STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For Digital First Media
Exciting and new: those are two words that the Nice and Fresh performing arts series hopes to live up to during every show. The series, created by SmokeyScout Productions, offers viewers the opportunity to see four artists performing new works between 10 and 15 minutes in length in one night. The February event features the SHARP Dance Company — Joe Cicala, of King of Prussia, is one of the company’s original members.
Cicala, who grew up in Norristown and lives in King of Prussia, is looking forward to performing at Nice and Fresh. After earning a BFA in dance at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, he has danced professionally with several companies before joining SHARP.
He started dancing late, he said, when he was about 20. He originally thought he’d do musical theater, but decided to focus on dance. It’s a tough way to make a living, so he has a day job, too. He loves being creative — he just didn’t want to struggle to do so.
“We all make decisions about what we need and what we want,” he said. “I wasn’t of the ilk that some of my friends were. They went to New York and struggled and ate Oodles of Noodles. I didn’t want that, so I stayed more local.”
Dancing is a way for him to “say” what he needs to without speaking.
“I’m more able to express myself through movement than words,” he said.
He’ll dance in one of two short pieces by SHARP at Nice and Fresh: “Where Are the Spoons?” and “Flower in the Storm.” Artistic Director Diane Sharp-Nachsin choreographed the works to be performed by Cicala, Sandra Davis, Sophie Malin, Miguel Quinones, and Kate Rast. “Flower” is a solo from an upcoming show they’re creating. “Spoons” is a group piece about “being on the wrong end of insane rage,” series organizers said.
“Spoons” is from an evening called “Perceptions.” That work originated with the company asking neighbors to submit letters about someone who changed their perception about something, Sharp-Nachsin said. One letter was from a woman, now 60, who remembered being 10 and watching her stepfather beat her sister over a spoon.
It’s an intense piece with a lot of technically-driven movement and emotion, she said. It’s abstract, too — the piece features spoons and a voiceover at the beginning letting people know what the story is about, but the rest is up to viewers.
“People have different viewpoints. Are the men in the group representing the beater or just helping with the storytelling?” she said. “Everyone has their own interpretation of what the movement means.”
What dance means to Cicala — it’s a way to be creative and to engage with other artists. He loves dancing with SHARP.
“The most important thing is just getting to work with the people that we work with,” he said. “It’s fun.”
IF YOU GO
What: Nice and Fresh: Pop-up Performances of New Theater and Dance featuring SHARP Dance Company, John Rosenberg of Hella Fresh Theater; dancer Megan Mazarick; and Josh McIlvain of SmokeyScout Productions
When: Feb. 27 at 6 and 8 p.m.; Feb. 28 at 6 and 8 p.m.
Where: Moving Arts of Mount Airy, 6819 Greene St., Greene Street and Carpenter Lane, Philadelphia, PA
Admission: $7 at nice15.brownpapertickets.com or at the door