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Posts Tagged ‘Circus Arts’

International Fringe 2018: A Welcome to Artists from Around the World

Posted September 2nd, 2018

The United States government may be pursuing an isolationist policy but the Philadelphia Fringe is doing the opposite: opening its doors not only to the most creative American performers and performances but also to the best and most creative theater artists and their productions from around the world—overcoming the ancient fear of the symbolic Tower of Babel with people not understanding each other.

To show the worldwide scope of the 22nd Philadelphia Fringe Festival, we offer this spotlight on performers from abroad and productions by American artists that present a global perspective.

Theater writer Henrik Eger, editor of Drama Around the Globe and contributor to Phindie and Broad Street Review, among other publications, has lived in six countries on three continents and has visited Africa and Australia as well. He bids everyone a hearty WELCOME to the City of Brotherly Love—this year in 18 different languages: Arabic, Celtic, Chinese, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Latin, Polish, Romanian, and Spanish.

We start this year’s overview with a special welcome to two programs featuring a wide range of global creators:

INTERNATIONAL CREATIVES

  1. le super grandBienvenue & welcome to Montreal-based choreographer Sylvain Émard and Le Super Grand ContinentalLe Grand Continental wowed audiences during its run at the 2012 Fringe Festival and has garnered enthusiastic response across the world. Fully realizing a blissful marriage between the pure delight of line dancing and the fluidity and expressiveness of contemporary dance, the celebratory event enlists hundreds of local people to perform its synchronized choreography in large-scale public performances. The world’s most infectious performance event returns to the front steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in an even larger spectacle of dance.

More info and tickets here

  1. Bonvenon, willkommen, bienvenido, witamy, bienvenue & welcome to Do You Want A Cookie? from The Bearded Ladies Cabaret—a world premiere with an international cast. Do You Want A Cookie? serves up a delicious romp through cabaret history, with an international cast of artists performing a live revue of cabaret from the Chat Noir to Weimar nightlife to 21st-century drag. The all-star cast comes draws from around the world, including Bridge Markland (Berlin), Malgorzata Kasprzycka (Paris/Warsaw), Dieter Rita Scholl (Berlin), and Tareke Ortiz (Mexico City).

More info and tickets here

REFUGEES and EXILES

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    As Far As My Fingertips Take Me. Photo by

    وسهلا اهلا (ahlaan wasahlan) & bienvenu. Welcome to Tania El Khoury who lives in Lebanon and the UK with her multifaceted program ear-whispered. Little is known about Palestinian refugee camps and their communities. El Khoury presents her Fringe work in five parts through interactive performances and installations at Bryn Mawr College:

    1. Gardens Speak, an interactive sound installation containing the oral histories of ten ordinary people who were buried in Syrian gardens. (Bryn Mawr College.) Read more.
    2. Camp Pause, a video installation that tells the stories of four residents of the Rashidieh Refugee Camp on the coast of Lebanon. (Bryn Mawr College.) Read more.
    3. As Far As My Fingertips Take Me, an encounter through a gallery wall between a single audience member and a refugee. (Old City & Bryn Mawr College.) Read more.  
    4. Stories of Refuge, an immersive video installation that invites audiences to lay down on metal bunk beds and watch videos shot by Syrian asylum seekers in Munich, Germany. (Old City.) Read more.
    5. Tell Me What I Can Do, a newly commissioned work featuring letters that audiences have written in response to Gardens Speak. (Bryn Mawr College.) Read more.

More info and tickets here

  1. Bienvenido & welcome to the bilingual (Spanish & English) cast of La Fábrica performing Gustave Ott’s Passport. Lost in a foreign country, Eugenia is detained and thrown into a vicious maelstrom of miscommunication. This poetic and immersive Kafkaesque thriller delves into the question of immigration—exposing the mechanics of language and power. Some performances will be presented in English, some in Spanish, and some will be decided at the toss of a coin.

More info and tickets here

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

Posted July 26th, 2017

Rebecca Mo Davis in Life Lines

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

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

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

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So Much To Do This Weekend!

Posted May 27th, 2014

What’s come to our attention:

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27, New Paradise Laboratories

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

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

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

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Performers in CATCH Takes Philly

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

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

Leah Stein Dance Company conducing research with Pauline Oliveros.

Leah Stein Dance Company conducing research with Pauline Oliveros

–Miriam Hwang-Carlos

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

Posted September 4th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This is 7 Fingers Performing at the Comcast Center Plaza

Posted September 21st, 2012

Music by the Mountain Goats, who are also awesome. Sadly, they’re not performing, but you can still catch Sequence 8 tonight and Saturday at 8:00 pm, and Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 pm. At the Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad Street, Center City. $20-$45 adults, $9-$23.50.

Preview: “Sequence 8”

Posted September 18th, 2012

Tonight! Sequence 8 from 7 Fingers opens at the Merriam! Will it amaze? Watch the preview, and you decide.

Sequence 8 runs tonight, and September 20 through 23 at the Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad Street, Center City. Times vary; $20-$45 adult tix, $9-23.50 for the kids, because like Wu-Tang, 7 Fingers is for the children. Well, at least OK for children.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

News About Us!

Posted August 27th, 2012

>>>6ABC loves the arts that we do; story featuring El Jefe Nick Stuccio above, and plugs for Sequence 8, Bang, and Le Grand Continental.

>>>The Inquirer plugs Barbie Blended: A Pop Rockin’ Musical, which gets a head start on the 2012 Philly Fringe with early shows this weekend.

>>>The Daily News, Technically Philly, and Newsworks all have Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Open Air on the brain.

>>>Alum news, via Playbill: Elephant Room, which premiered at the 2011 Live Arts Festival, goes Hollywood at the Kirk Douglas Theater.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Ooh La La: “Sequence 8” Premieres in Lyon, France

Posted August 10th, 2012

Sequence 8 from 7 Fingers, with six geese-a-laying, had its world premiere in Lyon recently. But if you missed it, buy some of Lyon’s especially delicious sausage and sit tight; it’ll be at the 2012 Live Arts Festival soon. Here’s a peek:

Sequence 8 runs September 18 and 20 through 23 at the Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad Street, Avenue of the Arts. Times vary; $20 to $55.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Sarah Muehlbauer Takes Plasticity and Memory Up in the Air

Posted August 3rd, 2012

Not quite the ouroboros, but pretty close.

Sarah Muehlbauer is a textile artist. And a performance artist. And a painter, and a gymnast, and a yogi, and an aerialist, and a writer. All of which, of course, suit her well for the 2012 Philly Fringe, where she’ll debut her first major piece as a director: WAMB, with her collective, SnakeEatTail. Trained as a visual artist, with a bachelor’s degree in painting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an MFA from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, Sarah says that performance and physicality has always tied her work together.

“I think sculpturally about the body,” says Sarah. “I’m very tactile, physical. I’ve always had a movement practice.”

Sarah initially went to Madison to pursue a fashion design program. “At the end of the day, I was very dissatisfied with it. Drawing was hitting a note for me and challenging me in a way I can’t even explain.”

She changed to study painting at Madison, because, she says, “It was the only department you could get studios through. But we were encouraged to explore, so I did video, and explored performance there.”

Moving to Philadelphia in 2008, she met with a lot of upheaval, and an expansion of her interests into aerial performance. At the end of Sarah’s first semester, the Tyler School of Art relocated from its location in Elkins Park.

“The Tyler move pushed collaborative work. It pushed me to make work that wasn’t just out of my studio,” Sarah says. And while a friend suggested she consider aerial work, when she drove her Penske rental down from Madison, she had no idea that her new place in Germantown was only three blocks away from the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts. She took movement class there at first, but says from the get-go, “It was obvious I wanted to be up in the air.”

And perhaps most dramatically, the first weekend after Sarah started her studies at Tyler, she left town to present her first major show—at the Smithsonian.

After the jump: video from the Smithsonian performance, we talk about the stuffness of stuff, and about Jung and yoga.

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