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Physical theater confronts violent rhetoric

Physical theater confronts violent rhetoric

​Sarah Mitteldorf's physical theater ensemble, Kaleid ("As in Kaleidoscope. As in Collide") had a work in progress last fall and then, as she tells it, "November 8th happened" and they had to scrap the piece. In response to the nasty and violent rhetoric directed against women, people of color, and the LGBT community that led up to President Trump's election and in response to what Mitteldorf calls a developing "national narrative" of disconnect and exclusion, they are using the tools available to them as creative artists. In her director role, Mitteldorf asks her actors to express the emotions that the current social climate triggers, such as disbelief and anger, through layered text and movement. Kaleid Theater will perform "Scape-ing" at the First United Church of Germantown on April 27, 28 and 29. Watch video interview here.


Israeli with two left feet meets wife at dance

Two left footed Israeli met American wife at Israeli folk dancing

​On a business trip 30 years ago to the west coast, Kim Neubauer's desire to go Israeli folk dancing prevailed over her wariness that it might be a meat market. Now with two grown children, she jokes how she approached her Israeli husband Avram of nearly 30 years now to dance and how, despite his stepping on her toes with his two left feet, she was drawn by the fun he was clearly having. Their fun continues at Israeli folk dancing at the Germantown Jewish Center in Philadelphia. Watch video here. 


Merry Pranskters and Pure Jerry reincarnate the Grateful Dead

Pure Jerry pays tribute to Grateful Dead with Merry Pranksters

Watch video here. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" author Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters went around the country in the drug fueled 1960s in a school bus encouraging people to decide their own reality and have creative fun. At their inaugural event On July 1 at the Alma Mater restaurant and bar, the self designated Neo-Pranksters continued that tradition. Throughout an evening that started out with the political satire of the local G-town troupe, segueing into sexy burlesque dancing and rounded off with partygoers grooving to the Grateful Dead tribute band, "Pure Jerry" as psychedelic art was projected on the walls, the colorfully adorned Neos offered facepainting, fortune telling and coloring. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merry_Pranksters

Burlesque dancer gets made up


Punjabi, Gugurati girls dance in high energy duet

Karen Kaur (left) of Punjabi heritage and Zeel Patel of Gujurati , danced an exuberant duet, “PunjGu” at the 4th Annual “Taal Se Taal” Indo-Pak cultural show on March 28, 2015 in Northeast Philadelphia. Part of their soundtrack to their dance routine was "Bhoom Trivedi/Sanjay Leela Bhansali-Ram Chahe Leela" (copyright administered by Merlin/Eros Music.) The hours long show and competition featured singers and dancers from Northeast High, Girls High, Central and from Penn State and raised money for charity.

Kaur and Patel think that their respective Punjabi Bhangra and Gujurati Garba dance styles are similarly filled with love and joy and typified by jumping! Some of Kaur’s high energy, she laughed, came courtesy of Red Bull.

Watch dancing and interview video here


Mount Airy community beats drums

Community drum circle in Mount Airy

The story, according to Ron Kravitz, goes that some years ago, Elise Rivers of Community Acupuncture of Mount Airy called him from Ashland, North Carolina 9 pm one Saturday night where she was participating in a community drum circle and said, “Ron we got 85 drummers here. We got to do this in Philadelphia.” And so she arranged for a gathering space in the shaded park-like area adjacent to the Lovett Public Library in Mount Airy.  The local drum circle is now in its third year. Along with Kravitz, Bobby Tyrone and Quint Lang, a drum teacher from Collegeville, help lead the sessions, open to novices and experienced drummers alike.

But Kravitz, of Glenside, appears to be the force behind the drum circle. He is well known in the area for his association with or founding of a number of other grass roots music ventures: Music in the Moment, Underground at Ron's, African drum classes and more. He brings a selection from his 1000 plus collection of Bata and djembe drums, bells, and other percussion instruments for anyone to use.

About 25- 30 people participated at the first Sunday of the month July session on a steamy hot afternoon including some kids who just had happened to be passing by.

Among the other attendees were several first-timers like 12-year-old Jacob Slifker who had discovered the existence of the circle while searching online with his parents for somewhere to use his djimbe. During breaks, he got some tips  from the experienced hands on using it.

The afternoon heat and repetitive, shifting drum rhythms induced a hypnotic effect and Kravitz drew the circled drummers into chanting along and some into dancing. The circle next meets on Sunday August 4th from 1-3 pm next to the Lovett Public Library at 6945 Germantown Avenue.

Watch video here.


Dancing puppet delights passersby

cu frank moore puppeteer

Frank Moore, a tall muscular man, pulls on the strings of a 2-foot tall high Tina Turner-esque puppet; it lip-syncs and dances to funky music blaring from his boom box in eerie mimicry with his arm and torso motions. Moore and “Tina” (he doesn’t give his puppets names) reeled in passersby at a corner in Old City one evening in downtown Philadelphia. Moore makes his own puppets, and this year’s bunch are ones he has revamped from last year. During the school year he performs at parties. But because practices always go so smoothly at home, during the summer he works the kinks out of his routines in different public spots around the city. This was Tina’s first time out and she was not doing well, Moore joked. In addition to Tina, his current cast includes a young boy, an old man and four others, all siblings, he says. They bear resemblances to each other but dance to different international grooves - German, Korean, Hindi, Chinese, Japanese. Two young girls passing by were visibly intrigued by Moore’s act. Giggling, they hesitantly approached the puppeteer, hanging on to each other for support. Then one dashed forward and stuffed a bill in Moore’s donation bowl. Tina was not putting on too shabby a show after all.

Watch video here.

Dancing puppet delights passersby


Children learn ballroom dance from Champ

Chidren learn ballroom dancing from Ukrainian champ

Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Estonian and Italian can be heard spoken as mothers of these heritages prepare their 5, 6 and 7 year olds for a ballroom dancing class at the Water Tower Recreation Center, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia.  Victoria Scotti brings 5 year old Isabella, who also takes ballet, both for the music and the chance to dance with boys.  Instructor Alina Fiorella, a teacher of 17 years,  says she stopped professional competition in ballroom dancing which led her to two Ukrainian national championships when she started a family. But she began instructing young children when she was a teen in the Ukraine and continues to do so, now bringing her class to Chestnut Hill.

Fiorella listens solicitously as one child asks for more snacks and another complains of a sore arm. After addressing their concerns, she firmly directs her students through the hour lesson in both dance etiquette and a variety of dance, along with music or with voice commands alone.

Of the  promenades, polkas and such, the “Box dance” is 7 year old Emma Barton’s favorite. Late in the lesson they heel-toe-heel-toe, “Shuffle off to Buffalo and then come back to Mexico.” And then their tired selves are taken up in their mothers’ arms.

Watch video here.


Israeli folk dancing Mount Airy

Israeli Israeli folk dancing

Although Rachel Wolok was exposed to Israeli dancing as a child, it was not until she had moved from Israel to the United States and was older that she had the time to learn and participate in Israeli folk dancing. Wolok has always loved seeing dancers upon the Tayelet, the famous boardwalk in Tel Aviv. Here she does Israeli dancing with the group that meets weekly at the Germantown Jewish Center in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia. Watch video here