It started as the Fringe Festival that was full of live arts. Then it became the Live Arts Festival that had some Fringe benefits. For several years, producing director Nick Stuccio has been trying to get us all to call the juried festival the Live Arts Festival and the self-produced shows, the Philly Fringe. It's just too much for most of us.
Eleven years on, Fringe continues to be the familiar catchword. People persist in asking, "Are you going to the Fringe?" And so, I will go with popular usage.
Appellations aside, Live Arts performances get the lion's share of the festival's resources – money, press, best venues, and lodging. Everyone else — the Fringe — has to pretty much do it on his or her own dime. Since there are so many top shelf groups in Live Arts, they'll enjoy the most coverage here and elsewhere. But be generous to those artists who put themselves on the line — many of them may be headliners next year. Be sure to give them your attention and the few bucks they're charging.
I've been calling the Fringe favorites for ten years and in this first of three Live Arts/Fringe dance previews, I'm touting some early ones, handicapping them on their track records and my observations.
I saw Devynn Emory in a workshop given by Dada von Bzdulow (more on them in Sept.) last fall. Emory's loosely controlled movement style stood out from the rest. If her concept for Beast, her opening day duo with performance partner Meg Foley, is as instinctive and surefooted as her dancing, she should place in the lead.
Inspired by Audrey Niffenegger's novel, The Three Incestuous Sisters, the boldly inspirational group, SCRAP, may take a good lead with Between the Pages: 3 sisters, a winged boy and a lighthouse. One of SCRAP's original founders, Myra Bazell always delivers bare knuckle emotions and dark psychologies while pulling together a good team. This time she pairs with Silvana Cardell as co-choreographer, designer Madison Cario and videographer Joe'l Ludovich.
Here's an entry that's a real unknown, but one that sounds like a sure bet. MAP ME is conceived and performed by Belgians Charlotte Vanden Eynde & Kurt Vandendriessche. The duo doesn't waffle about their nude bodies, showing them off front and center as "blank canvasses" for video projections.
And if you prefer to stay home, for $100 you can engage Jerome Meyer and Isabelle Chaffaud to perform Kamerdans for you and your friends for an hour at your abode. The two performed to acclaim last year at the Painted Bride. Call the box office in advance to book them.
In For Emergency Use Only, Green Chair Dance Group asks "If you pulled the cord and the chute didn't open, how would you dance on the way down?" a question you might not have the capacity to answer if you were dangling on that parachute. But the Swarthmore-based group imagines it for you as four dancers "in an increasingly tight space manage the delicate balance between laughing and fleeing for their lives." John Beauregard, Hannah de Keijzer, Sarah Gladwin, and Greg Holt make up this group that has been an audience pleaser before at the Fringe. No doubt they have taken in some life lessons from a harrowing auto accident that forced them to cancel their show last year. In addition to the Philadelphia performances, they'll present the piece in Cambridge, MA this September.
The large field this year has more than 40 dance works, so bear in mind that these are only a few acts that get out of the gate early in these dueling festivals. To get your dance card filled in early go to the box office at The National Showroom, 113-131 N. 2nd St., 215-413-1318. It opens August 20, and stays open from 1-7 until Aug. 27th when it begins opening at noon. Or look at the full line-up and purchase tickets online at www.livearts-fringe.org.
Christ Church Neighborhood House
20 N. American Street
8/31 – 9/2 9:30 p.m.
St. Andrew's Chapel
4201 Spruce Street
9/4 – 9/9 8:30 p.m.
Charlotte Vanden Eynde & Kurt Vandendriessche
Painted Bride Art Center
230 Vine Street
8/31 - 9/2 6:00 p.m.
Jerome Meyer & Isabelle Chaffaud
In Your Home
8/31, 9/1, 2, 4 & 6 Meyer and Chaffaud
9/5, 7, 13, 14 Meredith Rainey and Gabrielle Revlock
Green Chair Dance Group
Spirit Wind Performance Space
213 New Street
9/7 8:00 p.m., 9/8 6:00 p.m., 9/12 8:30 p.m.
Julie Ince Thompson Theatre, The Dance Complex
536 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA (Central Square)
Sept. 21-22, 8:00 p.m.