In Process: PhiladelphiaDANCE.org’s new residency program to have its first showing with Sam Tower + Ensemble

Emilie Krause and Anna  Szapiro of Sam Tower + Ensemble. Photo by Kate Raines, plate3.com — with

Emilie Krause and Anna Szapiro of Sam Tower + Ensemble. Photo by Kate Raines, plate3.com — with

In January of 2016, PhiladelphiaDANCE.org launched a new initiative, In Process, a residency program for Philadelphia-based dance artists. This goal of this program is to focus on contemporary dance makers, offering choreographers concentrated time and a private space in which to explore new ideas.

Funded solely through PhiladelphiaDANCE’s membership program, selected artists are awarded twenty-four hours of rehearsal time during a six-week period in one of several area venue partners. The culmination of the residency includes a performance of work in progress or completed work. Artists are chosen from a competitive application process and reviewed by a panel of professionals in the dance field on the basis of artistic merit, description of intent for the residency and work samples.

The spring residency was done in partnership with Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers and the CHI Movement Arts Center and was awarded to Sam Tower. The upcoming Summer residency will be held in collaboration with The Whole Shebang and has just been awarded to Jessica Warchal-King.

On Friday, May 13, 2016 at 7:30pm as part of the Inhale performance series, Sam Tower + Ensemble will show a selection of In Process material that has resulted from their Philadelphiadance.org residence at CHI Movement Art Center. The ensemble met weekly to explore a wide-reaching source constellation for a new dance theatre project called Strange Tenants. This included working with fabric tapestries from New Orleans artist, Chris Roberts-Antieau; existential sounds from the void by sound composer, Alec MacLaughlin; surreal visual art landscapes and relics from women of the 1950’s. The project draws on real experiences and narratives from the ancestors of the collaborators, and ruminates on relationships to these phantom tenants, who haunt their genetic makeup. The studio investigation has included an exploration of personal lineages, surreal duets, physical storytelling and dissonant sound scores.

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Photo credit: Kate Raines

The PhiladelphiaDANCE.org residency afforded Sam Tower + Ensemble the time to generate a large quantity of brand new movement material and sound composition. The group has also continued to build their personal language for critical response and engage in a deep dramaturgical dialogue about the material they have been creating. The work that will be shown as part of InHale Performance Series is a collage of raw imagery, sequencing, character and sound scores that explore themes of ancestral identity and the memories that simultaneously haunts us and drive us forward. This is the first development phase of a long-term exploration, as the work will continue to evolve from this embryonic phase.

Strange Tenants is set to premiere in full in 2017 and will eventually grow into a dance theatre, psycho thriller, investigating the bizarre ways in which inherited experience inhabits our bodies. The material shown at InHale has been directed by Sam Tower with collaboration by ensemble members Merri Rashoyan, Anna Szapiro, Emilie Krause, Nia Benjamin, Katie Croyle, Alec MacLaughlin and dramaturgy by Jeremy Gable.

Strange Tenants (work In Process)
Sam Tower + Ensemble
Inhale Performance Series
Friday, May 13, 2016 at 7:30pm
CHI Movement Arts Center, 1316 South 9th Street, Philadelphia
Tickets $10 general admission. $8 for students and PhiladelphiaDANCE.org Members
Online at danceboxoffice.com

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About the author

Steven Weisz for The Dance Journal

While not a dancer himself, Weisz’s love for the arts and dance started as a child growing up in New York City. With parents, who were strong supporters of the arts and part of a community with an incredible array of notable artists in music, dance, theater and fine arts, Weisz’s access and affinity for the performing arts took root. Upon attending college in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania in the mid-70s, Weisz started performing as a puppeteer, magician, juggler and fire eater as a means of supplementing his income. This soon grew in to what became Rainbow Promotions Inc., one of the largest entertainment and special events producers in the region. It was here that he began to promote and book dance for major events throughout the city. Many of the dancers he worked with in the early days of his company are now major choreographers in Philadelphia. At the same time, Weisz’s interest in computers and the early developments of what is now known as the Internet, led him to also start another company, Delaware Valley On Line, which became one of the first regional ISPs. It was this combination of event production, internet development and event marketing that led him to examine the use of the internet as a means to promote the arts. Dance continued to be a major interest for Weisz and in 2005 he founded PhiladelphiaDANCE.org as a major online resource to promote dance in the city. It was soon after that the Dance Journal was also founded as a way to provide an outlet for writing on a range of topics that encompass the ever growing and emerging dance community in the region. Weisz continues to run both PhiladelphiaDANCE and The Dance Journal on purely a voluntary basis with no income derived from any of his projects. He is also the Artistic Director of MM2 Modern Dance Company, an incubator, providing support, space and opportunities for new emerging dance artists, who wish to explore the choreographic process, in order to cultivate and introduce new work to new audiences.