Local teen spreads her wings on center stage

The Reporter
Published: Wednesday, September 08, 2010

By Craig Ostroff
Managing Editor

Kristen Blundi is the first person to admit that she’s not the most talkative of people.

Well, maybe not the first.

Blundi isn’t the type of teen who is likely to ring up a thousand-dollar cell phone bill, but she has learned how to make her actions speak much louder than her words. Because while she may not exactly be a social butterfly, Blundi breaks out of her cocoon with dramatic flair once she spreads her wings on the dance floor.

“Everybody’s tried to make this girl talk, and she just smiles … and she dances,” said her mother, Tina Blundi, with a laugh. “The last two years she’s really come out of her shell, and her dancing’s improved dramatically since she started working with Ryan Tuerk [at the Dance Depot in Collegeville].

“Kristen is the type that will go to a dance class and stand in the back and hope that nobody notices her. But when they see her dance, then they pull her up front. She just loves to dance.”

It can be difficult to reconcile — being someone who prefers to be in the background, but whose talents bring her to the forefront. It’s not a problem for Blundi, however. She simply loses herself in the music and the motion.

“When you dance, you can be whoever you want,” Blundi said. “You can do whatever you want. I don’t know … I just love it.”

Though the 15-year-old from Obelisk may not seek out the spotlight, she’s certainly no stranger to it. Blundi said she’s been dancing since she was about 3 years old, and has studied jazz, tap, ballet and lyrical disciplines of dance. Nowadays she spends upwards of 15 hours a week in dance classes and practices, and the high school sophomore began classes this year at Lehigh Valley Charter School for the Performing Arts, where she will spend even more time refining her technique.

Earlier this year, Blundi auditioned for and was accepted into MM2 (formerly Music and Motion Dance Promotions) dance company. She is the only high school student among a troupe of eight, the rest of whom are all of college age or recent college graduates.

“Her dancing technique and also what she brings in terms of self-expression … is just wonderful,” said Steven Weisz, founder and artistic director of MM2. “It’s striking to watch on stage. She gets lost in dance, has a beautiful way of expressing herself and takes on a whole other persona when she’s on stage that’s just wonderful to watch.

“When all of the ingredients come together — technique, the ability to perform for the audience, the company interplay between dancers and self-expression — when it’s all there, then the magic happens. And we definitely saw that in her.”

For Blundi, trying out for MM2 was not about proving anything to anybody but herself. And it also offered her a chance to spend even more time dancing.

“I found the company online one day,” she said. “I just wanted to know that I could do it. I don’t normally do things like that. That was out of the box, to try out for something like this.”

Her past performances were likely a good indication of how she would fare in her tryout. In the past competition season, Blundi has racked up an eye-popping number of awards and accolades for her dance at local, regional and national competitions. Dancing to “Then You Looked at Me,” Blundi took top honors in her categories in events such as Access Broadway, Showstopper, Star Power, Beyond the Stars 2010 and the National Dance Showcase, in which she was also chosen for the Star Champions Performance Group.

Ask her mother what she believes is the young dancer’s greatest moment, and she’ll point not to any medal or certificate, nor even to a specific competition. For Tina Blundi, the greatest moment was the first time she saw a shy young girl blossom into a confident dancer.

“The first time she ever did a solo, everybody from our studio that saw her, cried,” Tina Blundi said. “Her coach cried, the owners cried, I cried, my husband cried. A lot of times if she’s dancing around the house, she doesn’t go full-out, she just kind of goes through the motions. But when she got up on stage it was so amazing. Everybody cried.”

Saturday, Blundi will become one of the youngest performers ever to grace the stage during the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe when she and her mates at MM2 dance company perform “Emergence” at the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center.

For Blundi, however, it’s not about breaking age barriers or taking part in a prestigious local festival.

For Blundi, it’s all about spending time on the stage, doing what she does best, and what she loves most.

“I feel excited, and honored, I guess,” Blundi said of performing at the Philly Fringe Festival. Her voice begins to trail off, but not before adding, “I just want to dance. I just want to do what I love … wherever I can do it.”

MM2, modern dancers from Drexel Hill, Emerge into Philly Fringe

Published: Tuesday, September 07, 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.

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As seen in STAGE

by Walter Bender

On Stage Philadelphia’s Philly Fringe Preview at Plays & Players

MM2 performed a piece of “Emergence”,  a dance cutting from their [performance]  piece. Three dancers worked together to orchestrate a beautiful expression of nature’s emergence.

Company Interview with Montgomery News

Interview by Montgomery News Network
Craig Ostroff, Managing Editor

MM2 Modern Dance brings the Philly Fringe to Delaware County

The Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe is an internationally recognized presenter of performing arts. A broad array of performing artists, from Philadelphia and around the world, converge for two concurrent sixteen-day festivals during the month of  September in venues throughout Philadelphia. Now in its 14th year the festival will run from September 3rd –18th.

For a twist this year, fringe veteran, Steven Weisz and his Drexel Hill based MM2 Modern Dance received special permission to bring their perfomance to Delaware County with their premiere of Emergence, on Saturday, September 11th at 2:30, 4:30 and 7:30pm at the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center located at 601 Lansdowne Avenue, Drexel Hill, PA.

Weisz goes on to add “this will be my 6th year with the Philly Fringe and I wanted to be able to bring this incredible experience to more people in the suburbs, who might not otherwise venture in to the city. The folks at the Fringe Festival were great in allowing us to extend their borders this year”.

MM2 Modern Dance  has evolved as a leader in imaginative movement and creative collaboration for college age dancers as well as post-college dance majors in career transition. The Fringe offers the perfect platform for Weisz’s new choreographers and dancers to gain exposure for their works.

The work being presented at the Fringe this year, titled Emergence, has taken on a variety of meanings during the course of its development. Derived from examples in nature, a flock of birds or a school of fish moving together, emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of relatively simple interactions. For company members of MM2, especially those who recently graduated from college, it has marked their own self-exploration and development as they seek careers and their place in the performing arts world. Company member, Liz Lyle reiterates, ” It’s challenged me to think out side of the box and inspired me to conceive fresh ideas and new movements.”

For example, in the piece Post-Emergence, Lyle explores patterns that create contact between elements, while incorporating some quirky gems. Her counterpart, Cathrynne Grace Reynolds takes on the concept of Pre-Emergence in an attempt to emerge from pandemonium by finding calm within chaos. In Re-Emergence, Jenna Faye Eugenides incorporates original, live music by Daniel Ison, to tackle the issue of global responsibility, where following “the flock” may actually be a contributing problem.

Dancer Angela Littlefield notes that both MM2 Dance and the Fringe provide “a crucial learning experience to the new choreographer, allowing one to reveal themselves to both the dance and arts community at large.”  For audiences, it is a great opportunity to see new work emerge right here in Delaware County!

2010 company members are: Kristen Blundi, Jessica Bryan, Kristen Davies, Jenna Faye Eugenides, Stephanie King, Angela Littlefield, Liz Lyle and Cathrynne Grace Reynolds.

More about MM2 Modern Dance can be found on the web at https://www.mm2dance.org

 

QUICK FACTS
Show:
Emergence
Company: MM2 Modern Dance
Event: Philadelphia Live Arts & Philly Fringe
Date: Saturday, September 11, 2010
Times: 2:30pm, 4:30pm & 7:30pm
Venue: Upper Darby Performing Arts Center, 601 Lansdowne Avenue, Drexel Hill, PA

Tickets:
$15 general admission
$10 students and buyers under 25 years w. ID
Box Office: http://www.livearts-fringe.org or http://www.DanceBoxOffice.com

Special $5 tickets available: Send text message to 25827 and in body of message put mm2dance to find out how to get this discount.

Cultural Data Project

The Pennsylvania Cultural Data Project has selected the company photograph of MM2 Modern Dance – EMERGENCE to be featured on their web site.  It will be part of a new online slide show they are developing. Look for us in the near future on their site at http://www.pacdp.org

The Pennsylvania Cultural Data Project (Pennsylvania CDP) is a powerful online management tool designed to strengthen arts and cultural organizations.  Arts and cultural organizations enter financial, programmatic and operational data into a standardized online form and can then use the CDP to produce a variety of reports designed to help increase management capacity, identify strengths and challenges and inform decision-making. They can also generate reports to be included as part of the application processes to participating grantmakers.

This emerging national standard enables participating organizations to track trends and benchmark their progress through powerful reporting tools, empowers researchers and advocates with information to make the case for arts and culture, and equips funders with data to plan and evaluate grant-making activities more effectively.

2010 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe

2010 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe
MM2 Modern Dance – EMERGENCE
Saturday, September 11, 2010
3 Shows: 2:30pm, 4:30pm & 7:30pm

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Young Choreographers find a platform through MM2 Dance and the Philly Fringe

With the creation of MM2 Modern Dance, Steven Weisz, Artistic Director, decided to offer a new type of platform for college age dancers to both develop choreography as well as showcase their works. Weisz goes on to elaborate, “We try to provide them the opportunity and resources needed, including performance opportunities, to advance their own careers and place in the dance community.”

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PRESS: City Paper

Brief clip in the City Paper about our upcoming performance!

Dancing with Sculpture

View a brief video of an improvisational dance performed at Grounds For Sculpture.

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