RealLivePeople, a local contemporary dance company whose work explores human experiences through firsthand stories and unspoken gestures, will be producing for the fourth consecutive year, RealLivePeople Presents, a performance series featuring their own new work and work by colleagues whose artistic sensibilities complement the company’s. This year, performances will be at thefidget space (1714 North Mascher St) on Friday, June 1 and Saturday, June 2 at 8:00 pm. Each performance will be approximately 70 minutes in length.
RealLivePeople Presents was developed in 2015 from a desire to further investigate who they are as a company by connecting to that outside world – to the work of their peers. Since then, they have presented dancers and choreographers from Philadelphia; Brooklyn; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; North Carolina; Australia; and New Zealand. For the fourth iteration of their annual series, RealLivePeople is stepping in as guest curator at thefidget space. They have gathered a diverse line-up of established and emerging choreographic voices, all exploring themes of identity and humanity through high caliber physicality. The program will include the premiere of two new works by Artistic Director Gina Hoch-Stall, as well as work by Amanda Edwards, Ama Gora, Scott McPheeters, Chelsea Murphy, and Hillary Pearson (Pearson will only be performing on Saturday).
Hoch-Stall will present The Thick In-Between, a new sextet created in collaboration with dancers from The Ohio State University that delves into the meanings that emerge from embodied movement. The dance attempts to solve the puzzle of itself through careful observation, stop-motion, and high-velocity physicality. Hoch-Stall’s second work will be her solo, It’s hard to take your body off. Of this piece, she says, “I am alone. You are watching me. You see my body. I am unable to see my body as it is. You cannot see my past. I cannot see my future. We are together in the moment. My work, as I see it, is to bring the complicated mess of myself into this shared space with you and offer you a canvas (right now, my body) to reflect upon it. The singular containing multitudes, modulated through your own density of reception and our incomplete exchange. The presence is the work, performed by the unreliable body, and the action is a symptom. Effort rises to match the importance of the outcome. What self-slanted truths add up to a complete person? When do you know someone, or do we just know the parts that we recognize of ourselves? Is there a me that can exist outside of your perception and conception? I’m trying to find it, in real time, through the work of performance. The labor of the body taking precedence over the product of the mind.” Artistic Director Gina Hoch-Stall (Columbus, OH) is interested in creating physically rigorous dances based on real-life stories and experiences. Her choreographic projects have been supported by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, Samuel S Fels Fund, Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, and a residency from White Pines Productions, and they have been performed across the United States and in Europe. She is currently pursuing an MFA in dance at The Ohio State University as a Dean’s Distinguished Fellow.
In Edwards’ Letters II Mama, the choreographer’s passions of teaching and creating intertwine. The work comments on the taboo nature of discussing black mental health, while providing a glimpse into Edwards’ own struggles with mental health. This piece serves as an open letter to her mother, and a thank you to people who have unknowingly saved her. Amanda Lee Edwards (Philadelphia) creates because it is the best way for her to create room for change, questions, and dialogue. Says Edwards, “Each piece I create is a further investigation into the reality I live in and the histories I carry.” She began her training at The Dance Theatre of Harlem and attended Earl Mosley’s Institute of the Arts during the summers of 2013 and 2014. She graduated from The University of the Arts with honors in May 2015. Edwards is currently a dancer with Dancespora, Putty Dance Project, and FlyGround.
Gora’s The Lost Girls Are Black is a duet focused on the devaluing of black bodies due to the violent acts inflicted upon them, specifically organ trafficking. The work premiered in the fall of 2017 at Temple University and was performed again in Harlem this spring. It seeks to inform, educate, and express what devaluing has done to the black female body. Phase one is centered around personal reflections of blackness. When one’s body is devalued as something left over, how does one internalize confidence, pride, or sense of purpose? What does it mean to be black in times like these? Phase two criticizes reports that have gone uninvestigated. Research on Kendrick Johnson, Kenneka Jenkins, the missing girls in DC, and Libyan refugees is embedded to further contextualize the work. Phase three is the end result of inquiry; when one has no more strength to keep going, how do you stand strong after fighting so much? With the use of neo-African forms, West African, and contemporary techniques, Gora creates visceral and gestural phrases. The dancers’ journey together is deeply felt, as they go through these inquiries and criticize what they understand to be their daily reality as black women. Ama Gora (Philadelphia) is an emerging artist. She is a graduate of Georgian Court University, where she received her BA in Dance. She trained at Earl Mosley’s Institute of the Arts and danced professionally with Umoja Dance Company and T.MAJ Dance Company. She presented a collaborative work with Titilayo Majoyeogbe at Movement Research at the Judson Church, Spring 2016 season. Gora recently relocated to the Philadelphia area to attend Temple University’s Dance MFA program. She will be working with Cardell Dance Theater under the artistic direction of Silvana Cardell.
McPheeters’ solo, Arriving the Skin of the Bones, started as an investigation of authenticity and vulnerability, evolved into an exploration of the “monsters” uncovered upon self-examination, and exists today as an invitation to witness the “ugly” and celebrate our capacity for positive transformation. Scott McPheeters (Oakland, CA) makes work that portrays vulnerability as strength, magnifies the unseen, and draws attention to the various tangible and energetic tissues that are integral to the connectivity of our species and ecosystem. He co-directs dance and video installation company subcircle, is the resident choreographer for Enchantment Theatre Company and performs regularly with Nichole Canuso Dance Company and his duet partner Gina Hoch-Stall. He is pursuing an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Sierra Nevada College in Tahoe. In 2016, McPheeters was the recipient of a Barrymore Award (Best Lead Actor in a Musical) for his portrayal of Candy Darling in the Opera Philadelphia and the Bearded Ladies Cabaret collaboration, ANDY: A Popera.
Murphy will present Soft Boy, a piece about being ghosted. Murphy’s current artistic interests are leading her towards the following words: viscous, sensation, suet, delicious, visceral, pleural lung sacks. She is interested in how bodies are sexy and functional and gross at the same time. She is trying to capture that interest in photography and choreography while playing with movement that spirals and repeats and rebounds and retrogrades. Chelsea Murphy (Philadelphia) graduated from Goucher College in May 2012 with degrees in dance and psychology. She danced with Effervescent Collective in Baltimore. In Philadelphia, she is the Operations Manager at Headlong and the studio manager/class coordinator at The Whole Shebang. She makes work as one half of Chelsea & Magda.
Pearson’s Untitled will be performed only in Saturday evening’s show. The piece is a new iteration of work that was originally created to explore different relationships with the placement of weight against the floor and the use of repetition within unison movements as a duet. With dynamic energy, it plays with moods within the body and moods that literally cover the body. Hillary Pearson (Philadelphia) has the aesthetic to create movement as form, engaging with physical sensations through the interplay of various elements: repetition, momentum, relationships with the floor, and periphery. The significance of pushing the physical body and the cognitive self beyond the conventional compels her to explore movement through a lens of reverberating possibilities. Her creative objective is to offer experiences that allow for transformation within the mind and body. Within the creative process, it is important for Pearson to engage with other artistic minds beside her own to create beyond the physical body. The main influence for her work and movement stems from her interest in how fashion and dance can meld together. Pearson is creator/founder of Wear Your Feelings Productions. She trained at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University; she holds a BFA in dance performance and choreography.
RealLivePeople strives to balance inventive, athletic movement with poignant and provocative interactions that resonate with an audience. For us the work is about being human onstage – part performance, part real-life. For RealLivePeople Presents 2018, we team up with colleagues who complement, investigate, and challenge this mission in their work. Support provided by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.
Tickets are $18 for General Admission, $15 for Students / Artists. Tickets are available in advance online at https://rlpp.brownpapertickets.com/ or at the door (if purchased at the door, payment can only be in cash).
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