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Homegrown dance, times two

Framed with texts from Kierkegaard and Beckett, Curt Haworth’s acrobatic “Either/Or” featured William Robinson (left) and John Luna.

By Merilyn Jackson, For The Inquirer

Vince Johnson’s athletic “Drunken Monkey,” about a troupe of warrior monks,…

Indigenous Pitch Dance Collective (which is also a dance company) aims to support and promote the diversity of Philadelphia’s choreographers and their homegrown dance styles, and did precisely that on the weekend with a double dance feature at the Performance Garage: It opened with former David Dorfman Dance member Curt Haworth’s Either/Or and went on to Vince Johnson’s Drunken Monkey.

Haworth has been teaching at University of the Arts and making dance here for a decade; he recently founded Philly PARD (Performance Art Research and Development). For Either/Or, he collaborated with several well-known local dancers, among them Bethany Formica Bender, John Luna, and some of the Indigenous Pitch dancers, and framed the work with texts from Kierkegaard and Beckett. The dancers perform quite an acrobatic act between thoughts of these two mental giants, with handstands, cartwheels, and a series of Sisyphean rises and falls by Formica Bender.

But the outsized croquet mallets and wickets, the squishy balls that looked like blue hedgehogs, and a chess- game text suggested the absurdism of Lewis Carroll. Steve Antinoff was the dramaturg and Tim Motzer provided live atmospheric music on electric guitar, recording and remixing as he went.

Johnson’s Drunken Monkey, about a troupe of warrior monks, was even more athletic. He works in an emerging movement style/sport called martial arts tricking and he, as Knuggle Buckets Brown, and Edwin Lopez, as Suave Electricity, provided plenty of jackknifing, back handsprings, and butterfly turns. But that was just the razzle-dazzle.

Christine Gerena (as Meow Hallelujah) is a firebrand to watch. All randy rump-pumping when her back is to the audience, and kittenish coyness when she turns to us, she’s an adorable hoyden. Lopez’s rubber band of a body puts out very small and slyly comedic moves. His parodic street-walk and homie hand signals are hilarious.


- Merilyn Jackson

Merilyn is a guest contributor to the Dance Journal. She writes regularly on dance for The Philadelphia Inquirer since 1996 and writes on dance, theater, food, travel and Eastern European and Latin American fiction for many publications. More than 800 of her articles have appeared in publications as diverse as The New York Times, The Warsaw Voice, The Arizona Republic, The Phoenix New Times, MIT’s Technology Review, and Arizona Highways, Dance, Pointe and Dance Teacher magazines, Broad Street Review and www.exploredance.com.

She was awarded an NEA Critics Fellowship in 2005 and a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship in 1999 for her novel-in-progress, O Solitary Host. A chapter of that novel, “A Sow of Violence,” appeared in the Massachusetts Review in the Fall 2004 “Food Matters” issue. In 2012 she attended poetry workshops at Colgate University and Sarah Lawrence College, working with poets Peter Balakian and Tom Lux, respectively. Several of her poems appear in Exquisite Corpse, The Rusty Nail and Broad Street Review. She likes to say that dance was her first love, but when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although, she also writes poetry. Much of her writing can be read on her personal blog Prime Glib.

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