Tag Archives: Cleveland Public Theatre

Physical Theater and Dance a Solid Presence at Inaugural ‘BorderLight International Theatre + Fringe Festival’


Djapo Cultural Arts Institute. Photo by Janet Century.

By Steve Sucato

With Playhouse Square, the second largest performing arts center in the United States outside of New York, the Tony Award-winning Cleveland Playhouse, America’s first professional regional theatre, as well as one of the finest alternative theaters in the nation in Cleveland Public Theatre and others in the area, it is a wonder an international theater festival such as the new BorderLight International Theatre + Fringe Festival hadn’t come along sooner in Cleveland.

The inaugural event featuring 40 local, regional, national and international productions from 9 countries and over 100 performances on 11 stages, will take place July 24-27 at various venues/sites in Cleveland.

Founded in founded in 2016 by Dale Heinen and Jeffrey Pence, the lead up to the festival has included roundtables with community partners, fundraisers, mixers and special events, says festival associate producer/communications director, Cathleen O’Malley.

“Both Dale and Jeff aligned around a vision of European-style performance festival that would really make the most of Cleveland’s ample performing arts infrastructure and robust theater community we have here,” says O’Malley. “Cleveland is really built for an event of this kind.”

At the corps is touring international work of which all will be Cleveland premieres along with two North American premieres. The other major components of the festival are  collaborative projects between international artists and local theater organizations, and a fringe festival that champions non-traditional and experimental work.

For those who like their theater with a bit more physicality and a bit less dialogue (or none), several of the 40 productions being presented are grounded in dance and physical theater (a form of theater that emphasizes the use of physical movement such as in dance and mime for expression). Here is a brief rundown of some of the festival’s offerings that favor dance and physical theater to varying degrees:

good at heart

Hyeja Ju’s “Good at Heart”. Photo by Hyeja Ju.

GOOD AT HEART (North American Premiere)
Wed., July 24 @ 7:30 pm, Thu., July 25 @ 7:30 pm and Sat., July 27 @ 1:00 & 7:30 pm
Hermit Club (Great Hall), 1629 Dodge Ct.
Tickets: $18
Type of show: Cleveland + International, General Audiences (14+)

Produced by Raymond Bobgan and Cleveland Public Theatre, Good at Heart was created by and is directed by South Korean theatre-maker Hyeja Ju of B.K.G. Theatre, which translates to Actors, Audiences, and Spaces Theatre. B.K.G. Theatre creates new work seeking to explore the human essence through experimental theatre and actor-centered stagecraft. The 75-minute Good at Heart is a physical, non-verbal performance inspired by the story of Anne Frank, reminding us that genocide is a problem all people must be vigilant against. Contains: Violence / Violent Imagery, Racism, Antisemitism, Oppression, Violence.

Under Construction by Ricardo Trejo 03

“Under Construction”. Photo by Ricardo Trejo

UNDER CONSTRUCTION (North American Premiere)
Thu., July 25 @ 6:30 pm, Fri., July 26 @ 6:00 pm and Sat., July 27 @ 1:00 & 9:00 pm
The Helen, Playhouse Square, 1501 Euclid Ave.
Tickets: $30
Type of show: International; General Audiences

An award-winning physical comedy, Under Construction is a zany look at three eccentrics sharing a crammed, run-down flat and the predicaments they get into trying to have tea.

“The universe of a clown is an exaggerated mirror of human condition,” say cast members Vitaly Azarin, Alexey Gavrielov, Fyodor Makarov of Israel’s DAVAI group. “In this realm EVERYTHING is a predicament because the clown has no idea of who he is, where he is, and how in the world to fulfill his simple desire to have a cup of tea!”

The 90-minute intermission-less work is performed to an animated soundtrack by Losha Gavrielov with lighting by Ilya Gerchikov that the cast says “is intimately linked to the performers and also has a level of unpredictability. In other words, the technicians are also live performers and can surprise the actors and the audience.”

Also a part of the non-verbal production will be 693 props that help bring this quirky and unusual production to life. Says The Jerusalem Post: “The show is hysterically funny – its creators showcase wild fantasy and virtuoso clownery…”


“The Coitus Society Soiree”. Photo by Bob Perkoski.

Thu., July 25 @ 7:30 pm, Fri., July 26 @ 11:00 pm and Sat., July 27 @ 10:00 pm
Cibréo Privato, 1501 E 14th St.
Tickets: $12
Type of show: Fringe, Adults Only (18+)

An inexperienced young man stumbles into an establishment after receiving a mysterious invitation. He is met by the host of the venue and so begins his journey of self-awareness and lust. Will the bevvy of beauties entice him? Will they entice you? Featuring The Suga Shack Girls – professionally trained dancers and Cleveland’s only All Black Burlesque Troupe – “The Coitus Society Soiree” is an hour-long sensual dance production with pulse-pounding music and dazzling costumes. Come dressed in your sexiest attire! Guests are encouraged to indulge their dress up fantasies. Masquerade masks, BDSM apparel…show your dark side at the Soiree! A Lady Slay Production featuring Suga Shack Entertainment. Contains: Graphic Language, Nudity / Sexual Themes.


“Table For Two”Photo by David Holcombe.

Fri., July 26 @ 8:00 pm and Sat., July 27 @ 1:30 & 8:30 pm
Miller Classroom, Idea Center at Playhouse Square (ground floor), 1375 Euclid Ave.
Tickets: $12
Type of show: Fringe; General Audiences (14+)

Once upon a time there was a woman and a man. For clarity’s sake, we will call them Mr. and Mrs. — This begins the premise behind Illinois-based Bare Theater’s 50-minute Table For Two, a work mixing dance, puppetry and Lecoq-based physical theater. Says the work’s co-creator Flora Bare, “Mr. and Mrs. are deeply in love and find so much joy being together but they always seem to be struggling to figure themselves and one another out. They want to make each other happy, but just can’t seem to get it right. Mr. and Mrs. decide to go on an adventure together on a boat, where a storm arises. They survive the storm, but something is left behind in those waters.”

Developed in 2017, Table For Two began as a series of movement pieces with some song and a bit of text created through improvisation says former gymnast Bare. Since its initial version, Bare says she “wanted to build up the dialogue to support the movement.” Bare hired a writer to create text based off of the existing movement to match the heightened style in which the movement was performed. “Indeed this show has dialogue, but I do believe that even if a person watching were not to understand the English language, they could understand the story being told,” says Bare.

“This show shifts in and out of memory, reality and the fantastical and at times,” says Bare. “It all seems to bleed together as one might experience when going through a loss.”


“AntiCone”Photo by Nahm Darr.

Fri., July 26 @ 7:30 pm and Sat., July 27 @ 2 pm & 7:15 pm
Old Stone Church (Chapel), 91 Public Square
Tickets: $12
Type of show: Fringe, General Audiences (13+)

Inspired by Sophocles’ Ancient Greek tragedy Antigone, Maryland-based Happy Theater’s AntiCone is the largely wordless story of an immigrant who is put to work building a wall against her country of origin. AntiCone was created by and is performed by Natasha Mirny and Tia Shearer. Says Mirny, who choreographed the 45-minute work, “initially we were just interested in a physical theatre piece centered on traffic cones but as we met to devise the work, we realized more and more that it was difficult to turn the traffic cone into a soft, friendly object. Traffic cones mean boundaries. At that time, there was a lot of talk about “the wall” in the media and from the President [Trump]. So, as devising artists seeking to make a piece for right now, we just naturally folded that in. This old story and these border-creating traffic cones just began speaking to our current [social and political] situation. It was, and is, still a dialogue that invigorates us to share with others.”

Set to a soundscape by Alexander Nikitin that uses percussion and chant, there are moments of text in the piece, says Mirny, but Tia and I “are most interested in what the body can say. That language can sometimes have even quicker and greater access to the heart than words can.”

Linz afternoon-AlexDavies

“Creatures by Roger Titley”. Photo by Alex Davies.

Sat., July 27 from 1:00 – 3:45 pm
Cleveland Public Library Main Branch
Type of show: International, All Audiences

Presented in partnership with Cleveland Public Library’s 150th anniversary celebration, acclaimed South African puppeteer Roger Titley’s Creatures is a free public parade from 3:15-3:30 pm around the streets of downtown Cleveland of life-sized animal puppets powered by human volunteers beginning at Cleveland Public Library’s Main Branch, 325 Superior Avenue and ending at Public Square.  The procession will feature cheetah, kudu, elephants, birds and other puppets. Also a part of the festivities are an African drumming and dance performance of “Toukii – Journey” by Cleveland’s Djapo Cultural Arts Institute from 2:45-3:15 pm, free puppet workshops from 1:00-3:00 pm, and photo opportunities with the puppet “Creatures” on Public Square from 3:30 – 3:45 pm.


“Love’s Lost Raree Box” (Chris_Seibert). Photo by Denis Griesmer.

Other productions containing elements of dance and physical theater are Chris Seibert’s free pop-up production, Love’s Lost Raree Box and Cleveland Public Theatre Student Theatre Enrichment Program (Step)’s free hour-long production in collaboration with Bolivian artist Diego Aramburo at Public Square on Saturday, July 27 at 2:00 & 4:30 pm.

For more information and a complete BorderLight International Theatre + Fringe Festival schedule visit borderlightcle.org.

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Airings

Quantum Physics, Environmentalism and the Me Too Movement: Cleveland Public Theatre’s Annual DanceWorks Series Continues it Daring Dance Ways


madcap’s Tyler Ring and Annie Morgan. Photo by Dominic Iudiciani.

By Steve Sucato

Cleveland Public Theatre (CPT)’s annual DanceWorks series returns for its 21st season, May 16 – June 15 with five weekends of thought-provoking dance performances by eight area dance companies at CPT’s historic Gordon Square Theatre.

DanceWorks 2019 will feature a diverse lineup of dance works and styles from first-time participants and series veterans including Travesty Dance Group co-founder/artistic director Kim Karpanty in her first solo show for the series, MONSOON.

The new 35-minute multidisciplinary and multimedia improvisational solo, says Karpanty, was inspired by recent experiences she has had as the victim of bullying, gender bias and ageism. Created in Barcelona in collaboration with Argentinian media artist Tristán Pérez-Martín and Swedish performance artist Benedikte Esperi, the work parallels the catastrophic strength and power of a monsoon to internal storms in our own lives.

Danced to soundscape of consisting silence, spoken word, sound effects and contemporary classical and classic pop music, Karpanty sees the work as a metaphor for the cycle of human storm, recovery and renewal.

“While the monsoon brings devastation, in some countries it also brings all of the rain to grow all of the food the rest of the year,” says Karpanty.

Kim Karpanty - Monsoon - 500px

Kim Karpanty in “MONSOON”. Photo courtesy of Kim Karpanty.

She says she arranged her solo along the arc of a monsoon beginning with calm and progressing through rising heat into microbursts of storm and destruction and ending with recovery and renewal.

Karpanty describes herself as a mid-career dance artist redefining who can dance and for how long. A professor of dance at Kent State University, Karpanty says she has in recent year been transitioning her performing career toward that of a solo artist. MONSOON represents a new direction in that transition.

In the past several years Karpanty has attended dance workshops in Spain, France and Sweden where she has embraced a different way of working that she describes as “a horizontal experimental and improvisational process that yields control of the finished product.” For her, adopting this new movement identity in MONSOON, she says, has been a challenge and a source of trepidation.

kim karpanty photo by Larry Coleman 500px -sm

(Archive Photo) Kim Karpanty. Photo by Larry Coleman.

“It’s a risk to go up [with the show] in this format, especially performing for Cleveland audiences that have watched me and my company perform the past 22-years,” says Karpanty. “It’s a live theater piece that will change for each audience who sees it.”

Karpanty performs MONSOON in Week 4 on a double-bill with Movements in Motion.

Here is a brief rundown of DanceWorks 2019’s other offerings:

610x908 vertical_photo by Bill Naiman 500px

Verb Ballets. Photo by Bill Naiman.

May 16 – 18, 2019

DanceWorks series regulars Verb Ballets return with Fresh Inventions, a program featuring new choreographic works by Verb’s dancers and company associate director Richard Dickinson. Included are new company dancer Daniel Cho’s first work for the company, “three lullabies for you and I”.  A contemporary dance work for a cast of eight, Cho says, “This piece was founded on the notion of relationships. I’ve recently been interested in how relationships with oneself, with another person and with a group can be represented through highly physicalized movement.”

Kate Webb’s new 11-minute contemporary ballet for six dancers, “UnHEaRd” takes its inspiration from the Me Too movement and the work that still needs to be done in achieving equality for all. Webb’s piece focuses specifically on women’s equality. She says: “The sad reality is that a woman’s voice is still second to a man’s. Our culture does not consider a female to be as viable as her male counterpart—if she is subservient, she is not heard, yet the minute she speaks up she is either ridiculed for her perspective and not taken seriously or considered to be overly aggressive and unsavory.” With “UnHEaRd”, Webb seeks to shine a spotlight on those lingering concerns.

“The Leaving Song” is the latest work by Michael Escovedo for Verb. The new piece for eight dancers is set to music by American singer-songwriter Chris Garneau and “is about how the psyche can break when faced with tragedy and the decisions made afterwards,” says Escovedo.

Rounding out Fresh Inventions are Dickinson’s new ballet, “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” and Antonio Morillo’s “Mortal Empathy Variations,” a new 4-minute duet danced to George Gershwin’s “Preludes for Piano, No. 2 Andante con moto e poco rubato” that Morillo says explores “a young couple meeting in trying times.”

610x908 vertical_photo by Suzanne Sherbundy 500px

Inlet Dance Theatre. Photo by Suzanne Sherbundy.

May 23-25, 2019

Inlet’s program From the heART is a series of non-narrative explorations, prototypes, and repertory inspired by works of art from other mediums. Included in the program are reprises of Inlet works “B’roke” (2004), “And Still I Rise” (2018), “Semiotic Variations” (2000), “Ascension” (2006), “Offaxis” (2008) and “impaired” (2004).  The program will also feature premiere works “Becoming” and “Sketches Before a Storm: Ariel and Caliban, pre-colonization (a prototype)” choreographed by company artistic director Bill Wade in collaboration with Inlet’s dancers.

Set to music from the soundtrack of the 2016 film Arrival by Jóhann Jóhannsson, the sculptural work for a male trio costumed in slightly metallic red stretch fabric, takes its inspiration from the art and artistic philosophies of American sculptor Frederick Hart. Says Wade: “This piece is a way to investigate the idea that every human being is God’s artwork and the thought that perhaps creation (Genesis) is still ongoing.”

The 5-minute “Sketches Before a Storm: Ariel and Caliban, pre-colonization (a prototype)” is a male/female duet danced to excerpts from Cleveland composer Ty Emerson’s “Caliban Ascendant”. Says Wade it ponders an alternative version of the characters in Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.

610x908 vertical_photos by Bob Perkoski and Dominic Iudiciani 500px

(Top) MorrisonDance. Photo by Bob Perkoski. (Bottom) madcap. Photo by Dominic Iudiciani.

May 30- June 1, 2019

MorrisonDance returns to DanceWorks with the premiere of its latest science-inspired dance work aptly titled Dance meets Science: Quantum Entanglement. The 45-minute in work six sections on topics including superfluidity, quantum tunneling and Erwin Schrödinger’s famous thought experiment (Schrödinger’s cat) is choreographed and directed by Sarah Morrison with creative contributions from the company. Danced to music by London-based experimental band The Mostar Diving Club, Ludovico Einaudi and others, the work for six dancers reflects on “the profound nature of the quantum theory and universal connectivity,” says Morrison.

New to the DanceWorks series are GroundWorks DanceTheater dancers Tyler Ring and Annie Morgan a.k.a. madcap in their new 20-minute work Transcription Beta. Choreographed and performed by the duo along with fellow GroundWork’s dancer Robert Rubama, Transcription Beta delves into our ubiquitous use of voicemails that Ring says “act as a semi-permanent moment in time when two people missed one another.” The contemporary dance work also “hopes to humanize distant relationships that might only exist superficially, and at the same time, offer a lighthearted look into relationships both big and small.”

610x908 vertical_photos by Kim Karpenty and William G. Barnard IV 500px

(Top) Kim Karpanty of Travesty Dance Group. Photo courtesy of Kim Karpanty. (Bottom) Movements in Motion. Photo by William G. Barnard.

June 6-8, 2019

Joining the aforementioned Travesty Dance Group’s Kim Karpanty’s solo work MONSOON, Movements in Motion will make their DanceWorks debut in RASA, a 45-minute production blending Indian classical (Manipuri and Kathak) dance techniques, Indian martial arts and contemporary dance. First performed in 2008 in Krakow, Poland, the work for three dancers, an actor and a singer, “conceptualizes how to control and balance emotions in order to create a harmony of peace and love.”

610x908 vertical_photos by Srini Ranganathan and Robert Rubama 500px

(Top) Shri Kalaa Mandir. Photo by Srini Ranganathan. (Bottom) Terre Dance Collective’s Robert Rubama. Photo courtesy of Robert Rubama.

June 13-15, 2019

Founded in 1993 by Sujatha Srinivasan, Shri Kalaa Mandir (Center for Indian Performing Arts) make their DanceWorks debut in Srinivasan’s Vivarta – Transformations. The new hour-long piece for ten dancers is performed in the Bharathanatyam classical Indian dance form to a selection of Carnatic music (South Indian classical music) composed primarily by the Lalgudi G.J.R. Krishnan and Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi. Says Srinivasan: “It is an artistic expression of the state of our environment today…telling a story of beneficence, abuse, redemption and triumph.”

Also making their DanceWorks debut is Terre Dance Collective in Blood Orange. The newish 25-minute piece choreographed by Robert Rubama in collaboration with the dancers is danced to a mix of ambient electronic and classical music. It will be performed by dancers Chelsi Knight, Emily Liptow, Shannon Metelko and Oberlin College grad Akane Little. Says Rubama: “The piece, in a nutshell, is a nonlinear exploration of dependency, vulnerability, connection and the breaking down of barriers we place in our own way.”

Cleveland Public Theatre’s DanceWorks 2019 runs 7:30 p.m., every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 16 – June 15 at CPT’s Gordon Square Theatre, 6415 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland. Tickets are $15-25. Students/Seniors receive $5 off on Friday and Saturday nights. All Thursdays are $15.  For feeless tickets and more information visit cptonline.org or call the CPT Box Office at (216) 631-2727 ext. 501. Group discounts are available.

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


Leave a comment

Filed under Airings

MorrisonDance Celebrates 20th Anniversary Season with Retrospective Showcase as part of Cleveland Public Theatre’s DanceWorks 2018

MorrisonDance Spider photo by Bob Perkoski

MorrisonDance Spider. Photo by Bob Perkoski.

By Steve Sucato

If it wasn’t for some perseverance and a bit of luck in the form of Cleveland Public Theatre (CPT) founder James Levin deciding to a chance on an unknown Case Western University dance department graduate and giving her the opportunity to mount her first show, the 1997’s groundbreaking LEAPING INTO THE NET!, dancer/choreographer Sarah Morrison might not have stayed in Cleveland.

Brought here in 1992 by a CWRU Creative Achievement Award Scholarship for her choreography, Morrison, an Atlanta-native, might have returned to Georgia without ever forming MorrisonDance, a mainstay on the Northeast, Ohio dance scene.

Now celebrating its 20th Anniversary season, MorrisonDance returns to CPT this weekend, May 24-26, for a retrospective showcase of Morrison’s staged dance works as part of Cleveland Public Theatre’s DanceWorks 2018.

In addition to performing extensively in the greater Cleveland area including site-specific and aerial works at museums, parks and other venues like Schoepfle Gardens and Edgewater Park, Morrison and her company have had tours to Pennsylvania, California, Georgia, Italy, England, Mexico and New York’s City Center, the Joyce SoHo and Joe’s Pub at Public Theatre.

A 2018 recipient of the OhioDance award for “Furthering the Artform of Dance” and a 2009 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, Morrison has created over 75 works for her company in the past two decades as its principal choreographer. Sixteen of those works will be highlighted on this weekend’s 20th anniversary program along with “Simean Suit Sequence” (2016), choreographed by longtime MorrisonDance company dancer Taliesin Haugh.

MorrisonDance 1997-2017 Director Sarah Morrison

From 1997’s LEAPING INTO THE NET!, the first modern dance performance broadcast live online.

MorrisonDance Dali's Drawers photo by Bob Perksoski

MorrisonDance in “Dali’s Drawers”. Photo by Bob Perksoski.

MorrisonDance stars photo by Bob Perkoski

Photo by Bob Perkoski.

Morrison is best known for her highly visual works described as “zany” and “endearing” by former Plain Dealer dance critic Donald Rosenberg, that often involve a light-hearted, playful and humorous approach such as 2001’s “A Tribute to Sissy Hankshaw,” which features a solo dancer wearing oversized thumbs, and the lamp-shade-wearing improvisational solo “My Grandmother’s Lamp” (2003 / 2008).  Through those works and many others, Morrison and company have carved out a unique niche in the region as a dance company that embraces quirkiness while regularly delivering an abundance of audience smiles.

“The process I have [in creating work] is to jump on an inspiration and let it become what it needs to be,” says Morrison. “Often what my work becomes is never my first entry point.”

Morrison says not all of her works fall into that lighthearted spectrum. “Over the years I have done some dark and creepy pieces,” she says — “Dark in the sense of imaginative dark. There is a depth to my work that often explores a gestalt dual side of things.”

The 20th anniversary production will showcase that full theatrical spectrum work in a series of short 3-10 minute works and excerpts from larger works that spans the company’s history. Eight performers including Morrison and Cleveland-based performer/composer Braden Pontoli make up the cast for the 2-hour program that includes 2015’s neurotic “Phobophobia,” set to original music by composer Jeremy Allen and voiceover by Clyde Simon and featuring the dancers in inflatable bouncy ball costumes; Morrison’s zebra-striped pant solo “Zugzwang Zebra” (2015) which cleverly uses a white plastic chair with a hole in its back; the seductive and sinister Irish fairytale “Leanan Sidhe,” (an excerpt from the 2006’s Mad Mask Maker of Maigh Eo); the gravity-inspired “9.8 m/s^2”(2007 / 2009), set to music by James Brown; 2010’s “Conflict Resolution,” a duet where the dancers are connected together at their arms and “Out On the Town” (1996), one of Morrison’s oldest works to music by Tom Waits that celebrates Cleveland’s working-class persona in which the female cast is costumed a la the iconic World War II-era “Rosie the Riveter” posters.

MorrisonDance dreams photo by Bob Perksoki

Photo by Bob Perksoki

MorrisonDance monkeys photo by Bob Perkoski

Photo by Bob Perkoski.

Morrison says beyond trying to find computer keyboards from the 1990s to use as props, the toughest part about putting together this weekend’s 20th anniversary program was selecting the works that would be included on it. More a retrospective than a greatest hits production, for those unfamiliar with the company and Morrison’s work, it’s a relative crash course in it.  And for those already familiar with both, it’s a chance to revisit and reminisce on one of the region’s most long-lasting and unique dance troupes.

MorrisonDance performs as part of Cleveland Public Theatre’s DanceWorks 2018, 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 24 – Saturday, May 26 at CPT’s Gordon Square Theatre, 6415 Detroit Ave., Cleveland. Tickets are $12/Thursdays and $30/Fridays & Saturdays. For more information and tickets call (216) 631-2727 x 501 or visit cptonline.org

Cleveland Public Theatre’s DanceWorks 2018 continues with:

WEEK #3: INLET DANCE THEATRE – May 31 – June 2

WEEK #5: DOUBLE-EDGE DANCE – June 14 – June 16

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Airings