Penumbra: A Dark Experimental Ballet

A dark, experimental ballet set to the music of En†er†ainmen†, Ecstatic Vision and Canada will be performed for one night this Saturday at Philadelphia’s AUX performance space. Curated by the artist collective Unraveled, Penumbra‘s two-hour choreographed dance piece will be surrounded by an atmospheric installation to create an evening of synaesthesia and sensual pleasure.


We asked a ballerina, a musician and a curator involved in the show to give us a taste of how Penumbra will play with gender, sex and embodied experience.

Marina Kec, Penumbra ballerina: “The pieces we choreographed for Penumbra teeter on the edge of classical and contemporary ballet. We very frequently deconstructed and rearranged classical ballet movement vocabulary to better complement the music and overall aesthetic of the show. I feel that this had to happen in order to achieve a more powerful expression of female sexual energy. The beauty of ballet largely comes from its incredible control and physical sacrifice. We had to shatter the glass to expose our softer, more fluid sides. I think audiences will be pleasantly surprised by our work. Viewers’ expectations may be based on familiar ballet stereotypes – pink, tutus, tight hair, giggling girls – but what they will encounter is a more confident, sensual interpretation of traditional classical ballet movement.”

Farida Amar, Unraveled founder: “The show concept has been floating in and out of our conversations about Unraveled events since early 2013. I can’t remember where it came from, probably an external visual stimulus. Or from dream. Sometimes I look at objects or images like a chair in my house or a crack running through the concrete blocks under my feet and it sparks something within. We decided this would be a great adventure to share with Philadelphia – a city already booming with independent works of dance, theatre and music taking place amongst and within not only traditional performing arts spaces but also on the streets amongst the murals and in small experimental DIY venues in someone’s basement.”

Trey Ehart, En†er†ainmen† singer/songwriter/producer: “In 2009 we released our debut album Gender on Stickfigure (ATL) & Duchess Archive (NY), after a string of 7″ singles on Stickfigure and Luminal Records. The album was best described as “the sound of death on vinyl” by Thematically, Gender deals with the ideas of desire, perversion, pornography and lust through the lens of isolation, frustration and matter of fact acceptance of the lustful condition of human nature. Four tracks (“Romance in a Rain,” “A Seduction Walks,” “Confusion of Senses” and “Flesh”) from the album will be used in Penumbra, where characters are fetishized into unattainable objects, turned to plastic, carved in stone and revealed to be emotionally raw and seemingly insatiable simply because they can’t escape the confines of their skin and gender. All of this is buried in heavy reverb, atonal wails and echoes off concrete.


In seizures we dance the sequenced love
desires eat us
in the cinema of flashing skin
is real life
her pornography is dance like art
obsessive hard doll
in the cities we dance and moan
on the sucking stairs
Romance in a Rain

bodies are sleaze, a distraction in my mind

Images by Callan Kapush