Care to Dance? The Philadelphia dance scene is alive and well in 2014, catering to classical palates and avant-garde tastes alike

Article courtesy of Art Attack Philly, in association with Drexel University and the Knight Foundation. See the original article here.

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From Confetti at The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, January 24-25

The Philadelphia dance scene is alive and well in 2014, bringing forth a series of diverse performances catering to classical palates and avant-garde tastes alike, featuring sizable venues such as the Kimmel Center, as well as smaller, niche galleries. Diversity in the dance community helps it to thrive – it prevents larger dance companies from monopolizing the dance scene and encourages independent artists to contribute. After exploring this season’s repertoire from across the city, I’ve noticed the following trends: abstract explorations of movement, mixing of contemporary and classical, blending of theater and dance, and microfestivals.

Abstract explorations of movement:

If you have never seen a dance performance, you may be wondering what this phrase means. The dancers in these performances explore the parameters of movement, and the ways in which the human form engages in motion. Gestures range from simple – a raise of the arm or turn of the head – to complex leaps and acrobatic bending.

Objects for Dance: December 6-February 1

Practice Gallery. 319 North 11th Street, 2nd Floor | practicegallery.org

Located at the Practice Gallery, a small, yet eclectic art space in Center City, this performance piece emphasized audience interaction. While the actual dance performances have ended, the exhibition is still on display, so there is still time to interact with the sculptures, which include cardboard masks and rope-like hanging structures.

Liz Gerring Dance Company’s Glacier: February 28

McPherson Auditorium, Goodhart Hall. 150 N Merion Ave, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

Glacier’s inaugural debut in Philadelphia features experimental modern choreography, erratic shifts in mood, simple movements arranged with complexity, and an original score by composer Michael J. Schumacher.

PDP Presents Nora Gibson and John Scott: February 27-March 1

Performance Garage. 1515 Brandywine Street | performancegarage.org

Gibson and Scott analyze how movement, sound, and light interact in this modern dance performance. To further understand the piece, audiences can attend an interactive dance workshop, lead by Scott, at the Performance Garage.

Mixing contemporary and classical:

Many choreographers are exploring the concept of mixing the old with the new. Though this is not a new concept, it has the effect of modernizing classical forms of dance, which expands the realm of creative expression for choreographers and dancers. Performances such as these present a type of show that you could take your parents and your teenage sister to without hearing many complaints from either age group.

Rasta Thomas’ Bad Boys of Dance: February 22

The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. 3680 Walnut Street | annenbergcenter.org

Rasta Thomas and his collective of bad boys, trained classically in ballet, dance to contemporary musical favorites, such as Alicia Keys and Michael Jackson, featuring some impressive acrobatics to keep you on your toes. The Annenberg Center, located in West Philadelphia, is celebrating dance performance throughout 2014, so keep your eyes peeled for even more performances at reduced prices.

Mo(oor)town/Redux: March 6-8

The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. 3680 Walnut Street | annenbergcenter.org

Doug Elkins’ Motown remix of Shakespeare’s Othello visits Philadelphia, featuring ballet-inspired modern dance and several dramatic, emotional pas-de-deux.

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From Rasta Thomas’ Bad Boys of Dance at The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, February 22

Blending theater and dance:

As genres of the performing arts, theater and dance often go hand-in-hand. This trend is not specific to the 2014 season, however. Traditionally, dance performances containing a narrative are accessible and engaging for most audiences, which explains their popularity year after year.

Confetti: January 24-25

Dancer and choreographer Gabrielle Revlock, presents a humorous take on dance duets, featuring an odd variety of performers, including Revlock’s own mother and a child. The dance performance contains a theatrical narrative, which blends seamlessly into an abstract presentation of movement.

Blind Dates, hosted by Fantasy Grandma: January 30

Christ Church Neighborhood House. 20 N. American Street | birdbirdbird.org

As if the event title wasn’t intriguing enough, this performance features improv comedy, music, and dance lead by New York City based “grandmas,” Myrtle and Jane.

Allege/Singer-Songwriter: January 29

Christ Church Neighborhood House. 20 N. American Street | birdbirdbird.org

In Alege, soloist Clement Layes creates a charming amalgamation of dance, circus arts, and theater, while balancing a full cup of water on his head throughout the performance. In Singer-Songwriter, dancers Magda San Millan and Chelsea Murphy pose as quirky songwriters.

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From Confetti at The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, January 24-25

Microfestivals:

A microfestival consists of a series of shorter dance pieces that make up a single, unified event. Typically, the choreographer will expound upon a particular theme and provide multiple interpretations of the theme. For example, in Balanchine’s Jewels, the ballet is split into three acts, representing different jewels, which are presented with vastly contrasting modes of choreography and costumes.

Seranade, Afternoon of a Fawn, Under the Sun Pas de Deux, and Petit Mort: February 6-9

Merriam Theater. 250 South Broad Street | paballet.org

The esteemed Pennsylvania Ballet presents a series of shorter, attention-grabbing ballets, ranging from Balanchine’s romantic Serenade, to Kylian’s warlike Petit Mort.

Gala Flamenca: March 2

Merriam Theater. 250 South Broad Street | paballet.org

Four celebrated dancers collaborate to bring a celebration of modern flamenco in a series of short performances, at the Merriam Theater. Renowned dancer, Antonio Canales, headlines, accompanied by Carlos Rodrigez, Karime Amaya, and Jesus Carmona.

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From Serenade at the Venue, February 6-9

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About the author

Rita Algorri

Marquerita Algorri is an English and Nutrition double-major at Drexel University and a writer for Art Attack. In her nonexistent spare time, she theoretically enjoys doing and watching ballet, experimenting with toy cameras, attaining new houseplants, and learning new words.