Merilyn Jackson’s FringeArts Picks

By Merilyn Jackson For The Dance Journal

The FringeArts curated dance seems to be going for quality over quantity with some big ticket choreographers this year:

Pennsylvania Ballet
                                      p 47 FringeArts 140 N. Columbus Blvd. 9/5-7

What I Learned About Outer Space danced by Pennsylvania Ballet dancers to choreography by Georg Reischl, Zoe Scofield and Itamar Serussi, is a dream come true for me. I’ve been grinding my teeth for years at the insipid material these fine dancers have had to plow through. I’m dying to see what they can do with work that has real teeth in it. Aren’t you?

Trajal Harrell
                                                   p 52 FringeArts 140 N. Columbus Blvd. 9/12-13

This Bessie Award winner grabs the aesthetics of Ancient Greece, Harlem Ball traditon and the Judson Church dance movement of the 60s by the scruff of their necks and cracks them together to make Antigone Sr./Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church.

Rosas/Anne Teresa De Keersmaker
         p 62 FringeArts 140 N. Columbus 10/4-5

This is a very old piece (1983) that has lived timelessly ever since. Like Lucinda Childs’ Dance to Philip Glass’s music, De Keersmaker broke ground too,but went a step further choreographing while Thierry De Mey composed its click-clacking score.

Some of the brightest stars on the Philly dance planet perform in the Neighborhood Fringe to fill the lacuna of dance in the curated FringeArts Festival. Lew Whittington covered many of them already for The Dance Journal, but here are my pics:

Real Live People
                                             p 101 Latvian Society, 531 N. 7th St. 9/5-9

Megan Mazarick, Drew Kaiser and Gina Hoch-Stall are dying to lie to you in Would I Lie to You? Smart and sassy, Mazarick pairs her brain with co-conspirators to turn yours inside out. I’m thinking this’ll be another one of their funny, thoughtful, dancey performance pieces. The performers will also turn anonymously submitted lies from the audience into short dances as well. So get your lyin’ butt over there.

Gunnar Montana
                                          p100 The Latvian Society, 531 N. 7th St. 9/12-14 + 9/18-21

Montana – that’s where he’s from, not really his name – stepped off a cliff a long time ago and hasn’t hit bottom yet. If last year’s Basement was “designed to be therapeutic, enlightening, and demented as all hell” this year’s Resurrection Room, looks demented, yes, and hallucinatory and nightmarish. Like his mentor, Brian Sanders, Gunnar gets to the guts of stuff and doesn’t blanch at jerking them out.

The Naked Stark
                                            p 96 Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine, 9/12-14

Featuring Katherine Kiefer Stark, Beau Hancock, Shannon Murphy and Megan Wilson Stern, you’ll see Philly favorites in works by each. Expect cheeky, quirky movement.

Tangle Movement Arts  
                              p 98 Philadelphia Soundstages, 1600 N. 5th St. 9/18-20

Flying females! Poet, Performer, librarian Lauren Rile Smith graduated from Swarthmore College not many years ago, so of course she can do it all. She trains aerial and ground acrobatics in Philly and Brooklyn and has been unhinging at the Fringe since 2011. With the world premiere of Loop, they hope to keep you in theirs. Sculptures by artist Julia Wilson make the set.

Annie Wilson’s Lovertits                                
p 100 Ruba Club, 416 Green St. 9/19-21

Annie Wilson is one of the bravest, brainiest, zaniest dancemakers in Philly. In Lovertits, she asks “Why does the performance of sexiness look so different than the actual act of sex?” Does she have the answer? She and her three dancers just may. Well, there’s nudity, for sure.

Jasmine Zieroff                                              
p 111 The Back Door, 2036 Montrose St. 9/5-8, 11-14, + 17-20

Zieroff, who co-created the Deliliah’s Den-level Rub with Gunnar Montana in 2012, creates another erotic/exotic performance to the interestingly-named The Back Door. I do hope to hear the sweet voice of Howlin’ Wolf singin’ his blue Back Door Man.




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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