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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

 

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