18 3/4 Anniversary Celebration
Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly.com
Posted on Sat, Jan. 22, 2011
Pilobolus, Momix, even Cirque du Soleil visit Philadelphia regularly, and loyal fans flock to their accessible, humorous, gravity‐defying performances.
But Philadelphia has its own company in this realm, Brian Sanders' Junk, which has performed here regularly, mostly at Live Arts/Fringe, since 1992. I'm always surprised Junk doesn't have more of a following and perform more frequently.
Sanders, a Momix alumnus, must agree: Rather than waiting for its 20th anniversary to party, the company opened its "183/4 Anniversary Celebration" Thursday at the Arts Bank, to a rapt crowd.
The program is a suite of dances, one from each year. It's great fun that never loses sight of its artistic sensibilities, a mix of beautiful duets, aerial dances, and unusual themes, with found objects as costumes and scenery, set to music ranging from Talking Heads to Bach to the Klezmer Conservatory Orchestra.
In a quick, clever transformation, a dancer turns from a Greek god into a baseball pitcher in Prospero's Pitch, which Sanders choreographed in 1994 with Momix founder Moses Pendleton. He repeats the hard‐to‐fathom balancing techniques in 2000's Maestro, in which a dancer conducts an invisible orchestra, bending in unimaginable ways, feet planted firmly in one spot.
The movement in Underwater Study #5 and Underwater Study #6 is remarkably close to swimming, though one is danced on solid ground and the other on an aerial apparatus. Swingshot, from 1998, is a study in what no parents would want their kids to do in a hammock: swing, twirl upside down,bounce, do back flips, and pretend to fly.
Sanders gets clever with other everyday items as well. Soda bottles become makeshift tap shoes in an excerpt from 1999's Patio Plastico. Dancers are tossed in and then dumped out of garbage cans in 2002's Blotto! Pogo sticks double as jackhammers in another Patio Plastico
excerpt, added in 2005.
But Sanders is not just in it for laughs. He also makes beautiful dance, including the duet Lever from 2001, and the aerial Cubes, an excerpt from Sanctuary, presented at the 2010 Live Arts Festival.
This program is a bonus dose of one of the most entertaining dance companies in Philadelphia. It's kid‐friendly, too. Catch it while you can.