The Gate Reopened

Passing the surreal view under the Ben Franklin Bridge along Delaware Ave,  we sidestepped the Race St Pier and let the blue glow emanating from Pier 9 draw us in.   This is where we found a gritty demonstration of strength, acrobatics and grace meeting a post industrial decay warehouse world with a steel cage as a center stage.   Running deep from within the warehouse, along old tracks ahead of an imaginary locomotive, performers then leaped, crawled and bounced, in and out of the steel cage.   The cage was adorned with external ladders, which performers exploited before bouncing within and sticking to the fencing exterior in turn leaping and changing position via the trampoline floor.   Ladders, scaffolding, fencing, warehouse, industrial decay all work for this performance.

Brian Sander’s Junk is a company of performers who excel not only at dance, but also acrobatics and strength in way not often seen in modern dance.  The choreography, which is at time dizzyingly fast and furious, with strobe lights and heart thumping music, also runs the gamut of movement with bodies able to move gravity defyingly slow.  This is a true ensemble piece, in which all of the performers move seamlessly in a way which strips them of their individuality in a pulsing, throbbing mass of seamless movement.  Mr Sander’s has managed to tell the stories of love, birth, death in a way that will leave your jaw on the floor before your brain can catch up to what your eyes have just witnessed.  The lighting is stunning.  The music is loud.  The dancers are inspiring.  In The Gate Reopened, Brian Sanders has outdone himself and the modern dance community.   A must see this Fringe season!

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Rub

Upon entering the Latvian Society searching for what was billed as “an erotic performance that’s geared to get you hot, sexy and hard”, it’s easy to feel like you may be in the wrong place.  But once you stumble upon the space which Gunnar Montana has painstakingly transformed into a post-apocalyptic world, you may just forget that there is anything or anyone else on the outside.

Choreographed and directed by Jazmin Zieroff and Gunnar Montana, “Rub” is an avant garde sexual romp in a fantasy world inhabited by 4 stunningly beautiful and wonderfully depraved women who remind us not only of the power and beauty of the female body, but how the erotic world may evolve in a world without men.  The universe itself is an artistic wonderland of dirty grunge found from Philly garbage.  Walls are plastered with cigarette boxes, creepy barbies, wheels and textures.  Battered and exposed chandeliers are hung with the shells of decapitated beauty school practice heads.  The floor, which is littered with milk crates and junk, makes you pause to wonder if this is a part of the show, or just random chaos.  Gunnar’s talents as a visual artist is second only to his wit and creativity as a choreographer and director.

And then there are the girls.  Jazmin and Gunnar’s cast of women are nothing short of astonishing.  I’m reticent to refer to “Rub” as burlesque, which conjurers images of cutesy, dolled up pin-up girls prancing about in antiquated corsets.  The Rub girls aren’t afraid to get dirty as they run the gamut of real world fantasies and fetishes.  In the opening scene they climb, dance, spin and flip on scaffolding in work boots and denim cut-offs in what can only be described as erotic gymnastics which climaxes in an acrobatic pole dance by athletic beauty Maureen Lynch on a diagonal pole which lays haphazardly against seemingly precarious scaffolding.

The cast of “Rub” are not your typical hip swaying, gum chewing strippers, although some do perform in local clubs.  These are trained dancers, several of whom met as dance majors at the University of the Arts with backgrounds in ballet and modern dance.  Even in pieces as blatantly hot and sexual as as the doctor/patient lesbian romp in which Maureen  and Courtney Lapresi tumble, roll and spin atop a gurney, their training is evident.  Every hand, every foot, every arch of a back is a study in classical dance, even while wrapped in cellophane with neon painted nipples.

This is not to say that the show is without humor.  In one piece, Ann-Marie Gover dances a love-hate affair with a giant 6 foot penis constructed of what appears to be a kick boxing practice bag.  Ms Gover  is not only a beautiful dancer, her comic timing is flawless, as she seemingly struggles to climb to climb the giant, silver veined cock, only to ride the giant swaying phallic like a bucking bronco, love it, slap it and kick it around a bit.  In a school scene that goes awry, a very naughty teacher played by Fatima Kargbo straddles and climbs atop an unruly class, before eventually being bound and tied up with school chairs.  In the most classic of the strip numbers Courtney Lapresi does an sweet aerial dance in a neon g-string and stripper shoes in a giant heart.

But the final piece is where Gunnar’s visual art and modern dance training collide in an amazing work.  Milk crates transform from dancer’s heads to seats in which a tea party with Jack Daniels gets wet and dirty as the entire casts drenches themselves and each other as they slide and slither on the ground and with each other in a steaming hot sea of oily naked bodies.

As Gunnar’s debut show, “Rub” is a shining achievement in a multi-artistic eroticism.  And as a former dancer, I would personally like to thank him for giving us a combination of beautiful sexy bodies, dirty sexy art, and for understanding the importance of pretty stripper feet as opposed to ugly porn feet.  “Rub” is a must see at this year’s Fringe Festival.

Link to the 2012 Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe

All Photos by Lori Foxworth and Paul Gentile at Black White and Raw Photography

 

 

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Italian Market Festival

As each year goes by it’s becoming less and less Italian, but the essence and flavor of the market is carried-on and always worth a visit.

Philadelphia’s South 9th Street Italian Market is the nation’s oldest outdoor market (http://italianmarketphilly.org/). The merchants invite you to join them in a one-of-a-kind celebration on May 19th and 20th, the Italian Market Festival. It’s an extravaganza for the senses — streets lined with vendors offering every Italian delicacy possible, live entertainment, fun contests and more! Come on down for a cant’-miss-day of family fun.

Highlights Include:
-Stages with Live Entertainment
-Half Ball Tournament to benefit the Mummers Fancy Brigades
-Procession of the Saints

This year, the party does not end at 5pm:
Join us for the first Italian Market Festival After Party at South Philly Bar and Grill located at 9th St. and Passyunk Ave.

Photos from last years event:

2011:

2010:

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Odunde Festival

Odunde returns to Philly’s forgotten and still unnamed neighborhood.  Is it Graduate Hospital, is it Naval Square?  South of South? Doesn’t matter on sunday, one of Philadelphia’s hidden gems takes place.  Authentic food, crafts, music and people converge on the neighborhood that Philly forgot.

 

More Info Here.

 

 

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Italian Market Festival

As each year goes by it’s becoming less and less Italian, but the essence and flavor of the market is carried-on and always worth a visit.

Philadelphia’s South 9th Street Italian Market is the nation’s oldest outdoor market (http://italianmarketphilly.org/). The merchants invite you to join them in a one-of-a-kind celebration on May 14th and 15th, the Italian Market Festival. It’s an extravaganza for the senses — streets lined with vendors offering every Italian delicacy possible, live entertainment, fun contests and more! Come on down for a cant’-miss-day of family fun.

Highlights Include:
-Stages with Live Entertainment
-Half Ball Tournament to benefit the Mummers Fancy Brigades
-Procession of the Saints

This year, the party does not end at 5pm:
Join us for the first Italian Market Festival After Party at South Philly Bar and Grill located at 9th St. and Passyunk Ave.

Photos from last years event:

Related Images: