Flying High with Tangle Movement Arts

Tangle Movement Arts is a local circus dance theater collective. We caught up with founder Lauren Rile Smith on the tails of the theater’s most recent full-length show and asked her about the arts and where to fuel up when rehearsing for a circus show.

What is a Tangle show like?

Tangle is a circus arts company with a contemporary twist, whose performances mix traditional circus like trapeze and acrobatics with dance, theater, and live music to tell multidimensional stories, emphasizing queer and female experiences. Expect to see strong women holding each other’s weight, storytelling expressed through physical movement, and dynamic, high-energy flips and twists in the air.

You just closed a great show; do you have plans for what’s next?

Tangle usually produces two all-new shows each year, one in the Fringe Festival and one in the spring. Our next full-length show will celebrate our five-year anniversary in March 2016 at Christ Church Neighborhood House.

“The Girl’s Guide to Neighborly Conduct” was our company’s ninth full-length show, and we feel that it’s our most mature aerial storytelling yet. We’re excited by the possibility of continuing to work with this show.

What’s the toughest part of leading a circus group?

As a circus arts company that emphasizes aerial dance, we travel with so much equipment. This year, our set decoration was just a minimalist tape stripe outlining two neighboring “houses,” but we still needed to play a delicate game of Tetris with our rented van to get all the show’s materials to the space.

The day before our show, we transform Philadelphia Soundstages’ raw space into a theater, bringing in all the lighting and seating. It’s a privilege and pleasure to work in such a flexible space, but it requires lots of extra energy—we don’t fit into most normal theater spaces!

What do you like about being part of the Philly performance community?

I founded Tangle in 2011 with no prior connection to the dance or theater community in Philadelphia—my arts background before circus was as a writer—and I discovered Philly’s performance community to be incredibly welcoming and generous, with space for both envelope-pushing experimental performance and work that refines traditional forms.

Where do you like to eat to fuel up while rehearsing for a show?

Our Fringe venue is a block away from Taco Riendo, whose delicious burritos have gotten me through many long days loading in at the theater. When I’m in my home base of West Philadelphia, my favorite food is from Black Orchid Foods, amazing vegan/vegetarian caterers that serve a pop-up take-out meal every couple weeks.

Which shows will you always make a point to see?

I love seeing ensemble-based physical storytelling that mixes genre and includes a queer sensibility, so Fringe is always a favorite time of year for me as an audience member. So far this year I’ve really enjoyed “American Standard” by Brian Sanders’ Junk, and I also loved “City of Woes” by Found Theater.

For more info on Tangle be sure to visit Catch them next doing a “Tiny Circus” at the Go West Craft Fest in the Woodlands on 9/19.

Amanda Chudnow

Amanda Chudnow

Amanda Chudnow spends her days working in the Development Office at Bryn Mawr College and her weekends and evenings navigating Philadelphia's robust arts and culture scene. She saw 135 performances in the last year and will likely reach 150 this year. Photo: Neah Monteiro VIEW ALL POSTS