December 4, 2021 marked the second day of the Los Angeles Dance Festival/Internationl 2021 produced by Deborah Brockus in partnership with The Luckman Theatre and Seoul International Dance Festival in Tank (SIDFIT) with support from the Korean Cultural Center Los Angeles and the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles. Program B featured dance films from choreographers based in Brazil; Spain; Poland; Seoul, Korea; and Los Angeles.
Brazilian based Rafael Quinta is the chorographer of THE TRAVELER (Brazil), directed by Quintas and Alex Laya. Film at the entrance to a terminal, we see a man (Rafael Quintas) holding a suitcase and appearing hesitant about traveling which brought back memories of a 1979 solo by Judson Church postmodern pioneer choreographer Rudy Perez titled Highways. Perez moved from upstage to down, lifting and setting down a suitcase towards a pair of shoes placed downstairs. At the time, this was revolutionary in the dance world.
Primarily a solo, Falleiros performs a combination of pedestrian and contemporary dance movements with wonderful, quirky torso, facial and arm gestures seated along the side of this brightly colored building. He does so while working with and against a lively score by Renio Quintas that is both percussive and reminiscent of Brazilian samba music. The film is short, entertaining and demonstrates the mixed feelings about traveling that people often have.
The Traveler was created and performed by Rafael Quintas, with additional appearances by André Falleiros, Bárbara Albuquerque, Beatrix Fructoso, Camila de Carvalho, Diego Cardallo, Giovana Zoltay, Karina Araújo, Nininha Albuquerque, and Rafael Wisdson. The directors were Rafael Quintas and Alex Laya, and filmed and edited by Alex Laya.
The affects that this two year Covid-19 pandemic has had on so many is the central theme for Deborah Brockus and dancers’ powerful film IDES OF MARCH (Los Angeles) performed by the extraordinary members of BrockusRED, Julienne Mackey and Raymond Ejifor. The duet opens with music that rushes in like an omen of a pending doom and throughout supports the dramatic nature of the choreography. A large sheet of opaque plastic represents the horrible separation the Covid virus has forced upon families and loved ones who often die alone in the hospital. The editing by Brockus becomes a major part of telling this story.
Ides of March is one of Brockus’ most powerful works and I hope that the video lives on. It was directed and edited by Brockus; the Videography was by Patrick Mignano; and Lighting by Evan Nie. The music was by Ben Sound.
ADAMA (Spain) grabs one’s attention from the very start and takes the viewer into a completely opposite direction. Choreographed by Mario Bermudez Gil and Catherine Coury (Marcat Dance Company), Adama is filled with intensely driving music that propels the three dancers through very physical dancing, tumbling lifts, and hints of breakdancing while set against the backdrop of a gorgeous open field with low mountains in the distance. The camera work and editing are as excellent as the choreography and dancing by David Eusse López, Marilisa Gallicchio, and Mario Bermudez Gil.
These three amazing artists perform the highly demanding choreography with excellent precision while working outside on the plains surface. By the end of the work, they are dripping with sweat, and their clothes are covered with reddish brown dirt. The choreography, performances, music and editing all come together in Adama, leaving the viewer asking for an encore. Adama is directed by Mario Bermudez Gil and Catherine Coury.
Stillness is what stands out in WHITE SOUND (South Korea) choreographed by Yeon Soo Seo. Large and tall folded white fans are stood on end by performer and musician Yo Chan Kang. Once this is accomplished, he kneels next to a drum and hesitantly plays; a few times pulling back his arm as if he were going to strike the drum hard, only to stop short. A beautiful woman, Yeon Soo Seo, dressed in a long dark green dress enters and quietly moves with the percussive sound. Her movement is, however, like a gentle breeze that barely caused a ripple in the air.
Filmed at SIDFIT, White Sound is a visual work that must be seen. Kang, dressed in all white, Seo in all green, and the two quietly maneuvering over-sized white fans to become a large headpiece, panels, and finally a stylized traditional costume for Seo. The work is slow, but never boring. The movements are small but powerful and enchanting – full of images that still linger in my mind’s eye. Website:
Following a very informative intermission about the four organizations that participated in making the film festival happen, the program resumed with DALEKO (Poland) choreographed by Tomasz Ciesielski. Following an ironic opening of a door shutting behind a woman entering a room, it became clear that this film was another pandemic driven project displaying the emotions of isolation, frustration, anxiety, boredom, etc. that everyone around the world experienced during the shutdown periods. Scenes of dancers alone in their homes, moving amongst furniture, pressing against doors and windows are those of many films or videos produced over the past two years.
Daleko began differently, however, the choreography being created through the editing process. Small, subtle movements slowed and sped up as the editing dictated. Sadly, however, once Ciesielski made his point, he kept driving it at us over and over and my attention began to drift away from the screen. Ciesielski missed several wonderful endings to his film and should go back take heed to where the work wanted to stop.
The film was directed by Pawet Szymkowiak and edited by Nik Kuo. The performers who did an excellent job were Christina Carlos, Keiran Giertz, Natalia Kladziwa, Katarzyma Leszek, Iryna Plishchuk, Tomasz Ryś, and Selma Strockert.
NORTHERN LATITUDE 22 DEGREE was choreographed, directed and performed by Jinglin Liao reflects a woman who goes to the country of her ancestors and discovers that though it feels familiar, it is completely foreign. Text relating to the time differences between Beijing and LA appear and there are voice overs relating to her experiences and the abandoned factory where she ends up finding shelter. Though the film is nicely edited and Liao’s performance dancing to hip-hop music at the end is wonderful, the work ends abruptly without any conclusions being offered.
Northern Latitude 22 Degree was brought to the festival by Rosanna Gamson/World Wide. The Videographer was Zhenzhen Zhong.
The last film on Program B is the very mysterious, visually stunning, and expertly performed WEIGHT OF TEARS (South Korea) choreographed by Junghoon Kim. It is a wonderful film capture or archival capturing of a dance theater work performed onstage at SIDFIT. It opens with a sort of mythical male creature with a human body and a horned goat head. He stays center stage for a while executing movements that resemble slow motion popping. It is both eerie and sensual. What realm is this?
Soon a group of men and women dressed in suits slowly glide across the stage caught in a web of strobe light. They appear to be in pain as if the web is electric and they are trapped. Spread about the stage are a series of silver buckets lit from above by blue light, adding to the mystery of where the observers have found themselves. As a female creature appears with the same goat head and horns, and as the others are freed from their web, they lie prone and spread out across the stage.
There is an entire section of assembly line style actions with the buckets being lifted and then passed along before disappearing offstage. White theater lights move from above to create a backdrop for the next amazingly active dancing filled with extraordinary floor work, lifts, duets, trios and sextets and driving movement that evokes a kind of frenzy and organized chaos.
The “humans” line up, caught in another web of electrifying strobe lights as the white lights return to their original positions and the two mythical creatures return as an omen of a process beginning over again with a different set of people.
The title of this work does not help to understand the world in which Kim takes the audience, but it does not matter as it compares to a volume one of a fantasy trilogy.
The Designer for the amazing lighting was Kim Cheulhee, and the Artist Director was Choe Sangcheul. The incredible cast of Weight of Tears included: André Falleiros, Bárbara Albuquerque, Beatriz Fructoso, Choi Jongwon, Hong Junho, Kwon Gihyun, Yoo Minhee, Lee Jungwoo, Kim Donghyun, Ha Yeonsu, Lee Hyelin, Park Yonghwi, and Park Sujin.
Program C will be reviewed very soon.
To learn more about Los Angeles Dance Festival, please visit their website.
To learn more about the Luckman Theatre, please visit its website.
Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.
Featured image: Los Angeles Dance Festival/International 2021 – Weight of Tears (South Korea) by Junghoon Kim – Screenshot by LADC