Thursday, September 27, 2012

Adventures in Philadelphia - Day 2

The morning started out with Ted making us breakfast and sitting in the back yard basking in the sun. I did their formal portrait and pictures of the super cool house they rent which is 3 floors plus the kitchen which you look down into, technically the basement. I felt like I was onset of a (old school) Dwell Magazine shoot.

Ted and Corita

Then while Corita was doing school work,  she insisted Ted take me to the Magic Gardens, one of her favorite places in Philly.  MG is one mans obsessive mosaicing of pretty much and entire neighborhood. Lucky for us, a celebration of Mexican Independence day was going down and kids were doing traditional dances in the courtyard.  He then took me on a driving tour of Philadelphia with a stop for lunch and a bloody mary.   Ted's tour showed me both a city struggling with a ton of poverty and run down buildings, but also one rich with visual public and performing arts.   The incredible mosaics and murals that adorn many buildings are a testament to that.

Then we came home and picked up Corita and headed to another Fringe Festival production, This Town is a Mystery by the Headlong Dance Theater.

What I was told:  "We have no idea what to expect, the performance takes place in the performers house and we bring an item for a potluck dinner to share with the performers and audience". 

After a bit of a drive to the  other side of Philly, we showed up at a random enough house in what appeared to be a working class neighborhood - it had the feel of Queens. We were greeted, checked off a list and handed a program in the driveway and proceeded to the back yard to wait & chat with other audience members.  There were about 20 of us total, and we filled into the kitchen of the Bostick family and sat on benches. The cast was mom, Lea; her daughter, Princess; and her son, Adam.   Each of the family members told a personal story about their lives, while moving poetically across their kitchen floor.   While my impulse was to shoot video and stills, it seemed like far to intimate of an experience to record.

After the show, we had the potluck dinner with the cast, crew and fellow audience members.  We learned that the Bosticks were not part of the dance community and had no background in performance  (although you would never know it from their flawless job).  At Lea's request, Princess and Adam had agreed to be part of this.   It was great to be part of a production that had so many of elements of my own work - building community, learning from new experiences, the importance of home and family, sharing meals and engaging the audience in non traditional ways. 
This Town Is a Mystery by Headlong Dance Theater

Adam told us one of the first exercises they did was to sing the first song that came to their head while making eye contact with the person sitting across from you.   We asked him what he did:

And then he challenged Ted to do the same:

We then went home for a nap before another Fringe event - a midnight burlesque show at the Latvian Society.  The Latvian Society was the coolest part of this show.  The show wasn't really burlesque, it was a straight out strip show under the guise of feminism and re-cycled materials as props.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Adventures in Philadelphia - Day 1

I left on a road trip from Maine to Philly Saturday morning. I got stuck in traffic and torrential rain but made it just in time for wine and cheese with old Hampshire friends, Corita and Ted.  While all of us agreed we first met while they were working at the "snack bar" aka bookstore, film store, snack store, and cigarette store - we are unsure when we actually became friends.  I hadn't seen them for a long time until we re-connected 3 or 4 years ago when they were in Maine for a wedding and stayed at my house.  Corita is getting her PhD and working at Temple University as Assistant Director for Communities for all Ages. Ted is a screen writer and also does freelance IT support and web development.
Leaving Maine into New Hampshire
Somewhere in Connecticut
Tapanzee Bridge
Ted, Corita, wine & cheese
After catching up, we dashed over to the art museum to see one of their friends in a dance performance that was part of the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe festival.  Although it was raining, the show went on, and what a show it was. The performance, Le Grand Continental was something like flash mob meets modern dance meets Girl Talk meets line dance. There were about 150 dancers / regular old people. Not to sound cliche, but I have no idea how they got such a mixture of age, size, race, etc. It really was every possible type of person you could imagine. At the end, we were all invited to join the dance party and I have to say - it was one of my most memorable experiences so far. One of my favorite parts of this project is seeing how cities and towns build community and this was amazing. Hats off to you, Philly. Job super well done.  I've got a bunch of stills but I highly recommend watching the videos - especially #2 where I follow the crowd around doing the electric slide (and Corita joins in).

Electric slide dance party with the audience
Ted and Corita join the dance party

Ted gets footage of Corita and I.  (thanks Ted!)

Gigantic apartment building across from the Museum
Audience eagerly awaiting the performers
a little rain wasn't going to stop this awesomeness
This was the first group we had in front of us, I was partial to the man in the orange shirt

corita and ted join the party
Their friend Yaffa joins us for dinner after the show
Pasta with tomatoes and sausage and delicious salad
post dinner chilling

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