September 16, 2016
Tommy Schimmel is one part of a five-strong, all-male dance troupe that launched out of Franky Bradley's last year -- and next week will perform its first show as part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival.
Here, Schimmel — whom you may also recognize from Brian Sanders' "Carried Away" Fringe show — talks about his new post-apocalyptic show "Jungle," keeping up with pressure in the dance community and his fascination with the Chinese pole.
Experimental dance is doing pretty well in Philly lately — is there more pressure to keep raising the bar? Or do you stay in your own lane and not pay as much attention to what everyone else is doing?
I wouldn't call it pressure — more fun, really. As much as it's important to be inspired by others, we tend to do our own thing. As we develop and work on one show, we constantly tend to find ourselves coming up with concepts and ideas for the next.
How has Brian Sanders' JUNK influenced your work with the Bucks?
Brian Sanders is an incredible mentor. [Bradley's Bucks co-director] Teddy Fatscher and I have been able to use his inspiration and skills to then direct and create for the Bucks.
You’re surrounded by gay men quite a bit, between Bradley’s Bucks and JUNK, but you identify as straight, right? Is it sort of just a funny coincidence that you ended up in these gay-male-oriented troupes? What’s that been like?
Ha! I guess when you put it like that, it's true, but I don't really think of it like that. I'm thankful to have been able to work with great minds who have taught me a lot. And yes, I'm straight and actually just celebrated my five-year anniversary with my girlfriend this week.
What are you most excited to showcase in 'Jungle'?
Our Chinese pole piece. It's a fun opportunity for Teddy and [me] to show the audience what we're made of. We have watched tons of mind-blowing videos involving this style of aerial. It's really exciting to bringing it to our Fringe show.
What audience would you say 'Jungle' is geared toward?
I don't think there's a specific audience, really. One of our goals with the Bucks was to expose more crowds to this style of performance. We strive to be able to showcase the talents of our dancers to the maximum amount of people who may have not seen our work before. This is our first Fringe show since doing shows over a year ago. We're proud and excited to keep raising the bar.