Tangle Movement Arts Flies into Fringe Festival

by Elizabeth Whelan for The Dance Journal | photo by Mike Ermilio

Tangle Movement Arts swung into action this past Wednesday in Old City, Philadelphia at the Christ Church Neighborhood House, taking the audience along for the ride in their premier of Life Lines. Presenting for their seventh time in Philadelphia’s Fringe Arts Festival, the aerial dance/circus arts troupe combined emotionally driven content with theatre and live music by the Pascale Smith and the Guide Birds, a Philly-based acoustic Americana band.

Founder and performer Lauren Rile Smith has been paving new paths for circus arts in since the company’s beginnings in 2011. As a producer of Life Lines, Smith used the project to convey women experiencing loss. The show began with Pascale, Lauren’s sister, playing and singing her self-composed “I Sing of Old” and “It’s Fine;” a quirky and enjoyable musical narration of things past and lost. As she finished, a smooth jazz melody crept into the theater and swept the dancers airborne. The juxtaposition of a slow, somber trapeze act by Deena Weisberg on stage left against a flowing silks routine in the shadows upstage paid homage to grief after loss, perhaps symbolizing the world continuing on in perpetual motion while the griever is stuck in stillness.

Meredith Rosenthal delivered a sensual tango with complete control of the silks. Her precision and presence left the audience clapping in awe when she dismounted with a satisfied confidence about her. The show continued to impress, with Lee Thompson mesmerizing the audience with her vulnerability to the silks. She seemed to leave this world as she looped and flowed through the air. Her ragdoll-like movements blended together with fluidity and surrender.

Mounting the aerial hoop with a repetitive motion that calmed things down (just for a few moments!), Kate Aid displayed her strength and dedication to aerial arts in her solo entitled “Falling In.” After finishing the difficult hoop work, she returned to her feet and began repeating the simple arm gestures that initiated her section, as if her time spent in the air was a brief escape from the reality of life on the ground.

Act two featured solos from Maura Kirk and Rebecca MoDavis. MoDavis even sang while in the air, pausing from her dance with the trapeze to join in with the Guide Birds. She finished with an impressive flip to dismount, and casually picked up her flute and began playing with the band! Kirk matched MoDavis’ strength during her time spent on the silks, and led the evening’s performance towards the finale.

Pascale Smith returned to stage with a reprise of “I Sing of Old,” This time mentioning broken glass, singing “it can’t be fixed, but it can be swept up!” Tangle Movement Arts entertained and connected with the audience, sweeping them up into their world in the sky. This strong, talented group of artists is taking Philly circus arts to a whole new level that will have you looking up for more!

About Elizabeth Whelan

Elizabeth Whelan recently received her BFA in Dance from George Mason University in Spring 2017. She has performed with The Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra in their production of Swinging Through the Sky, Robert Battle’s Mass with the GMU Percussion Ensemble, Susan Shield’s First Fives- also with the Percussion Ensemble. She has freelanced with D.C. based Company E at the Kennedy Center in their newest work, (In)Security. Elizabeth works as a dance diplomat with the non-profit Movement Exchange, a service organization that provides free dance education for underprivileged children both domestically and internationally. Currently, she is interning with Kun-Yang Lin Dancers. Aside from dance, she enjoys yoga, reading, hiking, and making art.

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