Review: ‘The Migration Project: live performance art installation’‘ at Jane Franklin Dance Company

The Migration Project is a live music, multi-media event directed and developed by Jane Franklin of the Jane Franklin Dance Company that raises many questions: When is it necessary to pick up from where one lives and move to a place full of promise? What does it mean to be an American? How do the newly relocated adjust to their new surroundings? Ultimately, the show asks the audience member: “What’s your migration story?”

Matthew Rock and Amy Scaringe at Theatre on the Run. Photo courtesy of Jane Franklin Dance Company.
Matthew Rock and Amy Scaringe at Theatre on the Run. Photo courtesy of Jane Franklin Dance Company.

Running through November 19th, at Arlington, Virginia’s Theatre on the Run, the show examines human flight—to greener pastures—through several relocation narratives taken from residents in the DMV (District, Maryland and Virginia). The narratives included everything from recent relocations, family histories, to immigration stories from many, many decades ago. A common theme of the narratives are the urge to locate new opportunities or the necessity of fleeing the intolerable.

Bluegrass fiddler Patrick McAvinue helped begin the immersive visual experience as the Company danced to the audio narratives in front of artist Rosemary Feit Covey’s painted flats. Covey’s art consisted of stark, white faces on a black background, which invoked a quote from the poem “The New Colossus” by 19th Century poet Emma Lazarus: “huddled masses, yearning to be free.”

The element that made it all work to high effect were the Company’s dancers: Emily Crews, Carrie Monger, Matthew Rock, Amy Scaringe, Brynna Shank and Rebecca Weiss. Their gracefully coordinated body-movements brought humanity and life to the narratives and the imagery. At times, the dancers encouraged audience members to migrate to different seats and view the show from various vantage points, making the show more of a participatory one. Thanks to video artist, Dawn Whitmore, a resident artist at Arlington Arts Center, the show featured eye-catching video that included immigration documents, and her own drawings, all of which nicely matched the audio narratives. Aiding the mood of the show was Greta Daughtrey’s apropos light design.

The core of the show were the narratives from the likes of Andie deVaulx, an Educator Artist from France and England; Magdelena Dornin, an Internal Designer from Poland; Ken Hays, an Engineer from Germany and Slovakia; Florence and Harry Katrivanos, Partners in the near-to-the-theater New District Brewing Company, from Greece; Connor McKoy, a Media Relations specialist from the US Southeast; and Vivek Patil, a Biotech Entrepreneur from India among many others.

Rosemary Feit Covey (Artist).
Rosemary Feit Covey (Artist).

There was talk in the narratives of immigrants escaping “Russian pogroms”; “leaving a Jewish life for a White Southern wife”; “hiding in a boiler room”; kale farms in long-ago Silver Spring, Maryland; a reference to the local Weenie Beanie eatery in Arlington; a story about obtaining a New York State driver’s license through bribery; and Patil’s story of growing up in the “cocktail” of a Hindu/Catholic household.

A show like this needs music to tie all the visual themes together. Composers of the excellent music included David Schulman, who composed “Botany of Desire”; Mark Sylvester’s “Other Freds Banjo Themes” from Other Freds and “Joe’s Theme” from Nothing But Sky; and Haskell Small’s “Ellen Andrèe”, “Aline Charigot,” and “Charles Ephrussi” from Renoir’s Feast.

Franklin, the Company’s Artistic Director, and a recipient of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region Creative Communities Award among many other accolades, has a visually enrapturing, emotionally captivating show for audiences to see. So take flight, drive, or migrate to Theatre on the Run and enjoy this enlightening mix of dance, audio, and visuals.


Running Time: 60 minutes, with no intermission.

The Migration Project: live performance art installation plays through November 19, 2016 at Jane Franklin Dance Company performing at Theatre on the Run – 3700 South Four Mile Run Drive, in Arlington, VA. For tickets, call (703) 933-1111, or purchase them online.

Note: The November 13th and 19th performances include a beer ticket for one full pour (14 oz.) at New District Brewing Company.

Jane Franklin Dance Opens ‘The Migration Project: live performance art installation’ on Friday, November 4th.

In the Moment: Jane Franklin on ‘The Migration Project’ Opening Tomorrow Night at Theatre on the Run.

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1550.gif


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