A Fringe Staple Gets Personal: Talking JUNK with Brian Sanders

Some companies and performers are such staples of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival that it’s hard to imagine a fest without them. That’s surely the case with Brian Sanders’ JUNK, purveyor of energetic dance entertainment for almost as long as the Fringe has been Fringing. This year, the company gets CARRIED AWAY with a show inspired by Brian Sanders’ youth living in a New York City loft. Phindie finds out more from this Fringe staple. [2040 Christian Street, 2nd Floor Loft] September 9-24, 2016fringearts.com/carried-away.

Junk.CarriedAway.PhotoCredit.Steve-Belkowitz

Photo by Steve Belkowitz.

Phindie: How would you describe the JUNK aesthetic?

Brian Sanders: That’s a challenging question because I am so all over the place creatively. I do know some of my creative staples:

I love to have a space (or the idea of of one) transform and inform the work. This year is a NYC loft. Dance doesn’t typically start there.

I love to use aerial work although there are only two aerial numbers in this current show. There is something about moving the body off the ground that frees it to move in new and beautiful ways.

I love being conventional but then turning convention on its side. Giving it a new perspective. In Carried Away, I return to the Hustle for one number; using traditional Hustle from the 70’s to portray the idea of a man squandering himself.

Phindie: How did CARRIED AWAY come about?

Brian Sanders:  I started with the provocative art of Tom of Finland and Robert Mapplethorpe as a backdrop. Together with poignant music from my youth, the piece has morphed dramatically since its inception. While not entirely autobiographical, it’s become a story of sorts – one with a strong reflection of my life with HIV over the last 30 years

Phindie: Is this a more personal piece than previous productions?

Brian Sanders: All of my work comes from a very personal place. However, in general, I don’t make that the point of the work or involve the audience in the “personal-ness” of it. Carried Away is no more personal a piece than others, it differs from others in that I’m more “out” about the personal nature of the piece and want the audience to be more connected to that.

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Brian Sanders

Phindie: Did it bring back a lot of memories? What was your life like in the time from which you drew inspiration?

Brian Sanders: Yes! More than I knew I had. To answer what my life was like at the time; I’m gonna say, “come see the piece!”

Phindie: Is there a story from that time that you hadn’t thought about until you came to do the piece?

Brian Sanders: It’s a silly story about shame that popped into my head. The story is moot. It did lead, however to the company and I doing some exercises recalling shaming moments of our youth. I was so struck by how many of the experiences were connected to our dancing as youth. I thought it was so profound that even with all the shame we felt from expressing ourselves creatively as kids, we still ended up dancing professionally as adults. We just kept dancing though all the shame. That recalling led to a beautiful solo by Billy Robinson – no matter what he just keeps dancing.

Phindie: What would you most like to tell your young self?

Brian Sanders: No advice; just a hug.

Phindie: How long have you been Philly Fringing? 

Brian Sanders: My first show was with Eric Schoeffer in 1997. I did my own show in 1999 called Patio Plastico.

Phindie: How have you and the festival changed?

Brian Sanders: Both the festival and I are older now.

Phindie: Ha. So it goes. Thanks Brian!

Brian Sanders: Cheers.

CARRIED AWAY
Brian Sanders’ JUNK
2040 Christian Street, 2nd Floor Loft
Monday, Friday, & Saturday at 9pm: 9/9, 9/10, 9/12, 9/16, 9/17, 9/23, & 9/24
Wednesday, Thursday, & Sunday at 8pm: 9/11, 9/14, 9/15, 9/18, 9/21, & 9/22
Saturday at 11pm: 9/10, 9/17, & 9/24
$35
fringearts.com/carried-away

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About the author

Christopher Munden

Your faithful correspondent and publisher Christopher Munden has written and edited for many publications, websites, and cultural institutions. He was an editor/publisher of the Philly Fiction book series, collections of short stories written by local writers and set in Philadelphia. He's also a soccer coach and a pretty good skier.