Striving in Different Directions

Sad news this week includes a live performance postponed due to fires, a popular dance studio loses to developers, and efforts to bring Cirque du Soleil out of bankruptcy lost to creditors, leaving those thousands of Cirque dancers on unemployment lines along with freelancers and those laid off as dance companies remain closed. Among the hopeful signs, Invertigo Dance Company expands its Digital Dance Care Packages, new management unveils its debut digital season with a theater name change, and a new dance film considers the 2016 Orlando nightclub mass shooting, plus encore streams, where to submit new film, dance classes, and more happening this week in SoCal dance.

Which mass shooting was that?

Marking four years since the mass shooting targeting the LGBTQ community at an Orlando Florida nightclub, Chicago-based choreographer Brendan Fernandes employs drawing and sculpture to enhance the performance in the new short film Free Fall for the Camera. The online screening and post-screening conversation with Fernandes and writer/performance theorist Joshua Chambers-Letson can be accessed for five days after the premiere. Fri., Aug. 28 8 a.m.-Tues., Sept. 1, 11:59 p.m.

Brendan Fernandes. Photo by Liz Ligon.

Watch out Hallmark

What began as a one-time Mother’s Day romp with Invertigo Dance Theatre inviting donations for a personalized solo choreographed and performed by company members was such a success the company has launched the effort as Digital Dance Care Packages. Donors provide a few suggested words or phrases as inspiration, then the delivered digital gift includes a personalized message with the dance performance, dance photographs and clips from the company repertoire. Donations of $30 go to the dancer/choreographer. Donations of $50 also help the ensemble’s community programs. Full information on their website.

Invertigo Dance Theatre. Photo by Joe Lambie.

Not so romantic California 

Based on the 1884 story by Helen Hunt Jackson, a dramatization of her novel i was a regular pageant at the San Gabriel Mission for many decades and became something of a branding tool for the romantic ideal of early California. The ongoing reexamination of the role of Spanish missionaries and recent fire at that mission have reinvigorated discussion and critical examination of California’s idealized past. Almost two years ago, Heidi Duckler Dance with its band of dancers, musicians, actors and performers were early participants in the conversation with a site-specific, contemporary take on Jackson’s The Story of Ramona at the very mission that figures prominently in the story. Those 2018 performances became part of a larger HDD initiative Ramona: Reimaging, Unsettling and Reckoning that continues with a three-part virtual salon series expanding the discussion with art, music, conversation and a deep dive into the story of Ramona related to the histories and contemporary experiences of Native Americans in California. The first salons streamed Thurs., Aug. 13 and 20, with the conclusion on Aug. 27, 5 p.m. PDT. Free with reservation at Eventbrite. Details and complete line up at Heidi Duckler Dance.

Heidi Duckler Dance. Photo by Mae Koo.

Don’t get burned

Luminario Ballet is known for its blending of aerial and ballet. The company released a rehearsal video of dancers Kelly Vittetoe and Jonathan Sharp in a segment Firebird choreographed by artistic director Judith Flex Helle. On YouTube.

TAIKOPROJECT. Photo courtesy of the artists.

A digital Ford

Among the subtle and not so subtle changes of new management by the LA Phil, what used to be the Ford Theater is now The Ford and while the theatre itself remains closed, four digital series were announced through the end of the year. A quartet of festivals includes mostly music, but one in November focused on dance. The Saturday morning family dance classes includes lots of dance and the streaming of past performances reflects how well the theater served as an informal summer dance festival. Up this week, prior Ford shows by TAIKOPROJECT on Thurs., Aug. 27 and Viver Brasil on Thurs., Sept. 3. All events are free. Complete calendar and information at

Postponed / Relocating:

Then came the fires

It was going to require a drive to the desert for two hours of masked, socially distanced silence as Rosanna Gamson/World Wide dancers performed on a mirrored stage from Nathaniel Ancheta, part of interdisciplinary artist Roya Ziba’s month-long installation Strength of Our Nature. The pandemic precautions weren’t enough with the road closures due to fires and ongoing high heat forecasts. Hope is high to reschedule, but plans on hold for now.

Platform for “Gather.” Photo courtesy of Nathaniel Ancheta.

And if things weren’t scary enough

Over the years, the Zombie Ballet from Leigh Purtill Ballet Company has become a regular feature of the Halloween season. Getting a really early start on that holiday, the company offers Halloween in August. The online event includes screening of Purtill’s “mini-horror” film The Dead Shoes, a virtual costume contest, prizes, and an appropriately themed ballet class. Sat., Aug. 29, 4 p.m. PST, $10 suggested donation. Eventbrite.

Leigh Purtill Ballet Company’s “Zombie Ballet.” Photo courtesy of the artists.

Moving on

For nearly 30 years, the Edge Performing Arts Center has been a “go to” studio, especially for jazz and contemporary dance. The struggle faced by dance studios everywhere from Covid-19 was compounded when Edge owners Randy Allaire and Bill Prudich learned the studio’s long-time home in Hollywood’s Television City was slated for redevelopment, and plans did not include the studio.  The last class was August 16, but the announcement talks of resuming virtual classes in September and announcements to come about relocating.  

SoCal Encore Streaming

Pony Box Dance Theatre. Photo courtesy of the artists.

Oops! More than one from LA

This space erroneously claimed that Rosanna Gamson/World Wide’s Layla Means Night was the only LA company among the 52 filmed performances assembled for the 39th Battery Dance Film Festival, New York’s longest running free public dance festival. Turns out the viral festival includes a filmed performance entitled The Vision from choreographer Jamie Carbetta and the all male contemporary troupe Pony Box Dance Theater. Elijah Laurant is featured among the dancers. Drawn from a live performance, Gamson’s film Layla Means Night was Inspired by the Persian tale of Shahrzad or Scheherazade) who entranced her husband and kept herself alive by telling stories for 1001 nights. The festival includes filmed dance from the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Japan and North America assembled around a daily theme that includes women choreographers, the ratification of U.S. women’s right to vote with the 19th amendment, Black voices in dance, India’s Independence Day, and New York City’s resilience. After their opening, films will be online for ten days. Streaming began last Friday and continues thru Sat., Aug 22 (plus ten days more). Details on each night’s line-up and streaming link at

Rosanna Gamson/World Wide. Photo by Jose Diaz.

A show of force

In what may prove a timely, if unnerving coincidence, military veterans are featured in a streamed film from Diavolo’s Veterans Project exploring what it means to be a true warrior on the front lines. In This is Me – Letters from the Front Lines, military vets and first responders explore what it means to be on the front line. Since artistic director Jacques Heim and Diavolo Architecture in Motion launched their Veterans Project in 2016, more than 500 SoCal veterans have participated in the company’s gymnastic approach to movement to restore physical, mental and emotional strengths. Along the way, the project developed stunning performance works, one of which was part of Diavolo’s day-long 25th anniversary celebration at the Soroya which hosted this event as part of the theater’s Fridays at 4 series. Info at

Diavolo Veterans Project. Photo by George Simian.

Silver screen shifting

After discovering their admiration for the others work was mutual, LA Contemporary Dance Company and Vitamin String Quartet’s planned collaboration for a live performance was put on hold by the pandemic shutdown. The effort took a different turn to film, two films so far with the first now streaming. That initial release, The Box, managed to adhere to CDC guidelines while putting two dancers  (Jamila Glass and Angel Tyson) and four musicians (Elizabeth Baba, Amanda Lo, Filip Pogády, Caleigh Drane) in the historic Heritage Square Museum. The roughly three-minute film streams on YouTube. Another LACDC collaboration, this time with filmmaker Nathan Kim continues to stream. The seven-minute film BLINK, was choreographed by artistic director Genevieve Carson in collaboration with the LACDC dancers. An official selection in the Hollyshorts Film Festival 2019, Cucalorus Festival 2019, and the San Francisco Dance Film Festival 2019, BLINK features dancer Hyosun Choi with Christian Beasley, Kate Coleman, Tess Hewlett, Ryan Ruiz, Drea Sobke, and Tiffany Sweat. Information on other LACDC virtual programming on their websiteBLINK on Vimeo.

LA Contemporary Dance Company. Photo courtesy of the artists..

Festive females

Works by nine female choreographers highlighted the day-long celebration of Women in Jazz Dance  last week. Hosted by choreographer Pat Taylor and her JazzAntiqua Dance & Music Ensemble, the performances continue on vimeo. Participating choreographers included Erika Novachik from Brazil, Monique Haley from Michigan, Kimberley Cooper from Canada, ERinn Liebhard from Minnesota, Gynthis Gutierrez from Oregon and locals Keisha Clark-Booth from Long Beach and Taylor from L.A. Video at Vimeo. Separately, Taylor’s A Kindred Woe consideration of Emmett Till who was lynched at age 14 and mothers of murdered children continues to stream with Terrice Banks Tillmon, Keisha Clark-Booth, Rayne Duronslet, Kacy Keys and Shari Washington Rhone.

JazzAntiqua Dance & Music Ensemble. Photo courtesy of the artists.

Feel like screaming?

Originally developed as a stage piece by choreographer Sophia and the dancers of Iris Company, the creators in 2018 presciently reworked Screaming Shapes! into a film. After a year on the festival circuit including SoCal’s Dance Camera West, the company has released the work online. The performers include Bryanna Brock, Hyosun Choi, Cat Cogliandro, Casey Gonzalez, Kristen Holleyman, Amanda MacLeod, Joan H. Padeo, Shane Raiford, and Jamal Wade. Iris Company.

The Iris Company. Photo courtesy of the artists.

LA Dance in Korea

The always-anticipated LA Dance Festival was among local spring dance events postponed or cancelled by the Covid–19 shutdown. Last week the festival streamed virtual performances hosted by Cal State University Los Angeles’ Luckman Theater. A second batch of performances is in the works. Meanwhile, last week’s second stream with the LA Festival’s partnership with a Korean event continues on view with several of the companies originally announced for the LA Festival included in the stream of Seoul International Dance Festival.

BrockusRED. Photo by Denise Leitner.

Toughing it

Dancers Emara Neymour, Santiago Villarreal, and Matt Luck join choreographer Micaela Taylor in her video Toughskin now streaming.

Micaela Taylor/TL Collective. Photo by Steve Gunther.

Busy screens

Adding to its trove of streaming options, Viver Brasil adds a weekly spotlight on past performances. The Afro-Brazilian dance and live music ensemble offer journeys to Salvador, Bahia to explore royal orixá dances, high-flying capoeira, and samba from a Bahian Carnaval. Current and past spotlight events now availableViver Brasil also was among the SoCal artists selected for KCET’s Southland Sessions, reworking its popular family show Celebrating Samba for the small screen with company members performing from their homes. But through the power of Afro-Brazilian dance and live music they promise a cultural journey to Salvador, Bahia to explore royal orixá dances, high-flying capoeira, and samba from a Bahian Carnaval. Streaming at KCET.

Viver Brasil. Photo courtesy of the artists.

Is it a question?

Filmed during the initial Covid–19 shutdown, Emily Mast and Yehuda Duenyas’ project HOW ARE WE, collected 15 solos, each 90-seconds including from LA choreographers. The possibilities of a plant, the bed sheets, or the corner of a room are among the starting points. Armed with a tennis racket, Carlon contributed Anesthetized, admitting that he wanted a socially acceptable reason to scream or grunt like Serena Williams or John McEnroe without looking like nut. Other contributors include Shannon Hafez, Jessica Emmanuel, Stacy Dawson Stearns, Jenny Marytai Liu, Constance Hockaday & Faye Driscoll, Barnett Cohen, Hana Van Der Kolk, Darrian O’Reilly, David Arian Freeland Jr., Heyward Bracey, Mireya Lucio, Dorothy Dubrule, Terrence Luke Johnson, and Mast & Duenyas. Info at How Are We. Stream on Vimeo.

Carlon. Photo courtesy of the artist.

More in the lunchbox

In June, Dohee Lee’s scheduled REDCAT performance was cancelled. The venue hopes one day to reschedule a live performance. In the meanwhile, the Korean artist whose skills span dance, drumming, singing and musical composition joins the line-up of prior dance performances from artists including Austyn Rich, Genna Moroni, Tzong-Han Wu, and Rosanna Gamson/World Wide. Info at Instagram Channel.

Dohee Lee. Photo by Pak Han.

More Offstage

The Music Center Offstage continues to stream new and encore video clips and performances from Swing 2020, Cuba’s Malpaso Dance Company, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Jung Im Lee Korean Dance Academy, Kayamanan Ng Lahi Philippine Folk Arts, Infinite Flow, and Spotlight classical and non-classical dance finalists Jacob Jovanni Alvarado, Ashley Lew, Maya Alvarez-Coyne and Bergundi Loyd.

Malpaso Dance Company. Photo by Bill Hebert.

Coming to a sidewalk near you

With theaters somewhere in stage 4 of that elusive reopening, CAP UCLA paired with the National YoungArts Foundation to bring local performers to where the audience lives with The Sidewalk Sessions. For $50, artists will show up and perform on a sidewalk or driveway for the sponsor and invited and socially distanced friends and neighbors. Sponsors can indicate a preference for type of artist, but organizers will schedule artists based on geographical proximity and availability. The plan is for performances to last approximately 15 minutes and all proceeds will go to the artists. For more information or to schedule for July, August or September: Google Doc.

Street to stage

Instead of its usual annual live performances from Black and Latinx choreographers at the Bootleg Theater, the BlakTinx Dance Festival returned with a viral format in late June. For those who missed that live stream of Dancing on the Edge, the show now continues on-line in four parts with works from Nancy Rivera Gomez, Shantel Ureña, Anthony Aceves, Bernard Brown, Joshua Estrada-Romero, Keilah Lomotey, Michelle Funderburk, Primera Generación, Vannia Ibargüen, Marina Magalhães, Regina Ferguson, Rubi Morales, Amber Morales, Alan Perez, Dorcas Román, Yarrow Perea, Andrea Ordaz, Eluza Santos, Briseyda Zárate, and Sadie Yarrington. With many of the works recently created, the pandemic and the streets were subjects and five pieces from earlier festivals that focused on Black Lives Matter were last minute additions. More info at One, Program Two, Program Three, Program Four.

BlalTinx. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Knock twice & tell them Jacob sent you

Reminiscent of what one did to enter a speakeasy in the 1920s or a Cold War spy meet-up, a select, paying audience was given the address of a Santa Monica airport parking lot with strict instructions on arriving in their cars, remaining in the cars wearing face masks, and turning on their headlights when cued. In perhaps the first “drive in” dance event, Jacob Jonas and his eponymous Jacob Jonas The Company performed Parked with those vehicles encircling the “stage,” their headlights illuminating the socially spaced dancers performing to live music by Anibal Sandoval. The one-night only event was filmed by Ivan Cash and Daniel Addelson. With the five minute final cut covering interviews with the choreographer and dancers, the actual performance footage is brief, but if the cars flashing their headlights at bows was a kind of applause, the experiment garnered a vehicular standing ovation from the audience. Hopefully, the performance itself will have a separate streaming life. Info at Film on Vimeo.

Jacob Jonas The Company. Photo courtesy of the artists.

Looking back

Despite an extensive career in dance here and abroad, Sean Greene locally will always be identified with his decade with the Bella Lewitzky Dance Company. With her career based mostly in New York, notably with Laura Dean, Liz Maxwell is less well know in SoCal, but both Greene and Maxwell are on the Chapman College dance faculty and the focus of Always a Dancer. The live interview included several clips of Maxwell dancing and then commenting on the role, the choreography, and the choreographer. Sadly, only still photos were available for Greene’s work for Lewitzky. The conversation and visuals are facilitated by Napoleon W. Gladney quietly demonstrating his own background as a performer and arts administrator (he’s now audience development administrator for the Musco Center for the Arts which hosted the program). The live-streamed interview is now up and available for viewing. Info on Musco Online. Stream on YouTube.

Sean Greene. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Alone with a chandelier

The site specific performance ensemble Heidi Duckler Dance has  been actively exploring the possibilities in combining live and virtual performance. Earlier this summer, Ebb & Flow: Chinatown 2020 allowed audiences to stroll about installations with dance projected into some of the constructs. Other ongoing streamed projects include a five-minute video drawn from the live performance of The Chandelier based on a work by Brazilian author Clarice Lispector about a woman experiencing isolation and trying to connect. Choreographed by Duckler, the performers include Himerria Wortham, Rafael Quintas, Myles Lavallee, Nicole Flores, Maureen Asic, Magdalena Edwards, Jessica Emmanuel, Jaeme Velez, David Guerra, and Paula Rebelo. Vimeo. Video of the full zoomed performance.

Heidi Duckler Dance. Photo courtesy of the artists.

Mask breathing

The scheduled premiere of choreographer Melissa Barak’s first full length contemporary ballet Memoryhouse for her Barak Ballet was cancelled when Santa Monica’s Broad Stage closed with the statewide coronavirus shutdown. On what would have been the closing night, Barak Ballet instead went online with the premiere of Breathe In, a short ballet filmed at the grounds at the Holocaust Museum in what formerly was known as Pan Pacific Park in the Fairfax district. The film features Peter Chursin with Andrew Brader, Lucia Connolly, Jessica Gadzinski, Chasen Greenwood, Stephanie Kim, and with choreography by Barak. Also, there’s an opportunity to sign up for the company’s new YouTube channel. Info at Streaming on Facebook.

Barak Ballet. Photo by Djeneba Aduayom.

Locking it up

Paying tribute to Don Campbellock, the creator of the Locking dance style, the street dance troupe Versa Style Dance Company and its youth organization Versa-Style Next Generation unveil Finding Creativity and Fun in Our Personal Space. The streamed performance gets help from musician Cody “CoFlo” Ferreira’s Playground Samba. YouTube, Facebook. Info at

Versa Style Dance Company. Photo courtesy of the artists.

Festival in a box

After Covid–19 shelter at home caused cancellation, the Orange County Dance Festival was among the first to shift to streaming. Throughout April and May, a recorded version of the work each company or artist was scheduled to perform streamed for three days in show order. Bonuses included company photos, artistic statements, and links to websites and social media platforms. Now the OCDF website has collected the individual events from AkomiDance, Contempo Ballet, 7th Street Dance Company, ISSA Dance Company, Animus Dance Co., Jazz Spectrum Dance Company, Emergent Dance Company, Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre, Louise Reichlin & Dancers, The Hubbard Collective, Kairos Dance Co., and Fuse Dance Company. AkomiDance.

Akomi Dance. Photo by Vytas Barauskas.

Platforms to Submit Video Dance

Dare dancing

With cautions about staying safe while filming, organizers Sarah Elgart and Cultural Weekly announced round 4 of Dare to Dance in Public with the theme of Pandemania, meaning a hyper energized state. Info on the judges, prior winners, plus rules and regulations for submission at: The group’s other film endeavor Six Foot Dances is still accepting one-minute films. Current submissions on Instagram and Cultural Weekly.

Where to Find Online Dance Classes

Clear out a corner & shake a leg!

On-line dance classes continue on zoom, instagram and other on-line platforms, many classes free, low cost or suggesting a donation. One central, constantly updated source on dance classes and in-depth reporting on SoCal dance, LA Dance Chronicle lists on-line dance classes including any cost and contact info. Grab a chair or clear off a corner of the room and use this time to dance.

What are you looking for?