'Lincoln Luck,' contemporary dance

February 10, 2012

The Philadelphia Inquirer

WHEN SHE was 7, Lindsay Browning was nervous and excited waiting for her father to come to her school. When he arrived, he was dressed as Abraham Lincoln to teach her class about the former president's life.

Today, the Philly-based dancer has transformed that childhood experience into a contemporary dance titled "Lincoln Luck."

Browning was inspired by imagining herself as Lincoln's "daughter of the future," basing her image both on Lincoln's personal history and on her father's portrayal of him. The performance explores themes such as luck and fate, and how they relate to Lincoln's life. "Every step Lincoln took led him to Ford's Theater on April 14, 1865," Browning believes.

The performance reflects an experimental style. Composed by Philadelphia musician Thomas Flanagan to Browning's vision, the music features wide-ranging instruments - some of them nontraditional - such as the sitar, crickets, harp, singing bowls, and oil tanks. Four projected dance videos serve as a backdrop for the dancers. And it features a spoken segment performed by Browning's father himself.

Browning says that she is experimenting with narrative drama, exploring how the past can influence the present, and highlighting the coincidences and timing that affect everyday life.

Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine St., 8 tonight and tomorrow, $20-$25, 215-925-9914,

- Kailey Kluge


Crack the shell on "Oyster" and you'll find a pearl of a production. The Israeli Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollak Dance Company's surrealist dance theater is like a ballet with the costumes of Lady Gaga and the mysterious atmosphere of Cirque du Soleil. This is the group's Philadelphia premiere.

The dancers in "Oyster" don't get pretty, they get weird. The name of the production comes from the eccentric filmmaker Tim Burton's book of short poems and sketches, "The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories," and the dancers look like they could easily appear in the director's next movie. Some wear Beetlejuice-like wigs and tattered suits that hide their arms. Others wear leotards that seem to be made of toilet paper. Almost all of the dancers have the white deadpan expression of a tired Marcel Marceau.

The show uses no set style of dance. It's more a topsy-turvy hybrid of acrobatics with classical ballet, modern dance and the rigid and stoic mannerisms of a mime that give rise to bizarre imagery and contortions of the human form. In one part of the production,performers emerge with their hands and feet connected by what appear to be rigid red poles to move together in a marionette-like dance; by the end of the performance, their "poles" are cut and fall to the floor to reveal that they were just ribbon.

Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 3680 Walnut St., 8 tonight, 2 and 8 p.m. tomorrow, $20-$50. 215-898-3900,

- Alissa Falcone


Greg Pattillo used to play his flute in the subway. But since his "beatboxing flute" YouTube video went viral - 26 million hits - he now tours the world, flute in hand.

Pattillo developed his style after graduate school. He wanted to break out of the flute's traditional classical niche. "I ended up in NYC, still without a job, but with the huge underground subway as my laboratory for this rhythmic tweaking," said Pattillo. "I ended up with a whole routine showcasing rhythm flute and beatbox sounds, made a few videos for YouTube, and before I even knew what happened, I was famous for that sound." (Listen at

But before YouTube fame, Pattillo was part of Project Trio. Its members include Pattillo on flute, Peter Seymore on double bass and Eric Stephenson on cello.

When Project Trio first got together 15 years ago, its members were disappointed to learn that there was no ensemble music written for their three instruments. So they wrote some themselves.

"Over the years, we have managed to convince some people to write for our group, so we are slowly building that repertoire," said Pattillo. "But like most things, if you want to do something well, you have to learn to do it yourself."

They also perform well-known classical pieces arranged for Project Trio's unique classical, jazz and beatboxing style, such as "Peter and the Wolf" and Rossini's "Overture to William Tell." The rest of each concert's repertoire is drawn from the group's three previous albums, as well as their album "When Will Then Be Now," to be released this spring.

Ethical Society of Philadelphia, 1906 Rittenhouse Square, 2 p.m. tomorrow, $20,

The Philadelphia Inquirer