Seattle’s Whim W’him’s Virtual 11th Season Led Off With A Pair Of Brilliant Dance Films [REVIEW-Arts Air]

Whim W’Him’s Mia Monteabaro (front) and dancers rehearse Olivier Wevers’s “The Way It Is”. Photo by Stefano Altamura. 

Reviewed by Steve Sucato

Seattle contemporary dance company Whim W’him entered its 11th season under the COVID-19 pandemic with the plan to move all their performance online. The experimental season featuring original dance films by some of the world’s most in-demand contemporary dance choreographers kicked off August 13 with the virtual production XALT.

Originally planned for live performance, June 2020 at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, it was to be the last program the company’s 10th season. And while the program had to be retooled for the virtual stage to open season 11, in some ways that may have been of benefit for its first dance film offering, choreographer Penny Saunders’ “Manifold”. 

A spoof about becoming or being a television newscaster, the work lent itself to the small screen and afforded Saunders the opportunity to have the work exist in that world of camera angles, close-ups, multi-source material and editing that may not have been possible or as effective in a live production version.

Saunders, a former dancer with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, has been busy during the pandemic creating virtual dance works for Grand Rapids Ballet and fellow Seattle troupes Seattle Dance Collective and a soon-to-be released work for Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Akin to a skit on TV’s Saturday Night Live, “Manifold” was the cleverest of Saunders dance films to date. The laugh-out-loud work set to an original soundscape by Mike Wall opened with Saunders’ highly animated choreography for the dancers that included over-the-top facial expressions and a host of comedic sight gags including a tutorial on proper TV news reporter hand placement that had a not-so-subtle reference to them creating a diamond or a “v-jay jay” pattern placement.  The scene then switched to the dancers onstage with microphones and mic cords zipping through fast-paced spinning moves and boxing-like punches that were shot in close-up and danced to audio taken from TV newscasts and movies featuring news reporters.

Filmed and directed by Quinn Wharton, “Manifold’s” underlying message of how current day news reporting has strayed from neutral and factual in its approach to editorialized and sensationalized was impactful. From our current president’s attacks on the news media as being enemies of the state, to Edward R. Murrow’s prophetic 1958 speech warning of just such a degradation in standards of news reporting, the 15-minute work shone a light on where we have come as a nation in the reporting of news and in those entrusted with reporting it.

Whim W’Him’s Jim Kent rehearses Olivier Wevers’s “The Way It Is”. Photo by Stefano Altamura. 

Next, Whim W’him artistic director Olivier Wevers’s 12-minute “The Way It Is” opened on dancer Mia Monteabaro in a blue dress and sneakers beginning a dance journey along a winding paved path flanked by greenery underneath the convergence of several highway overpasses.  

As she bounded along she was soon joined by several other dancers forming a single file line along the path performing Wever’s springy contemporary choreography to an original composition by Brian Lawlor that had them jumping, sidling and outstretching limbs as if careening in and out of control. Lawlor’s music for the work gradually built in intensity and drove an underlying tension in the work.

The scene then shifted to Monteabaro emerging from the path and running through a field straight into the fence surrounding an old abandoned tennis courts where, on the other side of the fence, her fellow performers danced in unison in a back and forth, twisting and turning movement phrase. 

An abstract, almost surreal dance film, “The Way It Is,” also filmed and directed by Quinn Wharton, had the feel of a waking dream perhaps brought on by the anxiety of a world under pandemic.

With grand scenic vistas of green fields and blue water, “The Way It Is” while perplexing in its overall messaging, was brilliant in its execution, especially in the fierce and beautiful performance of Monteabaro.

Next up on Whim W’him’s IN-with-WHIM virtual season will be Choreographic Shindig VI, Thursday, September 24 featuring works by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Madison Olandt and Mike Tyus. For more information and ticket access

Steve Sucato is a former dancer turned arts writer/critic. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Dance Critics Association and Associate Editor of

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Seattle Dance Collective’s Dance Film Series ‘Continuum: Bridging the Distance’ is Satisfying Viewing

Nia-Amina Minor in “Musings”. Photo by Henry Wurtz.

Reviewed by Steve Sucato

Seattle may have been ground zero for the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., but it was also ground zero for one of the more ambitious dance projects to stem from the global pandemic’s aftereffects on the dance world. Seattle Dance Collective’s (SDC) Continuum: Bridging the Distance was a free month-long virtual series of world-premiere dance works/films performed by members of SDC and shot by Seattle-based filmmaker Henry Wurtz. Five choreographers and ten dancers, mostly members of Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB), collaborated on five dance films that ran one each Thursday in July and are now receiving an encore showing through the month of August on SDC’s website.   

The project came about when SDC founders/artistic directors Noelani Pantastico and James Yoichi Moore “embarked on a reimagining of how to carry out their vision for the company by finding unconventional ways to foster collaboration between choreographers and dancers. The resulting creations were choreographed and rehearsed via multiple video calls, and then captured on film. Dancers involved in the same piece were already sheltering-in-place together or filmed separately to maintain safe social distance from each other.”

The format for the five filmed works called for each piece to be under 7-minutes in length and take place mostly in an outdoor location. Each film also included a separate companion “making of” documentary also available on SDC’s website.  

Elle Macy & Dylan Wald in “Home”. Photo by Henry Wurtz.

The series first film offering was choreographer Penny Saunders’ “Home”. Danced to atmospheric music by Michael Wall with voiceovers from its two dancers, PNB soloists Elle Macy and Dylan Wald, “Home” opened with the pair walking into a lush green field of high grass and densely-limbed trees that had an ancient feel to them.

Bringing a sense of indoor life to the outdoors, we hear in voiceover Macy and Wald discussing having been stuck in their 600 sq. ft. apartment, talk of breakfast, computers and the fear of coughing around others. As this goes on, the pair melted into Saunders’ soft, elongated contemporary dance choreography that moved like a breeze across that idyllic landscape. The dancers’ feet swept aside large swaths of grass that rebounded with ease, conjuring up a metaphor of hope underlying the film that our collective sense of normalcy could also bounce back from being swept aside by the global pandemic.

“I miss dancing…I miss my friends” were sentiments repeated as Macy and Wald’s bodies intersected and intertwined with one another exploring something missing in the world these days, levels of physical intimacy with others. The charming yet telling film about life under pandemic ended with the image of Macy and Wald walking hand-in-hand across a welcome mat that read “Home” lying in the middle of the grassy field. 

Having created a similarly themed virtual dance work for Michigan’s Grand Rapids Ballet, Saunders, in her short time as a dance filmmaker, has begun to develop a knack for bringing to them what she regularly brings to her stage works, art that touches audience hearts through a combination of beauty and humanity.

Miles Pertl & Leah Terada in “The Only Thing You See Now”. Photo by Henry Wurtz.

Next, “The Only Thing You See Now”, by brother and sister creatives Miles and Sydney Pertl, a.k.a. SeaPertls, took place at Seattle’s Don Armeni Boat Ramp with the city’s waterfront and skyline as its backdrop. Perhaps the most “Dance Film-looking” of the five included in Continuum: Bridging the Distance, it was shot in close-up with live music. In it, we see dancers Miles Pertl and Leah Terada performing on an overcast day along the wobbly boat ramp dock to original accordion music from Jason Webley who sat perched atop a wooden piling wearing a pork pie hat. Nearby a wooden rowboat tied to the dock bobbed up and down as Pertl and Terada costumed in street clothes and sneakers, did the same. At the outset, the two appeared strangers but soon came together as would-be lovers. They dipped and swayed in twisty full-body movement augmented with signal-like hand and arm gestures.

The short 4 ½ minute piece, lovely as it was, “missed the boat” in the area giving the viewer a fuller sense of these two individuals. Just as they began to reveal themselves to the viewer and each other, the film ended with the two holding hands and walking down the dock. Then again, the work’s brevity may have been purposeful on SeaPertls part. As the work’s title reads, “The Only Thing You See Now,” perhaps indicating that more of the pair may be to come in future installments.

Lucien Postlewaite in “A Headlamp or Two”. Photo by Henry Wurtz.

A man (PNB principal dancer Lucien Postlewaite) wearing a white hoodie, black gloves, red lipstick, and mascara lies prone in the dirt, head to one side and stares glassy eyed off into the distance as Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata begins to be heard. This dramatic beginning scene in former Ballet Austin dancer Beth Terwilleger’s “A Headlamp or Two” unfortunately held more promise for the rest of the film than it was able to deliver.

As Postlewaite began to stir and roll about the dirt in front of a sign that read “Jumps Closed,” an image of dancer Stephan Bourgond in all black and similarly made up lying at the bottom of a skate park bowl was layered in with Postlewaite’s. The two performed the same tortured-individual choreography that had them writhing, rising up and collapsing down as if with hearts heavy with despair. If they were to represent the light and the dark of the same person, perhaps because of the pandemic, both appeared equally melancholy. Where the film mostly faltered was in the constant use of the layering of the two dancers’ images atop each other. It proved more of a distraction than a re-enforcement that these two people were two sides of the same coin. In addition, beyond that one simple plot point, the choreography, and consequently the film, went basically nowhere. “A Headlamp or Two’s” only saving grace came in the heartfelt performances of Postlewaite and Bourgond.

Amanda Morgan & Nia-Amina Minor in “Musings”. Photo by Henry Wurtz.

“Musings” by Amanda Morgan (in collaboration with Nia-Amina Minor) took us back among the trees with images of green canopies and the sounds of nature to open. Those tranquil scenes were then cut together with images of the small patches of greenery dotting a few city apartment buildings. Moving between those two worlds was dancer Amanda Morgan. Set to Sacramento-born singer/songwriter Hannah Mayree’s folksy music, Morgan performed her illustrative contemporary dance choreography with a natural ease and fluidly.

Voiceovers of interviews with multigenerational Black women speaking of life and living were then heard along with the music as Morgan danced on and we begin to see brief glimpses of a barefoot woman in a red dress (Minor) passing by.

“Musings” as a dance work and film captured the viewer’s interest quite effectively with its carefully edited transitions between scenes/locales and its varied camera angles capturing Minor and Morgan’s sharp and brilliant dancing in the work. The film reached its crescendo when the recorded audio chants of “Black Lives Matter” ignited a flurry of dancing from the two women and brought us home to our current public discourse on race and equality. A jewel among the works/films shown, “Musings” proved the complete artistic package one worthy of repeated viewings.

Noelani Pantastico & James Yoichi Moore in “The Space Between Us”. Photo by Henry Wurtz.

Closing out Continuum: Bridging the Distance, Bruno Roque’s “The Space Between Us” took its inspiration from the social distancing edict we are all living under. The film began with SDC founders Pantastico and Moore dancing indoors along a building hallway to pulsating electronic music by former National Ballet of Portugal principal dancer Alexander Hoeppner.  

Costumed in matching-ish solid colored t-shirts, long pants and white sneakers, Pantastico and Moore separately moved along the length of the hallway grazing its side walls with their shoulders and limbs in up-tempo contemporary dance choreography. Midway the scene shifted to the pair dancing at what appeared to be an empty, glass-walled café. Pantastico continued her shoulder-rolling, torso-dipping and leg-lifting dance movement inside the café while Moore mirrored her movements on the other side of the café’s glass walls in a rainy outdoor seating area.

A fitting closer to the dance film series, “The Space Between Us” was vibrant in its approach and that of the dancers’ performances.

To donate to Seattle Dance Collective visit:

Steve Sucato is a former dancer turned arts writer/critic. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Dance Critics Association and Associate Editor of

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The Stages are set this Weekend for ‘The City is Our Stage’, a Live Performance Arts Tour of Cleveland

By Steve Sucato

The first large-scale citywide arts event since the global pandemic hit, The City is Our Stage on Saturday, August 15 from 1-6 p.m., is a tapas-crawl-style drive-to sampler of a variety of local music, theater, poetry, dance, and circus performers’ work throughout greater Cleveland neighborhoods.

The brainchild of nationally known lighting and production designer Trad A. Burns, MorrisonDance founder/director Sarah Morrison and All-Go-Sign’s Chuck Karnak, the event gives audiences the opportunity to get out of the house and into their vehicles to see live performance in up-to-10 minute bite form on the porches, front lawns, driveways and other small-scale locations, of artists just as eager to get back to performing for the public.

“It was probably March we had our first conversation about what we can do during this pandemic for ourselves to perform and the community as a whole,” says Burns.

The volunteer trio says they reached out to the city and other organizations about the feasibility of several ideas to put on such an event.

“Given the uncertainty of COVID-19, we knew we had to come up with an idea we could put time and time and energy in and realize,” says Karnak. “We knew people being in cars we could move in that direction.”

The idea they landed on took its inspiration from a similar, if not significantly smaller scale, drive-up arts tour in Seattle.

The Cleveland The City is Our Stage event involves some 28 interdisciplinary mini performances along 10 distinct driving routes within a 15-mile radius of downtown Cleveland. There is a choice of 40 location and start time options to choose from each taking about 2-hours to complete. (See below for a full listing of performers).

“The planning was incredibly complicated,” says Burns. While he, Karnak and Morrison (with administrative support from Lindsay Carter), handled the choosing the performers involved, the logistics of the audience driving routes and organizing the performance schedules, the choice of performance spaces was left to the performers themselves with guidelines that it had to be a private residence or have permission from the owner and the neighbors and they needed to submit how many cars could legally park at one time. The performers were also charged with providing their own production elements and equipment for sound, multimedia, etc.

Morrison says the group worked extremely hard to reach out to and include as many diverse artists as possible and as such for this inaugural event, most everyone that wanted to participate is doing so. Also, for Morrison getting The City is Our Stage to work was more than the idea of bringing the local arts community together, but a personal quest to save live performance. “We have to fight for something,” she says. It is great to be creative and come up with new ideas for virtual content, but dance [and other performance art forms] is most appreciated in a physical space with an audience,” she says.

With an event like this, the need to have it highly controlled became apparent to the organizers. The performers were given instructions to adhere to state COVID-19 guidelines, and those purchasing tickets are asked to do so as well. The routes and addresses to performance spaces will be issued prior to August 15 and only paid vehicles will be allowed into the performance areas. All the proceeds from the event will be divided up amongst the performers.

As to whether the trio see the event as more than a one-time deal, Burns says “I would love to bring this back. I think we as artists are going to be in a position that some of these new things we have found as creative artists to adapt to the current environment we will continue to do when this [the pandemic] is over.

Morrison and Karnak concur seeing The City is Our Stage as even more than a collection of performances but a journey of discovery for audience members about the neighborhoods and parts of the city they may not have explored before.

Easily one of the most unifying and spirit-lifting arts events to come out of this difficult time in all our lives, The City is Our Stage is a can’t miss opportunity for any arts lover.

Here is a rundown of the artists performing:

  • AlbaTrio “Original Jazz Composition” – the trumpet trio will be previewing new instrumental compositions from their upcoming album. About: AlbaTrio is comprised of Tommy Lehman on trumpet (of the Acid Cats and Admirables), Tim Lekan on bass and Anthony Taddeo on drums and percussion (Hey Mavis and Helen Welch). A relatively new trio, the project was started by Anthony Taddeo in 2019 to explore one of his favorite trio formations. The compositions of the group deal greatly with the various nuances of each instrument all while pushing their role in the context of a jazz trio. Taking from the sounds of Miles Davis, Dave Douglas and Avishai Cohen, AlbaTrio brings a diverse and eclectic sound to the jazz idiom.
  • Aminah Louise “Bellydance”About: Aminah first fell in love with Bellydance at the age of 13 but did not start classes until college. Since then she has studied many different sub-genres under the Bellydance umbrella from Folkloric, to Modern Egyptian to Transnational Fusion. She also teaches at Cleveland Exotic Dance.
  • Ballet Legato “Jokeying For Position” Maneuver or manipulate for one’s own benefit to be seen and a better position to be noticed. About: Ballet Legato is a new Northeast Ohio contemporary ballet company. We hope to offer a fresh new view of contemporary ballet to our community through the direction of our Artistic Executive Director. Dance brings people together and bridges generations. We want our performances and appearances to contribute to this togetherness – we see them as a way to give back to society and an expression of the individuality we each bring to the world.
  • BE FITNESSAbout: BE FITNESS started as Be Studios, a pole fitness and dance studio in 2007 by Christina Anderson. Christina has been a dancer since she was 5 years old at Canton Ballet and has a B.A. in Studio Art and Dance. She has spent her life studying and exploring different forms of dance. She has traveled to Spain to study flamenco; Austin, TX and Haiti to study Afro-Haitian dance; and San Francisco to study Afro-Brazilian dance, Tribal Belly Dance and Iyengar yoga.
Blakk Jakk
  • Blakk Jakk “We Are & Power” “We are” is a ballad that displays the connection of all living things and how we are all a part of something bigger. “Power” is a message of reclaiming your place and displaying power in stillness. About: RonDale Simpson mission is to own and operate a performing arts school and company geared towards community youth and local artists of all disciplines. Always having a passion for the arts, RonDale was in school plays, marching band, and choir, but dance was his gift. Maintaining a very active dance team known as Finesse Dance team, RonDale also coached a youth dance team and private fitness lessons, all while keeping up with his studies. He currently teaches dance in several schools in Cleveland and works as an administrator in a nonprofit arts program. He is also the current national President of Nu Rho Sigma Fine Arts Fraternity Inc.
  • Cats On Holiday The Swamp Poppin’ outfit”, Cats On Holiday, promises to rock your Blues away! About: Purveyors of Roots/Zydeco, The Cat’s music is a high-energy romp from the shores of Lake Erie to the bayou of Louisiana. The band’s instrumentation of button-box accordion, blistering guitar, washboard, and a solid rhythm section create a “Mardi Gras” street festival atmosphere.
  • Christopher Johnson & Courtney Nicole Auman “Old Gray Ghost”Samantha promises to visit her cousin Becca’s former childhood home in Shaker Heights, but she has her own reasons to return. There’s more there than just memories of sleepovers and running a lemonade stand in the front yard. About: Christopher Johnston has had more than 20 of his plays produced in Cleveland at a variety of venues including Cleveland Public Theatre, convergence-continuum, Dobama Theatre, and Talespinner Children’s Theatre. As a freelance journalist, he’s published more than 3,000 articles, and his book Shattering Silences: Strategies to Prevent Sexual Assault, Heal Survivors, and Bring Assailants to Justice was published by Skyhorse in 2018. Courtney Nicole Auman has had the pleasure of collaborating with countless creatives during her seven years in Cleveland. She had performed with Cleveland Public Theatre, Maelstrom Collaborative Arts, Ohio City Theatre Project, Talespinner Children’s Theatre, and many others. During this interesting time, it’s been enlightening to see artists find unique ways to continue creating.
The Dancing Wheels Company
  • The Dancing Wheels Company “Dancing in the Street”An audience interactive performance set to the song “Dancing in the Street” by David Bowie and Mick Jagger. A company dancer will lead in teaching movement for “Dancing in the Streets” that audience members will be able to learn from their cars. The performance will culminate in a dance party, and audience members will be able to perform alongside dancers while seated inside their cars. About: Under the artistic direction of Founder Mary Verdi-Fletcher, the Dancing Wheels Company is recognized as the first and foremost professional physically integrated dance company in America, uniting the talents of dancers both with and without disabilities. Celebrating 40 years since its inception in 1980, the highly-skilled ensemble of stand-up and sit-down (wheelchair) dancers has reached over five million people worldwide with innovative main-stage performances, school assembly programs, guest appearances, master classes, and numerous outreach activities.
Djapo Cultural Arts Institute
  • Djapo Cultural Arts InstituteArt as a weapon using dance, drumming and spoken word. We would perform in a grassy area outside a residential area. About: We are an organization dedicated to preserving the art, music, dance, history, and folklore of Africa and throughout the African diaspora.
  • Fellahean With Slowburn “Blue Collar Calling” A “non music” performance utilizing industrial sounds and equipment accompanied by surreal images/film. About: Jim Szudy was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Fellahean is Jim’s solo noise project reveling in decay and collapse through the use of harsh noise, low droning, metal scraping, and film. Jim is also a freelance photographer (440 Photography), web designer, poet, and a director of the Cleveland Photo Fest. Shawn Slowburn is a Dark Abstract Surrealist/Expressionist artist working in a variety of mediums while exploring the subjects of mythology, philosophy, psychology, and the occult-sciences. and
Inlet Dance Theatre
  • Inlet Dance Theatre “The I AM Project” The pandemic pause is giving us all a moment for reflection. Things have changed and we are unsure of the shaping of the future. Inlet Exec/Art Dir Bill Wade guided 18 dancers through a physical and writing reflection process via Zoom based on their completing the phrases “I was _____”, “I am _____”, and “I will be _____” as a way to process and document this unprecedented moment in each individual life. About: Inlet Dance Theatre is one of the region’s most exciting professional contemporary dance companies. Founded in 2001 by Founder and Executive/Artistic Director Bill Wade, Inlet embodies his longstanding belief that dance viewing, training, and performing experiences may serve as tools to bring about personal growth and development. Inlet’s collaborative artistic staff build the company’s solid reputation for uplifting individuals and engaging new audiences via performances and education programming.
Kenya Woods
  • Kenya Woods “Balm Of The Earth”A gentle and soothing collection of movements prepared to soothe sore spirits. About: Kenya Woods, a native of Cleveland, Ohio has more than 20 years of experience in dance performance, choreography, teaching, and leadership in Cleveland and New York. She has worked in nationally and internationally at regional dance companies, universities and school systems as an educator, performer, and choreographer. She continues to teach dance to students of all ages and lead programs that help cultivate technique, artistry, body awareness and empowerment and appreciation for dance.
  • Lara Troyer, Soprano & Anne Wilson Piano Enjoy a performance of Italian Opera favorites along with the beautiful melodies of the Golden Age of musical theatre. Soprano Lara Troyer and accompanist Anne Wilson bring to you their musical talents through the medium of song. About: Described as singing with an engaging, robust tone by, Ms. Troyer is a versatile soprano, at home on the opera stage as well as concert and recital stage. She is a frequent soloist in the Northeast Ohio region, most recently heard with the Master Singer’s Chorale, Nightingale Opera Theatre, Chamber Music Society of Ohio, Akron Symphony, and many others.
Laura D’alessandro/Tou Cha/June Hund/Norbert Ziebold
  • Laura D’alessandro/Tou Cha/June Hund/Norbert Ziebold “Hands Of The Future” Through the magic of puppetry, we will use a lyrical flow of form and images, to express what a positive impact creating and collaboration can have on community. Hands have the power to destroy; to comfort; to heal; to create–seeds of possibility are planted in our connection and within our hope for the future. About: Laura is an artist, educator and puppeteer. Currently, she is the director of the Cleveland Photo Fest, and co-curator of Prama Artspace. Tou is an artist and puppeteer. He has worked extensively with “In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre”, as well as with “Barebones Productions.” June and Norbert are artists who collaborate on visual art Page 10 and installations. Their projects have been shown at Rooms to Let Cle, Ingenuity Fest, and the Doubting Thomas Gallery.
Marquez Dance Project
  • Marquez Dance Project “Roots To Heaven” – A contemporary dance piece that moves from the ground to the sky. This duet centers around the importance of family and community. How these very foundations can be the strength you need to take flight. About: Marquez Dance Project (MDP) explores human complexity through a creative lens. The intention behind our work is to recapture moments that speak to the community. We incorporate theatrical, physical and often surreal imagery to generate meaningful and provoking works.
Mike Bruckman
  • MorrisonDance “3 Seeds From A Pomegranate”MorrisonDance performs their classic take on the myth of Persephone within the beautiful landscape of Katewood in Bratenahl. About: Sharing the joy of dance for over 20 years, MorrisonDance gets its unique strength from performers trained in a variety of movement arts willing to stretch their abilities through presentations in alternative venues and through experimental presentations combining nature, technology, and other artistic disciplines.
  • Nadia Tarnawsky “A Stand of Songs” stand – noun. 1. a group of growing plants of a specified kind, especially trees. 2. a group of traditional songs from a specific place – Ukraine. About: Nadia Tarnawsky has recently returned to the United States after completing a year of research, study and teaching in Ukraine as a recipient of a Fulbright Award. She has performed at La MaMa ETC (NYC), Annex Theatre (Seattle), Cleveland Public Theatre and in Fringe Festivals in New York, New Orleans and Cincinnati. During her Fulbright, she created a one woman show, Shattered, which was performed in various cities across Ukraine.
  • Near West Young artists tell their stories of the current world around them and how these stories affect them and can effect change. About: Near West Theatre builds loving relationships and engages diverse people in strengthening their sense of identity, passion, and purpose, individually and in community, through accessible, affordable and transformational theatre arts experiences.
  • Opus 216 “Soundscape”An original, improvised “soundscapes” inspired by Opus 216’s multi-genre work across classical, folk, and jazz music. About: Founded in 2012, OPUS 216 is classically trained but unbound by genre. The ensemble enjoys a varied career, performing for special events across northeast Ohio, from concert halls and museums to smaller private events.
  • Radio on the Lake Theatre “Alien Invasion” from War of the WorldsA recreation of the thrilling “alien invasion” scene from the classic radio play War of the Worlds, including authentic sound effects and audience participation. About: Radio on the Lake Theatre came to life as the Arts Radio Network Theatre Project in 2002. It was initially developed as an outreach program for NPR member station WXEL in Boynton Beach, FL. In 2015, ARNTP partnered with Miami-based NPR member station WLRN to create WLRN Radio Theatre, a series of classic radio plays performed in venues throughout South Florida, including the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale, Arts Garage in Delray Beach, and the Studios of Key West. ARNTP, now Radio on the Lake Theatre, relocated in 2017 to Shaker Heights, Ohio. We are currently partnering with Story Forum to present a new Inspired By… series with high school students writing radio plays based on stories in The Shakerite. We have also partnered with Playwrights Local on two radio plays – Every Play is a Radio Play When You’re Blind and Entanglement.
Robin VanLear Arts Acts Ltd.
  • Robin VanLear Arts Acts Ltd. “Dream Sequence” Sharing the mystery of rituals, both sacred and secular, how each participant makes them his/her own, where they can lead, how they inspire us, and why they are important in our lives. About: Robin VanLear is the creator of Parade the Circle, the I Madonnari Chalk Festival and other community festivals for the Cleveland Museum of Art. For 30 years she served as the director of the Department of Community Arts, which she founded for the museum in 1990. Her performance art company Art Acts created the opening for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as performances with the Cleveland Orchestra and performances for Tri-C JazzFest. Story Lee Rhinehart is an artist and choreographer who has had pieces presented at Cleveland Public Theatre and at The Cleveland Playhouse. She grew up working on the Cleveland Museum of Art’s “Parade the Circle” where most recently she was an ensemble artist and an outreach choreographer. Story lives in Shaker Heights with her husband, two daughters and their dog, Banton. Esther Nahm, violist, has performed, taught and directed projects with a life-long goal of creating platforms for people to come together and connect through music. She has performed with the St. Louis, New World and Richmond Symphonies and is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and Boston University.
Russian Duo
  • Russian Duo “Balalaika-Piano Music From Around The World” From Russian roots and classical music to world favorites, vocals, ragtime, tango and blue grass, Russian Duo’s music will surprise, delight, and dazzle you. About: Russian Duo is an international project, born out of a love of traditional music and classical elegance. Oleg (balalaika virtuoso from Siberia) and Terry (American concert pianist) celebrate cross-cultural creativity, exploring the range of possibilities for balalaika, voice, and piano.
Shanty Circus
  • Shanty Circus “In the Boundaries of the Multiverse” Denizens of the multi-verse explore isolation and invasion and whether boundaries protect or harm us in the separate yet connected worlds of trapeze, rope, pole, lyra, aerial silks, stilt dancers, and partner acrobatics. About: The Shanty Circus is a growing collective of people who love movement-based art, spend years honing their specific discipline to perform the next hardest trick, and use their breath-taking physicality to explore the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.
  • Sky Aerial Works “Dancing On My Own” An Aerial Dance doubles performance using silks and aerial hoop portraying the creativity found during quarantine between Emily and her son Rylan.   About: Emily is a local Cleveland area aerial performer and instructor. During quarantine her and her son Rylan put together aerial dance routines they are excited to showcase during this performance.
  • The Scenic Route “Acoustic”Hear original, stripped down, acoustic versions of The Scenic Route music. About: The Scenic Route is a female fronted, Indie Rock band based in Canton, Ohio. Their original music is a rock/pop fusion with eclectic influences. Their newest single, “I’m Giving You Up!” is a punky hybrid that uses energetic verses and a powerful, explosive chorus to capture the jubilant feeling of leaving a toxic, codependent relationship behind.
  • Eric Schmiedl of The Welcome Table “We Can Do This!”Embracing roots music and the spoken word to celebrate an intergenerational message of hope, resilience, and humor. About: THE WELCOME TABLE celebrates the full breath of American experiences by drawing from Gospel, Blues, Folk, and Pop to create fresh harmonic interpretations of songs for venues large and small, historic and holiday.
Tribe Ostara Tribal Belly Dance
  • Tribe Ostara Tribal Belly Dance “Swords & Flying Skirts!”A fierce and fabulous improvisational sword, skirt, and zill performance by Tribe Ostara characterized by beautiful and colorful, ethnic costumes and movements inspired by folkloric dances of the Middle East, North Africa, Spain and India. About: Tribe Ostara was started in 2016 by Jan McAndrew and Denyce Renee. We have a diverse cast of multi-aged dancers with years of training in different genres of belly dance, such as cabaret, folkloric, and tribal fusion. Our traveling troupe has performed at various indoor and outdoor events, festivals, and fund-raisers, including Ingenuity Fest, WinterStar Ball (Starwood Festival), The Witches Ball, Pooka Festival, Walk-About Tremont, Final Friday Coventry, and One Billion Rising.
Verb Ballets. Photo by Dale Dong.
  • Verb Ballets “Bolero” Originally choreographed by Heinz Poll and performed to the epic music of Ravel, the ballet blends Indian and modern dance styles while its drive, propulsion, and intensity build with the famous crescendo. About: For the past 30 years, Verb Ballets has gained a reputation for artistic excellence and exemplary community engagement. Under the leadership of Dr. Margaret Carlson, and Richard Dickinson, MFA, the company is committed to the creation and mounting of dance works of the highest caliber.

The City is Our Stage, 1 – 6 p.m., Saturday, August 15 (Rain Date, Sunday, August 16). Tickets are $40 per vehicle and available until the morning of the event. Visit for tickets and more information.

Steve Sucato is a former dancer turned arts writer/critic. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Dance Critics Association and Associate Editor of

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