MM2 dancers magically turn movement into meaning

Montgomery News Network
By Craig Ostroff, Correspondent

Stephanie King had no trouble deciding on her “One Word.”

“One Word,” the theme of MM2 Modern Dance Company’s 2011 program, finds each of the company’s eight dancers choosing a word that holds a special meaning, then choreographing a dance around it.

King, whose grandmother is a four-year survivor of abdominal cancer, chose the word “Resilient.”

“I wanted to have a piece in honor of my Nana,” King said. “The beginning of the piece is about how the chemo took a physical toll on her body — they killed the cancer most of the time, but they also hurt her. The second part of the piece is the hopeful side, showing her strength.”

But how does one define a concept like “Resilience” through the medium of dance? That’s a question that even the dancers/choreographers have a difficult time answering.

“It’s definitely abstract. I don’t really know how to explain; I just kind of create movement that I feel is in relation to what I’m talking about,” King said. “The second part of the piece is very touchy — the dancers are pulling each other up, bearing each other’s weight, leading each other around and joining in with each other.

“The creative process was really hard for me because it’s a really personal thing. It’s like literally having a conversation with all my fellow dancers about it every time I am teaching the piece. In that aspect it was difficult, but I love the way it turned out.”

She’s not the only one. Based on her fellow dancers’ reactions, and the reaction of the audiences who have had a chance to see several “One Word” pieces, King has achieved her goal.

“We did a show in Lancaster, performing Steph’s piece,” said MM2 member Jessica Bryan. “We got offstage and we were so emotional, we were crying. You go out there onstage, and it’s real; it’s real emotion for all the world to see.”

That emotion is key. Without emotion, dance is just a series of movements. Add the passion, and dance becomes art.

The MM2 dancers are passionate about their contributions to “One Word.” Bryan, for example, chose the word “Penitent.” Serving solely as a choreographer for the piece, Bryan needed all the dancers to find a place similar to the one where “Penitent” takes her.

“I went through a situation where you wish you could change the outcome, and you just can’t and you have to learn to deal with it,” said Bryan, a resident of Wayne. “I worked with making my dancers embody that themselves and I truly loved seeing how they interpreted that. I was always pushing my dancers to go there, to go to that place. ‘It’s uncomfortable; you don’t want to go there. You don’t want to remember that this happened, but go there.’

“There are five people in the dance and they’re all going through their own personal experiences. It’s not till the very end where they realize that other people go through this, I’m not the only one.”

With eight different pieces, including “Trust,” “Space,” “Need,” “Intrepid” and “Clairvoyance,” the performance will feature varied styles with one theme tying them together — the passion in which the choreographers conceived the pieces and the passion in which the dancers translate them.

“Each one of our pieces is diverse,” said Kaylee Goodwin. “Our styles are all drastically different and it’s great because it adds so much to the piece.

“My piece is ‘Persevere,’ and I take what I think that means and go from there. So an audience member might not take the same thing — they might not take each individual part of my piece the way I do. But that’s what makes dance so great. Anybody can interpret it the way they want to, and that’s OK.”

The troupe, comprised of Bryan, King, Goodwin, Jenna Faye Eugenides, Katelyn Capato, Heather Fleischman, Shara Harad, Brianne Scott and Michael Nguyen, will perform “One Word” as part of the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe, with shows at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Maas Building, 1325 Randolph St., Philadelphia. The group has also been accepted to and will perform at the Fringe Wilmington Festival Sept. 23 and Sept. 24. Tickets for the Philly Fringe performances are $15 and are available at and at the door.

“The Maas Building is a very intimate setting; it only seats about 60 people,” said MM2 Artistic Director and founder Steven Weisz. “We wanted to make that connection with the audience.

“I expected [the dancers] would rise to the occasion and develop pieces that had personal meaning. I’m surprised to the extent they’ve explored those pieces and the extent to which they’ve developed those emotions. One of the pieces the girls are performing, the girls were crying during the piece, and so was the audience. It’s tough to put yourself out there. That’s the connection they’re making with the audiences that’s just so genuine.”

On Sept. 10, modern dance fans and those just curious can check out eight separate pieces, based on eight meaningful words, brought to life by eight exceptionally talented young choreographers/dancers. Watch them work their magic, turning movement into meaning, and find out just how powerful and passionate “One Word” can be.


Saturday, September 10th
2:00 & 7:30pm
Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe
Venue: THE MAAS BUILDING, 1325 Randolph St, Philadelphia, PA 19122
Tickets: $15 General Admission, $10 Students and under 25 years of age –  available on Dance Box Office or Fringe Box Office

September 23 & 24
Wilmington Fringe Festival
9/23 at 7:45pm
9/24 at 6:00pm & 8:00pm
Baby Grand, 818 N. Market Street, Wilmington, DE
Tickets $5 with Festival Button

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