- The Washington Times - Friday, July 14, 2006

The Capital Fringe Festival, playing throughout town for 11 days beginning Thursday, claims it is inspired by the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but in that case, the word “fringe” really meant something: It was on the fringe of a big, mainstream festival and out to challenge or shake up the definition of culture. In the early days, Edinburgh Fringe was often in hot water with the authorities for being impudent, scandalous, obscene — you name it.

Washington’s Fringe probably will be a tamer affair (although two dance groups warn of — or promise — productions that “contain nudity and profanity”) but it still sounds like a potentially livening-up moment in a city noted for a fairly staid attitude about the arts. Our own Fringe is not playing against a larger high arts festival, but against the ethos of Washington — a buttoned-up town that could use a little goofiness and high spirits.

Many of the artists seem to have signed on to that concept or, as in the case of Daniel Burkholder, already have been primed for something offbeat. Mr. Burkholder, a leading figure in contact improvisation, makes an art of creating movement in the moment.

“For a couple of years,” he says, “I’ve been interested in doing a 24-hour performance as an exploration in endurance and how that can lead to transformation.” Beginning Friday, he and guitarist Jonathan Matis will give a performance that begins at 9 p.m. and goes on every hour until the final performance at 8 p.m. the following day. It’s called “Unmapped,” and because it will all be improvised (in a highly disciplined way) it promises to live up to its title. The 24 performances take place at the Warehouse Theater, 1017 Seventh St. NW.

Choreographer Ed Tyler, in contrast, has taken “Sanctuary,” an already created piece, and transformed it into a 10-hour human installation at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. In Mr. Tyler’s almost surreal examination of the meaning of sanctuary — a safe place or a place of peril? — the subject is riveting because of the fiercely dedicated performances by his remarkable dancers. The show is July 22 beginning at 1 p.m.

For a group like the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, the idea of stirring things up isn’t a novelty; it’s a way of life. Miss Lerman has been breaking down barriers and pushing people’s buttons (mostly in a warm and friendly way) since she began here more than 30 years ago, and that has led to a MacArthur genius award and national recognition. For this occasion, her group will tackle such topics as immigration, Piggly-Wiggly supermarkets transformed into storefront churches, and a Roy Lichtenstein painting come to life in “Bring Us on Home.” Dance Exchange will perform at Calvary Baptist-Woodward Theater, 777 Eighth St. NW, on July 21.

Quirky and intriguing ideas abound:

• Picasso once left his easel and wrote a short story. BosmaDance has created a multimedia dance about this filled with “sensual indulgence, cooking, sex and poetry.” (This is one of the shows featuring nudity and profanity.) It runs July 20 through 23 at various times at 1409 Playbill Cafe, 1409 14th St. NW.

• Jane Franklin combines poetry and movement in “Dancing the Page” at various times (check the schedule) at Calvary Baptist-Woodward Theater. She reappears with Cabaradio at the Warehouse Theater on July 29 and 30.

• Nancy Havlik combines the girl detective Nancy Drew and the ancient poet Sappho in “Slippery Sleuth & Ancient Muse,” also on various dates at Calvary Baptist-Woodward Theater.

• Naoko Maeshiba brings the poetic sensitivity of Butoh in “Remains of Shadow,” using poetry, music and video for an examination of two worlds, at Woolly Mammoth Main Stage on July 22 and 23 at various times.

• The high-flying duo Arachne Aerial Arts looks at the housing situation with a new work, “Luxury Lofts Coming Soon!” at Woolly Mammoth Main Stage on July 22 and 23.

• The work of AVAdance/ Spirit Motion is inspired by the poetry of Marshall Ball, at various times at Calvary Baptist Church.

• Kelly Bond’s “Sill” brings unpredictability to the Woolly Mammoth Main Stage July 22 and 24.

• “Kitsch in Sync” is a smorgasbord of witty non sequiturs by Emily Crews at Woolly Mammoth Rehearsal Hall at various times.

• Weerd Sisters: Risky Undertakings brings dance works, violin and voice in a humorous work for all ages, done in English and American Sign Language, at Warehouse Downtown Arts Complex, 1021 Seventh St. NW, at various times.

• Suite Earth’s artists from the mountains of Western Maryland use aerial dance and live music to speak about war, destruction and renewal, July 23 through 25 at Woolly Mammoth Main Stage.

• Living’s dancers bring themes from their own lives to the table, July 26 through 29 at Calvary Baptist Church.

• Mansurdance: Off White brings Miss Mansur’s Lebanese-American heritage to a site-specific performance installation in English and Arabic (another nudity and profanity piece) at Pepco’s Edison Place Gallery, 702 Eighth St. NW, July 27 through 29.

• FloydProject Dance Company has as its theme “What’s Your Story?” a multicultural tale of women’s stories with words in English, Finnish, French, Italian and American Sign Language. At Warehouse Downtown Arts Complex Main Stage, July 28 through 30

• Sahara Dance brings belly dance to Calvary Baptist-Woodward Theater, July 28 through 30.

• The final group, emphasizing the playfulness of Fringe, is Momentum Dance Theatre with “Pop Up Dances.” The group will perform on street corners downtown in a short show with hip-hop, salsa, modern and jazz dance, breaking down the set and popping up elsewhere.

For more information on times and locations for all the groups, go to the Fringe Web site, www.capfringe.org. Most performances are $15. (The “Pop Up Dances” probably are free, but who knows, maybe the dancers will pass the hat.)

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