‘SOLOnely Together’ explores our connections, whether or not we have a home

'SOLOnely Together' is coming January 15. Image by Felicia Vo Photography.

SOLOnely Together, an interdisciplinary show taking place at Headlong Studios on January 15, will bring to light moments of loneliness that we all face, homeless or not. The idea for the show came to freelance dancer Caroline O’Brien, who cleans Headlong Studios every other Wednesday in return for affordable rehearsal space.

“When I was younger, in order to take as many dance classes as I wanted to, my mother would clean studios that I was dancing at, in exchange for a class. Now, here I am, cleaning a space, to get rehearsal space in return,” said O’Brien.

A gentle approach to common ground

O’Brien said that every time she would come to clean at Headlong in the morning, she would meet two or more individuals from the homeless community who were sleeping outside of the studio. Meeting them and being gentle with her approach to entering the space allowed her to start seeing how their lives may or may not be that different than hers, and led her to want to know more about their stories. O’Brien’s overall aim in hosting SOLOnely Together is to hope others find a similar connection to someone they never thought they would, while also shedding light on other’s experiences.

Although she is a dancer by trade, O’Brien is producing the show in its entirety, and taking a step back from choreographing. This is the first piece she has fully produced on her own. O’Brien has commissioned choreographers as well as musicians to perform their own pieces. SOLOnely Together is also partnering with a soup kitchen based out of Trenton, New Jersey, the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK). TASK has arts programs, and some of the program’s students will also be participating in the show. The show will include pieces ranging from dance and spoken word to music.

An open mic feel

SOLOnely Together will take place in the rear studio of Headlong. O’Brien imagines that audience members will be sitting with one another, creating a cohesive atmosphere in which people can connect through the inspiration in the pieces of both happiness and loneliness. The show will elicit an open mic-type feel, and individuals will perform in random order. Through each piece, O’Brien hopes that audience members get more of an understanding of one another’s own paths and the way we all are very connected in life.

“If we just expressed ourselves more often and shared more often, we might not be as negative or lonely or hopeless,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien hopes for a wide range of attendees, including those who are interested in giving back to the community, those involved in nonprofit work and homeless shelters, and fellow artists.

She urges us to think, “How can we use our art to help others?”

All of the proceeds raised during this one-time show will go toward TASK. There is a suggested donation of $15, which will be accepted at the door. In addition, Bourbon & Branch will be providing food for a post-show reception at Headlong Studios.

If you have any additional questions, or if you’d like to donate canned food and goods to the participating organization, please contact Caroline O’Brien at Hellocollo@gmail.com.

SOLOnely Together is coming to Headlong Studios, 1170 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, on January 15, 2016 at 7:30pm.