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Home > Dance Events Review

Dance In and Out of LA: Split

Many people have no idea about dance today. We understand ballet, jazz, modern and tap, but don’t realize how dance has evolved up to the minute. Some dance today can no longer be categorized as a style, it is raw movement from the heart that was captured and re-staged for the world to see. It is more intimate than you can imagine, more shocking that you expected and entirely original in movement and concept. It is far from predictable and anything but subdued.

I was fortunate to have experienced a dance show like this. I had the opportunity to go see a dance production at the Ivar Theatre in Hollywood called ‘Dance In and Out of LA: Split’ by Brokus Project Dance Company. It featured many of Los Angeles’s budding dance companies including Brokus Project Dance Company, Hysterica Dance Company, Island Moving Company and Wenta Ballet of Los Angeles.

The show opened up with a number called ‘Stars’, choreographed by Deborah Brockus (who also artistically directed as well as presented the entire show). This number was interesting yet vague in concept at first. It began with glow in the dark spots on the dancer’s costumes, they moved slowly, then eventually it picked up. The choreography included partnering and some contemporary ballet movement with a modern undertone. The music was an excerpt from ‘The Tender Land’ by Aaron Copeland. The piece unfolded beautifully and kept my interest until the very end. It was a nice opener and a lovely example of technical dance.

Brockus Dance Company: Picture from Freshgraphics

The next number that I enjoyed watching was by Hysterica Dance Company. It was a piece called ‘Let Me In’ danced by Nina McNeely and Sal Vassallo and choreographed by Kitty McNamee. This piece actually and strangely brought a tear to my eye. The dance was completely hysterical with desperation. The duet was ever changing and energy packed. Each movement was charged with craze and disillusionment. It looked like a couple who chose to be together though they weren’t the best match for each other… I couldn’t take my eyes off of Nina McNeely; she embodied the dance and was amazing to watch. She was completely absorbed and committed to this choreography as if she were improvising the whole time. The music was by Bjork. The dancers looked like dolls or marionettes being abruptly forced to interact. It was like disillusionment on fast forward. I found it strangely sad and personal in many ways. I really enjoyed this number, it was my favorite.

Hysterica Dance Company

The following number caught my interest as well. This one was called ‘Second Skin’ by Island Moving Company, choreographed by Ryan Kelly. The ensemble consisted of five dancers; three women and two men. The dancers really embodied the choreography, I didn’t see steps, but pure movement which was very conceptual. In the beginning of the piece, dancers would come and go so quickly and at times would abruptly stop and linger. It moved very swiftly at first then coagulated near the end… The costumes were used as props; they would take off one’s clothes (dancers were left with skin toned under clothes) and then put it on themselves or another dancer. These five dancers worked very well together. The choreography showed these men and women not as sexes, but humans. They were equal in their movement and were not singled out as feminine or masculine, which I liked. The collective number made me think of the delicate chemistry between people. Taking the clothes on and off and putting other clothes on ones self or another, represented the fact that we take the good and bad from each other. What we put out there should be well thought out because we may be putting it back on! What comes around goes around... Shall we call it karma?? The spatial patterns were very complicated and interesting, it was more about the patterns than the movement at times it seemed… The number ended with the ensemble inter-linked in a circle. It represented the struggle of harmony. I enjoyed this number; it was very interesting and thought provoking for me.

Island Moving Company Dancers
Island Moving Company

All in all, the show was very entertaining; I enjoyed all the pieces as strange as some of them were. Sometimes raw, unbridled movement on stage can tell you about yourself. Dance is not just mere entertainment, but art to be interpreted and to relate to. And the meaning intended by the choreographer is not always what is important verses the meaning each individual gets from it personally. What makes these dances memorable and special, are what they say to the individual, and how many meanings can be contrived from them. It is magical to see people embody a thought out pattern that seems to be happening naturally before your eyes. Those are the best kind, the kind without steps, the kind without choreography, costumes and dancers, the kind that make you forget that it is all preplanned. We want to see honest movement in time, a soul, or an expression; all of which are precious. I saw some really new and innovative choreography which expanded my idea of dance. I feel like I’ve come to enjoy different styles and ideas rather than what is familiar or comfortable for me to watch. It takes one outside of the box which is freeing and eye opening. ‘Dance In and Out of LA’, really embodied dance at this moment. It was fresh and on the cutting edge. It was an evening well spent, and I will definitely go to see a few of these companies elsewhere.

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