“Welcome to the Jet Propulsion Laboratories 2011 Rover Driver Conference! Please register, put on your name tag, and get your group ready for action. Engineering, Coding, Landing Apparatus, and Sustainability. There’s work to do.”
Red Rovers, by the imaginative Philadelphia-based Headlong Dance Theater, in collaboration with visual artist Chris Doyle, explores the lives of robots on Mars and the scientists who created them. The participatory performance invites audiences to take part in a scientific conference hosted by Jeffrey Merbold (David Disbrow) and Clementine Nardello (Christina Zani), scientists of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Red Rovers immerses audiences in a show about scientific searching, comical mishaps, and the impossibility of connection across vast distances.
Headlong Dance Theater is known for their collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to dance and making works that are innovative and accessible. In Red Rovers, Headlong teams up with Chris Doyle, a multidisciplinary visual artist whose work has been exhibited at The Brooklyn Museum of Art, MassMoCA, and P.S.1 Museum of Contemporary Art. A Festival veteran, Headlong’s previous Live Arts Festival performances include: More (‘09), Explanatorium (‘07), and CELL (‘06).
“The piece was inspired initially by the true story of the Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, and the humans who drive them.”
– Amy Smith, co-director of Red Rovers
Q&A WITH CO-DIRECTOR AMY SMITH
Q. Why is the show call Red Rovers?
A. I first heard about the Mars Rovers on the nerdy radio show Science Friday. I was so taken with how the scientists talked about them and anthropomorphized them and cared about them as if they were sentient creatures…
Q. Why are you drawn to cross-discipline collaboration? What differentiates it as a creative experience and as a creative product?
A. A lot of dance works purport to be about something, but really what they are about for me is the demonstration of technical virtuosity. I love virtuosity, but I also think dance can create meaning in interesting ways when we use elements of theater, visual art, and conceptual art to shake things up.
Headlong Dance Theater
Headlong Dance Theater was founded by Co-Directors David Brick, Andrew Simonet, and Amy Smith in 1993. The three directors collaborate in the creation and performance of all Headlong’s dances and share credit for all the company’s work. Over the years, Headlong has created over 40 dances, many of which are known for their witty take on contemporary culture. Rather than relying on a single dance style or technique, Headlong develops a unique movement vocabulary for each new piece. The co-directors’ eclectic movement backgrounds include modern, ballet, jazz, tap, contact improvisation, releasing techniques, theater, sports, sign language, Bharata Natyam, and Ghanaian dance. Headlong has performed nationally and internationally to a range of audiences, and their work – informed by a deep commitment to collaboration, humor, and formal experimentation – has won many fans and much acclaim.
Chris Doyle is a multidisciplinary visual artist based in Brooklyn, New York. In addition to recent solo exhibitions in New York and Los Angeles, his work has been shown at The Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Taubman Museum of Art, MassMoCA, P.S.1 Museum of Contemporary Art, The Tang Museum, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Sculpture Center, and as part of the New York Video Festival at Lincoln Center and the Melbourne International Arts Festival.
Conceived and Created by Headlong Dance Theater and Chris Doyle
Dramaturgy Mark Lord
Lighting David Todaro
Props Jenna Horton
Costumes Kelly Cobb
Performers David Disbrow, Christina Zani
Philadelphia Live Arts Festival
Headlong Dance Theater and Chris Doyle
Live Arts Studio, 919 North 5th Street (at Poplar)
Fri 9/2 at 7pm
Sat 9/3 at 4pm + 9pm
Sun 9/4 at 4pm
Tue 9/6, Wed 9/7 + Thu 9/8 at 7pm
Fri 9/9* at 9pm
Sat 9/10 at 7pm + 10pm
*Post-show discussion on Sept 9 moderated by Craig Peterson, director of the Live Arts Brewery (LAB) and Philly Fringe.
$25-30 (student + 25-and-under tickets $15). Call the Box Office at (215) 413-1318 or visit www.livearts-fringe.org.
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