The title Lose Your Marbles, for Akron’s new dance-centric fringe festival, is both an homage to Akron’s toy marble-making history and a nod to how many artists must “lose it” a bit — or at least lose themselves in their work — in their quest to create something new.



Bobby Wesner, co-artistic director of Neos Dance Theatre, created the new event, which will run from 3:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday in downtown Akron, with the help of a $100,000 Akron Knight Arts Challenge grant. The pilot event is a one-day, curated festival that presenter Neos plans to broaden in scope next year over multiple days and venues.



The focus of the dance-centric festival is to expose local audiences to a broader taste of more experimental work and encourage dance and performance artists to take risks.



“One of our broader goals it to get a kind of balanced mix of really refined or tried-and-true artists as well as new and upcoming artists,’’ said Wesner, who has scheduled 16 different acts to perform in five time slots Saturday.





(Photo courtesy Cierpke Michaela)

Harpist Timbre Cierpke, a Nashville-based harpist and songwriter who will perform at the Lose Your Marbles dance-centric fringe festival in Akron.


Artists range from Nashville-based harpist and songwriter Timbre Cierpke, to pop artist/composer/dancer Terk Lewis Waters, a contemporary ballet dancer and Mansfield native who will present original repertoire from his current hip-hop and R&B project at the festival.



“I think that that will be a real phenomenal standout act as well,’’ Wesner said of Waters, whom he has known since he was a kid. “This whole festival is about exploring new things that artists are doing and showcasing them in the mix of a wide variety of work. He in particular hits the mark on all those things.”



Waters, who will appear in Akron courtesy of Complexions, drew rave reviews in April for his performance with Complexions Contemporary Ballet at Misty Copeland’s curated Ballet Across America at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.





(Photo courtesy Lose Your Marbles)

Terk Lewis Waters, a pop artist/composer/contemporary ballet dancer will present new work at the Lose Your Marbles dance fringe festival in Akron on June 10 at Akron s old Trolley Barn.


Lose Your Marbles will take place in historic Akron’s Trolley Barn — a huge, open-air urban space downtown that many passers-by may have overlooked. Neos Dance Theatre is bringing in a mobile stage, lighting and theatrical equipment for the 100-year-old former streetcar barn, which is located between North High, North Main and Perkins streets on the north end of downtown.



The barn is owned and operated by the Summit County Finance and Development Authority, which has donated the use of the space for the festival. Another part of the festival’s mission is to expose audiences to an underutilized, historic space such as this one, which is a cavernous facility large enough to fit a massive audience and allows the event to happen rain or shine.





(Photo courtesy Dale Dong)

Bobby Wesner's ballet company, Neos Dance Theatre, is presenting the festival in Akron. Neos received money from the Akron Knight Arts Challenge Grant for the project.


"It’s perfect. It’s alternative. There’s a little edge to it,’’ Wesner said.



The competitive part of the festival will end at 9:15 p.m., followed by the audience voting for their best-of-show choices. (Winners will receive awards and take part in best-of-show performances.)



The vote will be followed by a spotlight performance by Lucky Plush Productions of Chicago, a company known for its hybrid of high-level dance and theater that will perform Cinderbox 2.0. The dance explores the comedy and anxiety in our hyper-networked culture through a fragmented narrative and witty commentary.





(Photo courtesy William Frederking)

The Lucky Plush Productions of Chicago, the festival headliner, will perform the work Cinderbox 2.0 at the Lose Your Marbles dance fringe festival in Akron June 10 at Akron s old Trolley Barn. Performers from left to right are Melinda Jean Myers, Marc Macaranas, Benjamin Wardell, Meghann Wilkinson, Francisco Avina, and Cassandra Porter.


For the kickoff festival year, Neos has also hired consultant Michael Uthoff of Dance St. Louis to assess the interests of audiences and provide feedback to help Neos transition the festival from a curated event to a true fringe festival model in 2018 and 2019.



Festivalgoers may binge-watch by buying a pass to see all of the acts (at an advance discounted price through Friday), or buy tickets for one, two or three performances at different price levels. Another highest-level pass includes a keepsake wristband and all shows. See www.loseyourmarbles.org.



The festival’s bevy of acts will include favorite Northeast Ohio dance companies GroundWorks DanceTheatre and Verb Ballets. Other Cleveland-area acts include contemporary dance company Inlet Dance Theatre as well as Kaustavi Sarkar, who will present live music with Indian classical dance.



Sure to be a quirky option is Fenn & Company’s Playing House, two duets created by Mary-Elizabeth Fenn of Neos Dance Theater that showcase a peculiar family’s interaction.



Also included in the mix are works by dance faculty Holly Handman-Lopez of Oberlin College and Robin Prichard of the University of Akron. Other artists will be Jonathan Gangi on classical guitar and Akron’s Ma’Sue Productions, which will perform the theater/movement piece Body Memories that explores the mother/son bond.





(Photo courtesy Zoran Jelenic)

Duane Gosa, the University of Akron dance graduate with Les Ballets Trockaderos de Monte Carlo, will perform at the Lose Your Marbles dance fringe festival in Akron June 10 at Akron s old Trolley Barn, a huge open-air barn downtown between North High Street, Perkins and North Main Street.


The festival will feature dance acts that range from a student choreographer to a professional ballet dancer who has performed internationally in 20 countries. The latter is Columbus native Duane Gosa, a 2008 University of Akron dance graduate who has danced for the last four years with the famous Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.



The all-male drag ballet corps, based in New York, parodies the conventions and clichés of romantic and classical ballet by having men portray both male and female roles. At Losing Your Marbles, Gosa will assume his persona as ballerina Helen Highwaters to dance en pointe in the renowned Dying Swan ballet solo from The Carnival of the Animals.



Gosa, whose first ballet teacher at UA was Jane Startzman, now the Losing Your Marbles event coordinator, first performed the acclaimed solo at the Kennedy Center in March. The solo was made famous by the legendary Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova.



Gosa, 31, said the comedy of the piece comes with how the dance starts off seriously but then the swan starts to become distressed, all juxtaposed with Camille Saint-Saens’ soft and dreamy music.





(Photo courtesy Zoran Jelenic)

Duane Gosa, the University of Akron dance graduate with Les Ballets Trockaderos de Monte Carlo, will perform at the Lose Your Marbles dance fringe festival in Akron June 10 at Akron s old Trolley Barn, a huge open-air barn downtown between North High Street, Perkins and North Main Street.


“She doesn’t know what’s going on and she’s really trying to control things and she loses control,” Gosa said. “You see some seizing and spasming.”



And lost feathers.



The dancer, who performs in full ballerina regalia, wears a wig and needs about an hour to transform into Helen Highwaters, which includes multiple layers of false eyelashes and many makeup steps. For the eyebrows alone, he glues them down, adds powder, then foundation, then more powder and then draws on his brows to make his eyes look bigger.



Gosa, who also will perform a Paquita variation, said he’s excited to perform in Akron, where he took two semesters of pointe class at UA. That laid some groundwork for dancing en pointe for the “Trocks” years later.



“This one has definitely been the most unique [work experience] in the way that I am dancing as a woman,’’ he said.





(Photo courtesy of Lose Your Marbles)

Ashley Pavey, a 2017 Wright State University dance graduate and her company of student will perform at the Lose Your Marbles dance fringe festival in Akron June 10 at Akron s old Trolley Barn.


Finally, recent Wright State University dance graduate Ashley Pavy is excited to present her dance Barakat for the first time outside of an academic setting. She choreographed the work for eight dancers. Her sister, Mallory, will be in the troupe performing it here.



Pavy, who is still recovering from ankle surgery, is not yet auditioning for professional dance companies, so instead she has been looking for opportunities to showcase her choreographic work. Barakat is about discovery and the cycle of life, she said, beginning with innocence and the idea of being “born again.”



“This piece, it’s my favorite work that I’ve set,’’ Pavy said. “I’ll share 12 minutes of my heart.”



The choreographer said she’s never shown a piece in a festival setting before: “The more I learned about the festival, the cooler it seemed.



Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or kclawson@thebeaconjournal.com. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kclawsonabj.