AFTER THE SUMMER SUN (BalletFleming): Fringe Review 72

Award-winning choreographer and artistic director Christopher Fleming has created a beautiful program of new works to open the 2014-15 season of his BalletFleming, an emerging company founded in 2010. The 90-minute Fringe show (plus two intermissions and a pause) includes four pieces of contemporary ballet—two choreographed by Fleming (“Long Train Running” and “Clapton”) and one each by guest choreographers Jenn Rose (“Blind Landing”) and Thomas Gant Jr. (“Echoes Down the Hallway”). Performed by a corps of classically trained dancers, apprentices, and guest artists (the outstanding Gina Battista Shifferly and Dillon Shifferly), the works are set to contemporary rather than classical music (including hits by Eric Clapton and arrangements by the Philadelphia string trio Time for Three), and combine traditional ballet movements and extended en pointe passages with spirited cartwheels, hip shaking, and butt slaps, bringing the genre into new contexts for current audiences.

Ballet Fleming, AFTER THE SUMMER SUN posterThe low platform stage of the Performance Garage, just inches away from the front-row seats, offers Fringe-goers an up-close-and-personal view of the dancers. Their moods change from playful and joyous to romantic and bittersweet, in harmony with the different styles of music (referencing Copeland, the classics, jazz, and rock) and the range of human conditions portrayed in the expressive pieces; all are enhanced by Matt Sharp’s evocative lighting. Among the highlights of the show is a Shifferly pas de deux. Choreographed by Fleming to Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight,” it is filled with consummate grace, elegance, and emotion, and distinguished by flawless partnering. [Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine Street] September 19-20, 2014; fringearts.com/after-the-summer-sun.  

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About the author

Debra Miller

Debra holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Delaware and teaches at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ. She is a judge for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent for Central Voice, and has served as a Commonwealth Speaker for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and President of the Board of Directors of Da Vinci Art Alliance. Her publications include articles, books, and catalogues on Renaissance, Baroque, American, Pre-Columbian, and Contemporary Art, and feature articles on the Philadelphia theater scene.