Craft and Character – FringeArts Review of The Megan Flynn Dance Company in Dances With Socks

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by Jane Fries

In their intriguing debut at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, The Megan Flynn Dance Company presented a series of short sketches of people in process, where solos and duets flowed one into the next in carefully crafted dances that pulled the audience into the performers’ private worlds. The low-tech lighting, costumes, and music – an eclectic sound track that floated in and out but stayed largely in the background – enhanced the personal, confidential tone of the evening. The performance space, a small studio with the audience seated in the round, provided an intimate setting for these psychologically driven, but never over-wrought, dance vignettes.

Meredith Stapleton led off the program in a solo entitled “What Fits in a Fishbowl.” Wearing a bright-blue party dress, she evoked a sense of glamour on the surface, yet the cracks in her facade were beginning to show. Next up was Sarah Braviak in a sinuous, sculptural solo, “She is Standing.” At the end of the dance, she picked up her discarded outer-garments and scurried away when she noticed the eyes of the audience upon her. Later in the evening, Stapleton and Braviak connected to explore new possibilities in “Greener Pastures.” Their shifting of weight and inventive partnering were natural and grounded, a source of strength they created together.

“When I was five . . .” combined gesture and spoken word as Katrina Muffley remembered her growth as a dancer and innermost fear of failing as an artist.   The gestures evoked the spoken words in an abstract sense, without slipping into literal pantomime.

Megan Flynn and Randall Anthony Smith appeared together in “Piecework,” where they scattered the promised “socks” across the floor and then engaged in an arresting duet of sadness and loss. As they took turns leading and following, they gave each other support and comfort. In an evening of brief dance episodes, “Piecework” left the audience wishing to see much more of this pair.

Later, Smith danced the solo “In THIS Moment,” providing the emotionally pivotal moment of the night when he bid a tearful goodbye to something important that he seemed to have lost in the course of the dance. With his regal bearing and expressive arms and torso, Smith was a commanding presence in the narrow confines of the performance space.

In “To the Ends,” the final solo of the night, Flynn shared a portrait of a woman connecting the threads of her life carefully, punctuated by moments of resolve when she seemed to take a risk and erupt into her fully-fledged identity as a dancer. Always graceful, Flynn layered small, gestural details with expansive, full-bodied dancing.  A beautiful mover, she was precise in the unique vocabulary she employed to tell this story of self-awakening.  The specific narrative Flynn appeared to have in mind provided clarity to the impulse generating her movement.  Her solo highlighted the disciplined craftswomanship that characterized the evening of dancing as a whole.

Megan Flynn earned her MFA in Dance from the University of California, Irvine, and is currently a Lecturer in Dance at Muhlenberg College. Each of the dancers in her company has a connection to one of these two dance programs, and together they make up an expressive and skillful group of artists.   The choreography for “Dances With Socks” is credited to Flynn in collaboration with each of the performers. In THIS Moment,” however, is credited entirely to Randall Anthony Smith.

After the final applause on Friday night, Flynn warmly thanked the audience for being present at the inaugural performance of the newly formed company. The audience too was grateful to have shared in such an auspicious occasion.

About Jane Fries

Originally from the west coast, Jane Fries pursued undergraduate studies in dance at San Diego State University, where she got her start writing about dance for the student newspaper. After an escapade as a correspondent for Dance Magazine in the south of France, she went on to earn her MA in dance from Mills College in Oakland, California. Jane's subsequent explorations in non-theatrical dance forms led her to take up the practice of yoga. She has lived in the Philadelphia area since 1996, and has had the great pleasure to study Iyengar yoga with Joan White. Jane's writing reflects her background in dance history and interest in documentation and preservation.

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