Performing any talent can come with a lot of pressure, so a good place to start might be in a living room.
BodyFields Performance Collective, a collaborative group of musicians and artists, puts on monthly hearsays in living rooms around Philadelphia. Andrew Malanowicz, a musician in the group, has been a part of the collective since the beginning. As a classical piano graduate from Temple, he said he’s been able to bring his own uniqueness to the collective.
BFPC started in spring 2008, but even before then, Malanowicz had been creatively collaborating with Nikki Roberts and Briel Driscoll, both Temple alumni who have become the collective’s cofounders, choreographers and dancers. Later, they began collaborating with Temple graduate Robert Szafranski. Malanowicz, Szafranski and another artist, Jonathon Childs, became the main musicians. The five core members aimed to create a group that would allow them to collaborate with other artists.
“It’s been a very long process from the beginning, experimenting and figuring out who we are as people and what we have become now,” Malanowicz said. “It was all very experimental. Now, the way we communicate has really grown. We are better at this dynamic of creating together. Now we create things that are greater than any of us individually.”
The collective encourages other artists to work with them to put on shows around the city. This is a networking tool as well as a way to allow creative energy to flow into something that more people can enjoy, members said.
“It’s been a creative outlet for my music and kind of allowed me to do whatever I wanted to do musically,” Szafranski, who studied marketing at Temple, said. “In college, I was surrounded by the business world, and this let me spread my wings and do whatever I wanted.”
Once the group started to notice that a lot of people were interested in their shows, they wanted to do something that could help them create relationships with other artists.
Approximately eight months ago, BFPC began hosting monthly performances called “hearsays.” These meetings let other artists collaborate in their own way. Whether it’s vocal or visual, any artist could come to show off their talents in an intimate setting.
“It’s so amazing to have a space where people feel like they can share their ideas,” Roberts said. “It’s totally enriching and humbling to have someone share something that they’re maybe nervous to share. We like to create a safe space.”
In order to prevent a stressful performance atmosphere, BFPC strives to make the space friendly, so attendees can relax and enjoy food and drink while watching performances.
“I would say to expect a wide variety,” Malanowicz said. “You can expect to see anything from a very personal heartfelt story from somebody who is just up there telling a story, or you can also see something that is very fun and flamboyant and makes you laugh. There are very interesting and cool talents that people have.”
The performances don’t include just paintings and music. Malanowicz said an artist once did a fire building presentation and showed techniques of how to create fire without a lighter or matches.
“It was very thought-provoking,” Malanowicz said. Despite the friendly atmosphere of hearsays, BFPC puts on many shows throughout the year, which involve intense practices.
“It’s not always as pleasant, even when everyone’s so pleasant,” Roberts said. “Sometimes we spend a lot of time arguing, but at the end of the day we accomplished what we wanted to do. That’s what’s satisfying.”
Malanowicz said the support and honesty he found from the group has helped his stamina as an artist. At the end of the day, he added, it’s encouraging to have a group of people that may have been in the same tough spots he may be facing.
This month’s special Holiday Hearsay will be held at 702 Reed St. on Saturday from 8-10 p.m.
Szafranski said he encourages artists to show up to the hearsay, even if they want to come at the last minute. There is no table charge for artists interested in selling their work at the Holiday Hearsay.
“You can show up right at 8 p.m. and sell your stuff,” Szafranski said. “We also want to encourage bartering between artists.”
Chelsea Finn can be reached at email@example.com.