Review: InHale Performance Series

Photo: On the Rocks by Stuart Meyers

By Kat Richter for the Dance Journal

In a city like Philadelphia, where even the established companies find themselves vying for the same audiences, it’s easy for emerging artists to get overlooked.  Fortunately the quarterly InHale Performance Series, hosted by Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers at the Chi Movement Arts Center, gives up-and-coming choreographers a much needed and well deserved chance to strut their stuff.

Last night’s showcase featured work by local choreographers Kate Abernethy, Laura Baehr, Peter DiMuro, Stuart Meyers, Jessica C. Warchal-King, Scott Park of Dangerous and Movin’ Dance Company, Heather Fleischman of MM2 and fellow company member Jennifer Laucella.

The evening got off to a strong start with Abernethy’s witty and surprisingly humorous When There’s No One set to Solomon Burke’s “Cry to Me.”  Her darting eyes and grimacing facial expressions had the audience in stitches as she mock curtsied and contorted her shoulders in isolated movements.  I sincerely hope we’ll see more from her.

Time Lost, choreographed by Park and danced by the able bodied and extremely agile Courtney Galante was both dark and ambitious.  Galante entered wearing a bloodied lab coat and attacked every movement with gusto, flipping over herself into a somersault and slicing into an artificial heart with a scalpel.  The work’s unexpected crescendo came as Galante fell to the floor: the heart she stabbed was her own.

MM2 Modern Dance Company performed with poise and confidence despite the technical difficulties that left Cookie Cutter without music.  Dancers Brianne Scott and Matthew Varvar were a delight to watch as they carved through the space, their extensions both sharp and lilting.  The company’s second piece, Laucella’s Little White Lie, built from a series of individual pairings, evolved to evoke a dreamlike quality.

Continuing in this vein was DiMuro’s Waiting, an excerpt from Future Preludes.  Dancers Meredith Lyons and Duane Lee Holland Jr. maneuvered atop a small piano bench, back to back as they swayed from their rib cages to an early Rachmaninoff recording.  The work’s resolution was simple yet memorable: no longer back to back but now side by side, the dancers repeated the work’s opening phrase.

Three additional solos rounded out the evening.  In the quirky Room to Ruminate, Baehr waggled her head and circled herself like a dog chasing its tail.  Warchal-King’s Notes from Unexpected Lessons was poetic and fluid but simultaneously precise.  Although her energy level seemed to remain the same throughout, there was a compelling moment when she rolled backwards over her shoulder and landed with her foot seemingly suspended in the air.

On the Rocks by Stuart Meyers was clearly the audience favorite.  I can’t imagine creating a dance out of a bucket of ice—let alone a dance that’s actually interesting to watch— but that’s exactly what Meyers did.  His simple gestures and hand puppets were hysterical; he wore the bucket first on his head and then on his feet, rippling his shoulder muscles to the beat like a Chippendale dancer gone mad.  I hope we’ll see more of him too.

Kat Richter is a freelance writer and teaching artist.  Her work can be found at

Disclaimer: Steven Weisz, Founder and Editor of the Dance Journal, is Artistic Director of MM2 but all views expressed in this review are the author’s.

About Kat Richter

Kat Richter is a freelance writer and professor of both dance and cultural anthropology. She is also the co-founder and Artistic Director of The Lady Hoofers Tap Ensemble, Philadelphia's premiere all-female tap company. Her work has appeared in Glamour, Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher and The Journal of Research in Dance Education.

As a professional dancer, Richter began her apprenticeship with the New Jersey Tap Ensemble at the age of 9 and was promoted to Principal Dancer while still in high school. In 2005, she received a scholarship to Oxford University and returned to the UK in 2009. She holds a BA in Dance and History from Goucher College and an MA in Dance Anthropology from Roehampton University. A proud Philadelphia transplant, she blogs at

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