As we gear up for our first show of 2016, we at FringeArts simply cannot contain our excitement over our entire upcoming winter season. Literally. It is tearing us all apart. We’ve been screaming about it at the top of our lungs for some time now and the neighbors hate us. This excitement needs an outlet. So, I am going to do my professional duty and alleviate at least a little bit of that need by clueing you all in to the future goings-on here by the waterfront.Here are some of the dance highlights coming to FringeArts ... Our first dance piece of the season, The Unofficial Guide to Audience Watching Performance, comes from the wildly accomplished Philadelphia based artist Raphael Xavier, with performances February 11-13. A renowned breaker, Xavier plays a substitute teacher who, after a life of struggling as an artist, must begrudgingly take a teaching job. The audience become his students as he walks them through his life as practitioner of the hip hop dance aesthetic, showing them younger versions of himself at the height of his abilities displaying the remarkable endurance needed to survive in the dance battle world. He breaks down these movements—frozen, slowed down, in close-up—to give his audience a better understanding of the art form so central to his identity. Though Xavier is best down for his accomplishments in the world of dance as an innovative movement conceptualist, he is also a rapper, producer, comedian, actor, photographer, and writer, and all the experience accrued from his lifetime as a multifaceted artist play into this work. “Bringing all my skill sets together to tell a 75% real life and 25% fictitious story actually equates to a 100% real life story from age thirteen to forty-five,” he told FringeArts, adding, “Each moment of my life and each moment I spend dancing on many stages around the world went into creating this work.” As a result, the audience is fortunate enough to bear witness to an artist reflecting on a lifetime of achievement, at the same time creating something new, wholly original, and deeply personal.
March brings the remarkable performance piece Bronx Gothic, from multidisciplinary artist Okwui Okpokwasili. Centered around a series of notes passed between two 11-year-old girls, the work probes the private world of the girls’ tumultuous relationship as they creep towards adolescence and sexual awakening in the 1980s outer-borough of New York City. Explaining her inspirations to FringeArts, Okpokwasili argued, “In the popular imagination urban dwelling, gum chewing, subway hopping, loud and independent young brown girls were not the symbol of innocence that I grew up with,” adding, “I wanted to make an argument for a brown girl innocence, charged and precocious and dreamy.”
Influenced by West African griot storytelling traditions and Victorian era novels, the text is crucial to the piece, but the movement is equally arresting, exhibiting the virtuosic talents that have made her a major name in the world of modern dance. Bronx Gothic, which garnered a 2014 Bessie Award for outstanding production, shows March 11-12.
Our final performance of the winter season comes from previously FringeArts presented dancer Gabrielle Revlock and her collaborator Aleksandr Frolov. Show No Show charts the relationship of two people getting to know each other for the first time, all awkwardness, openness, and vulnerability—and not many boundaries. Unpredictable and entrancing, they use each other and the space to mine the complexities of opening oneself up to another, and all the hilarious, maddening, and heartbreaking feelings that come with it.
Revlock and Frolov met during a three-week residency at the Omi International Arts Center in August of 2014 and began developing this new work, however, the connection between the two was not immediate. Revlock recalled of their first partnership for an exercise at the residency, “It was super awkward and did not go well and so I thought, ‘Okay, tried that, didn’t work, no chemistry, moving on.’” Thankfully they had another chance to work together before long and found the previously absent chemistry they needed to keep experimenting. Now we, as the audience, can reap the rewards of their partnership March 24-26.
What an incredible season! We’ll be at every one – see you there?
Buy tickets or get more information at fringearts.com/shows.PhiladelphiaDANCE.org Members get 50% OFF 2016 Winter–Spring season at FringeArts for select shows! Join Today