by Steven Weisz for The Dance Journal
For my final performance of this year’s FringeArts festival, I found myself at Urban Movement Arts (UMA) dance studio for Lily Kind and Mark “Metal” Wong’s Indestructible Flowers. In a previous article, I alluded to how Fringe is an opportunity to discover something new and unexpected as opposed to the following top ten lists and other fringe guides. Such was the case for this dynamic performance, which will continue to run post-fringe through the end of the month.
Combining their talents in a collage of new solo work, these two UMA instructors, coming from diverse dance backgrounds have presented a multidisciplinary work grounded in social and folk dance but with a bit of everything else thrown in – dance theater, experimental storytelling, stand up comedy, improvisation, hip hop and break dance and even a miniature skateboard! They bill their work as “new solo work designed for folks secretly underwhelmed by new solo work” and emphasize that it is done with “a kind of analytic optimism”.
In this whirlwind of sensory experiences, Metal is unexpectedly gentle, while Kind is unabashedly frank. Sort of the opposite of how they came upon their namesake where a lily is a kind of flower and metal tends to be indestructible. However, their chemistry on stage is more than just playful but masterful, raw and genuine, drawing the audience in from the very start.
Arriving at UMA at 2100 Chestnut Street (one enters from 21st street just a bit south of Chestnut Street near the hot dog restaurant), one ascends the stairs to the second-floor studio to wait in the ante-room where tables have been set with box wine, crayons and coloring sheets of Bermuda land crabs. We are instructed to color away while waiting and eventually to bring our sheets with us to the performance in the adjoining studio.
These land crabs (not the kind you would eat) are a starting point for series of sketches and tales, if you would, that takes us on a journey from the shores of Florida to the depths of space aboard the Star Trek Enterprise. Kind and Metal interchange solo work with an occasional duet and even a bit of assistance from Kayla Bobalek, who jumps off sound and lights for a brief duet with Kind. At times, I found myself distracted from photographing the performance due to a case of overwhelming laughter as their comedic interchange with the audience was infectious. Kind’s solo improvisation, fielding questions from the audience, while donning snowboard goggles and holding a miniature skateboard, was one such highlight. In another instance, Metal literally had the audience moving in unison to the bumps and crashes of the Star Trek’s famed intergalactic spaceship while he intertwined break dance moves. While the stories and comedy (which I will not reveal further for those still planning to attend) are central to the narrative these two convey, their use of movement maintains a musicality and rhythm infused in each of their bodies. Kind tends to use a variety of dance styles throughout the course of the evening while Metal conveys his emotions through all breaking and fast grounded movements. Both use a broad vocabulary that is bouncy, twisting, turning, sliding, playful and goes from the very fast to an almost slow motion.
While the Fringe is winding down, if you have the opportunity, I would highly recommend catching one of their remaining performances!
LILY & METAL’S INDESTRUCTIBLE FLOWERS
September 23, 29, 30 | 7 pm | $15
Urban Movement Arts 2100 Chestnut St. 2nd Floor.