FringeArts presents HOLD STILL while I figure this out, a daring experiment in spontaneous creation from storied Philadelphia dance company Subcircle. This virtuosic melding of process and product runs from November 16-18 at FringeArts’ waterfront headquarters, 140 N Columbus Blvd. (at Race St.). Tickets cost between $14 and $20 and are available by phone at 215-413-1318 or online at FringeArts.com.
Featuring Subcircle co-founder Niki Cousineau, Scott McPheeters, and Christy Lee, HOLD STILL challenges these consummate artists to build a previously unseen environment in an hour’s time. Aiding their endeavor is the live sound design of Subcircle co-founder Jorge Cousineau, with raw material sourced strictly from the performance space itself. Similarly, a set is constructed live with each performance “to complement or provide contrast to the dance taking place,” McPheeters recently told FringeArts.
“Each time we perform the work, it is from scratch,” he elaborated. “We choose a starting point—usually an image from a book or online along with a piece of text chosen from a book.” This concrete starting point for the bursts of improvisation that follow isn’t the only constant of each performance. Infused into the work are brief moments of choreographed movement set to nostalgia-inducing pop songs which work to interrupt the action, trigger past memory, and redirect the action of the work. These moments act as an obstacle as well as a chance to assess what’s come before and shift perspective.
The desire to create a new world, to begin again with each rehearsal, each performance grew out of a general dismay over the state of the world from which arose the question “What if we could start all over from scratch?” This led to a year and half of studying how this might be achieved and how to swiftly build new foundations off of a single source of inspiration. If you’re looking for any insight into how that process might feel to the performers, you may want to look to the title itself.
“As I was going through my notebook after a few rehearsals I was looking at some of the texts we generated during these improvisations,” Niki Cousineau explained to FringeArts. “One of the things I’d written down was ‘hold still while i figure this out.’ It felt fitting for the piece, art making, and life.”
Founded in 1998, by Niki and Jorge Cousineau, Subcircle’s work transforms theatrical and site-specific spaces, merging dance, sound, set design, lighting and film. Whether site-specific or performance for the stage, the work aims to convey to audience and performer alike – an inseparability of performance from environment. Subcircle is interested in ways of taking things out of their normal context – placing them differently, slightly skewed or distorted. It is through this process that the goal remains – to test people’s ideas of where they see dance and theater, how and most importantly, why; and while doing so challenging them to be more than a passive audience member. In 2014 choreographer and performer Scott McPheeters joined the Cousineau’s as a co-director. Along with their artistic work in Philadelphia, together they have purchased a farm in Biddeford Maine which they will develop into an artists’ residency and retreat center over the next five years.
HOLD STILL while I figure this out
November 16 | 8pm
November 17 | 8pm
November 18 | 8pm
$20 | $14 for Members | $15 for students/25-and-under
Call 215-413-1318 or visit to purchase tickets.