Philly Contact Collective to perform mis/match

Philly Contact Collective performs mis/match in the 2010 GLBT Festival June 12th and 13th at the Arts Bank. Starting from autobiography, mis/match investigates our identities as queer and as queer allies as well as our assumptions, beliefs, fears and comfort zones. We model, manipulate and create different realities in this improvised performance.

Some of them are realities we know.
Some are realities we fear.
And some are realities for which we hope.

Mis/match is a series of vignettes that explore our individual, interpersonal and collective relationships with gender identity and sexuality.  As people of a variety of sexual orientations and gender constructs, the members of Philly Contact Collective are learning about each others’ viewpoints, norms and patterns; as dancers we want to delve into those connections and see what more we discover.  Through improvised speech, movement and music – alone and in combination – we can model, manipulate and create different realities.  Some of them are realities we know.  Some are realities we fear.  And some are realities for which we hope.

Mis/match is an extension of our storytelling investigations with a focus on GLBT themes. Our collective, which is a mixed group of GBLT and Straight Ally artists, has yet to take the chance to reflect upon our make-up. We are particularly interested in exploring our views of the world, challenging heteronormative assumptions, and broadening our verbal vocabulary with movement. Because movement is not as specific as speech, it is a vehicle for us to break down normative structures of speech and construct conversations in a less inhibited way. Additionally, our creative process, which unconditionally accepts whatever energy someone puts forth is, in itself, a practice of tolerance.

Philly Contact Collective (PCC) is celebrating its one-year anniversary this spring.  Founded in January 2009, PCC was created by a small collective of Philadelphia dancers who wanted to practice and develop skills in Contact Improvisation (CI) dance.  The initial goal of PCC was to provide a space and a time for people interested in CI to get together and share their skills in a non-hierarchical structure.  We decided early on that this was going to be a laboratory where we can teach each other what we know and break down exercises, techniques and ideas that we want to explore on a deeper level.

One of the main interests we share as CI dancers is that of living and dancing in the moment without pre-planning our actions or responses. To varying degrees we use CI not only as a physical exercise, but also as a lifestyle model.  CI demands that you suspend your quality judgments, your assumptions and your habitual patterns and simply allow the dance to happen as it will, on that day, in that space, with whomever you happen to be dancing.  It is impossible to dance with that type of freedom and to not take some aspect of it with you out into your daily life.

On a purely physical level, we also find that CI serves to redefine touch in our lives.  CI allows us to experience an immense degree of non-sexual physical intimacy that few of us have ever had in any other form.  We are able to touch, be touched and experience our bodies as they are, without labels or value judgments.

PCC was not founded with the goal of being a performance-oriented group, but we discovered soon after coming together that all of us share interest in creating and performing our own work.  Developing and honing our performance skills has become an ongoing part of our labs, and performing together has heightened the need for commitment to the group and to each other, supporting one of our initial goals.

By bringing CI into the realm of performance we are also able to question what makes a performance “good.”  If we create the dance anew each time we come together, how can we be sure that it will fit a certain performance model, stick to a certain theme or communicate a certain message?  The short answer is, we can’t.  The longer answer is that this very mutability is itself a model, a theme and a message.  By letting go of the need for the dance or performance to be a certain way we allow spontaneous moments of beauty, awkwardness, difficulty, failure, discovery and joy to happen, all with someone there to witness it.

Since January 2009, PCC has performed in Festivus! – the 2009 GLBT Arts Festival, Dancing Days at the Please Touch Museum, January Studio Series hosted by Kosoko Performance Group, and Plays and Players.  This past May we hosted our first successful PJ party, Truth or Dance, at Studio 34 during which we showcased the various projects we are working on individually.

WHO: Philly Contact Collective members, Lee Fogel, Rowen Haigh, Jenny Sawyer, Kate Speer, Henken Bean, and Rachel Feldman

WHAT: mis/match, an improvised performance

WHERE: Arts Bank, South & Broad Sts, Philadelphia, PA

WHEN: June 12th at 8pm and June 13th at 5pm

Tickets available at traversetheater.org.
More info at phillycontactcollective.wordpress.org.

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