Nov 07

Unveiling:Wrap-up

In preparation for exciting events in Band of Artist’s future, the group reflects on a successful fall run of A Dancing Disorder. Despite inclement weather, a substantial crowd came out to see the show at the Painted Bride. It was an entertaining and highly innovative addition to Philly Fringe Fest.

The show at Arcadia was very well received. More than 300 excited students, faculty and community members filled the house both nights. Each show was standing room only. Not surprisingly, since the production is very well-suited to an academic environment.

A fantastic audience engagement occurred, especially during the Q&A. Sutie and other collaborators were astonished and touched as audience member, Matthew Clifford, shared his own experiences with the disorder and how he found the show inspiring. As a result, he and his wife have since joined the Band of Artists cause. During the final show the Q&A panel included Sutie’s daughter Della and her nephew Toby.

It seems that the show has also generated word of mouth. A child psychologist from Yale, James Leckman, traveled to the area just to see the show first hand. BOA was featured in both the Intelligencer and the Bucks County Courier Times. PBS was also at Arcadia filming in preparation for a documentary on BOA! It’s clear that A Dancing Disorder created a buzz and the community is better for it.

Tell us what you thought of the show! If you missed it, what do you think BOA can do to better spread awareness of TS? Leave us your thoughts, comments, questions and inspirations. The vision of BOA is to bring creative people together, how can you contribute?

Aug 25

Collaboration and Innovation

The exciting and natural quality of a BOA rehearsal is what makes it so unique. This week, BOA would like to share a creative demonstration of their improvisational exercises. The video was created by assistant director Alan Powell, in an effort to do what BOA is already doing: combining dance and visual art  in a collaborative and innovative way.  I will let the video speak for itself. BOA is dedicated to not only producing great art, but also reaching their audience on a profound level. Comments are enabled, so feel free to let us know how the video speaks to you, what it evokes.

Aug 18

The Dancers Within

Previously, Band of Artists presented itself to the world as like-minded artists advocating a creative livelihood  for those who live with Tourette’s. At the heart of BOA are the dancers who work tirelessly to understand the disorder and learn to actively engage an audience that may be unaware of TS and it’s implications. Artistic Director, Sutie Madison, gave her very talented dancers an opportunity to address these sensitives in a recent assignment entitled : Beyond the Body: Understanding the Dancer Within.

These dancers are no stranger to the “homework” that Sutie assigns. In the past, they have been asked to create their own movements based on metaphors they were given, they have been asked to recreate images that Sutie has drawn, and finally they have been asked to witness the difficulty of living with TS by watching videos of those with the disorder. With each assignment, Sutie strives to keep the dancers mentally and emotionally connected to the task at hand.

The purpose of this week’s assignment was to address the quote “We cannot expect to reach excellence if going through the motions is the norm of our lives.” Sutie interpreted the quote as suggesting that a collective goal cannot be met, if the energies of those involved are not entirely convicted. She says, “A performance that endeavors to deliver a message about diversity and difference, is not going to do so successfully, if the performers are without emotion, conviction, passion and connection with the material.” As a result, the dancers were challenged with questioning their own passion for the project.

The dancers were up for the challenge.

Theresa Westwood writes, “I must accurately execute the different tics and twitches… with passion, emotion, and effort to the audience,” “I have the passion to use dance as an expressive form, I am able to be flexible and open to trying things outside of my comfort zone, and BOA has challenged many of her prior perceptions and experiences with dance…which has made me a better more versatile performer.”

Adrian Plascencia writes, “As performers, I believe we must present art in extremes,” “Dancing shouldn’t be mundane or common,” “Dancers must heighten life and present it back to the audience,” “Everything that I do as a dancer/performer I try to fully understand.”

Greg Anmuth writes,  “We should never stop exploring what dance is and what performance is,” “Static work is boring,” “[I am] inspired everyday by new ways to explore what is dance and what is humanity, and if dance is an extension of humanity, humanity is always changing, shouldn’t I?”

These three dancers understand what is at stake with this kind of performance. They are willing to be flexible, experimental and open-minded to a process that requires more than just dancing well. To advocate disorder through expressive art, the artists should be fully invested. A performance of this nature requires a keen sensitivity to “difference” and the thru-line of “diversity”.

In conclusion, I believe the response Darcy Lyons submitted truly captures the necessity of compassion and empathy required to further BOA’s message. She writes: “I don’t think one can call themselves an artist if they stumble through life with no direction,” “Excellence is only achievable through fervor, clear intentions, integrity,” “I struggle immensely with depression and anxiety and it is a constant battle, but it is also an amazing tool for creating art,” “I don’t conform to social or cultural norms, and feel that those elements combined are my strengths as a person and as a performer.”

Aug 10

Discover Band of Artists


Band of Artists has come on the scene
to challenge what you think “disability” means.
We’re not sappy or happy nor down in the dumps.
We’re a sincerely more weirdly, each hour, kind of bunch.
If you think you have us figured out, you haven’t, no doubt,
so come to our show and discover what “Fringe Fest” is all about!

a poem by Sutie Madison, Artistic Director for Band of Artists.

You’ve come across an exciting group called Band of Artists. A group devoted to advocating the creative livelihood of those living with Tourette’s Syndrome. You may have read some of our literature and gained  a sense of what TS is, but do you know the talented people behind Band of Artists and what they  have to offer? As our Artistic Director eloquently put, the performers and creative team behind BOA is “a sincerely more weirdly, each hour, kind of bunch”. As writer in residence I can attest that I have witnessed first hand this playful “weirdness”; a collective embracing of all that deviates from the norm.

I’ve had the privilege to sit in on a few rehearsals and I witnessed an eye-opening glimpse into this year’s show, A Dancing Disorder. During rehearsals, Sutie frequently speaks to her dancers about “natural” movements. “How is the body ‘naturally’ supposed to move?” she asks them. What is “natural” vs. what is “unnatural”?  These are  important considerations for any artist.

But Sutie is not just any artist/choreographer. Sutie has TS and she knows first hand that the disorder can be both a struggle and a gift. I can tell the dancers are inspired by the way she embraces her “disorder” and uses it as an artistic catalyst. The dancers are also aware of the difficulties and blessings of the disorder, not only in their observations of Sutie, but also from watching video of other TS survivors. The dancers observe and imitate these movements as they are incorporated into the choreography. What makes this process so organic is the freedom the dancers have to add their input and create choreography themselves. Watch the following video for a sneak peak at the collaborative efforts you will see play out in A Dancing Disorder.

This is your first glimpse into this artistic treat called Band of Artists. Check back soon for more updates.