PORTAL (Leah Stein Dance Company): 2016 Fringe review 79

Excerpted by kind permission from thINKingDANCE

Photo by Michael Bartmann.

Photo by Michael Bartmann.

Looking out the glass doorway and wide front windows of Frieda’s Café, I spotted dancers performing unison phrases around the door-frames of the historic buildings across Walnut Street as a U.S. Park Service Ranger calmly checked the locks to those same old buildings. Bicyclists scooted by on the street, dog-walkers strolled with their pups (who were more curious than their owners about the performative doings around them), and cars struggled to park and discharge their harried passengers while performers, singly and in groups, ran or danced through my view.

Leah Stein’s wonderful troupe—David Konyk, Andrew Mars, Megan Wilson Stern, and Michele Tantoco—climbed up the door jambs, hung from the lintel, contact-improv-ed with other performers, sang, crawled, scooched, and hovered through the 50-minute show. Their grounded, focused performances in words, song, and movement created the continuity that held this partly improvised performance together. Stein’s four company members were joined by a crew of eight community performers of various ages and movement backgrounds, an appropriate choice in a café “whose goal is to (re)connect people across generations.” Some of these folks were more comfortable performing than others—those whose shy, excited smiles and moments of awkward pause revealed the novelty of their situation—but the rich layering of performance capacity matched the layers of movement space that Stein’s PORTAL attended to.

Read the full review on thINKingDANCE >>> [Leah Stein Dance Company at Frieda’s Café, 320 Walnut Street] September 15-24. 2016; fringearts.com/portal.

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About the author

Lynn Matluck Brooks for thINKingDANCE

ynn Matluck Brooks is the Arthur and Katherine Shadek Humanities Professor at Franklin & Marshall College, where she founded the Dance Program in 1984. She holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Temple University. Brooks is also a Certified Movement Analyst through the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies, N.Y. Her doctoral research was supported by a Fulbright/Hayes Grant for study in Spain, and she has also held several grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Dr. Brooks has participated as both NEH fellow and faculty member in the Aston Magna Academies, and was an invited participant at the International Council for Traditional Music's symposium on Musical Iconography in Burgos, Spain. In 2002-03, Dr. Brooks held an NEH Full-Time Research Fellowship, and she has served as an applicant reviewer for PCA and NEH. In 2007, she was the recipient of the Bradley R. Dewey Award for Outstanding Scholarship at F&M. For three years, Brooks wrote performance reviews for Dance Magazine. She served as editor of Dance Research Journal from 1994 through 1999, and now serves as co-editor of Dance Chronicle: Studies in Dance and the Related Arts. She has served on the boards of the World Dance Alliance, the Society for Dance History Scholars, and the Congress on Research in Dance as well as Lancaster-area arts organizations. She has published four books and many scholarly articles, primarily on dance history subjects. An active choreographer, researcher, and teacher, Brooks specializes in modern dance, baroque dance and notation, movement analysis, and dance history. She has most recently performed and choreographed with the Grant St. Dance Company in Lancaster. thINKingDANCE focuses on the Philadelphia area’s professional dance groups, that is, those with a toehold of a few years’ experience, plus some of the aspiring ones. With a hefty population of individual artists and groups, our priority is to give them coverage, along with touring companies performing here, and an occasional glance at TV dance contests or other popular and participatory forms. Visit thINKingDANCE.net/