Everyone has that one thing they’ve always wanted to try: painting, singing, cooking … taxidermy. So, what stops us? Well, learning a new skill takes a lot of time and effort, as well as money and a bit of courage. (Ok, a lot). Philly is full of exciting classes and workshops to help you scratch that creative itch you’ve always had. The list of fun and funky options below is just the tip of the iceberg. Go forth and explore!
Local choreographer—and former G Philly cover boy—Gunnar Montana is currently starring in his latest FringeArts piece Resurrection Room, one of a host of LGBT shows playing at this year’s festival. Unfortunately we haven’t had a chance to see it yet, but a reader, Mark Bolen sent this commentary that we wanted to share. Full disclosure: As you’ll discover when you read, Bolen is Gunnar’s ex-boyfriend, but conflict of interest aside, it offers a behind-the-scenes peek into the artistic evolution of one of Philly’s most promising up-and-coming performers, LGBT or otherwise. Check out his piece below.
I met Gunnar moonlighting at a Center City restaurant back in 2011, but he didn’t call himself Montana then. He was Gunnar Clark, an adorable UArts senior, bursting with energy and creativity. We became fast friends—and eventually boyfriends. I spent two years on a wild ride intimately linked to Gunnar’s evolution as an artist. During the course of that time I got to load my car full of shredded medical records, ride a stretcher down 8th Street at 2 a.m. (we got pulled over, but avoided a ticket), stand in a robe in my tub and be doused with black paint, and fold I don’t know how many paper plates and cone “spikes.”
Cessario tells me he decided to shoot a film that focuses on Ruxbin because of the DJs unlikely story. He was a Drexel University business grad who “ditched the cubicle to create a grimey underground dance music empire in Philadelphia,” he says. “EDM has exploded and DJs are the new rockstars, but I want to show the less-glamorous side of the business—the side that actually powers 90 percent of [the Philly EDM scene].”
These days, Cessario says, Ruxbin basically lives out of his car while putting on sold-out shows at TLA and, for a little side money, a strip club called Purple Orchid. All that’s captured in pilot, with commentary by local MC Buddy Leezle and DJ Jack Deezl.
Cessario hopes this short film will attract investors who may be interested in backing a more-blown-out documentary. If not, this could be the only episode we’ll see. “This will remain a conceptual pilot for a series until we find more support. If we don’t, it will die and go to the pilot graveyard.”
Check it out above.
Last year Gunnar Montana had us all hot and bothered with the freakishly hot flyer to his dance show Basement, but this year our award for hottest FringeArts promo definitely goes to Brian Sanders JUNK.
The local dance company, known for provocative performances, high-flying trapeze acts, and, well nudity, is putting on Suspended at this year’s festival. The company’s website describes the show as “a fantastical titillating abyss, where dual states of being and consciousness cross both sides of the line at the same time.” It promises audacious physicality. amd strong adult content that is “raw, brash, erotic, extreme.”
Upping the hotness factor a bit, each show will be preceded by a “Locker Room Preshow,” where, if you pay a little extra, you can “join the men of JUNK for an up-close and personal view. Find yourself … caught in the middle of a rat-tail towel war; wearing soap suds and, enjoying all male, nude-bathing by candlelight.”
Uh, yes, please.
The show runs September 5-20 at JUNK’s studio at 2040 Christian Street. Tickets, ranging from $35 to $70 can be purchased here.
Extra outtake from the shoot:
Local dancer Jennifer Jones was just hired to join the L.A. Clippers Spirit Dance Team.
The 22-year-old tells me she moved to Los Angeles on July 11th, and began auditioning for the team only seven days later, on the 18th.”I got there at 8 a.m. and didn’t leave until about 5 p.m. … We went through three rounds of auditioning. The competition was intense. All of the girls who came to that audition were beautiful and phenomenal dancers.”
She soared through that day, and then moved on to finals, which consisted of three more rounds: jazz, hip-hop, and solo sections. After that, family and friends had a week to vote online. In the end she was one of the 18 dancers chosen—out of around 200 people.
Since its start in 2010, National Dance Day, a day devoted to celebrating dance, has become a huge event across the country. This year, Philadelphia Dance Day has an amazing schedule planned, with workshops and live performances happening all day long, and a massive dance party to end the night. Local studios like Philly Dance Fitness, Studio 1831 and Major Moment Studio are participating, which means the lineup is packed with fun classes ranging from ballet to tango to Zumba, and even—gasp!— striptease. And the best part? This entire day, packed with workshops and classes galore, costs next to nothing—in fact, all of the workshops offered before 5:30 p.m. are completely free.
According to The New York Times, a recent study found that thinking of a workout as a fun activity instead of just boring ol’ exercise can have a serious impact on how effective your gym time is. The problem is, it’s really hard to have a good time working out when you’re trudging away on the treadmill. So to help you guys make the most of your workout time, we’ve rounded up five Be Well Philly approved fitness classes that are anything but boring.
We’ve tried each and every one of these unique local classes, and they were all tons of fun. Plus, each one left us feeling that good kind of I’m-totally-going-t0-have-a-six-pack-tomorrow sore. And lucky you for you, we took note of our experiences in our “I Tried It” series. So now that we’ve tested the waters, all you’ve got to do is read up, pick a class, and have a blast.
Philly dancer/choreographer Nichole Canuso returns for her first show in Philly since last fall’s The Garden, and for the first time she’ll be taking the stage alone. Canuso calls Midway Avenue “the most directly personal work I’ve made to date.” There is no set. It’s just her, a piano, and enough pieces of scotch tape to construct her childhood home. Within those walls she blends movement, music, and dialogue to reveal how experiences from her youth have formed the life she’s living today.
In a Q&A I did with her this week, she details the creative process behind the show, how being a new mom influenced the work, and how the “richness of the process will be feeding me for years to come.”
The other day, I was mindlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed when I came across this video of a New York City socialite of sorts, getting her groove on in a Beyonce-inspired dance class. The envy that I felt was absurd. All I could think was, Why isn’t every dance studio in Philadelphia hosting hourly Beyonce-themed dance classes, every single day?! Whyyy? (Dramatic, I know) And then Philly Dance Fitness came along with their Bootylicious Beyonce Twerkshop. Yep, that’s right: A Twerkshop.
Last year, the dance studio hosted Beyonce-themed dance classes and Twerkshop classes, and after tons of requests to bring these favorites back, the studio decided to combine the two, creating the 90-minute workshop of everyone’s dreams. (Okay, maybe not everyone.) During the workshop, participants will, first, learn how to twerk. Then they will “pop, grind, shake and wind through 90 minutes of nonstop dance routines,” to the beat of Beyonce tunes, of course.