Opening Doors With A Stream
Live dance pops up like a tulip in Costa Mesa and downtown’s Union Station, a dance tour in unfamiliar Santa Monica, one dance film series ending and a new one begins, plus online encores, where to take online dance classes, and more SoCal dance this week.
A return to “live”
The first post-pandemic opening of a major venue brings the kind of hybrid live plus streamed dance performance that may be the future. Over the past year, many dance companies created safe bubbles for small groups of dancers to work with choreographers, mostly for live-streamed performances although occasionally in the outdoors for limited audiences. American Ballet Theatre made safe bubbles for 18 dancers who worked with a trio of New York-based choreographers–Jessica Lang, Lauren Lovette, and Darrell Grand Moultrie. The result takes the stage before a limited live audience with a streamed version available in mid-May. Along with the three new, contemporary works, more traditional ballet gets a nod with the technical showpiece Grande Pas Classique. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa; Live on Sun., Apr. 25, 1:30 p.m., $50 & up (event appears already sold out). Streaming starts Wed., May 12 thru Wed., May 26, $25 per household. Segerstrom Center.
Seeing the Site
Four choreographers have divvied up the Thursdays in April, taking turns bringing performance to a different corner of downtown’s Union station. Each site specific program will bring a personal movement practice including Cunningham technique, meditative dance, house dance, and theater. The quartet taking a turn includes Joy Angela, Chard Gonzalez, Emiko Sugiyama, and Jay Carlon. thru Thur., Apr. 22, 7 p.m., free. Details and registration at PIETER.
Looking at then through now
Over three Saturdays, Suárez Dance Theater rolls out three short films under the banner Mapping Our Stories. Inspired by the histories of Black, Native and LatinX people, each film is set in a Santa Monica public space with often overlooked cultural significance (the city provided funding). Choreographer/performer Bernard Brown of bbmoves takes the audience from the landmark Phillips Chapel CME Church (the 1909 church was the first serving the African American Community) to the site of “Inkwell Beach” where Blacks and Browns were restricted in segregated California beaches. Acknowledging her Chumash and Tongva Nations heritage, poet/songwriter Jessa Calderon’s film starts overlooking the ocean from Tongva Park. The history of the Westside Classics Car Club in Santa Monica is the focus of the film from Primera Generación Dance Collective (PGDC) and its members Alfonso Cervera, Rosa Rodriguez-Frazier, Irvin Manuel Gonzalez, and Patricia “Patty” Huerta. Each film will have resources for further exploration. Films screen on Fri., Apr. 23 & 30, free on YouTube. All three screen on Fri., May 7, 6 p.m. along with a filmmakers discussion. Free with registration at Eventbrite.
She does like a good book
Choreographer Rosanna Gamson has drawn some of her most compelling work from literature ranging from Scheherazade in Tales of the Arabian Nights to the Brothers Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel, and lectures by theoretical physicist Richard Feynman. Other than Albert Camus’ The Plague, what could be more appropriate pandemic source material than Boccaccio’s Decameron with tales from ten strangers sheltering from the bubonic plague? Just as the tales of the ten travelers unfold one at a time, Gamson’s The Decameron Project rolls out ten films, each made by a different artist. The first five episodes from Jinglin Liao, Kevin Zambrano, Dion Pratt, Gretchen Ackerman, and Clementine Gamson-Levyare now viewable for free on Instagram.
If this is Monday, where are we this week?
With support from three theaters, The Wallis and The Soraya in SoCal and The Harris in Chicago, Jacob Jonas The Company worked with more than 150 artists all over the globe to produce short dance films for the series, Films.Dance. Pandemic restrictions still preclude travel but for 15 weeks that started January 25, a new film takes viewers to a different world destination each Monday until May 3. The films screen for free. The penultimate week14 film, Plume, is notable for violinist Hillary Hahn providing music for 21 acrobats from around the world. Still viewable are Torn with State Ballet of Hanover dancers Conal Finn Francis-Martin, Robert Robinson and Jamal Uhlmann pitted against each other, Xeno with Canadian circus-artists Natasha Patterson and Sabine van Rensburg, GALOPE filmed in Spain with dancer Gonzalo Garcia, Sit Still with seven-year-old Canadian Krumper Adeline Kerry Cruz, Same Sky danced by Jacob Jonas The Company, ANOTHER SERIOUS DANCE FILM with ballerina Sara Mearns, Dadu set in the Dutch hamlet of Spaarnwoude, 正念 – NOW with BeijingDance/LDTX company dancer Li Kehua (Lico), Edging Normal with dancer Desmond Richardson, Match bringing five choreographers and 46 dancers drawn from 20 countries in a scene-shifting world tour, Pássaro Distante from Brasil, Toke spotlighting Danish-born dancer Toke Broni Strandby in London locales, and Kaduna filmed in Nigeria. Mon., 9 a.m., free. New additions each Monday to May 3. Info on the full line-up of 15 films and free subscriptions at Films.Dance, The Soraya. The Wallis.
A “Grand” duo
Still the Bella the ball
Like her seamless dancing, Bella Lewitzy moved from her initial role as choreographer Lester Horton’s muse to assume the mantle of mother of so much dance in Los Angeles. A dancer who embodied Horton’s technique, film clips captured the seemingly boneless flow of movement through her body, technique she passed onto several generations of dancers through her teaching, at the helm of her eponymous company, and as a passionate advocate for Los Angeles as an under-appreciated center of dance. There is a documentary getting its final polish, but a new YouTube channel has a preview of the upcoming film and much more. YouTube.
A dancer plus a drum
In The Drum Dances, three ballet dancers each take a turn with drummer Ana Barreiro. The American Contemporary Ballet trio in the 13-minute film are Michelle DeAngelis, former Los Angeles Ballet dancer Madeline Houk, and Rochelle Chang in this latest from artistic director/choreographer Lincoln Jones. Opening Wed., Apr. 14, “pay what you wish” with a suggested $5 minimum to cover hosting at American Contemporary Ballet.
Song and dance
Dancer Lateef Williams joins mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis in the premiere of Brown Sounds, a digital short by Jérémy Adonis. Filmed on location in a lush Belgian garden, the project is the opening collaborative effort from LA Opera, the African American Art Song Alliance, Aural Compass Projects, Black Opera Alliance, National Association of Negro Musicians and the Philadelphia Dance Company. Free. Viewing details at LA Opera.
For now until then
Originally from Orange County, Skylar Campbell’s ballet career took him to the National Ballet of Canada. Last year, his nascent chamber company Skylar Campbell Dance Collective was booked for a June debut at The Barclay Theater. Drawing dancers on hiatus from New York City Ballet, Boston Ballet and National Ballet of Canada, when the pandemic shutdown live performance here, the debut instead was online from Canada . The Barclay still plans to present the ensemble when live performance resumes, but for now, the venue announced SCDC’s three-part dance film Traveler with original music by OC’s Josiah Johnson. Free. Part one with Campbell and Jackie Oakley, Part two with Ben Rudisin and Calley Skalnik, Part three with Hannah Fischer, Rudisin, Oakley, Skalnik, and Campbell. After last week’s premiere, the three parts are on YouTube.
Three to present one
Three theaters joined forces in early March to present a free performance by flamenco artist Israel Galván in Maestro de Barra. Reviewers have described Galvan as a master at capturing the fiery spirit and quicksilver footwork of this percussive art form without dancing into movement clichés. Moving outside traditional confines of flamenco, Galván has collaborated with jazz musician Pat Metheny and contemporary choreographer Akram Khan. Kudos to the three presenters, especially UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance (CAP UCLA) which continues to offer the performance thru May 31. Info and free access at CAP UCLA.
Dancin’ around LA
In the absence of touring companies inside its theaters, the Music Center is giving a little love and attention to LA’s dance companies as part of the series For The Love Of L.A. filmed in different parts of the city. A recent addition offers Kyoko Takenaka’s martial arts-infused movement. She joins Brianna Mims performing in Leimert Park, Versa-Style Dance Company‘s street dancers at the beach, folkloric troupe Pacifico Dance Company at nine different locations representing different areas of Mexico, the tap group Syncopated Ladies on a downtown rooftop, Rangoli Dance Company celebrating a South Asian goddess, Albertossy Espinoza’s LA Fusion Dance Theater with Flamenco fusion duet, and Pat Taylor’s Jazz Antiqua Dance & Music Ensemble in parks, alleys, and an empty business street. Free online at Music Center.
Drawing its title and subject matter from Clint Smith’s poem “How to Raise a Son,” the poet gives voice to his words as the camera follows dancer Dennzyl Green. A current member of the Nannette Brodie Dance Theatre, Green performs and shares choreography credit with Brodie. The film is the latest contribution from NBDT and the South Coast Dance Alliance. Free online on Vimeo.
Is there a sequel?
Originally staged in 2016 to sold out audiences, Invertigo Dance Theatre’s After It Happened joins the Ford Theaters video line up of encore performances. Set in the aftermath of a natural disaster, the work considers how a community rebuilds and scavenges for signs of hope and resilience. With the current tragic pandemic possibly headed toward containment, After It Happened offers a thoughtful consideration through dance that suggests ways to create and build a new normal. Free with reservation at The Ford or Invertigo Dance Theatre.
Taking to the air(waves)
The SoCal contemporary ballet and aerial company Luminario Ballet has posted links to recent performances and also announced it has a new dance film coming sooon. The films are free at Luminario Ballet.
Over the past year, choreographer Melissa Barak and her contemporary Barak Ballet shifted online several fine filmed performances, a virtual gala, and its own instagram channel. Some of the films are free at their website and Instagram.
A show of force
One of the most powerful filmed efforts from last year remains This is Me – Letters from the Front Lines from Diavolo Architecture in Motion and its Veterans Project. The film’s insights remain painfully true as military veterans who now are first responders confront what it means to be a warrior on the front lines of a pandemic as they gymnastically inhabit a world of pipes and moving structures while articulating the personal and professional realities of being on the front line of Covid-19. Diavolo.
Locking it up
Early in the pandemic, the street dance troupe Versa-Style Dance Company displayed a natural affinity to online streaming of performances and classes. The most recent film, Ending The Year With Hope, continues online and the company has a video filmed at the beach as part of the Music Center’s For the Love of LA series. The company’s YouTube channel hosts performance videos and videos on a range of life-skills subjects geared to young adults, but with pointers for all ages. Info and videos on YouTube and Versa-Style website.
Performances by Santa Monica College’s two resident companies, Synapse Contemporary Dance Theater and Global Motion World Dance Company, stream for free at SMC.
The past keeps on keeping on
While the theatre itself remains closed, the Ford continues several online series showcasing past dance and music performances. The array of local dance companies in the line up reflects how the beloved al fresco venue functioned as an informal summer dance festival showcasing the energy and diversity in SoCal dance. Look for contemporary from Lula Washington Dance Theatre, street dance from Versa-Style Dance, Brazilian from Viver Brasil, plus traditional and contemporary folkloric dance from Grandeza Mexicano Folk Ballet Company, Pacifico Dance Company, the LA Phil’s exploration of Tovaangar Today with dancer Ba’ac Garcia, and contemporary South Asian, Bollywood and Bhangra dance from Achinta S. McDaniel and her Blue13. All free. Complete calendar and information at The Ford.
An international dozen
A dozen dancers working remotely from three continents developed a series of short videos presented by Nancy Evans Dance Theatre under the banner The Channels. The company also added a new installment of Figures of Speech, new dance works inspired by literature. Free at Nancy Evans Dance Theatre.
The pandemic caught Pasadena’s Lineage Dance Company in the midst of construction of its new Lineage Performing Arts Center as well as figuring out how to offer classes and performance in a pandemic. The construction is finished and the dance company has scored with several videos including its most recent staged in Pasadena’s iconic Gamble House. Videos free online at Lineage.
Unexpected curriculum addition
The dance department at Cal State University Long Beach is among those shifting online videos to new dance channels on You Tube while also streaming two performances with dancers observing strict Covid-19 protocols. Those performances and more are free on YouTube.
Alone with others watching
Not content to simply be online with filmed dance, the site specific performance ensemble Heidi Duckler Dance launched its 35th anniversary with live walk-up or drive performances at sites throughout L.A. An array of projects and films can be found at Heidi Duckler Dance.
The movement and the music
Choreographer Pat Taylor’s work for her JazzAntiqua Dance and Music Ensemble ranges from pure celebration of the music to thoughtful considerations of the fight against racism and injustice. Videos stream for free at the JazzAntiqua website and YouTube.
With a new weekly online broadcast of a past performance, classes, workshops, and conversations, Viver Brasil was among the earliest LA dance companies to shift online and continues as one of the most active with videos, classes, workshops and more. Viver Brasil. The troupe also is part of KCET’s Southland Sessions streaming at KCET.
Is it a question?
During the initial Covid–19 shutdown, 15 dancemakers created 90-second solos reflecting the range of reactions to the shelter-in-place order last spring. All 15 are collected in Emily Mast and Yehuda Duenyas’ project HOW ARE WE . Stream for free on Vimeo.
More in the lunchbox
Live streamed performances continue intermittently but REDCAT’s instagram channel offers a collection of prior dance performances including Genna Moroni, Tzong-Han Wu, and Rosanna Gamson/World Wide. Free at Instagram Channel.
The Music Center Offstage continues to stream new and encore video clips and performances. Visitors include Cuba’s Malpaso Dance Company and Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, local troupes include Jung Im Lee Korean Dance Academy, Kayamanan Ng Lahi Philippine Folk Arts, and Infinite Flow. Music Center.
When one was not enough
Last June’s four-part BlakTinx Dance Festival presented choreography from 20 Black and Latino dancemakers. All four programs continue for free online on YouTube.
Live music, virtual dance
Dance continues to be part of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s 20-21 online season, including dancer/choreographer Shauna Davis in the premiere of composer/musician Derrick Spiva Jr.’s two part work Mind The Rhythm. LACO’s music director Jaime Martin conducts. Link to free performance at LACO.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ann Haskins has written about dance for L.A. Weekly since shortly after it began publishing. She also has written about local and national dance for Pointe Magazine, Dance Spirit Magazine, Dance Teacher Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine, L.A. View, Coast Magazine, the Daily News, and the Herald Examiner. Among her broadcast projects, Ann hosted Inside Theater on KCRW-FM and contributed dance and theater features to both KLON-FM and KUSC-FM. She has received two Horton Awards from the Los Angeles Dance Resource Center for her coverage of dance in Los Angeles.