GENRE: dance/theater/circus arts
GROUP: Tangle Movement Arts
ATTENDED: Fri., Sept. 6, 8 p.m., Philadelphia Soundstages
CLOSES: Sat., Sept 7
BRIEF SELF-DESCRIPTION: “In this dynamic circus-theater show, nine [actually seven, that’s a typo on the event page] women explore how groups adapt, transform, and absorb shock.”
WE THINK: It’s hard to know what to expect from a show that’s genre is described as “circus arts” yet promises no clowns. The members of the all-female cast of Break/Drift/Resist instead embody multiple roles — trapeze artist, dancer, actor, and set piece — each one as nimble and emotion-laden as the last, and thankfully with no red noses in sight.
The set looked very much like an adult playground located in a warehouse: hanging ropes, trapezes suspended at varying levels, aerial hoops, and long fabric “silks,” all to be climbed with clear agility by the seven performers. It reminded of Cirque de Soleil, but on a relatable level; these artists aren’t fantastical (other than in their upper body strength) or elaborately costumed, but storytellers of everyday scenes. Their mode of storytelling just so happens to involve propelling themselves through the air via only their own momentum on a rope or twirling down a stretch of cloth while sustaining their entire body weight with one ankle wrapped loosely above like it’s no big deal.
Nearly as impressive as the performers themselves were the lighting and music selections. Shadows deftly enhanced or diminished the artists depending on their importance to the individual piece while spotlights in eerie reds, blues and purples enhanced the oft-melancholic mood created by the choreography. Each of the twelve individual pieces had its own musical score that corresponded with its theme, including a soprano’s acoustic chanting and a rock and roll song with grinding guitars.
The most engaging pieces were faster-paced, for those performers look downright joyful even when bending backwards over a bar, barely quivering from the strain. No matter the speed of the spins and falls, though, the artists managed to come across as graceful and deliberate in their actions. It’s hard not to imagine what it would be like to dangle from aerial hoops 20 feet above the ground and looking just as beautiful as they do while doing it. Hey, a girl can dream, right? (Thankfully, not of clowns.)
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