THE THIRD SHIFT Revived, Restored and Re-imagined

We’re getting geared up to perform a new version of The Third Shift, a site-specific dance we created in 2012 for a warehouse in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. The original piece was based in-part on the book “Vanishing Mills, Vanishing Neighborhoods” by Jean Seder. The revised version of the piece is being performed in Baltimore, MD on September 12 as part of the Akimbo Site Specific Festival. For this new iteration we are incorporating the history of our site, now part of MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art), and working with a new cast. You can catch a glimpse of the rehearsal process below:


The excitement of not knowing: Elise on RLP Presents

RealLivePeople 5-9-15-406Performing in RealLivePeople Presents was an amazing experience. I really enjoyed sharing the space with such talented and fierce artists. Just watching what the other performers brought to the table was thrilling. Each piece had a strong and clear approach, whether it was about the exhaustion of explaining your move to the city or taking the spotlight from someone. I was inspired by the way the artists took their ideas and put them into movement, like Molly and Marlee smothering each other while asking the typical questions about their big move to New York or Sara removing Gina from the space so she could perform bigger than her. I was so inspired, it made me want to start investigating my ideas and create a piece of my own.

And that was just my experience from watching the other pieces! Performing in a piece with RealLivePeople was a different type of  opportunity to investigate myself as a dancer. I performed in Gina’s listening piece 3 times, a piece where the audience is invited to write down their interpretation, which we then use as an influence for the second and third time we perform it. Performing in this piece was totally out of my performance comfort zone, but I loved it. The excitement of not knowing what the intention of the 2nd and 3rd repetition would be was so fun. I have never performed in a piece that involved the audience so directly. I learned how different perspectives can influence movement, like having to scale my movement from little to big to follow the audience’s idea of the growth from childhood to adulthood.

As a dancer I get stuck in developing movement with the sole purpose of looking good versus movement that is created from a real feeling or intention, like RealLivePeople 5-9-15-204making the choice to do an inversion because that’s my way of not listening to someone rather than doing it to show everyone that I can do this cool upside down move. Performing with RealLivePeople was a fun and exciting learning experience; I am thrilled to continue to grow as a dancer.

Stepping out of my comfort zone: a look into rehearsals with RealLivePeople

How is rehearsal going so far?

Well I am definitely out of my comfort zone but I kind of like it. I am a dancer who enjoys the internal, emotional, “feely” kind of movement whereas RealLivePeople practices movement based off real emotion not the “dancer” emotion that I am used to. As human beings we find ourselves stuck in our daily routines, gestures, movement, etc. I have been stuck in my movement aesthetic for awhile now and rehearsing with RealLivePeople has honestly challenged me to step outside the comfortable corner that I have been in.

Photo Credit: JJ Tiziou

Photo Credit: JJ Tiziou

The piece I am rehearsing is about listening, and the movement truly comes from a real place instead of the overly dramatic, super feely place that has been a part of my movement style for so long. The first rehearsal was challenging for me, as I had to create movement based off listening gestures. For example, I was asked to nod the way I do as if I am listening to someone and make that nod into movement. This may seem like a simple task but as a dancer who is used to developing movement that will look “good” rather than movement that represents a real reaction, I was stuck. However, that is when I realized there is a lot more to movement than I have been practicing. RealLivePeople is helping me mature as a dancer and a choreographer. Though I realize that dramatic movement, gestures and faces still have a place in dance, I am beginning to let go of these a bit, and instead I am developing a taste for real, authentic movement. In the midst of this journey, I am thrilled to continue to grow as a person, dancer, and choreographer.

Meet our new intern Elise Mele!

My name is Elise Mele and to be honest I am still figuring out who I am. Here are some facts that I know about myself: I am a Taurus, junior at Drexel University, a dance major, a friend, sibling, student, the list goes on. Usually when we describe ourselves we list facts just like the ones I listed above, but that doesn’t describe who we truly are, it just describes what other people see us as. I would like to explain how I see myself, rather than how other people see me.

Elise PhotoMy name is Elise Mele and I am an artist who is striving to find her place in the world. I am a dancer who takes joy in getting lost in movement. I am a choreographer who uses inspiration from theoretical thinking and investigation of life experiences to create movement. I am just beginning a journey in which I hope to develop an artistic focus that is based off the thoughts and experiences that we tend to overlook. In order to grow this new viewpoint I decided to intern with a company that shares the same interests as me.

RealLivePeople focuses “on the spaces between, the quick look away and the light tap on the shoulder.” A company that is built on that philosophy is a company that will help me grow as the artist I strive to be. I have high hopes that once I come out of this experience I will be able execute my views and ideas the way that RealLivePeople has successfully done. I am excited for you all to get to know me as I continue to write about my experience interning with RealLivePeople.

Critics respond to “Would I lie to you?”

RealLivePeople were thrilled with our press coverage for Would I lie to you? Not only were we the Philadelphia Inquirer’s top pick for the weekend of September 5th, we also received some well written, extremely positive reviews. Here are some excerpts:

Would I Lie to You? –

Photo Credit: JJ Tiziou

“In solo, partner, and group pieces, the eight dancers of RealLivePeople slid, kicked, rolled, leapt, and spun around the floor. Their motions, like the overall tone of Would I Lie to You?, were sharp yet graceful, dynamic yet playful. There were clean lines and enough breaking of form to vary the patterns made. Most of the movement included body contact and weight sharing between the dancers, suggesting the way that lies can weigh on and entangle our relations.” Samantha Maldanado, Broad Street Review

“…using audience-submitted lies for improvisational skits and performing to audio interviews of cast members detailing their beliefs about, and instances of, lying. Gliding between others’ outstretched limbs, pausing in handstands and shoulder supports, the cast carves, darts, and slides through translucent white curtains.” Becca Weber, ThinkingDance.Net

Walking Pattern, Inversion

Photo Credit: JJ Tiziou


“This is a beautiful piece of exploratory movement to watch – beautiful choreography, beautiful bodies, beautiful honesty. It gives us our own opportunities to reflect on our own lies, and absorb the fact that we have many of the same deceptions in common. And perhaps those deceptions can themselves be beautiful in that way. This show does not preach at us that the lies are wrong, or that we should stop lying – it gives us a chance to decide that for ourselves in a non-judgmental way.” Trish Parry,

“…the multilayered approach held my attention. The use of words (spoken by dancers, written on Post-its, or recorded and played aloud), as well as the dancers’ facial expressions, made the performance more accessible and enjoyable to those who do not consider themselves privy to the nuances of contemporary dance. The different kinds of performances within the show raised complex questions about the nature of lies.” Samantha Maldanado, Broad Street Review

I totally forgot about the blog post

Hey Steve! (The “Hey” is casual and friendly although we have only met once or twice- the exclamation mark is to pretend I am super excited but I am not particularly excited about any email correspondence)

I totally forgot about the blog post (I didn’t forget- I passive aggressively failed to answer your last email because I was dreading doing a blog post. I made a couple of haphazard attempts to start the blog post while standing around doing nothing at work but then spent most of my free time working on a separate residency application). I am currently driving back from NC and probably won’t get to the blog post until after this weekend (I am not driving so clearly I have 5 hours to bang something out). I have to work all weekend so I might be able to start something Monday evening (actually I have four hours of free time Saturday and Sunday evening but I will be surfing the net, watching Netflix, and avoiding doing emails/grants/scheduling/blog post type things at all costs).

I did have a couple of questions about the “lie” subject we were given (this won’t be a question but rather a request sort of thinly veiled as a question). Do I need to write about “an old lie”? (I would rather write about something else) I don’t know if I have a amazingly interesting “old lie” story to write about (if I have to do a blog post I prefer to write about whatever I want). I am more interested in maybe writing about decoding everyday lies or the subtlety of lies in casual correspondence (I want to use this subject because I thought of it while writing a response to your email- I thought it might be cute and most importantly, easy). If you want us to stick to the subject we were given it’s completely no problem- just thought I would ask! (Again I really want you to let me just write it like this since I already started. Also I am not excited or overly friendly but I am hoping my exclamation mark will convince you that I am laid back and totally fun!)

Also wondering if you want us to include a photo inside of the blog post (how long does this thing need to be and if I include a picture can I write less)? I will probably put a picture of something that relates to what I am writing about like this one:

maz blog photo(This is an road trip-eyeball-selfie. Is it convincingly artistic? Probably not since I just shot myself once in a shaky car. It kinda looks like I have no chin…)

Anyway I will start working on some ideas and try to get back to you Monday night (I won’t work on anything- this is the most I plan on writing about the blog). Or if you prefer you could use this email- ha ha! (I would suggest doing so- I am really gonna drag my feet on this one- also I am not being funny I am quite serious).

Anyway, I am sure I will see you around more during the show. (Will I? I am not sure what you do for RLP since I saw you at, ahem, one single rehearsal). Looking forward to the show! (I want everyone to see my amazing kick-ass dancing).

(I prefer my last name to my first- there are a billion Megans)


Sent from my iPhone
(Sent from an overpriced distraction device)

I know I am lying if…

by Sara Nye

You must intend to lie in order to lie. You must know you are lying. I promise. Which means, on some level, you must know the truth and choose to keep it a secret.

1. Bill Nye the Science Guy is my uncle. Lie. Because I know it’s false and I’m telling you anyway. Lies must know they are lies to be lies.

2. Bill Nye is really good at science. Truth. Because many people agree that this is accurate.

3. If I had chosen to study science instead of English and dance, I would have been as skilled in the sciences as Bill Nye. Honest statement. Neither truth nor lie. I’m not really sure if this is true or not, but I believe it to be true. Therefore, I am being honest.

Wait. So I could be telling a falsehood and still be an honest person, as long as I sincerely believe that thing is true? Yes. Oo, cool, sounds like a loophole. Let’s try again.

Photo: Lindsay Browning

Photo: Lindsay Browning

1. I know all the differences between truth and lies. I am a truth expert. I am a lies expert. I tell both every day and analyze what shape they have in my head, how they feel coming out of my mouth, what they look like settling on a person. Lie.

2. I am thinking about this blog post right now. Truth. I am writing down what I am thinking. Truth. Although that won’t be true by the time you read this, because by the time you read this, I will not still be writing down what I am thinking.

3. Lies are frustrating, confusing, inaccurate things. Truths are just frustrating and confusing. Honest statement. Sounds true to me.

Sometimes things start out as true and become false later. That’s frustrating and confusing. Promises not kept do that. Ever notice how a freshly made promise always sounds sincere, but there is always something of doubt surrounding how you hear it? That’s the lie part of the promise lurking about, waiting to see if it’ll be used or not. Because a promise is all intention. “Well at least she had good intentions,” people say. Truth. She had intentions. She intended to call you, but then Game of Thrones came on, so she decided she wanted to do that instead. And you can’t call her a liar, because she did indeed intend to call you, just something got in the way. The intention was there. She did not tell a lie.

Unfortunately, we can’t start calling all the people that break promises liars. They are just unreliable. Being unreliable does not make them liars. Sometimes people promise unrealistic or difficult-to-achieve things. They don’t know they are lying – they are just employing extreme levels of hope. Unless of course they are of that select group of people that make promises left and right knowing they have zero intention of making good on them. Those people are liars. But how can you tell the difference between an honest person and a liar? For your reference, a quick line of questioning that might prove helpful:

Friend promises something. For example, to check in on your dog while you’re away.

Ask yourself:

  1. Is the thing achieveable?
  2. Has friend successfully accomplished a similar thing before?
  3. Does friend seem attentive while promising thing?

If the answer is yes to all of the above, friend is probably not a liar.


  1. Is the thing a difficult task? For example, training your dog to run marathons while you’re away.
  2. Has friend failed at a similar task before?
  3. Does friend seem attentive and hopeful while promising thing?

If the answers to 1, 2, AND 3 are all yes, friend is an honest overachiever.

If the answers to 1 and 2 are yes and the answer to 3 is no, they actually look kind of shifty, friend is probably a liar.

A foolproof system! Lie. Helpful in determining whether a promise will be kept. Maybe. Frustrating and confusing. Honest statement.

Megan Quinn: From dramaturg to dancer

megphotoLast year, when Gina and RealLivePeople made The Jobs Project. I served as the dramaturg (the role Jenna now plays). This year, I am performing in Would I Lie to You? Creative adviser versus performer: there are some obvious differences between these two roles. As a dramaturg, I attended rehearsals sitting down with my notebook. I took notes, made observations, and served as a sounding board for Gina. As a dancer, I attend rehearsals to rehearse. I learn and practice material, engaging in the physicality of lying. There are obvious constants as well: same dance company, still run by Gina and still in a dance studio, most often the Latvian society. But the way I enter and experience rehearsals is very different.

When I was a dramaturg I saw my role as keeping an eye on the overall structure and consistency of the piece. I made connections between various sections, I noticed how details applied to the theme (the many faces of jobs) and I helped Gina plan the arc of the piece from beginning to end. This year, as a performer, I am focused on the details and my contribution to the work. I am constantly asking myself how I am able to support the theme of lying, through movement and personal narrative. The difference is a bit like moving from seeing the forest to focusing on the trees. As a dramaturg, I worked hard on observing the information and physicality presented by the dancers. It was important to relate to the work, so that I had valuable insights. But the focus was on seeing others. As a dancer, I need to put myself in the work. The focus is on what I can contribute, physically and creatively.

Gina does ask her dancers to be mentally and creatively involved and so in that way, there is not a solid line between performer and creative contributor. In both roles, I need to find and use the best way for my strengths to be present and useful. But as a dramaturg, I used strength of observing, connecting and articulating, and as a dancer I now am trying to use the strength of being open to share and create, applying both my personality and dance technique to the work.

What it’s like: Dramaturgy for Dance

Jenna_HeadshotBy Jenna Stelmok, Dramatrug

I’m incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to dance. In fact, I spent one of the most formative years of my life (age 3) falling down in a glittery tutu.

When I first met Gina Hoch-Stall and interviewed for the position of dramaturg for Would I Lie to You?, my primary concern was not having enough experience in dance to provide real assistance to the project. While I have dramaturgy and theatrical experience, I didn’t know the difference between battements and a port de bras (I still don’t, I just looked up those terms online), let alone how to express a story through movement. Still, Gina and I hit it off and wrapped our meeting quickly with a “Let’s do this!”

But as I’ve attended rehearsals for RealLivePeople, I’ve slowly gained more of an understanding on the creation of a dance piece. I struggled in the beginning with dropping my logical and narrative-based approach, and opening myself to a physical, more free-form type of expression. Allowing my mind to be open to the movement onstage in front of me, and connecting with the dancers’ impulses and ideas, has become a fantastic experience in engaging with others’ stories. Furthermore, RealLivePeople is the most accessible dance company I’ve seen, offering work that may be fully understood by “normal” (i.e. non-dance) folk.

Photo: Lindsay Browning

Photo: Lindsay Browning

The dancers, while technically proficient and skilled, are not stuffy or traditional; their stories and impulses are clear, raw, and immediately visible the moment they move. Since this is an ensemble-based piece with every dancer contributing new material, Would I Lie to You? is additionally packed with a wide variance of personal (hi)stories and opinions on what it means to tell a lie. Expressed with minimal text, the piece instead explodes with body language and movement to be interpreted by an audience through their personal views.

I was asked what it’s like to work as a dramaturg for a dance company for this blog, and my first inclination was to try and explain all of the unexpected variances between this project and any dramaturgy I’ve done in the past. Then, I received the instructions “It doesn’t have to be crazy long, or too complex. Just honest.” Honestly, working as a dramaturg for this dance company been one of the most engaging artistic experiences I’ve had. It’s has opened my mind to an entirely new form of storytelling and dialogue. I’ve learned how to experiment and create art with only your body as a tool, and what it means to take a physical risk.

Working with this dance company has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to put yourself onstage, with no significant filter between you and your audience, and share your world with others. Working with these dancers has been real, explosive, and bursting with honest expression— at least, I think it has…