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Dance? Kelpius?

by on February 9, 2013

I met recently with Bob Skiba to discuss Kelpius Society programs – and explore the potential for developing an original Kelpius dance performance!

Let me explain — first about Bob.  After moving to Philadelphia in 1998, Bob Skiba established the Mixed Pickles Vintage Dance Company, to research and perform social dance from the Colonial period to the 1950s.  You can learn more about that project by going to his website, at  Bob publishes a blog relating to dance history, which you can find at; his blog devoted to Philadelphia’s gay community is located at  Bob has varied professional experience as dancer, actor, designer, director, and musician within the dance, theater, and early music communities.  Before settling in Philadelphia he was a member of the Ex Machina Baroque Opera Company in Minneapolis, which produced innovative new work.  Bob is president of the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides.

The word “Baroque” is significant here.  The Kelpius community was formed during the Baroque era, and their compositions fit snugly into that musical cosmos — keep in mind that much of the music composed during the Baroque was devotional in nature.  (Think Bach.)  And of course, dance has always played a vital role in ritual expression, as it did during the Baroque.  Did members of the Kelpius community dance to their music?  Probably not.  We do know, however, that we at the Kelpius Society want to push the envelope; break new ground with programming that interprets Kelpius in dramatic and compelling ways.  And so we’re interested in exploring how to choreograph his music, to create a performance modality that would communicate that story more effectively – and more memorably.

Since its founding the Kelpius Society has presented a number of well-received programs, culminating in a live performance at West Philadelphia of texts and music composed by Kelpius and members of his group.  These texts are a matter of record, but the musical settings have had to be painstakingly researched.  Fortunately, Lucy Carroll, one of our founding members, was able to create sensitive realizations of the music and restore it to live performance in our time.  But what if we were to go one step further, and marry that music with dance?  We think it’s quite feasible to erect an edifice of dance on the foundation of the Kelpius texts, in a way that would incarnate the music, and set it in motion.

We’ve only just begun to explore this relationship, and are optimistic that there’s a wealth of potential, moving in that direction.  Please check our website regularly for updates on this and other Kelpius Society initiatives.  We’re looking ahead toward exciting new vistas, and we’ll need your participation and support.

Tom Carroll


The Kelpius Society

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One Comment
  1. Great idea. Looking forward to the possibility of having the talented, generous and delightful Bob Skiba involved with a Kelpius program.

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