The aqua-painted walls and polished hardwood floors of SHARP’s studio in South Philadelphia do not serve as boundaries for its dancers.
SHARP’s choreography is inspired by various corners of the world, depths of the mind and realms of experience. The company will embark on various upcoming shows throughout the United States this year, and eventually cross the Atlantic Ocean come next year.
The Philadelphia-based modern dance company, founded by Diane Sharp-Nachsin in 2005, is based in experimental technique and painted in a landscape of inventive dance, from pointe in straight jackets to pirouettes in suspended contraptions.
In the past decade, SHARP has already performed in venues across the globe, ranging everywhere from Phoenix to England.
“We’ve been here, there, and everywhere,” said company dancer, Sandra Davis. “Between local, national and international, we’re really expanding. It’s very exciting.”
July is an especially eventful month for SHARP.
After kicking off with Washington D.C.’s Fringe Festival, the dancers venture out west where they’ll be performing “Une Soirée au Cabaret” in California for the San Diego Fringe Festival. The 1920s Parisian-style show, originally performed at Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts in 2011, features aerial spectacles like nets and hoops. To complete the themes of the roaring twenties, the females are decorated in fringe and corsets and the males dress in black slacks and sleeveless white shirts.
“The costumes from Cabaret stay very true to the time period of the 1920s,” said Davis.
From San Diego, SHARP will make their way towards the Rocky Mountains in September for Boulder, Colorado’s Fringe Festival, showcasing some of their pieces, including “Roller Coaster,’’ “Perceptions,’’ and segments from their newest show, “The Seven Windows,’’ which is premiering in its entirety this November for SHARP’s Fall season.
“The Seven Windows,’’ inspired by a company member’s stirring dream, is centered upon seven different elements of art, including poems and paintings, produced by creators located from New York to Italy. Each of the seven crafts, which are created specifically for this project, will partner a segment of the piece. Dancers will perform in quartets, duets and solos, as the artwork is suspended, projected, or vocalized at The Performance Garage.
Throughout the seven scenes, the piece maintains an underlying theme of reincarnation, according to Diane Sharp-Nachsin, the company’s artistic director.
“Maybe [‘The Seven Windows’’] will make people feel better, or maybe it will just make them think about [reincarnation], which may be enough,’’ said Sharp-Nachsin.
Simply inducing thought in the minds’ of her audience is considered a sufficient success.
“I don’t care whether you like it or you don’t like it, as long as you’re leaving the show thinking about it,” she said.
Within the next year, SHARP will exchange paints and poems for plants and petals, as surreal-inspired pieces shift to scenic-inspired ones.
While Sharp-Nachsin, the company’s predominant choreographer, was perusing the Amafli coast of Italy she found herself riveted by the gardens of Ravello, the idea for the company’s imminent tour.
“I love to collaborate with other artists, and this is its own collaboration,” said Sharp-Nachsin. “It’s you and nature, and nature is now my collaborating partner.”
Throughout 2016, SHARP will grace gardens throughout the globe with pieces originally choreographed in Greece. With nature serving as its scenery, the four-person tour will journey through the United States and Europe, performing amidst the natural beauties of the world.
“It will be amazing if this tour is international. I’d definitely love to go back to Greece for it,” said Davis.
Sharp-Nachsin’s inspiration is not limited to dreams and gardens. Some of her work is heavily based in societal issues, creating a spectrum of thought-provoking pieces.
“When I find something that maybe I don’t know enough about, or something that I wish people would know about, that’s what drives me to do work,” Sharp-Nachshin said.
Her choreography conveys the internal and external human consciousness with social issues, ranging from domestic violence and mental health to environmental issues, like pollution and global warming.
At the same time, her choreography reflects the human spirit with pieces fostered by personal stories written from local individuals expressing their experiences from cancer to car dilemmas, which was the basis for “Perceptions” in 2013.
“Diane’s mind works in so many different ways. It’s really cool,” said Davis.
The creation of these emotional pieces, according to Sharp-Nachsin, is fueled by the company’s tight-knit family dynamic.
“People have commented that they can tell we’re very close,’’ Davis said. “I just can’t imagine being anywhere else. It feels right. I feel at home with SHARP.”
“I feel that when you’re on stage with people you really care about,’’ Sharp-Nachsin said, ‘’the work that you’re doing transcends the stage.”
Grace Maiorano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.