Brian Sanders’ JUNK Kicks off the Philly Fringe Festival

by Debra Miller
Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent
Photos by Bill Hebert

Brian Sanders’ JUNK Kicks off the Philly Fringe Festival

by Debra Miller
Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent

Last Wednesday’s VIP/press preview of Dancing Dead by Brian Sanders’ JUNK launched an auspicious start to this year’s Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Choreographer Sanders (who starred as the lonely gravedigger) and his masterful troupe of eight young dancers (all trained at Philly’s own University of the Arts) generated both excitement and poignancy with this original graveyard vision, and received a well deserved standing ovation.

Combining a mastery of modern dance with the athleticism of Olympic gymnastics, the daring dancers performed aerial acrobatics and earthbound waltzes to a score of Pop music from the Sixties and Seventies. Among the most amusing scenes was a perfectly synchronized disco dead dance, with the living corpses parodying John Travolta’s infamous moves from Saturday Night Fever.

Company members Billy Robinson and Connor Senning (whose dirt-stained body emerged in tattered clothing from a burial mound of freshly dug earth) acknowledged that the dangerous moves and emotional subject matter require a close-knit group of dancers, who can let go of their fears and trust each other for the physical and emotional support they need. They did not disappoint one another, or the audience. Their seemingly impossible feats of movement were executed with flawless precision, and left the lucky viewers spellbound by the intricacies and risks of Sanders’ brilliant, cutting-edge choreography.

Set in the subterranean space of 444 Lofts, the 50-minute production was inspired by Sanders’ own personal memories of family and friends, but the feelings he captured are universal–the moving thoughts of loved ones lost. Despite the deathly theme, the show is anything but morbid; it is a life-affirming paean to the passions of human existence and our eternal longing for love.

Dancing Dead by Brian Sanders’ JUNK runs September 2-17, in the Sub-Basement @ 444 Lofts, 444 N. 4th Street, Philadelphia. For more information, log onto the company’s website at For tickets, visit the Fringe Festival online at, or call the Box Office at 215.413.1318.


One Response to “Brian Sanders’ JUNK Kicks off the Philly Fringe Festival”

  1. Deb Miller Says:

    I saw Dancing Dead for a second time on Saturday, which received yet another enthusiastic standing ovation from the audience. I sat on a different side of the performance this time, for a close-up perspective of the dancers. I cannot recommend this highly enough; I only wish I could attend every single show! I urge you to make the trip to the Philly Fringe for this extraordinary production; the dancers are all outstanding, and Brian Sanders is incomparable.

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