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Real Live People and Their Real Live Work

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Real Live People Present SHRUG
by Kathleen Glynn for the Dance Journal

On Thursday, September 17th, and Friday, September 18th, the fresh dance collective known as Real Live People contributed a collage of choreography and performance work to the Philadelphia Fringe Festival.   The show, taking place at the CHI Movement Arts Center, was a colorful product full of various emotions, concepts and movement vocabularies.   The six choreographers’ diligent work and ruthless fidelity to SHRUG paid off; both shows were beyond the sold-out status and warmly received.

The first half of the show included works by Molly Jackson, Sarah Masluk, Mary O’Brien and Kelly Adorno.  Ms. Jackson’s opening duet, “i’m really not in the mood” featured quirky partnering and movement manipulation by dancers Gina Hoch-Stall and Caroline O’Brien.   The piece demonstrated clear emotions alongside a clear progression of relationship.  Following was “minor vexation”, choreographed by Sarah Masluk.  The brilliant quartet was filled with anger, bewilderment, and pursuit.  Masluk evenly blended unison and differing movements among her dancers, fulfilling both an aesthetic quality and an emotional, expressive aspect.   Mary O’Brien’s piece, “SOMEWhERE…Lost In Translation”, a trio with a palpable and consistent focus, came next.  The piece contained a unique, old-time voice that debated, questioned, and concluded ideas of other life forms and alien species.  O’Brien maintained apparent relationships between her dancers, all of whom danced apart, then gradually explored and accepted one another.  “-tion: the process of”, choreographed by Kelly Adorno, highlighted the actual experience of meddling through a process, from “communication” to “negotiation”.  Adorno’s piece included a trio then followed by a duet, both of which presented slow and sticky moments then quick, climatic seconds, as if portraying the lull of a process, then it’s often sudden and quick result

The second act of the show began with “HomeSpace”, choreographed by Gina Hoch-Stall.  This piece was described as “an exploration of home, inspired by movement workshops and interviews with the wheelchair-bound residents of the Inglis house”.  The absolutely touching work was a genuine peek into the lives of those limited physically and dependant upon the help of others.  Ms. Gina Hoch-Stall effectively used circulatory movements, which sequenced in an up-and-down pattern to draw the true movement capabilities, routines, and manipulations of those she worked with.   “HomeSpace” perfectly combined beautiful text from the residents of Inglis House and soothing music; it also struck a great medium between somewhat gestural movements without becoming too literal.    Sarah Masluk’s solo, “plea”, another tender work, was performed next by Masluk herself.  The gorgeous solo exuded with feelings of sacredness, humility, and love.  The choreographer and dancer seemed to actually be dancing through an experience, and desperately bargaining, or making a “plea”.   Last but certainly not least appeared a comical trio choreographed by Anna Barker.  The piece presented itself as a true satire of modern egos, contemporary stereotypes, and the way we tend to go about judging each other almost unconsciously.   Dancers Gina Hoch-Stall, Molly Jackson, and Caroline O’Brien brilliantly executed movement and opposing large, specific personalities simultaneously.  Ms. Barker succeeded in creative movement and partnering work, but also in consistently preserving the theme of the piece through movement, mannerisms, spoken dialogue, focus, and facial expressions

The artists of Real Live People and all of the performers participating in SHRUG should have felt an enormous amount of pride and accomplishment after both shows this past weekend.  SHRUG offered a refreshing show and relatable ideas to all types of audience members; it was an excellent contribution to the Philadelphia Fringe Festival.

1 Comment

  1. Smith says:

    I couldn’t agree more with this reveiw. Each choreographer’s choice of carefully calculated movements spoke to me of the message behind each piece even though I had no previous experience with modern dance. I will definitely look for more from these talented choreographers in the future!