Performers given platform at South Bend Fringe Festival

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. --The South Bend Civic Theatre teamed up with Downtown South Bend to bring the first-ever Fringe Festival to town.

More than 25 independent artists took to stages scattered across downtown to perform.

Live indoor performances were canceled last year due to the pandemic. So, the Fringe Festival was the first time many performers were able to perform in front of a live audience in over a year.

“It felt so nice to be on a real stage with like an audience that’s like actually present. Not through video conferencing or like streamed later. It was really, really enjoyable,” dancer, Sarah Petersen said.

Petersen was one of four dancers who performed outside the South Bend Civic Theatre, in a piece called "What Shapes Us" at the South Bend Fringe Festival Sunday. The piece, a creative performance depicting emotions.

“This piece explores different attachment styles and a variety of different relationships, and we show that through different aspects of movement, acting, and some improve," Petersen said.

The Fringe Festival is a worldwide movement that started in Scotland around the 1940s. And organizers brought it here to South Bend as a way to support local artists by giving them a platform to perform. There are 28 acts of original works and pieces performed on stages scattered throughout Downtown South Bend.

“The thing we’re trying to promote with Fringe is tipping the performers. And on southbendfringe.com most of the artists have Venmo, cash App handles. So, if you go out to a show and enjoy it, throw a couple of dollars towards the artists because they’re doing this free of charge and providing beautiful art for our city,” coordinator of the Fringe Festival, Grace Lazaraz said.

Performances range from comedy to music, even dancing and acting. Performers said this was a good reintroduction back onto the stage.

“I like the aspect of live performance because you get the energy of the audience and that fuels the dancers onstage,’ Mykale Williams said.

Even audience members said they were blown away by the talent showcased at the festival.

“Dancers here are way more talented than I think they get street cred for. And it's such a pleasure to see movement, to see choreography, especially in our town,” Arnaud Zimmern said.

The event was originally scheduled all weekend, but due to bad weather. Saturday was the last day.

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