Sam-Gam BAM!, triple-power dance at Drexel

Photo by Bill Hebert

By Merilyn Jackson For The Inquirer

Philadelphia’s dancers have built a community that’s the envy of other cities around the country. A Washington City Paper article last month cited Headlong Dance Theater as a ringleader, quoting one of its founders, David Brick, as saying, “You have to figure out how to do things on your own.” Sometimes that requires contorting into unlikely partnerships such as the one between Headlong, another long-established dance group, Group Motion, and Viji Rao’s newer Three Aksha. Their show, called “Sam-Gam BAM!”, opened at Drexel’s Mandell Theater last weekend and continues Thursday through Saturday.

Headlong is the postmodern, hipster/brainy dance company that relocated in Philadelphia from Wesleyan University in the early 1990s; German expressionist Group Motion had arrived from Berlin back in 1968. Traditional Indian dance company Three Aksha’s been around for the better part of the last decade.

“Sam-gam” – Sanskrit for “flow together” – is the title and overarching theme of the new works presented by the three companies, whose flowing together was pure serendipity.

“Group Motion had reserved the Mandell for two weekends,” said company director Manfred Fischbeck, “and since Headlong and Three Aksha inquired about the Mandell for the same dates, it made sense to join forces with the support of the Dance UP rental subsidy program.”


About Merilyn Jackson

Merilyn is a guest contributor to the Dance Journal. She writes regularly on dance for The Philadelphia Inquirer since 1996 and writes on dance, theater, food, travel and Eastern European and Latin American fiction for many publications. More than 800 of her articles have appeared in publications as diverse as The New York Times, The Warsaw Voice, The Arizona Republic, The Phoenix New Times, MIT’s Technology Review, and Arizona Highways, Dance, Pointe and Dance Teacher magazines, Broad Street Review and

She was awarded an NEA Critics Fellowship in 2005 and a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship in 1999 for her novel-in-progress, O Solitary Host. A chapter of that novel, “A Sow of Violence,” appeared in the Massachusetts Review in the Fall 2004 “Food Matters” issue. In 2012 she attended poetry workshops at Colgate University and Sarah Lawrence College, working with poets Peter Balakian and Tom Lux, respectively. Several of her poems appear in Exquisite Corpse, The Rusty Nail and Broad Street Review. She likes to say that dance was her first love, but when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although, she also writes poetry. Much of her writing can be read on her personal blog Prime Glib.

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