Fringe Festival show challenges an art form

Keila Cordova returns to Temple to perform “Linear Default,” as part of Fringe Festival.

This month, Keila Cordova gets to continue her “partnership” with Temple that started five years ago.

“We’ve been very grateful for the partnership, the trust and the opportunity to present our work in one of the best spaces to show dance in Philadelphia,” Cordova said.

Cordova’s company, 3 Pony Show/Keila Cordova Dances, will come to Conwell Hall on Sept. 10 at 1:30 p.m. to perform its show, “Linear Default,” at Fringe Festival.  The festival is a 17-day celebration of contemporary performance, featuring music, dance and theater held at venues across the city.

“Linear Default” was chosen to come to Temple by a committee of student representatives “responsible for the general activity fund the dance school gets each year,” said Nanette Joyce, director of Conwell Theater.

Joyce said having performers at Temple is also a way to expose students to other artists and incorporate “professional experiences for our students.” The committee looks for acts that will educate and inspire students, like the work produced by Cordova, who Joyce said is “constantly creating.”

“It’s part of her aesthetic,” she added. “[Cordova] really does try to create an experience with the audience that makes them think about things they normally wouldn’t think about. … She likes to push boundaries, like using sets and props.”

“We like people that challenge the art form and make people think about why these bodies move in space,” she added.

For anyone who is not familiar with contemporary choreography, Joyce encourages them to come with an open mind.

“You have to think about the relationship of dancers and movements, and be open to see what it makes them feel and think about,” she added.

Sarah Warren, who graduated with a bachelor’s in dance performance & choreography in 2015, met Cordova at a show in February. She is now one of the dancers in Cordova’s company.

General audience involvement can be created in many different ways, Warren said, from where the audience is placed in comparison to the dancers, verbal interaction and physical interaction.

“[Cordova] creates experiences between audience members and performers unlike in a typical concert dance where you have that fourth wall,” Warren said. “The audience is not looking in on the experience in Keila’s work, rather they are part of the experience which allows a different sort of engagement and interpretation of the work and meaning behind it.”

Warren said “Linear Default” is more “contemporary modern” and contains a wide variety of aesthetics that “different people will be able to connect to.”

“Maybe it’s because I had a heck of a time trying to pick my major in college,” Cordova said on why she incorporates such different concepts in her dance. “Performance work is another form of portraiture, so those things are simply an expression of who I am as an artist.”

The dancers perform closer to the audience so it’s a more “intimate experience,” Cordova said.

People aren’t necessarily eager to step out of their comfort zone, Cordova said, so the performers try to create opportunities where audience members feel safe and curious enough to enter the performance space. Cordova said she is always trying to “create an experience.”

“We work to engage the mind in our expression of the body,” she added. “Nothing is continuous, but everything is a conversation.”

CORRECTION: In a print version of this article, the name of Keila Cordova’s dance company is called 954 Dance Movement Collective, but is called 3 Pony Show/Keila Cordova Dances. It also stated that her partnership with Temple started three years ago, when it is five.

Tsipora Hacker can be reached at

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