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Jumpstart, A Recap of our Artist Interviews

Posted May 13th, 2013

Jumpstart, a showcase that identifies new and emerging talent, rocked the Painted Bride on Monday and Tuesday nights. We at FringeArts Blog had the pleasure of interviewing each of the lead artists who created and are performing short works. Here’s a quick run down of the artists and shows with some choice quotes and links to the full interviews.

Alyesha Wise. Photo: SP Photography.

Photo: SP Photography.

A Denzel Theory by Ms. Wise

Alyesha Wise: A Denzel Theory is named after my kid brother, Denzel. Growing up in my hometown didn’t necessarily pave an easy road to success. Denzel made it look quite the opposite, remaining focused, engaging in sports and academics, then getting a full scholarship to college. This piece is about how our old city eventually swayed him in the opposite direction. This piece is about how this happens to many youth in environments like ours. This poem is a cry. And it’s a theory. Not sure when it came to me; but it’s one of the fastest poems I’ve ever written. READ THE WHOLE INTERVIEW

Higher Art by Seth Lapore

Seth Lapore: I started [doing one-man shows] in college. I like being all the characters in a play that I’ve developed, being able to just switch it up all of a sudden and be someone else fully. I enjoy being in a studio and just talking something out, getting to know a character and letting them lead the lines and then furiously writing them down. READ THE WHOLE INTERVIEW

Hello Etna Mounting!

Mounting, Etna by Jenna Horton

Jenna Horton: The title is intentionally multivalent, as is a lot of the poetry in the show. For starters, there’s the physical action of mounting, as in mounting Etna as if she were a horse—your horse—or a person—your person [as in belonging to you]. Or you could be mounting her on your wall like you would a painting. Or maybe she’s doing that to you. Mind you, I’m also mounting the show of Etna. Not to mention, there’s a volcano on the east coast of Sicily named Mount Etna that’s very active and provides for the fertile soils surrounding the area. My parents also live in Etna, New Hampshire; but that’s more of a coincidence. READ THE WHOLE INTERVIEW

Scott and JennThe Living History Project by the Groundswell Players

Scott Sheppard: On one level, the piece is a story about a failed pedagogy that glorifies reenactment as a way of understanding historical events more intimately. On another level the piece is about two performers trying to process their relationship to history, to race, to acting, and to each other. One question I’ve been asking myself is, “aren’t we engaged in the very same project of re-living history that our piece seeks to critique?” I think so, and that puts us in the driver’s seat to say something powerful. READ THE WHOLE INTERVIEW

THe name of this artists is Marina Libel. Photo: Joshua Simpson.

Photo: Joshua Simpson.

The Supervisors by Marina Libel

Marina Libel: In The Supervisors, we had to embody the machine we’re in—the helicopter—and actually be in it. And express who the characters are and how they function as people. We needed both movement and text to do that, there is no other way. It often goes like that for me. I don’t necessarily start out saying I have to have gesture, dialogue, and choreography but I usually end up with some combination of the three. If you think of a gesture as a word or of a dialogue as a movement phrase, the performance can open up new possibilities and very often reveal something very real about human beings that would never be revealed in an ordinary interaction. READ THE WHOLE INTERVIEW

 

Photo by David Brick.

Photo by David Brick.

Rooster and Snowball by Chelsea Murphy and Magda San Millan

Chelsea Murphy: It’s a great collage of many forms that we’ve both been exposed to. There’s modern dance in there, and the critique of modern dance. We both went to the American Dance Festival this past summer and HATED it. But that’s another conversation. There is clowning and more performance presence stuff, which is important to us—the level of awareness we bring to the performance of each moment, and playing with that level of energy.READ THE WHOLE INTERVIEW

JUMPSTART
Monday May 13 + Tuesday May 14 at 7pm
Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
$18 / $12 Students + 25 and under
BUY NOW

Rooster and Snowball, Two Crazy Mofos Come To Jumpstart!

Posted May 8th, 2013

On May 13 and 14, FringeArts presents our second annual Jumpstart, a showcase designed to identify new and emerging talent in the field of live performance. 2013 will feature six artists/companies performing short works, and we here at FringeArts Blog thought we’d catch up with them. Chelsea Murphy and Magda San Millan will be performing their dance-theater work Rooster & Snowball, in which, as they explain, “Two crazy motherfuckers try to change the modern dance world right before your very eyes.”

Well, let’s find out more!

The Snowball and the Rooster. Photo by David Brick.

The Snowball and the Rooster. Photo by David Brick.

FringeArts: Why is your show title Rooster & Snowball?

Magda: The title is the names of our characters and the names came from the hats: I found this hipster looking hat with a mohawk made of yarn and Chelsea’s is a round white thing. We wore our hats during tech and afterwards I was talking to David Brick [of Headlong Dance Theater] about the characters and the names came from the shapes of the hats. But in a great way the hats influenced the characters, crystallized their essence into this direction they were already going. The hats made the men, so to speak.

Chelsea: You keep saying “characters” but when people have called them “characters” in the past we’ve corrected them. I don’t think they are characters what we are doing. They’re more like . . . what’s that word?

Magda: Personas? Personalities? Essences?

Chelsea: I just think there isn’t any acting involved in this situation. These are the goofy, exhausted, angry-about-stuff versions of ourselves that come out when we are in rehearsal together.

Magda: Right, but to differentiate between the two: Rooster is more aggressive, explosive and Snowball has this icy exterior and weapon metaphor going on. Rooster throws the Snowball.

Chelsea: Why didn’t we think that??

Magda: I just did, I just did think of it.

Chelsea: Okay, but we also wanted to talk about the shared character trait between them: the “failed Rebel” we call it. Both of our performances are about this failed rebel.

Magda: Someone who projects rebel but follows all the rules on a daily basis.

Chelsea: Or not even that they project the rebel image, but other people perceive them that way.

Magda: But they still get nervous about jaywalking.

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Jumpstart Rejects Live At Mascher

Posted May 6th, 2013

What’s better than black market performing arts?

Ben Grinberg and Mascher Space Co-op have put together their own performing arts showcase of performers and creators who were not chosen for the official Jumpstart here at FringeArts (Monday May 13 and Tuesday May 14 at 7pm at the Painted Bride).  What a fantastic idea! As FringeArts LAB director Craig Peterson, who heads the Jumpstart program, observed, “This is a great idea–having sat on the panel, I can tell you there was a lot of great work that was auditioned that didn’t make it into the showcase. Only in philly could “rejection” be reframed as a programming opportunity. Thanks for giving this work a home!”

Turning "reject" into a positive. Christina Gesualdi to perform at Jumpstart Rejects.

Turning “reject” into a positive. Christina Gesualdi to perform at Jumpstart Rejects.

They have aptly named their showcase Jumpstart Rejects and the current line-up includes Christina Gesualdi, Dan Stern and the If Man is 5 ensemble, Katie Gould, Alice Yorke, Sarah Mittledorf and Kaleid Theatre, Darcy Lyons, and Ben Grinberg and Nick Gillette. The event is free, and happens this Sunday May 12 at 7pm (a day before the FringeArts Jumpstart—enabling you to compare and contrast). Jumpstart Rejects will be at Mascher (155 Cecil B. Moore Avenue). There is a chance that some slots will open up—interested performers (and Jumpstart rejects) can email Ben Grinberg at bgringerg [at] gmail [dot] com

We caught up with Ben to get the skinny.

FringeArts: What is your role in this? And Mascher’s?

Ben: I’m co-producing this show with Mascher, specifically with a whole lot of help from Annie Wilson and Christina Gesauldi, who are both Mascher members. Mascher is generously providing space, marketing, and hopefully even hotdogs. I’m also going to be performing with Nick Gillette.

FringeArts: How did the idea come about?

Ben: I started having conversations about wanting to do something like “Jumpstart Rejects” with other members of the theater and dance community as soon as I applied for a Jumpstart audition. Jumpstart is incredibly competitive—not only do they audition 50 artists and chose 6, but there’s a waiting list at least 20 deep for those audition slots. Personally, I ended up losing out on the lottery and was 17th on the waiting list, though I was able to audition a different piece with my collaborator Nick Gillette. That means that there’s a lot of work worth seeing that can’t be presented as a part of Jumpstart. It would be such a shame for those short pieces to die without ever seeing an audience. So I got the idea to program a low-key night of art for art’s sake out of pieces that for whatever reason couldn’t make it into Jumpstart. When I spoke to Annie Wilson, she was thinking along the same lines—and deserves all the credit for the name “Jumpstart Rejects”—and it became an easy co-production with Mascher.

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Marina Libel and The Supervisors

Posted April 30th, 2013

“If you think of a gesture as a word or of a dialogue as a movement phrase, the performance can open up new possibilities.”

THe name of this artists is Marina Libel. Photo: Joshua Simpson.

The name of this artist is Marina Libel. Photo: Joshua Simpson.

Here comes Marina! On May 13 and 14, FringeArts presents our second annual Jumpstart, a showcase designed to identify new and emerging talent in the field of live performance. 2013 will feature six artists/companies performing short works, and we here at FringeArts Blog thought we’d catch up with them. So we turn with Marina Libel, who will be performing her new work The Supervisors with Sarah Gladwin Camp.

Marina is a performance maker, artist, and scholar originally from Porto Alegre, Brazil. Her collaboratively created dance theater works explore relations among the body, language, and the spaces both inhabit. Her choreographies of movement and text have been performed at Williamsburg Arts neXus, Dance New Amsterdam, Galapagos Art Space, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and Movement Research’s Open Performance.

FringeArts: Why is your show title The Supervisors?

Marina Libel: Several years ago, I was making a piece about “women’s work.” And I was pulling a lot of images and text from World War II, Rosie the Riveter type women, from Studs Terkel interviews, and so on. But I also decided to write some of my own texts about jobs that were more fantastical, like the supervisors. That used elements from real jobs—helicopter pilots, managers, people who regulate or survey—but also had elements that weren’t possible in real life, but only in imagination. And I liked the pattern that developed as I wrote it, how it bounced back and forth between the two supervisors, and how much their partnership was emphasized in the content and form—because I love collaboration in performance-making. So the piece is as much about the labor of dance/theater as about the labor of the supervisors. And I’ve realized while working on it that a lot of what they [the supervisors] say they do—”tweak things” “just trying to help the balance” “trying to alter somebody’s day a bit”—is what the piece is trying to do as a work of art.

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Scott Sheppard’s Living History

Posted April 26th, 2013

“I’m mostly trying to get out of my head and into a really, really stupid place.”

History comes alive!

History comes alive!

On May 13 and 14, FringeArts presents our second annual Jumpstart, a showcase designed to identify new and emerging talent. 2013 will feature six artists and companies performing short works, and we here at FringeArts Blog thought we’d catch up with them. So we turn now to Scott Sheppard, the artistic director of The Groundswell Players and a (soon graduating) student at the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training. He will be performing his new collaborative work The Living History Project. Not new to Jumpstart, he performed in the 2012 showcase with The Brothers Beffa in Lessons for the Lobotomized.

The Living History Project is an autobiographical theater work about Scott’s experiences growing up in a hermetic, rural Pennsylvania town. The piece explores the absurdity of a backwards pedagogy that re-imagines a reenactment of the Civil War as a means to revitalize student body indifference. It co-stars co-creator Jenn Kidwell, and was developed in part with colleagues at the Pig Iron school.

FringeArts: Why is your show title The Living History Project? What inspired the initial creation of this work?

Scott Sheppard: Now that I re-read it, I think the title has the burden of sounding a little didactic at first, but ultimately, I think that’s a great starting place for this piece. The title is at once tongue-and-cheek and also really earnest. That’s the tightrope we are trying to walk throughout the performance—the moment the audience begins to laugh and feel secure with a thesis, a tone, and a set of themes, is the moment before we shove them into a new place with a new set of rules. On one level, the piece is a story about a failed pedagogy that glorifies reenactment as a way of understanding historical events more intimately. On another level the piece is about two performers trying to process their relationship to history, to race, to acting, and to each other. One question I’ve been asking myself is, “aren’t we engaged in the very same project of re-living history that our piece seeks to critique?” I think so, and that puts us in the driver’s seat to say something powerful.

The Living History Project has been bubbling inside of me for a while because it relates to an experience I had as a fifth grade Middle School student. As with most autobiographical sources of inspiration, this story has evolved with the storyteller. I’ve written about this experience before, but when I thought about turning it into a performance, it made perfect sense, because the story is about performance.

FringeArts: Where did you grow up?

Scott Sheppard: I grew up in Hanover, Pennsylvania, snack food capital of the world! Utz, Snyders, Wege, Revonah and even the company that makes a lot of the shitty pretzels in various trail mixes. It was the kind of small Pennsylvania town that John Updike wrote about a lot, and like him, my romanticism and criticism for the place are densely intertwined.  I had to put in a lot of work to see my first real concert (Goo Goo Dolls at Hershey Park), I had to wade through a lot of close-minded religions, and the homogeneity of the culture was suffocating, but I became a master of making my own meaning and making my own fun. I found great joy in simple pleasures. My friends and I drove through cornfields in an old gutted van, I jumped off road bridges into lakes, we played basketball in driveways late into the nights. Alternately, I watched strip malls desecrate the landscape and sap patronage from the few restaurants, bars, and cafes that still had idiosyncrasy and character. I watched gay kids get mocked in locker rooms and heard church leaders clarify the evils of abortion on Sunday morning. Ultimately, I learned to love a community that I rarely saw eye to eye with. It’s not a place I like to be, but it is still a place I like going back to.

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Jenna Horton And The Birth Of Etna

Posted April 23rd, 2013

“I never thought I’d be doing solo-performance. I have a love/hate relationship working alone.”

Hello Etna Mounting!

Hello Etna Mounting!

Jenna Horton, a Philadelphia-based performing artist, brings her one-person performance work Mounting, Etna, May 13 and 14 to Jumpstart, the annual FringeArts showcase designed to identify new and emerging talent in the field of live performance. 2013’s Jumpstart features six artists/companies performing short works, and we here at FringeArts Blog thought we’d catch up with them. Today’s artist—Jenna!

Since attending the Headlong Performance Institute in 2009, Jenna Horton has worked with a number of local companies, including Inis Nua, The Berserker Residents, Team Sunshine Performance Corporation, The Bearded Ladies, Applied Mechanics, and Shakespeare in Clark Park.  She is currently a resident artist at Plays and Players Theater and holds a B.A. in performance studies from Brown University. Check out her website: jennabethhorton.apostrophenow.com, if you’re into that sort of thing (checking out websites, that is).

FringeArts: Why is your show title Mounting, Etna? What inspired its creation?

Jenna Horton: The title is intentionally multivalent, as is a lot of the poetry in the show. For starters, there’s the physical action of mounting, as in mounting Etna as if she were a horse—your horse—or a person—your person [as in belonging to you]. Or you could be mounting her on your wall like you would a painting. Or maybe she’s doing that to you. Mind you, I’m also mounting the show of Etna. Not to mention, there’s a volcano on the east coast of Sicily named Mount Etna that’s very active and provides for the fertile soils surrounding the area. My parents also live in Etna, New Hampshire; but that’s more of a coincidence.

The birth of Etna came from the crashing of two things. I started a notebook a while back and labeled it “bad poetry” and have been putting stuff in it since. When I looked back over it, I realized many of the poems were cut from a similar cloth and could be interesting in a grouping. I started to get an idea for a woman that might host a cooking show, but she wouldn’t be in a kitchen. She’d be in a library and would pull out whisks from desks and smash eggs in books. The piece didn’t quite end up that way, but that was the initial impulse, which eventually combined with Carl Cork, another character of mine. He’s an older man who’s a hermit and deathly afraid of the world, so runs a radio show out of his basement to reach out to people. Anyway, I was working on him a lot, and getting tired of playing this guy who was SO sensitive and SO sad and SO scared and just SO, SO stuck. Instead, I kept wanting to be a WOMAN and a HUNGRY woman at that, who wasn’t as scared of the world but wanted to eat it and kill it even.

FringeArts: Where did you grow up?

Jenna Horton: I grew up in Denver, Colorado. Denver is beautiful, the weather is amazing, and the people are kind. And you can’t beat the close access to the Rockies or the amount of BIG SKY out there. Too many malls though. And everything is spread out and lots of new development, which I like less.  Lots of health nuts that wear their outdoor gear and bike or run. When I was a kid, there were a lot of prairie dogs there too.

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Seth Lepore And Higher Art

Posted April 19th, 2013

On May 13 and 14, FringeArts presents our second annual Jumpstart, a showcase designed to identify new and emerging talent in the field of live performance. 2013 will feature six artists/companies performing short works, and we here at FringeArts Blog thought we’d catch up with them. So we turn to humorist and solo performer Seth Lepore (sethums.com), who will be performing his new work Higher Art.

And that's Seth Lepore

And that’s Seth Lepore

Seth is currently touring a trilogy of one-man shows on the underbelly of the self-help movement. The first show Losing My Religion: Confessions of a New Age Refugee won an Audience Encore Award at both the Boulder and Minnesota Fringe Festivals. He also composes music under the name Older Than Hours and blogs about what’s it’s like to be a theater artist and other topics of interest.

We caught up with Seth to discuss his upcoming Jumpstart performance (BUY TICKIETS HERE) and how he goes about creating work.

FringeArts: Where did you grow up?

Seth  Lepore: I grew up in Johnston, Rhode Island, a primarily Italian-American suburb outside of Providence. Growing up there had a huge impact on the way I approach my writing and theatrical characters. I had a stunning realization at sixteen that I was living in a sitcom. That helped me deal with how ridiculous everything was. Being close to Providence helped. It’s the little city that could.

FringeArts: How did your show Higher Art come about?

Seth  Lepore: The show came about after I heard about the Jumpstart auditions. I wondered what type of performance would be fitting and then I smirked when it came to me. I go to a lot of arts presenter conferences—trade shows where booking agents, managers, self-represented artists like me and arts presenters converge to network and showcase work. I’m getting used to them but they are super weird. Peddling your art like a product is part of living in a capitalistic system but man there is a lot of schlock out there. There’s one particular guy I’ve gotten to know and he’s such a character. He’s been working this network for over a decade but he is so affected in a particular way that I’m just blown away by him. So I decided to up the ante, blow him out of proportion a little bit and have him revel what he considers to be the highest form of art that exists, something that he created which will end theater as we know it.

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Alyesha Wise: Poetry and Performance

Posted April 17th, 2013
“Poetry started off as the feeling I got when I screamed in the pillow.”
Alyesha Wise. Photo: SP Photography.

Alyesha Wise. Photo: SP Photography.

On May 13 and 14, FringeArts presents our second annual Jumpstart, a showcase designed to identify new and emerging talent in the field of live performance. 2013 will feature six artists/companies performing short works, and we here at FringeArts Blog thought we’d catch up with them, starting with poet and storyteller Ms. Wise (mswisedecision.com), who will be performing her work A Denzel Theory.

Ms. Wise is Alyesha Wise, a poet and teaching artist from Camden, NJ, who has performed throughout the country. Currently residing in Philadelphia, she is the founder of Love, Us, which serves to spread universal and self-love through the arts. Alyesha is a two-time Women of the World Poetry Slam finalist, placing 5th in the world in 2010. Recently she was interviewed by film director Ron Howard who called her work “very powerful.” (Hey Ron, come to the show! You can get tickets here!)

FringeArts: Why is your show title A Denzel Theory?

 Alyesha Wise: A Denzel Theory is named after my kid brother, Denzel. Growing up in my hometown didn’t necessarily pave an easy road to success. Denzel made it look quite the opposite, remaining focused, engaging in sports and academics, then getting a full scholarship to college. This piece is about how our old city eventually swayed him in the opposite direction. This piece is about how this happens to many youth in environments like ours. This poem is a cry. And it’s a theory. Not sure when it came to me; but it’s one of the fastest poems I’ve ever written.

FringeArts: Where did you grow up?

Alyesha Wise: I grew up in Camden, New Jersey. It was a broken community. But it was community. I remember playing kickball and hide-n-go-seek. I remember growing up too fast. It made me the super person I am today.

FringeArts: How did you go about creating this work?

Alyesha Wise: It presented itself as a theory to me. I thought about all of the things I knew about my younger brothers, my older brother, the peers I grew up with, my students. I thought about how I changed my life around and how some don’t or never had to do so. I wanted the poem to have a hip hop feel without lacking “the poem.” And I wanted to finish saying to myself, Now this theory here makes perfect sense.

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No Muss, No Fuss, Just Art: The SoLow Fest

Posted June 14th, 2012

Solo shows at the SoLow Fest

Have you heard of SoLow?

The name means what it sounds like. The festival, now in its third year, is all about solo acts, and the more experimental, the better. It also means what it’s spelled like: so low-tech, low-cost, and low-stress that most of the shows have happened in apartments. Performances also pop up in places like The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theater and The Arts Parlor, but more often in donated venues like coffee shops, studios, and even an elevator.

SoLow is the ongoing project of Philly-based artists Thomas Choinacky (Thomas is Titanic, Thomas Choinacky is a Dance Machine), and Amanda Grove (Vainglorious, Playing Leni). Realizing that they had little time, money, or extra energy to hire venues, design elaborate sets, or market their solo work, that first fest was an excuse to combine efforts with their friends, have a bigger presence, and draw in a broader crowd.

It’s become more than that, though. “People who never would have produced new work are now creating new work because they realize you don’t need money to do it,” reflects Amanda.

Image from The Hour, part of SoLow's inaugural fest

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Opening Tonight! Jumpstart Profiles: Meet Jamarr Hall

Posted May 31st, 2012

Dirt Roads. Photo by Sharvon P. Urbannavage.

Opening tonight! At the Live Arts Studio, we are launching our new performing arts program, Jumpstart, which showcases the work of six emerging artists based in the region: Jamarr Hall, Sahar Javedani, Jessica Morgan, The Brothers Beffa (Justin Rose and Scott Sheppard), The Naked Stark (Katherine Kiefer Stark, Megan Stern, and Barbara Tait), and Ilse Zoerb. Jamarr Hall, a Philadelphia native, is a poet, actor, director, comedian, singer, and songwriter. He is 20 years old, and last year helped Philly bring home the first-place trophy in the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Festival. His primary belief is that one must create change within oneself in order to witness social progress. Dirt Roads, the piece he is performing for Jumpstart, tells the story of a veteran who murdered his teenage love after she refused to wait for his return from war, “capturing the madness of love on the back roads of an Alabama town,” says Jamarr. We caught up with him to ask him some questions about his influences, his ideas, and his work.

Live Arts: Why is your show title Dirt Roads?

Jamarr Hall: The reason why my show is titled Dirt Roads is because it’s a reoccurring theme throughout the story that plays a huge role in setting the stage.

LA: What inspired the initial creation of this work?

JH: What really inspired me to create this piece of art was the fact that I always strived to set my self apart from the common crowd of art, so I wanted to exercise all my talents to not only challenge myself but to show other upcoming artist that there really are no limits when it comes to creativity.

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Jumpstart Profiles: Meet Sahar Javedani

Posted May 14th, 2012

The mysteries of sand. Photo by ShaLeigh Comerford.

This spring (May 31–June 2), at the Live Arts Studio, we are launching our new performing arts program, Jumpstart, which showcases the work of six emerging artists based in the region. Choreographer and dancer Sahar Javedani left Iran with her family when she was a young child, and grew up in San Diego. Sahar recently moved to Philadelphia after seven years as a New York City-based choreographer, teacher, and arts administrator. At Jumpstart she will perform her solo work in the Middle, somewhat aggravated, which explores Sahar’s lifelong investigation of her Iranian heritage, both “the values that I embrace and those I’ve left behind coupled with the challenge of allegiance between these two cultures.” We caught up with the Sahar and asked her some questions about her life and work.

Live Arts: Why is your show title in the Middle, somewhat aggravated? What inspired the initial creation of this work?

Sahar Javedani: in the Middle, somewhat aggravated is definitely a play on the title of a work that William Forsythe created [In the middle, somewhat elevated] and describes my fascination and frustration with being raised between two cultures—Iran and America. The work examines my physical and emotional territories of allegiance—the values I uphold and those I’ve left behind. I believe the idea for this solo began brewing during my graduate work at CalArts [learn about her time at CalArts here] and there were several incarnations of this in the last decade.

LA: What was it like to grow up in Tehran and San Diego?

SJ: I was raised predominantly in San Diego; my family left Iran just before the revolution and the few memories that I have of Tehran are the scents of my grandparents’ rose garden, the lush feel of the Persian carpets beneath my bare feet, and the taste of orange blossom jam. It was wonderful being raised in North County San Diego where the floral and surfboard industry was so abundant and proximity to the beach and parks was fantastic.

LA: How did you become interested in dance and choreography? 

SJ: I’m convinced I was a choreographer before ever being a dancer. I still struggle with the idea of taking technique classes. When I close my eyes and listen to a piece of music, I see the entire production before my eyes—costume, lighting, sets. I am the daughter of an architect and set designer and grew up either performing theater or daydreaming in the catwalks of dark theaters during tech rehearsals.

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Jumpstart Profiles: Meet Jessica Morgan

Posted May 3rd, 2012

Photo by Enoch Chan.

This spring (May 31–June 2), at the Live Arts Studio, we (the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe) are launching our new performing arts program, Jumpstart, which showcases the work of six new (to us) artists from the region. Choreographer and dancer Jessica Morgan is bringing her solo  Dress and Disappearance—a dance inspired by ghosts, light, and a dress. We caught up to Jessica and asked her some questions about her life and work.

Live Arts: Why is your show titled Dress and Disappearance?

Jessica Morgan: Dress and Disappearance came largely from the dress, which is what inspired a large part of the world within the piece. To me the condition and quality of the dress represents the ephemeral surface of the feminine and contrasts with its darker depths, which can only be partially concealed. Trying to hide and expose these things at once during the piece is what drives it. I have had this dress for a long time in storage and in a sense it finally revealed its purpose to me.

LA: Where did you grow up?

JM: I grew up in New York City in Greenwich Village and later, Teaneck, New Jersey. Greenwich Village was a raw and vibrant place at the time, filled with musicians, break dancers, and bohemians. I was fortunate enough to go to a public school that strongly emphasized and encouraged artistic impulses. I am sure it shaped my interest in dance and art. Even though New York City was not considered the safest place at that time, I loved it there. Ironically, when I moved to the suburbs later, it was so quiet I was terrified!

LA: How did your interest grow in choreography?

JM: I had a great modern dance teacher in high school, Joanne Koob Brown, who had danced for such people as David Gordon. She exposed us to improvisation and the basics of composition. We even had a choreography workshop and did showings of the work we made. Boy did that fuel my fire for makings dances. It has continued since. RoseAnne Spradlin, a New York based choreographer has mentored me on and off since she was my advisor during Fresh Tracks in 2005. She is brilliant. She has provided me with a lot of feedback over the years and has been tremendously helpful to me. Her work has also been an inspiration to me as well as the work of Susan Rethorst and Luciana Achugar, who has also mentored me. Their work to me is so deeply, utterly female and that is something that has interested me again and again.

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