Dance, Dance, Otherwise We Are Lost: A Review of Tangle Movement Arts’ Break/Drift/Resist

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

Pina Bausch, the well-known choreographer and subject of the recent documentary film Pina, once said of her dancers, “I’m not so interested in how they move as in what moves them.”  I couldn’t help but be reminded of Bausch’s style as I watched the open rehearsal for Tangle Movement Arts’ production of Break/Drift/Resist, which plays as part of the 2013 Philly Fringe Arts festival.  Tangle, which self-describes itself as having “an emphasis on queer and female experience,” presents an interesting program that is extremely hard to define: is it dance?  Is it acrobatics?  Is it theatre?

One of the most interesting elements of this production that adds to this quandary is the physical location of it at Philadelphia Soundstages, which is housed at 1600 North 5th Street.  The building, which, from the outside, appears to be a desolate warehouse, is home to one of Philadelphia’s most active film shooting studios.  Tangle has set up shop amongst film lights and green screens, creating an almost eerie juxtaposition.  For me, this is one of the most interesting parts of attending the Fringe Arts festival: experiencing art in unlikely places.

So far as the program is concerned, the open rehearsal I attended served more as a trial session for the performers, Kate Aid, Sal Nicolazzo, Tiffany Holder, Lauren Rile Smith, Lee Ane Pompilio, Rebecca MoDavis, and Deena Weisberg.  The program, according to the troupe’s director, Ms. Smith, is “inspired by the friction and warmth of our close-knit queer community.”  To be honest, any notions of “queerness” in the show’s segments that I viewed were just as ambiguous as trying to classify Break/Drift/Resist into a certain performance type.

The acrobatics were, alas, quite breathtaking—of note was a silks routine performed by a member of the troupe where she, quite literally, weaved herself into a dreamcatcher-like shape.  There was also a clear and palpable tenderness and respect amongst the all-female troupe as they moved through challenging rope routines and choreography.   Indeed, the performance can best be summarized by another quote from Pina Bausch: “To understand what I am saying, you have to believe that dance is something other than technique.  We forget where the movements come from.  They are born from life.”

Break/Drift/Resist will be performed at Philadelphia Soundstages, 1600 N. 5th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122.  Tickets, which range from $15-20 (with discounts for artists, students, seniors, and groups), can be purchased at the door or online at  For discount information, contact

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