MM2 dance company to stage Emergence at Philly Fringe Festival

Published: Sunday, September 05, 2010
By Craig Ostroff, Managing Editor

Emergence – as it applies to systems found in nature – describes how actions and reactions of individual elements can give rise to well-organized behavior. For MM2 dance company – formerly Music and Motion Dance Productions – emergence is a chance to highlight its young dancers and choreographers in a performance that is thoughtful and thought-provoking, graceful and powerful, intelligent and accessible.

MM2, based out of Drexel Hill, will present “Emergence,” a series of routines based upon the eponymous phenomenon, as part of the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe.

“Emergence itself is something that occurs in nature – a school of fish moving or a flock of birds where there really is no leader but somehow the group works together and knows when to turn and which direction to go in,” said MM2 founder and artistic director Steven Weisz. “We played with that concept in dance, with a lot of the choreography we create. Everyone inputs into the choreography, so it becomes a group process where it’s bottom-up and it fits the whole concept of emergence, where there may be one person who takes the lead in the choreography, but everyone has input into it.”

The eight dancers/choreographers in the group are primarily of college age or recently graduated, and have worked close to six months on the program they will present for their sixth performance at the Philly Fringe Festival.

The dancers – Kristen Blundi, Jessica Bryan, Kristen Davies, Jenna Faye Eugenides, Stephanie King, Angela Littlefeld, Liz Lyle and Cathrynne Grace Reynolds – meet on Sundays to choreograph, practice and touch up the various pieces that will make up “Emergence.”

“Our theme for Philly Fringe is ‘Emergence,’” said Lyle, 22, of Souderton. “We explore the idea behind it, we have sub-categories within it: ‘Submergence,’ ‘Divergence,’ ‘Pre-Emergence,’ ‘Post-Emergence.’”

Lyle is the lead choreographer on “Post-Emergence.”

“I really dove into, ‘What does post-emergence mean?’” she said. “We choreographed a lot of different patterns – people coming apart, coming back together.”

Eugenides’ piece, “Re-Emergence,” aims to raise awareness of the issue of Fair Trade and deals with how the actions of one group can impact others, both in negative and positive manners.

“It’s challenging sometimes trying to put eight, 12 different ideas together,” said King, 19, of Lancaster, about how the dance company members work together to form and perfect their pieces. “But we usually can manage to put our heads together and get it done. We do a lot of improve, and that helps us come up with choreography. People [who come to see ‘Emergence’] can expect very choreographically creative pieces – some are more complex than others, some are more inspired by a single person’s choreography, but it’s a team effort.”

MM2 will stage “Emergence” at 2:30, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center, a new venue for the Philly Fringe Festival performance.

“For the first time ever we’re taking the Fringe out of Philadelphia,” Weisz said. “We got special permission from the Fringe to do that. It’s a 1,500-seat theater, but we’re hoping a lot more people will take advantage of seeing modern dance and going to the Fringe.”

To those who feel modern dance may be too difficult to comprehend, MM2 encourages patrons of the arts to come out and watch these extraordinarily talented young dancers and choreographers display the skill and passion that has made MM2 a mainstay of the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe.

“People sometimes feel there’s some deep intellectual process that goes along with seeing a dance piece and if they don’t catch that notion they’re completely lost,” Weisz said. “But we’re trying to show you can simply enjoy it without the deep intellectual meaning and simply enjoy the movement as it occurs. And just as you would go and see a painting, you get to use your own imagination. You can put your own story and your own interpretation to it. And it’s OK to do that with dance as well. You can take that poetic license and enjoy the piece for the sake of the piece. Let it take you where it does.”

“I think it’s something anyone can enjoy,” said King. “I think it will definitely draw in modern dancers, but all the pieces have an emotional aspect to them. I’m hoping people will walk away satisfied and they were entertained and they can walk away saying, ‘that was really engaging, they were so passionate about what they were doing.’”