There is amazing dance in your backyard. For those of us who live in suburbia, it can seem as if we have to go to the nearest big city to see good art (or in my case good dance). But, the reality is that art happens everywhere, and we shouldn't overlook the quality of what is happening right in front of us in our own neighborhood.
Last week I taught as part of a Summer Dance Intensive in Simi Valley, hosted by Robert Salas' Movement Theater CoLab at Dance Creations. The intensive also included an opportunity for dancers to work with regional dance artists and present a work in progress in a final showing called the New Works Project. I attended the show last Saturday, and I thoroughly enjoyed the performance. And, I didn't have to drive an hour to see it! Awesome!
The choreographers came from all over the Greater LA area and each had a unique voice to add to the showing. The intent of the project was to invite choreographers to create with total freedom, to try new things, experiment with new ideas and play around with concepts with no pressure to create a final piece or even to create something "audience worthy." And yet, this showing was more satisfying to me then many full produced shows, because it was a celebration of the art making process: the ideas, the risks, the concepts.
I was captivated. Because each work was a work in progress, I thought I would share my reflections in a similar format. I hope that presenting the strongest images, movement concepts and questions that came to me while watching will give you an impression of each choreographer's voice.
The Paths We Choose by Heather Smith (emerging choreographer)
Jimi Hendricks! Why plural "we" in title? What is the nature of the relationships? Seduction. Strong. Power. Shape oriented movement reflects the rock sensibility of the music.
Untitled by Jesica Kondrath
Yawning bodies. Underwear. Demanding balances. Impressionist work. Well designed phrasing and rich movement phrases. Ability to accent a choreographic moment by deaccentuating the energy.
The Binny by Jennifer Curan
Africanist Aesthetics. Storytelling in dance. Don't be a Tom. Held gestures create extra demand in the expression of the lower body. Standing, sitting, looking. Head down reading the newspaper. Situations in meeting.
Untitled by Robert Salas
Interweaving bodies in space. Fascinating interplay. Counterpoint in the form of call and response. equality between genders. Rich in release technique. Stop!
Cat and Mouse by Luis Estrada (emerging choreographer)
Contemporary Jazz styling. Strong mirroring of music and musical accents. Subtle difference between the voice of the two dancers. A male duet. How do you build up to a "walk away" ending?
Soft Ambient Pulse by Kenneth Walker II
Captivating oscillations between kinetic energy and linear shape making. Contemporary Ballet. Hypnotic rhythms in a striped dress. Guides the eye with ease. Clicking of the wrists gave pulse new meaning.
Exchange in Three by Jeremy Hahn
Timeless experience of the process of movement. Patient. Meditative reflections. Progression of an idea into physical fruition. Music in three, timeless choreography.
Untitled by Michael Nickerson Rossi
Touch. Hands. Fall. Catch. Caring duet. Touching without looking. Robust movement requiring strength and agility. Connection. Relationship. End with female looking at male who looks ahead. Giving new meaning to focus.
Listening Part II by Robert Salas
Sliding contact. Linear pathways. Linear shapes. Movement thrown and caught in turn. Gestural phrase with arms. I want this arm phrase to go on forever. Exchange of gestures.
Untitled by Stephanie Nugent
Completely new premise for dance. All former expectations abandoned. Bobble. Bobble. Bounce. Bounce. Weighted. Released. Responsive. An unusual circumstance made to feel usual. Of course we bobble our heads! Short bouncy hair is a necessity. Stillness. Stillness. Stillness. Stop. To connect. Then bobble.
Although these pieces were all works in progress, I was completely satisfied as an audience member, maybe even more satisfied because they weren't trying to be all bright and shiny and perfect. It was dance that had guts. While sitting in the audience, I felt that I had been transported to another time when dance makers gathered in found and make shift spaces to share their art. A time when concept rather than execution drove the art making process. When the dance had to be shown as it was: immediate, raw, honest.
Did you attend? Did you perform? Did you choreograph? What was your experience? What are your thoughts?
(Please forgive any typos, I am writing from an iPad while teaching in Mexico! )
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