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Cardell Dance Theater explores migration in new work

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STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For Digital First Media

The art of the movement of human migration is the impetus for “Supper, People on the Move” by Cardell Dance Theater. The new work explores the experiences of migration and dislocation. Eight dancers and special guest performers including choreographer Merián Soto will tell the story. A communal feast and discussion follows each performance.

Showing at the Icebox Project Space at Crane Arts, photo by Jennifer Baker.

Showing at the Icebox Project Space at Crane Arts, photo by Jennifer Baker.

“Supper, People on the Move,” which is funded in part by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, is an examination of the human experience of all people on the move, looking for new horizons, organizers say.

Choreographer Silvana Cardell creates from experience. She came to America from Argentina as a student, went home for several years, then came back and remained. She understands the issue from the inside out.

“Many people’s stories are similar,” she said. “It’s a universal experience. This is my country, too, but you always have this thing about what you left behind.”

When she originally came here to study dance, she heard that the overall experience would change her life.

“That was true. I didn’t feel at home [in Argentina] after that,” she said. “I was embedded in another culture, language, way of learning.”

But she wasn’t 100 percent comfortable in America either, she said, and she knows a lot of immigrants feel that way.

“You never settle anywhere,” she said. “You can switch back and forth between two places. It becomes like you’re an ambassador in both places. You can navigate well, but it’s not the same.”

Dancer from a showing at the Icebox Project Space at Crane Arts, photo by Jennifer Baker.

Dancer from a showing at the Icebox Project Space at Crane Arts, photo by Jennifer Baker.

In “Supper, People on the Move,” she tries to demonstrate the physical sensation of the experience. She thinks revealing the story through movement can have greater impact than just words.

“To talk about these experiences is necessary,” she said. “And this point of view is different than an article explaining the situation.”

Cardell is an artist making art from what she knows, which is dance, she said. She’s also interested in exploring social issues. This piece started as a reflection about leaving home and making a home away from home. During the process of creating, however, it became about something more.

“There’s all this information in the news about immigration that started invading the work,” she said. “The work became more universal.”

There’s a lot of running, walking on walls, a lot of climbing things.

“It’s very charged with the energy of moving and of going from one place to another. You can get a sense of what the body goes through,” she said. “Immigration is about moving from one place to another and if you’re running for your life or you fell in love with someone or you have an opportunity, your body will endure the change.”

Cardell thinks it’s a controversial theme for some, but “the way I treat it, the people against having more immigrants here will be able to feel something and to listen to this,” she said.

It will be an immersive experience. Instead of the dancers being in front of the audience, the performance will take place in a circle. People will see each other while they’re watching the dancers move around. After the performance, the audience will be invited to sit together at tables and discuss the show and immigration in general.

Her goal is to humanize the experience, she said. She hopes that people connect with the material, that people will enjoy and learn from the performance, the discussions, and the meal, all of which are “a reminder of the shared human relationship… and to the deeper connections among us.”

IF YOU GO

What:  “Supper, People On The Move” by Cardell Dance Theater

When:  8 p.m. June 25-28

Where:  Icebox Project Space at Crane Arts, 1400 N. American St., Philadelphia, PA 19122.

Tickets:  $20 general admission, $15 for seniors and students. Purchase at supper.ticketleap.com/dance

Info.:  Visit www.supperdance.com

Note:  A free Independence Mall Outdoor Broadcast will take place at 8 p.m. June 26 (rain date: 8 p.m. June 27). An exhibit of photographs accompanies the dance performance as well.

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