FringeArts announces open call to participate in large-scale public dance processional, Úumbal: Nomadic Choreography for Inhabitants

FringeArts seeks Philadelphians of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to donate steps, dance moves, or favorite movements to a large-scale, public practice dance piece, beginning with four open call events the first two weekends in April. The US Premiere of Mexican choreographer Mariana Arteaga’s Úumbal: Nomadic Choreography for Inhabitants will kick off the 2019 Fringe Festival in September.

Úumbal: Nomadic Choreography for Inhabitants is an exercise in meeting, recognizing, and celebrating a community gathered for the joy of movement and exploring new ways of moving through public space. Mariana Arteaga developed Úumbal in Mexico City, where it was first performed in 2015. Arteaga worked with amateur and professional dancers to choreograph and perform a processional that moved through three neighborhoods in the Mexican capital. A pilot version of Úumbal was later presented at the Indonesian Dance Festival in fall of 2018. The September 2019 presentation of Úumbal in Philadelphia marks the US Premiere of the work and will build on Arteaga’s consistent track record of working with communities as performers by scaling up the piece with more participants, resulting in a processional of one hundred Philadelphians.

Úumbal consists of three stages, culminating with Úumbal dancers moving the choreography through the streets of Philadelphia. The first phase, called the Step Library, will launch with four events over the first two weekends of April 2019. FringeArts is partnering with Mighty Writers El Futuro in Italian Market, Esperanza in Huntington Park, and the Kensington Storefront in Kensington/Fishtown to co-host the Step Library events, in which Philadelphians are invited to “donate” a step, dance move, or favorite movement that will provide the foundation for Úumbal’s final choreography. Participants are encouraged to prepare 10-30 seconds of movement, which will be filmed at the events, donated to the project, and eventually archived online. Interested participants can RSVP to one of the four Step Library events at No professional dance experience is required. FringeArts and Arteaga strongly encourage Philadelphians of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to donate a movement to the Step Library.

After dance moves are collected in the Step Library, Phase Two, or the Weavers Laboratory, initiates when Arteaga “weaves” together donated steps into a mother choreography with a team of professional dance practitioners. Some of the Step Library donors are invited to test and further develop the processional choreography. The last phase of Úumbal begins the week of July 8th with open call auditions for all Philadelphians interested in participating in the final processional, including those who might have already donated dance steps for the Step Library. The only prerequisite for processional participation is the ability to attend twice a week rehearsals over the course of the summer. Consistent with the Step Library, participants in the final Úumbal processional do not need professional dance experience, and all Philadelphians, regardless of age, background, or ability are encouraged to audition.

Úumbal is the second presentation in a three-year grant project funded by the William Penn Foundation. The grant, titled Fringe Populi, supports initiatives of brand awareness, community engagement, and public practice performance to broaden FringeArts’ reach and expand its audiences. Úumbal comes on the heels of the 2018 Fringe Festival presentation of choreographer Sylvain Emard’s Le Super Grand Continental, a 150 person line dance on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Úumbal continues FringeArts’ commitment to public practice by providing multiple opportunities for participation to Philadelphians at all three stages of the piece’s development. The final Fringe Populi piece, presented in the 2020 Fringe Festival, will be a capstone in the three-year series of public practice performance.


Step Library Event Details
Philadelphians of all ages and abilities are invited to “donate” steps at one of the following a Step Library events:

Saturday, April 6, 1—3pm at Mighty Writers El Futuro; 1025 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Sunday, April 7, 11am—1pm at Esperanza; 2940 N 5th St, Philadelphia, PA 19133
Saturday, April 13, 1—3pm at the Kensington Storefront; 2774 Kensington Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19134
Sunday, April 14, 11am—1pm at Esperanza; 2940 N 5th St, Philadelphia, PA 19133

No professional dance experience required. All ages, backgrounds, gender identities, and abilities welcomed and encouraged. To register for the Step Library, please visit Prepare 10-30 seconds of your favorite dance moves and bring the accompanying music on a smartphone, mp3 player, or CD.

Úumbal: Nomadic Choreography for Inhabitants is part of the 2019 Fringe Festival. The Fringe Festival, presented by FringeArts, is a city-wide celebration of innovation and creativity in contemporary performance. Each September, the Festival explodes into every nook and cranny in neighborhoods across Philadelphia with more than 1,000 artistically daring performances, including national and international performances curated by FringeArts, and works that are produced by independent artists and promoted by FringeArts. The party continues late night, every night, with music, food and drink at the FringeArts center on the Delaware River waterfront. This vast assemblage of curated and self-produced innovators offers an unparalleled opportunity to see a cross-section of the world’s greatest experimenters at one time, in one city.