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Melissa Diane premieres an evening length performance of City Calm Down

Melissa Diane, the performance duo of Jacelyn Biondo and Kristen Shahverdian, will be presenting their newest evening length performance, City Calm Down, a dance performance inspired by Bonnie Whitfield’s book, A Den Brooklyn Nights. In City Calm Down two women enter into a timeless era with a confession: I am your lover, I am your psyche, I am real, I am imagined.

Melissa Diane premiered an excerpt of City Calm Down in the 2011 Philadelphia Fringe Festival after being commissioned by the Center for the Book to create a performance inspired by book artist, Bonnie Whitfield’s work.  As both the book and the performance continued to linger in their minds, they have lengthened the work and are presenting an evening length performance.  This will mark their first evening length work since premiering the much talked about My House/Your House to 5 sold out audiences in 2008.  The show will take place at Health Center #3, 555 S. 43rd Street Philadelphia, PA, across from Clark Park on August 24th at 8pm, August 25th at 4pm and 8pm, Rain date August 26th.  Tickets for the show will cost $15, $10 for Dance Professionals, Students and Seniors.

Melissa Diane created a piece that was elicited from a series of images, drawn from a story about heartbreak and letting go. The harsh physicality of a book stitched together with words that have been blocked, the memory of love, and sitting on the front stoop on warm city nights are all evoked in this piece. Together these images form a collage that moves through time but is not linear in its unfolding. The two dancers are at once at odds with each other, and at other times they are one. Throughout the piece the dancers build a world only to dismantle it. They share secrets, betrayal, anger and loss with a tender and honest heart. The open setting allows for the audience to walk around the space, place their chairs where they choose and get up close and personal with the performers.

Melissa Diane is a performance duo comprised of Kristen Shahverdian and Jacelyn Biondo.  At the heart of Melissa Diane’s collaboration is the belief that we are more than the sum of our parts.  We make work that is risk-taking, multi-layered, and deeply embedded with detail on many different aesthetic levels, most particularly: visual aspects like location (or set) and costumes as well as the narrative structure of a piece. Each layer holds a possibility for meaning for the audience.  We give the audience more control over their experience because we believe our audience should have responsibility about how they view the art. In our work we want to instill surprise and curiosity in our audiences. We show work in all types of spaces: street corners, subways, row homes, art galleries, and theaters are some of the spaces in which we’ve performed. By using the space in non-traditional ways, we challenge our audiences to see these spaces through a new lens. This lens may reveal to the audience an entire neighborhood they’ve never seen before, or simply a new detail in a space they’ve been at a million times. The important part is that the audience sees these spaces anew because they are looking at dance placed in them. We are drawn to urban structures, architecture and landscapes that create an organic frame that references a stage.  Within these frames, we create a world where each piece exists. We fit into nooks, creating a multi-dimensional stage where performance and audience mingle. We are experimenting with how we make work, and inviting the audience to experiment with how they view work. We are not asking the audience to do anything we aren’t doing ourselves. We are creating an experience to share with our audience.

Melissa Diane
City Calm Down
August 24th at 8pm, August 25th at 4pm and 8pm, Rain date August 26th
Health Center #3, 555 S. 43rd Street Across from Clark Park, Philadelphia, PA
Tickets: $15, $10 for Dance Professionals, Students, and Seniors with ID
Purchase tickets online at http://danceboxoffice.com/product_details.php?item_id=42


- 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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