Night two of the Los Angeles Dance Festival 2018 – Women Rising at the lovely Théâtre Raymond Kabbaz included three works not seen on the festival’s opening night, along with the presentation of a second Service To The Field award to a woman who has helped alter, shape and advance the landscape of dance in Los Angeles. The festival is co-produced by Theater Director, Pierre Leloup and Brockus Project Director, Deborah Brockus.
Joanne DiVito, the recipient of the award, has been a driving force behind Los Angeles dance for several decades. She is a dancer, choreographer, agent, and founder of Career Transition for Dancers (CTFD). DiVito’s performance career began with Ballet Russes and later included working with such notables as Jack Cole, George Abbott, Richard Rodgers, and Ethel Merman. She has directed and choreographed for commercials, Broadway, television and film. She had a successful career as owner and director of DiVito Productions, providing customized corporate theatre that advanced businesses’ visibility, and DiVito is currently a Professor of Dance at California State University, Northridge. Fortunately for Los Angeles dance, she shows no signs of slowing down.
Rebecca Lemme is a choreographer, performer, educator, and visual artist. She is the Artistic Director of Acts of Matter and on the Dance Faculty at CSU, Long Beach. I/D (excerpted work in progress) holds great promise for the finished product. The duet is performed with great skill by Lemme and Katie Istvan to a collage of music by Laurie Anderson and recorded musings by Lemme where she speaks of her conservative upbringing, her evolved views on religion and the death of her father.
Although I have seen her choreography several times, this was my first time seeing Lemme perform. She is a beautiful dancer and her choreography for I/D gives the audience a small window into her persona, and if the title is any hint, into those of others. She reminds us that we should not always think that we know someone based on their appearance, where they come from or how they were raised. Lemme asks that we understand and acknowledge that people relocate, read, change, grow and have ideas of their own.
Gracie Whyte and Laura Berg are LA-based dance artists who formed their collaborative company, WHYTEBERG, in 2014. Their work I hear everyone you know is more relevant than everyone I know brought tongue-in-cheek glamor and humor to the stage. Whyte was dressed in a silver sequined blouse, a plastic skirt buttoned down the front and elegant dangling earrings. Berg wore a stylish black and white dress which appeared to be made of thin or faux leather. Adding to this, their makeup was that of high society women or models; each looking fabulous.
The duet included a series of poses and Whyte’s earrings added subtle humor as they continued to move. The lighting included disco-like flashing colors and special spot lights for each woman to perform and pose in. This work was a wonderful satirical look at social status and on how women are viewed, but it was so much more. I hear everyone you know is more relevant than everyone I know was a very well-made dance performed with incredible clarity by both Whyte and Berg.
Genevieve Carson is currently the Artistic Director of Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company. She joined LACDC in 2009 and since then has choreographed several beautiful works for the company. Late Bloomer is packed with individuality and loneliness. The dancers rarely physically touch, lending a sense of each person living privately inside the norm. The rare times that Carson allows them to come together is during brief unison phrases or when they walk in a line from downstage to upstage. Even then, they do not touch. It is Tess Hewlett whose character is singled out and we see her evolving emotions expressed through her body and face as the others move around her. As she smiles, she is joined by the rest of those around her to walk together in solitude. The very strong cast included Hewlett, JM Rodriquez, Ryan Ruiz, Drea Sobke, and Tiffany Sweat.
Also included on the program were As Ancient and Young as Spring (excerpts – Wisdom/First Humans/Women/Rituals) by Deborah Brockus and SEEcolour by Micaela Taylor. Both appeared on opening night. To read my review of those performances, clicking here.
A shout out to Lighting Designer Evan Nie for his ability to give each dance its own personality and to the Sound Engineer, Mike Crimm.
There was also artwork by Rebecca Lemme and photographer Paul Antico located nearby in an adjacent building to be viewed.
The Los Angeles Dance Festival 2018 – Woman Rising concludes tonight, but the festival continues throughout the month of March. For information and tickets, click here.
Feature Photo Courtesy of the Los Angeles Dance Festival 2018.
To view the LA Dance Chronicle Calendar of Performances, click here.