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Dancing among creative Fringe highlights on snowy weekend

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The Dance Showcase opened with this new duet, as Lindsey Kelley Dance’s Lindsey Kelley Brewer (at left) and Ashleigh Gurtler burst through a barrier of streamers. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

This past weekend, the weather was even more extreme and talk of the town than the performances. Snow of a half-foot to foot or more in the Asheville-Hendersonville area forced canceling all shows Friday and most Saturday, in the blizzard’s first two full days.

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Roller derby queens collide as Courtney White, at right, sends athletic rival Jill Guyton Nee flying to the Ozarks in “On Your Mark.” Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Yet this “Half Fringe” delivered a full schedule on the first and last of four days of celebrating eccentric experimental performance for the 14th year. Acts included dance, poetry, drama, puppetry and comic routines by local and out-of-state talent. Several tied newer routines.

“Rising from the snow banks like a Yeti, Fringe goes on!,” Fringe co-artistic directors and founders Jim Julien and Jocelyn Reese proclaimed on a sunny Sunday morning in announcing the revised schedule for the finale. They put driving safety first by canceling Fringe on Friday, the blizzard’s first full day, then dialing it down Saturday. Yet they offered two acts Saturday — both at the BeBe Theatre for a “Snowbound Fringe Evening.”

The Dance Showcase was a rousing artistic success Thursday, with an encore Saturday.

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Alexandra Montoya twirls her colleague with one arm, in Asheville in Motion’s “Stone Soup.” Photo by Pete Zamplas.

The “Stone Soup” routine by Asheville in Motion (AiM), a UNC-Asheville-based choreography troupe, depicted an imaginary dinner party with fast-paced motion and feeling. The quartet briskly transitioned a creative assortment of modern gymnastic and contact dance moves.

“On Your Mark” parodied track and other athletic competitions. CJ40 Productions co-founders Jill Guyton Nee of Memphis and Courtney White of Raleigh competed slow-motion, with full expression.

The Dance Showcase opened with a new duet by NYC choreographer Oliver Steele. The local Lindsey Kelley Dance’s Lindsey Kelley Brewer and Ashleigh Gurtler performed it, expressing beauty.

They eventually tore down and toyed with a wall of streamers that partially shielded them from the audience. The routine was untitled. But right after it, Brewer proclaimed it as “Crème de la Crème: Femme Mayhem.”

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Jacqueline Dugal moves toward Brett Copeland as he plays tuba, in “Redux.” Photo by Pete Zamplas.

“The Gradient’s Against Her” was a compelling multi-media, improvisational creation. Between set moves, Janice Lancaster Larsen intuitively flowed with dim lighting and loud train engine churning from her husband Adam Larsen’s video. It projected onto walls and the dance floor for a “dark” mood, he noted.

Slivers and patches of light flowed rightward like a moving train’s light reflecting in dark night. This illuminated Janice’s face and torso as she danced to those spots, and was most expressive. She noted it was a challenge to get to those lit spots as they suddenly appear.

The oddest visual-audial setup was Brett Copeland playing tuba live in “Redux” amidst random sampling of taped talk radio, as Jacqueline Dugal pranced about as a child amidst destruction.

She played well off of his sitting still, to the side in dim light. She said she felt earthy “vibe” of his tuba. The West Palm Beach, Fla. native is pursuing her dancing dream in New York City.

Jenni Cockrell and Kathy Meyers Leiner were resourceful in “…Especially in Dim Light,”adapting various fabrics into outfit changes as they danced.

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In the drama “This is How/This is Now,” Hannah Eicholtz’s character comforts Lauren William’s character yet has become assertive. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Unique Voices was the later show in BeBe Thursday. Derek Davidson portrayed a boxer chatting with an unseen reporter, while punching a training bag in “Love Fighting.” He lauded boxing’s aggressive release, but riled over frustrations from his father. Davidson said he has not boxed, but knows martial arts. In/Visible Theatre in Boone produced it.

Leading off Unique Voices as a drama co-written by Hendersonville High School alumni Lauren Williams (Class of ‘08) and Hannah Eicholtz (’11) and Todd Weakley. Weakley, HHS drama instructor since 2003, also directed. They said they each blended elements of several relationships into a supposed one.

The story reflects two friends’ happier times together, then simmers with conflict, mixed feelings then realized separation. The two change roles. Lauren’s persona goes from aloof to longing for what evaporated. Thus, director Weakley observes, Lauren goes from “power to remorse.”

Hannah’s character at first is very attentive, and as she notes “reluctant to leave.” But she turns the tables. When she dances around Lauren who will not join her, it reflects Hannah as solo and departing. Weakley said, “She has the power — to leave.”

Willie Filkowski got to do shows on two days, as did showcase dancers. He did comedy Thursday in Magnetic Theatre, then Sunday in the Crow and Quill lounge. The Fort Myers, Fla. native poked fun at the “Sunshine State” — including culture and politics — using stories, dance and video. He is based in Chicago.

So are The Good Night Ladies such as Eve Rydberg, Jessica Marks along with Brett Schneider. They joined L.A.-based Caroline Kingsley Rau (as high priestess Winnifred Coombe) in “La Lune De Femme’s The Séance Show and Sowing of the Seeds.” The 1890s-styled séance blended humor with realistic drama to spark laughs, fright and tears.

Their first show (on Friday) in Magnetic was cancelled. But they got to perform on Sunday, their fourth day at the festival.

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