2015 Capital Fringe Preview #5: Jane Franklin Dance’s ‘Niche’ by Jane Franklin

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Part of the 10th Annual Capital Fringe Festival July 9 – 26, 2015

July 15th at 7:45 pm

July 17th at 8:45 pm
July 18th at 12 noon
July 22nd at 9:05 pm
July 25th at 6:50 pm
July 26th at 3:15 pm

STARTING JUNE 22ND, PURCHASE TICKETS AT capitalfringe.org, OR CALL (866) 811-4111

Niche: new house, big careers, odd neighbors.

Jane Franklin Dance’s ’Niche.’ Photo by Paul Gillis Photography.
Jane Franklin Dance’s ’Niche.’ Photo by Paul Gillis Photography.

In Jane Franklin Dance’s Niche you will find an unremarkable couple with a new house, big careers, and odd neighbors. 2-D cut-outs projected via ‘old school’ technology supply larger than life visuals. Movement and dialogue merge while live music for guitar circulates.

Choreographer and Director Jane Franklin has developed an everyday theme, far from grandiose, but not exactly normal, through narrative movement, dialogue, and music and decidedly un-digital technology. The stimulating backdrop visuals are not generated by a complex computer program, but rather by colored transparencies, light and pictographs. With help from UpCycle, an Alexandria-based creative reuse center, old things fashion a wry tale that is laughable, serious, unexpected, and just exactly what you would expect.

UpCycle occupies a small upstairs space on Mt. Vernon Avenue in Del Ray. They collect reusable arts & crafts items and then make them available for a flat rate fee, depending on the size of the bag. They have a well-defined position in a part of Alexandria known for neighborliness and small-town atmosphere. It is a good fit. Finding a place to fit in is the premise for Niche and its ordinary and unremarkable couple.

But ordinary life can be pretty compelling, after all there are neighbors, people you notice, times you think you will be noticed. Everyone thinks everyone else is a little odd. Look at it this way, which would you rather have? Thirty-something neighbors playing loud music at 2 am and drinking beer from a funnel or fifty-something neighbors with a barking dog at 5 am and a lawn mower going way too early. Neighbors are odd. There’s always a lot more to accept, or not-expect.

Niche’s innovative movement and dialogue provide a humorous twist as the story moves forward. He gains success with ground breaking PowerPoint Presentations. Recognizable business lexicon and phrases are projected somewhat haphazardly, as the performers generally ‘applaud’ themselves for a job well-done. The other half, she has it ‘all under control,’ gives advice, and is featured in a magazine and is basically running things ‘on time.’ Time passes by quickly and there are lots of things, more than they know what to do with. A collection of 1960-era slides reveal sincere Americana style ala Look Magazine or early Mad Men.

There are lots of things: draperies, plaid curtains, and small statues that only got dusty and had been forgotten. Something has to give when you have bigger fish to fry.

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Niche is an ordinary story of transformation, a unique take on a recognizable experience, and a transformation of reusable items via the ‘old school’ methods of overhead and slide projectors. Storyboard caricatures are drawn in real time by artist Susan Miranda. Guitarist Cristian Perez performs striking compositions by Astor Piazzolla, Agustin Barrios Mangore, Francisco Tarrega and his own original music to propel the story and the players.


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