The Philadelphia Matter – 1972/2020

A virtual “Pick Up Performance Co”

Award-winning choreographer/director/writer David Gordon assembled a virtual “Pick Up Performance Co” of more than 30 Philadelphia performers for this new hour-long screen work specifically for the FringeArts Festival, The Philadelphia Matter – 1972/2020. The work was made via remote video material shot by the performers with iPhones to sophisticated cameras – Gordon then dissected, assembled, and collaged this movement with visual scores and archival works in collaboration with video artist Jorge Cousineau. The cast includes Wally Cardona and Pick Up Performance Co(s) members Karen Graham and Valda Setterfield.

Dancer Essays

This work was nothing like the original work we imagined for this project. We initially intended to present this work for an in-person audience in the Neighborhood House Theater, with virtual components. Due to the pandemic, it became clear that a live version of the production could not occur, so we pivoted. Shifting to a digital environment meant rethinking the whole project from beginning to end. At the links below, you will find essays by performers Megan Bridge, Amalia Colón Nava, and Rhonda Moore, who appeared in The Philadelphia Matter 1972/2020. Their writings describe what it was like to be a performer and creator in these unique circumstances and the kinds of challenges and opportunities that it afforded.

Going to Work: a self-interview on dancing for David Gordon, virtually, in the midst of a global pandemic 
by Megan Bridge

Writing about the Philadelphia Matter 
by Amalia Colón-Nava

What Matters About The Philadelphia Matter
by Rhonda Moore

Panel Discussions

Fringe Festival Talk: The Making of Philadelphia Matter – 1972/2020

Christ Church Preservation Trust Executive Director Barbara Hogue moderates a conversation about the making of The Philadelphia Matter – 1972/2020. In dialogue with David Gordon and collaborators including Wally Cardona, Jorge Cousineau, Alyce Dissette, Karen Graham, and Sarah Gladwin Camp participants describe the working process for this new work created using remote technology in the midst of a global pandemic.

Fringe Festival Talk: David Gordon and The Matter

FringeArts Artistic Producer Katy Dammers moderates a conversation about the layered nature of David Gordon’s artistic practice. Together with archivist Patsy Gay, artist Valda Setterfield, and writer Suzanne Carboneau the discussion considers how Gordon’s piece The Matter has functioned as a palimpsest and archive for his practice.

The New York Times

David Gordon Digs Into His Archives for a Dance That Matters – The New York Times

David Gordon


Founding artist of Judson Church performances and the improvisational dance group Grand Union, Gordon purposefully examines/expands/torpedoes conventional lines between theater and dance as a pioneer of the use of text and textual narrative in movement work. He presaged his later writing and directing for the stage and predated the live theater form that became known as “performance art.” Gordon’s dual status as theater and movement artist was acknowledged when he was awarded a Pew Charitable Trust National Dance Residency grant and a National Theater Residency grant in successive years. 

In the last decade he has received 3 NEA American Masterpiece Grant Awards and a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. His numerous commissions include Actors Studio, American Ballet Theatre, American Conservatory Theater, American Repertory Theater, BBC, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Dance Theatre of Harlem, New York Theatre Workshop, PBS Great Performances, and Serious Fun @ Lincoln Center. Gordon has been the Founding Director of Pick Up Performance Co(s) since 1978.


A Virtual Festival, But Is it Still the Fringe?

Alix Rosenfeld
American Theatre

David/Valda Over the Years

Deborah Jowit

Why It Matters

Lisa Kraus
Thinking Dance

FringeArts Festival kicks of its 24th year online

Justine Udo
KYW News

Philly Fringe Fest pivots to 4-week digital arts showcase

Jennifer Lynn

Philadelphia Fringe Festival Goes Virtual This Year

Trang Do
CBS Philly


Commissioning Producers
Christ Church Neighborhood House

Collaborating Producers
Pick Up Performance Co(s)



Major support for The Philadelphia Matter – 1972/2020 has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Meet Our Performers

Mehgan Abdel-Moneim

Megan Bridge

Marie Brown

Sanchel Brown

Eun Jung Choi

Amalia Colón-Nava

Sydney Donovan

Bethany Formica

Beau Hancock

Nile Harris

Justin Jain

Shayla-Vie Jenkins

Jungeun Kim

Megan Mazarick

Lucas A Mikan

Rhonda Moore

Guillermo Ortega

Rebecca Patek

Dawn Pratson

Lauren Putty White

Gabrielle Revlock

Nick Schwasman

Margot Electra Steinberg

Katie Vickers

November Ward

Jacinta Yelland