Under the direction of dance teacher Brian Feigenbaum, the Lawrence Academy Dance Program has been invited for a fourth time in the last ten years to present work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. “This is a select troupe of our most mature and disciplined performers,” Feigenbaum said. “They’ll perform an original piece of dance theatre co-directed by me and Theatre Director Joel Sugerman.”
Feigenbaum’s approach to teaching dance in general at LA has been to place total emphasis on the process of creation. He points out that the technical skills of the dancer are developed over time.
“Many students who dance at LA,” he said, “never fully master the technical side of dance but they do master many of the challenges of dance such as self-examination and discovery, the fear of performance, and the experience of giving themselves over to an experience that more often than not feels foreign and uncomfortable. “The fact that many of these young folks are willing to do what I ask and to perform is a testament to their courage,” Feigenbaum said.
And courage, as well as excitement and anticipation, will be some of the emotions that this elite group of LA dancers will be feeling as they prepare for their trip to Scotland.
“I’m looking forward to collaborating with fellow actors and dancers. I’ve never had the opportunity of working with dancers like Patrick (Burns ’13) and Holly (Moniz ’13), so I’m really excited to get to work,” Joe Casper, ’13, said. “In all of the play productions I have ever been in, the structure has stayed relatively the same. We have about six to eight weeks in total to memorize lines, block scenes, develop characters, and then in the final week (a.k.a “tech week”) we put everything together.
“In this case, Brian and Joel are assembling a year’s worth of material from his dance classes and ensembles and giving us a couple of weeks to put it together. The time difference is also a huge thing. As opposed to the 6 to 8 straight weeks of rehearsal in a theatre production, we have a week in June to rehearse, followed by us taking a break for summer, and coming back together in August to go to Scotland and put on our own amazing show.”
Feigenbaum agreed that the Fringe trip offers a very unique experience. “Performing at the Fringe allows us to showcase what we do before an international audience,” he said, “and affords an opportunity to our most stage-ready students to perform and see cutting-edge theatre from around the world.” Critics agree that the work that LA dancers perform at Fringe has been noteworthy. About the 2003, 2006 and 2009 Fringe Festival LA performances, they’ve said:
“The dancing was fluent, accomplished, dynamic and instilled with a touching sophistication that might be expected of much more mature dancers. There were moments of riveting dramatic tension and passages of surprising tenderness” (Christian Science Monitor, 2003)
“Unlike some contemporary dance performances, the dancing is graceful and fluid and a pleasure to watch. The audience is captivated from the first movement…” (Broadway Baby, 2006)
Brian often waxes philosophical when talking about, well, pretty much anything, but especially dance. “Truth be told, the language of symbolic imagery is our oldest form of expression, and as a photographer friend said to me recently, the viewer is only *able* to see what he is *ready* to see.”