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Explore the lives of robots on Mars and the scientists who created them with Headlong Dance Theater

“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.  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
Philadelphia, PA
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
Brooklyn, NY
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
Red Rovers

Headlong Dance Theater and Chris Doyle
World Premiere
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.

- Steven Weisz

Founder & Editor
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 70’s, 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 Graffito Works, a unique platform for dancers and performing artists to create site-specific work and to make it readily accessible to the public.

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