and straight into center city and then straight down. I couldn’t go from West Philly to Germantown very easily. I mean, there is the commuter rail but it, but again it’s like only connecting these neighborhoods to the center of the city.

Mariana:  And then there was another reflection for me, which is about the city and compared to my city that it has other kind of political layers, is that our transportation system is public. It’s from the state and here it’s a private, subsidized private, right?

Raina: Is your public transportation free?

Mariana: No, but the state is the one in charge of handling everything

Tenara: Isn’t the set up – I don’t know.

Mariana: What I have learned –

Raina: I really don’t I think SEPTA is a private company but I think it’s like with – like very much in conjunction. But yes, SEPTA is its own.

Mariana: It’s managed by private company and that Mexico is like, there is a secretary like in Mexico City, that mobility secretary and that’s in charge of –

Tenara: It’s state created, like the state created it? We’re currently Googling, friends at home. One of the choreographer’s told you that it was privately owned?

Mariana: Privately managed

Tenara: Privately managed, that would not surprise me. Everything here is private.

Mariana: And so public, in terms of that it’s run the state, but it’s also managed by the state.

Tenara: Yeah, got it.

Mariana: There is not a private company managing the Metro subway or something, no.

Raina: We just have two final questions.

Tenara: You can make them snappy.

Raina: So, we’re really curious. Where did the name Úumbal come from?

Mariana: Oh, Úumbal came from a Mayan tongue from the Mayans that are in the south of Mexico. So Úumbal means balancing like to do that balance. But I didn’t even look for the word because of the meaning but because how it sounded. Úumbal! So I was thinking it was like a call to war, and I was so angry at that time, that I needed a sound, and I didn’t want to have this artistic name, the flock, or like the like this thing that is recognizable. I just wanted something that nobody knew what it was like, but just saying it would provoke something.

Tenara:  I mean it really is quite provocative. Like even an English to say Úumbal: Nomadic Choreography for Inhabitants. People were like, “what’s that?”

Mariana: Yeah, actually yeah.

Tenara: So our last question for you, what are your highbrow inspirations and your low brow inspiration?

Raina: Yeah, so like we can say, what are your high class like fancy –

Tenara: Intellectual, fancy.

Raina: Those kinds of inspirations. And then what’s just like your –

Mariana: In terms of culture, art or something like that?

Raina: Yeah, it could be –

Tenara: Like, give a lowbrow inspiration for yourself.

Raina: So, I will say a highbrow one. Well, actually, I always go back and forth. I think Shakespeare is a little bit both highbrow and lowbrow, but this idea of high art and artists who inspire you. And then lowbrow is like, what’s that trash TV show that you like watching?

Tenara: Wow.

Raina:  I don’t know. Something just really basic.

Mariana: Oh okay. My highbrows are, I have so many.

Tenara: You’re such a classy person.

Mariana: I am, I’m sorry, I am. I love architecture. I’m inspired by Architects, such as like Juhani Pallasmaa, kind of techs or this group from Japan called Zhanna or Kengo Kuma architect. I could go on and on about architects because I do love architecture like, it’s an inspiring part but for me. I’m inspired by some kinds of music, different kinds of music. My like high what?

Tenara: Brow.

Mariana: Highbrow.

Tenara: Your eyebrow.

Mariana: There is a group from Columbia. They’re doing very traditional Columbia, somebody had something like really earth and so truth. So that could be like a high level inspiration as choreographers that maybe I also admire a lot or I have admired at some point. Or the other directors as I’m forgetting the name, my God, Philip King, we got in studio. Somebody that inspires me for example. And my lowbrow-

Tenara: Lowbrow.

Mariana: Definitely, definitely bloopers from Saturday Night Live.

Tenara: I love that that is your lowbrow.

Mariana: Oh my God. I can spend hours and bloopers from some TV series. I like, there’s nothing better for me. That scene character that breaks the character.

Raina: I love that.

Mariana: I’m so –

Tenara: I’m resonating with that so much.

Mariana: I’m so obsessed, like sometimes like I can feel down and I would be like watching chapters of like bloopers forever of some series and Saturday Night Live to see characters losing it. Like, Ryan Gosling, I remember one that it was great. Or, I remember or segments of Saturday Night Live, there was these things that I called the Californians.

Tenara: Yes, I know that one very well, Mariana.

Mariana: I would you just be like, I mean I am Mexican, I don’t have the American culture, but it’s so funny that I would be repeating it, I just love it, California.

Tenara: That’s how they actually talk. That’s how Californians really talk.

Mariana: That is my lowbrow. No, that would be like, yeah.

Tenara: That’s a good answer.

Raina: So, thank you so much for joining us on this episode of Happy Hour on the Fringe. It was great to have you.

Mariana: Thank you.

Raina: And make sure to follow Úumbal all around Philadelphia September 7th and 8th [Editor’s note: dates have since been updated to September 7, 13 + 14] and you can follow FringeArts on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. And make sure to download the FringeArts app ahead of the Fringe Festival this year.

[Music Outro]

A Look Back at the History of Contemporary Circus

Posted April 19th, 2019
By Lexi DeFilippo, Communications Intern Spring 2019

This summer, FringeArts’ annual circus festival Hand to Hand returns to bring the wonder of contemporary circus to the heart of Philadelphia. In partnership with Circadium School of Contemporary Circus, the first and only diploma-granting circus program in the US, we’re excited to highlight some of the new and innovative performers taking on the circus scene. And in honor of World Circus Day (third Saturday in April, ie. April 20, 2019), we’re taking a look back at the history behind contemporary circus worldwide.

Sometimes known as new circus or nouveau cirque, contemporary circus can be perceived as an enigma. On a structural level, contemporary circus challenges the traditional circus by rejecting the use of animals, acts without any connected through line, and (in most cases) the big top tent as a performance space. Another notable difference from traditional circus is the shift in who is performing contemporary circus acts. Instead of the circus family model where skills are passed down generations to produce family units that travel with a circus and live on the road, contemporary circus productions employ conservatory-trained professionals from all over the world. These conscious steps away from the kitsch of traditional circus have helped push contemporary circus into the spotlight as a more intention-driven form of entertainment that highlights the excitement, finesse, and true artistry of the circus arts.

Contemporary circus began to emerge in the late 1960s-early 70s when groups in Australia, France, United Kingdom, and the West Coast of the United States began to combine the circus arts with more theatrical elements. One of the earliest circus companies credited with incorporating theater into their routines is the Royal Lichtenstein Circus, founded in San Jose by a Jesuit priest in 1971. They were also one of the first groups to use a one-ring format which allowed for the performers to create a more intimate connection with the audience.

This clip from their side-show in 1984 is an example of how the Royal Lichtenstein Circus used theater as a to tell stories through their performances. The choreography acts as a vessel to bring an abstract idea to life while showing off the physicality of the performers.

Another early contemporary circus group, the Pickle Family Circus, formed in 1975 by members of a mime troupe, was one of the first groups to start threading social commentary into their work. The troupe prided itself on being a democratic organization in which all of the performers received equal pay and played an integral part in the operation of the circus as well as the production. The Pickle Family Circus is known for telling a narrative with their productions and using circus acts to move the story along while keeping the audience at the edge of their seats with amazement.

This clip of highlights from their show, Cafe Des Artistes in 1988, shows off the troupe’s multi-faceted performers with the ability to seamlessly blend their circus skills with character work and humor.

As American contemporary circus continued to develop on the West Coast, Britain experienced its own circus revolution. In 1984, Ra-Ra Zoo Circus was founded in London and became recognized for being an integral part of the experimental circus movement overseas. Ra-Ra Zoo incorporated surrealism and satire into their politically-driven productions. The group also challenged the of circus by maintaining an equal number of male and female performers. Nofit State Circus of Wales was founded in 1986 by a group of friends looking for employment during an intense political climate. They developed the Nofit State Circus to act as a political reaction and outlet for creativity and expression. Similar to the American New Circus movement, these British troupes replaced animals with drama, music, and dance as integral parts of their circus productions.

The most well-known contemporary circus, Cirque du Soleil, was founded in Quebec in 1984 by street performers Gilles Ste-Croix and Guy Laliberte. The duo, which led a group of street performers, proposed to create a full-length show for the celebration of 450th anniversary of the discovery of Canada by Jacque Cartier. The show, called Circus of the Sun, was chosen to extend the anniversary celebration through a province-wide tour. Since that first tour, Cirque du Soleil has been creating new shows and touring the world ever since. The company is known for its sleek, high-end productions that use abstraction and ornate visuals that continue to push circus to entirely new heights. Cirque du Soleil is even responsible for Las Vegas on the map as a world-class entertainment hub with over six resident productions currently running on The Strip. This clip, from resident show, The Beatles LOVE at The Mirage, shows how each element of the productions is elaborately designed and constructed to bring the concept to its most heightened reality. The technical capacity of Cirque du Soleil’s state-of-the art venues is also highlighted.

Archaos, founded in France by Pierrot Bidonin in 1986, is known as being an alternative, punk circus. Although the company disbanded in 1991 due to financial problems fairly quickly after its conception, Archaos’ wild, spirited, and crazy circus left a huge impact on contemporary circus. The company brought danger into the circus in a way that was never seen before with the use of motorcycles, chainsaws, and metal deathtraps. This clip provides a taste of the debauchery that helped the rule-breaking Archaos build a cult following.

Newer companies, such as Montreal-based group The Seven Fingers, are continuing the rule-breaking rebellion of contemporary circus in the 2000s with work focused on each performer’s personal characteristics. The performers use their circus abilities to express personal stories and emotions, similar to the way modern dance embodies the human experience. Unlike the dreamworld of companies like Cirque du Soleil, The Seven Fingers create work from a realistic lens and highlights a genuine human experience. This teaser clip from the show, RÉVERSIBLE, is an example of contemporary circus with a specific kind of “stripped down” stylistic aesthetic.

These are just a few of the contemporary circus companies that helped save the legacy of the circus arts by adapting to economic, cultural, and artistic shifts in order to produce a more dynamic and forward-looking form of circus. Contemporary circus has now become a recognized and celebrated art form around the world and is accessible in ways traditional circus never was. Although some of the biggest circus companies in the world are no longer around, circus is very much alive and well thanks to contemporary circus.

At FringeArts, Hand to Hand kicks off with a showcase from Circadium’s first year students  entitled, Circadium Springboard, on May 25. The performance will showcase works by these  students who have completed the first of three years of intensive interdisciplinary study.

Swiss duo Compagnia Baccalà acts as the centerpiece of this year’s festival lineup and is bringing its world-renowned show, Pss Pss, to the FringeArts stage this June. The production, inspired by the theatrical world of Charlie Chaplin and other silent film stars, incorporates the key components of contemporary circus by using circus skills, abstraction, and humor to dazzle audiences of all ages. The pas de deux provides the perfect display of the unbelievable physicality and enchanting artistry behind the success of the New Circus movement.

There will also be an opportunity to try out popular contemporary circus skills with Philadelphia School of Circus Arts at Circus Midway on June 30. Juggling, plate spinning, and tight wire are just a few of the skills you can learn from this fun day of outdoor workshops. Then come see the skills in action during Test Flights, a circus edition of our works-in-progress series, on Monday, July 1.

Experience the tantalizing magic of contemporary circus at Hand to Hand June 28–July 1 here at FringeArts.

Happy Hour on the Fringe: Conversation with Cecily Chapman on Public Practice Works

Posted March 15th, 2019

On this episode of Happy Hour on the Fringe, hosts Zach Blackwood and Tenara Calem chat with FringeArts ambassador and Le Super Grand Continental (2018) dancer Cecily Chapman. The trio discuss the importance of public practice performances and Cecily goes into detail about her personal experience as a performer in a large-scale production. The conversation acts as wonderful insight for people interested in getting involved in the 2019 Fringe Festival participatory piece, Úumbal: Nomadic Choreography for Inhabitants. Learn more about Úumbal and how to participate in the Step Library here!  Listen to the podcast or read the full transcript below.

Conversation with Cecily Chapman

Tenara: Hello, and welcome to Happy Hour on the Fringe. FringeArts is Philadelphia’s premiere presenter of contemporary performing arts. I’m Tenara. I’m the Audience Engagement Coordinator at FringeArts.

Zach: And I’m Zach. I’m an Artistic Producer, here. We invite you to pour one up and enjoy our conversations with some most imaginative people on this plane of existence.

Tenara: Here at FringeArts, we’re getting ready for The Appointment by Lightning Rod Special previewing on Wednesday, March 20th and running through March 31st. Make sure you visit fringearts.com to grab your tickets for this spectacular show exploring misogyny, hypocrisy, and absurdity surrounding the abortion debate in America.

Zach: But today, we’re talking to a very special guest, Cecily Chapman, one of our FringeArts ambassadors, and dancer in last year’s public practice dance piece, Le Super Grand Continental. Welcome Cecily.

Cecily: Thank you.

Zach: One of our first questions we always ask. What are you imbibing? What’s your beverage today?

Cecily: Ah, sparkling water. It’s my go-to beverage.

Zach: Spicy water.

Cecily: Spicy water. Yeah, that’ll do.

Zach: We have a young friend that calls it that.

Cecily: Like a child. Yeah, that makes sense.

Tenara: Yeah, that makes a little bit more sense. And now that I’m thinking more about it in the context of a child’s brain, it actually is a perfect description.

Zach: What are you having tonight?

Tenara: I’m also having spicy water.

Zach: I’m actually having spicy water. I’m having a Turmeric Ginger Tea. [crosstalk 00:01:33]. It’s very, very good. It’s sometimes too spicy. And we’re gonna get too spicy today on the podcast, right?

Cecily: Ooo spicy. I am ready.

Zach: So we’re to talk to you kinda about your experience in public practice work. You got to participate in Le Super Grand Continental. Are you willing to tell us a little bit about how Le Super Grand Continental worked, as though we’ve never heard of it.

Cecily: It was like we spent the whole summer preparing for a two-day weekend performance for the first weekend of the Fringe Festival, and it was like 150 may 200, normal, regular, Philadelphia area people who are not professional dancers learning a 30 minute piece. It was ranging from little five-year-olds to like probably close to 80. I don’t know. I have no idea. Like at some point, you don’t ask people their age.

Tenara: Correct.

Cecily: But it was all of us together practicing twice, sometimes much more than that a week to get our dance steps down and it was fun event.

Zach: And were you costumed for that?

Cecily: We could choose our costumes. There were no real limits as long as we could move in them, and it wasn’t advertising anything. But there were people in just their regular jeans and t-shirts, and dress things or whatever, and then there were people in sequins. I had a sequined shirt on top. It was very bright and red. There were people with tutus. There were multitude of different costumes per se, but that was our chance of being creative and letting our own personalities show to a certain degree ’cause in a group dance you’re supposed to be doing all the steps, all the same steps that everybody else is doing, so it’s nice to be able to at least show some of your personality.

Zach: And what was your experience with dancer performance before jumping into Le Grand?

Cecily: So, I actually did the first Le Grand. I’ve taken dance classes and things, but not anything that I can really remember where I was like I’m a dancer. I did do a musical theater camp at one point.

Tenara: Heck yeah.

Zach: I was reading about that. So Cecily’s an amazing stand up performer in town and also a storyteller, and some of Cecily’s stories are so so good WHYY has published the transcripts of them, so you can definitely look those up and check them out. I looked them up and had a great time reading about them. What was the title of the piece, I had a nightmare time at musical theater camp, or-

Cecily: Oh, I don’t remember what the title was.

Zach: When you talked about turning over and looking at the 10-year-old boy in the face, like it is so so fantastic. No more spoilers. Check it out yourself.

Tenara: So what was it like for you returning to Le Super Grand after you did it in 2012? So, it was like six years have gone by and then you came to not exactly the same piece but something similar.

Zach: There’s some old people, some new people. [crosstalk 00:05:23]

Cecily: I was excited to sign up again to do it because my memory said that it was great experience. And I only say that because physically I’m six years older, and all the things which I’m still young and I look at [crosstalk 00:05:46] but my body is different than six years ago, so that is the only thing that came to mind. But I was excited because I do like the idea of meeting people from my community per se, like people I might see on the bus, or might see at a performance, or wherever I am, and getting to have some form of connection with them. And it was really nice to see a couple of my friends from six years ago return because some of them I hadn’t stayed in contact with, but as soon we saw each other, it was like “Yes! I’m so happy you’re here,” and basically kinda like an old friend like you just picking up where you left off, almost literally, ’cause we left off dancing and we’re picking up dancing.

Cecily: So, that was exciting to have like a portion of people that were familiar and even a couple of the instructors were familiar. So, it was nice to know that there were people who remember our previous performance, had some energy about it. And then, there were a lot of new people, and so it was a chance to kinda meet new people and I’m not the most social person, so I’m sure coulda connected way better, but like to me it was nice to just be in our room or a huge ice rink with people every week, a couple times a week coming together. We’re in different stages of our life and different ethnic and different all the things. All the things we can come up with. So, it was really good to kinda see that happen again. My body was just like, “you forgot.”

Cecily: I was told that this piece was a little bit more challenging than by one of the instructors. They said it was a little more challenging than six years ago. So, my body my not be lying to me and my memory. But it definitely felt, I was like, I’m actually working out, and like a couple times in a week. There’s some fun contrast and similarities.

Tenara: Yeah, when I was hanging out at rehearsal, some people told me like the main, similar to you, they end up find a sense of community and connection with everybody around them, but originally they wanted to do Le Super Grand in order to build in exercise into their week. So, they like literally did it at first because they were like, “Oh, I will just be moving for two hours twice a week.”

Zach: And I think a lot about my experience, I was a marching band nerd in high school. And to get with all those people to learn the drill, [inaudible 00:09:14], to get injured together in some cases, to share nasty moldy water bottles together, it feels almost you share in this joy but almost bodily trauma in a certain way that’s not bad, it’s just [crosstalk 00:09:35]. There’s something in that sense of shared accomplishment that’s like, it compounds my personal sense of accomplishment in a certain way. And its’ funny, I see so many Le Grand dancers around town like at the Whole Foods. Last night at the Rosenbach Museum, I saw a person, who I won’t name ’cause this is being recorded. And Yeah, it just makes me feel like I have friends all over in certain way.

Tenara: Do you run into people?

Cecily: I have. Yes. I’m also at this weird stage in life where I don’t know where I know people from. So, it’s like do I know you because you know me from [inaudible 00:10:11]. Do I know you from some other, like the bus. Or do I know. But I have seen some Le Super Grand people in my travels and things, and some of them recognize me, some of them don’t because there’s some many of us, like you might not remember everybody.

Zach: The other day I was just walking up the street and Sarah Gladwin Camp rides by on her bike and just goes, “Hey, looking forward to the next one.”Just like that. Just so funny like it just it feels like, it makes the city feel smaller to me in a certain way and that’s exciting. When you’re looking at the first Le Grand opportunity back in I guess this is 2012, when you’re reading through the description, what made you say this is for me and I can do that?

Cecily: So, I honestly don’t really remember what … I think my mom sent me an email and it was just the idea that as long as I could move, I could be a part of it. So, auditioning and all the things, it … the pressure of being like a perfect dancer, and I didn’t have to worry about that.

Tenara: So, the pressure to be like a perfect dancer was off and-

Cecily: Yeah, so I think also at that point in my life I was just kinda more willing to try something new, try something different. I don’t really remember. It was six years ago.

Zach: Were you new at comedy then?

Cecily: Yes, I was very new at comedy then.

Tenara: Do you feel …or I’m sure there is a difference, but maybe you can speak a little bit about the difference of being a participant in these big, large-scale performances versus being an audience member watching a performance.

Cecily: Well, I think in some ways when I watch a performance I want to be a part of it to a certain degree and usually it’s, “I wish I could do that.” And so, I think there’s just a certain amount of aw in seeing people moving their bodies or any creative form that either not using or just haven’t got to a certain level of using. So, it’s always fun to see people performing and then when the opportunity comes to being able to be a part of something, it just seems right because now I’m getting to do what I have wanted to do when I’ve been a spectator. So, if it happened again and I was physically able to do it again, I would still do it and not be a spectator.

Zach: I watched all three performances from different places each time. Like one time I was up high on the steps of the art museum, another time I climbed up weird sculpture and was on top of that, that was fun. And I just felt this immense sense of like pride. Right? ‘Cause I was there in some rehearsals, I did a lot of recruitment for this, and I felt proud of everyone who was dancing, but I felt more proud broadly of the city and I just don’t know that there are … It’s funny they take this piece all over the world, and what’s interesting to me is I feel like Philly, it’s just very like–

Tenara: It’s very different.

Zach: Like it … something just locks into place. Philly, especially it’s such a big, small town in a certain way. The footprint of the city, geographically is kinda teenty, but there’s so many people here, and there this kind of … There’s this thing that I don’t feel like you have in New York anymore where you run into everybody you know all the time here. And sometimes it’s great, and sometimes it’s like ugh, there’s my ex again. [inaudible 00:14:09]. There’s someone I ghosted. What do they want from me? You know, but it’s just, it felt like there was this immense interconnectivity that I don’t know [crosstalk 00:14:22] but was foregrounded.

Tenara: Yeah, it was just so celebratory. It was really infectious. I was there doing, essentially recruitment for this year’s public practice performance. I was like basically like if this seems interesting to you, write down your name and email address, and we’ll send you information about next year’s show. It won’t be the same thing, but it will be something very similar and I can tell you that the number of email sign ups we got after the show, like tripled the number that we had right before the show started because you can’t watch that without being like oh my god that was amazing. I wanna do that. I wanna be a part of the crew.

Zach: So what advice do you have for people who might consider being in the large scale public practice piece in the future? Maybe in their decision-making or how to prep for a hot, sweaty rehearsal process.

Cecily: Okay. So, first with the decision making, I know a lot of times, there’s a audition type situation and it’s not really an audition as much as it’s showing you that you can do it. So, I would suggest people not take it so seriously as like oh my gosh this Broadway show. I have to get all the steps. And just know, be mindful of your body, but also in this kind of situation, know that there are people who are going to be faster at getting the steps, who are going to be more limber, and more all the things, and there are going to be people who are not gonna be good as you in picking things up and all that, and by the end of it, we’re all doing the same thing.

Cecily: So, it might take you longer. It might take you a much shorter process, but the overall, the ending is gonna be great. So, definitely go to the auditions or whatever they’re being called. And information sessions just so that you can kind of see what was being offered. For me, I think I, at some point, mostly towards the end, I wasn’t present. So, I was kinda like get this over with at some point.

Zach: In the dress rehearsal and then in that performance also.

Cecily: In the dress rehearsal, we got rained out of. And then, the actual Sunday performance, we were rained on, and for me, it was not fun. I was not interested at all and pictures prove that. It feels like all the pictures that are of me captured my inner thoughts. [crosstalk 00:17:34] But at the end, what I wanna say is don’t let the positive be the memory, but the positive be the present. So, if I do it again or something like it, I would hope that I would be able to be present and experience the joy that is around me and just being proud of myself that put in this work and you know, be able to celebrate and dance in the rain even though I really, really, really, really hated it.

Zach: There were so many audience members who stayed in the rain.

Cecily: Yeah, it was an amazing idea. [crosstalk 00:18:19] It’s great for the movies. You know. It’s a great scene to inspire people and yeah, the audience members were great.

Tenara: It was cold.

Cecily: It’s was cold and it was-

Zach: And you had to lay down [crosstalk 00:18:44]. And at that point, that was it. I was just like feeling for everybody at that point. [inaudible 00:18:52]

Cecily: But there’s so many people around me that were excited and so I kinda wish I would’ve been excited too.

Zach: And now it’s like a competition, right? ‘Cause we got rained on in 2012 too.

Cecily: Yeah, that was different though ’cause it was a mist. It was more of a … it was actually kinda nice like you weren’t drowning from looking up into the sky [crosstalk 00:19:17]

Zach: It was a torrential downpour. I’m from Florida like hurricane season and I was like this is real. Generally, I’m like “Ooo, people whine about rain here”, but like that was powerful.

Tenara: So, one more question for you. You know, I’m wondering where public practice work like what it does in terms of representation that feels different from traditional theatrical performances or performing arts where people often find that there’s a gap between who they want to see on stage and who’s actually on stage.

Cecily: Representation is such a weird kind of thing for me right now ’cause usually what I was telling you I do, just so that people know, I’m a black woman, cisgender, so when I walk into room, I know who is there and so, I’m always aware of how many black people, how many women…like I’m counting in certain sense. And I do that just about any space I’m in. When I’m in like certain parts of the city, it’s like well it would make sense that I’m the only one. But then there other spaces where it’s like well there should be more of us here because of where it is like that kind of thing.

Cecily: So like, there’s certain percentage of black people in this country, but then when you start going down to the certain percentage of black people in Philadelphia and those things, then it’s like there should be more in certain areas. So, my experience with community space is I think generally everyone was represented with this last performance and I think continuing on, in general, I think there’s a lot of possibility for representation in the fact that there would be at least one. But I don’t know if that’s accurate and I think there’s a certain amount of people trying to make it be more accurate. But in some way, you’re always gonna miss the mark.

Zach: I feel that. Yeah, it’s interesting. For me, as like a black person and queer person, and all the kind of ways [inaudible 00:21:58]. When I go to see traditional theatrical work and there’s maybe somebody who looks like me and whose identity or the identity that they’re taking on in that space is like man, and I think to myself, what a jackpot in a certain way, thinking about all of the training that you have to do, all of the opportunities that have to line up. It’s almost like the planets have aligned, and here it’s this person on stage who in some ways is speaking to me and I think where public practice work has an opportunity, and a unique opportunity, is that it says come as you are and we’ll teach you the skills you need. What you need is enthusiasm. We need your living human body and we’ll get there together. And I think what we’re really thinking about a lot as we go into this second year of this three-year initiative to a large-scale public practice work each year, is how do we take any further?

Zach: ‘Cause right, looking at what the barriers are implicitly to being able to participate in something like this. Maybe you just won’t four hours a week to commit to this. You know, maybe you need childcare, maybe you need more of a travel stipend, maybe you need a different level of engagement that you can touch the piece from. Where not having to be there four hours at all where generally, it is prohibitive of you to give up that much of your time from a financial perspective, from a body perspective, and how can you participate in other ways? So, we’re thinking a lot about kind of [00:23:21] level of engagement up to the four hours a week, and then you dance with us forever, but what if you were just able to I don’t a portion of the dance to us, or to be there the day of the performance in some capacity other than dancing. You know, maybe you don’t need to be there for all of the rehearsals, but you get to hold a speaker that plays the music that they listen to. And we’re thinking about all those things as we go into this next year’s project.

Tenara: What a great setup to talk about next year’s project. You were in the meeting where I mentioned it?

Cecily: Right.

Tenara: So you have heard a little bit about this. So, we are bringing a Mexican artist named Mariana Arteaga to Philadelphia to bring piece Úumbal: Nomadic Choreography for Inhabitants to the United States for the very first time. It’s the U.S. premiere. We’re so excited about and Úumbal does every single thing that Zach was just mentioning. There are three phases to the piece. The first is called The Step Library, or in Spanish, La Pasoteca, and it’s inviting Philadelphians who love to move, who love to dance, who are the first to get up and dance at a party, who have a gesture that’s very special to them, who like just love moving their body to come to a Step Library event with 10 to 30 seconds of dancing and bring their music with them and literally show us your favorite move. We film it. We put on a website and then, Mariana choreographic team look at all those moves and weave together a choreography that then 20 to 25 Philadelphians are invited to develop with her.

Tenara: So, that’s phase two. And phase three is sort of the model of Le Super Grand, it’s a 100 Philadelphians who are learning this choreography that was developed by Philadelphians and donated to by Philadelphians, and then performing it as processional through the literal streets of Philadelphia in September. It’s exactly what Zach was saying. We wanted to create opportunities for people who don’t four hours a week, who maybe they’re in a wheelchair, and learning this kind of choreography would be very prohibitive to them.

Zach: Maybe they just don’t wanna hang out with all these new people. I think there are people who sometimes that’s enjoyable in small doses.

Tenara: Yeah, exactly.

Zach:  I’m trying to think about all of these different ways people might’ve been shut out from the process we had last year, and growing on it. And next year, who knows.

Tenara: Yeah. For real.

Zach: Next year, have everybody in a space shuttle. We’re gonna put people on the moon. Just trying to figure out what the next level up from there is how to zoom out further and do something that that says something else about Philadelphia.

Tenara: Yeah, so if folks are interested in donating a dance step. The dates are April 6th, 7th, 13th, and 14th. You can find information about the step library at https://uumbal.fringearts.com. And you can also poke around on that website and find out just like all the ways you can be involved through all different phases of the project which will really be in development from April to September, so we’re in it for the long haul, my friends. Cecily, thank you so much for joining us.

Cecily: Yeah, thank you. And you guys are doing great work and I applaud you.

Zach: Oh, thank you.

Tenara: We applaud you.

Zach: We applaud you and where can people applaud you doing some comedy stuff?

Cecily: I am all over Philadelphia and the country. I’m doing festivals and things, so you can check me out on cecilyalexandria.com or @Cecilythegreat on the Instagrams and things.

Zach: And you can follow us at fringearts.com or @FringeArts on everything in the whole world. Make sure to register for the step library and find out about the ways you can get involved with Úumbal. Thanks guys.

Cecily: Thank you.

 

 

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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