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React/Dance’s South Philly Tour, at Fringe FestivalBY: Jonathan M. Stein 09.23.2008
React/Dance, led by Jacelyn Biondo and Kristen Shahverdian, took its dancers and audience on a tour of South Philly, with nary a chic restaurant or much of a sign of gentrification in sight.
React/Dance: South Philly Neighborhood Adventure Tours, Part 1. September 7-12, 2008 from 18th and Fernon Sts. http://www.livearts-fringe.org/details.cfm?id=5603
Beyond gentrification’s reachJONATHAN M. STEIN
React/Dance, led by Jacelyn Biondo and Kristen Shahverdian, continued a Fringe Festival effort to remind us that “site specific” can include the ‘hood, which happens to be the site of choice for the large majority of city dwellers. This work-in-progress was set in South Philadelphia at 18th and Fernon Sts. (near Tasker and Morris), with nary a chic restaurant or much of a sign of gentrification in sight.
Accompanied by music from a boom box, the audience was led to stoops, doorways, age-worn walls and a nondescript store to find dancers blending into the urbanscape and creating improvised movement around these settings. On occasion these movements took on the body vernacular of kids of the neighborhood, but overall they didn’t show too much range or variety.
The tour did capture the attention of local residents, whose engagement and responses became part of the performance. An undeveloped ending in a small grassy park provided a psychic refuge from the harder edges of the work. Beyond Biondo and Shahverdian, dancers included Leslianna Federici, Karin (Bookbinder) Otto, Rebecca Patek, Summer Schultz and Margaret Winslow.♦
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