HOME was a series of dance videos and films produced by BrockusRED, a Los Angeles based company directed by Deborah Brockus. Streaming free March 11 – 14, 2021, HOME was divided into three parts New Normal, Looking Back, and Moving Forward, with new and older works choreographed by Brockus, members of her company and included a film conceived and directed by Photographer and Filmmaker Taso Papadakis.
The films chosen for New Normal included three short works. Date Night was an often whimsical dance choreographed and performed by Julienne Mackey and her canine friend Lucy Brockus. Mackey completely explores movement on and over the beige couch and burgundy pillow in her living room, and near the end is joined by her date, Lucy who sits patiently as Mackey pets, performs for and lies on her. It is a humorous take on the new normal of a single woman’s homelife.
At Home: How dancers interact with the everyday objects of place was choreographed and performed by Raymond Ejiofor, Olivia Perez, Julienne Mackey, Charlotte Katherine, and Esmeralda Mendez. It was as the title suggests, dancers moving inside their own homes using everyday objects to as their dancing partners; a theme all too familiar during this time of Covid. Four feet donned in gray and white socks are seen moving underneath a low table, Mackey performs inside her family room utilizing the couch, items on her bookcase and other belongings that she lives with on a daily basis. Only a pair of arms and hands dance with a plate full of pasta, Mackey performs on her kitchen counter, Mendez in her apartment hallway and den, Katherine also on a couch, Ejiofor in his kitchen making dinner and, in an alleyway, lined with closed garage doors.
Hand Dances was created by Foshey Middle Schoolers Aaron, Allison, Anaiyyah, and Derek as a Covid assignment in Ms. Abdullah’s class. This film incorporated different patterned backgrounds, arm and hand movements and a series of dizzying film edits by Scott Thomas.
Looking Back brought us excerpts from dance works by Brockus and Papadakis’ film Home. Dunes featured three women, Cersha Burns, Julienne Mackey, and Hailey Transue situated at the apex of three dunes of sand colored cloth. We only saw the upper half of the women’s bodies and most of the movement was performed in unison, but Dunes was a visually stunning work investigating the movements of sand in the desert. The choreography and the set were by Deborah Brockus.
Brockus’ work titled Drift is a work about memories or as she describes it “Dusty memories re-awoken with the isolation of Covid-19”. Here, Brockus presented two excerpts Drift inner landscape choreographed by Brockus and performed by the beautiful and versatile dance artist Julienne Mackey. Though filmed in color, the work has the look of a black and white movie. A black floor, furniture draped with white material and Mackey in all white. The draped furniture takes on the hidden memories deep inside this character’s mind, and her movement often represents her struggle to recollect.
Section two, Inside our Minds was choreographed and performed by Raymond Ejiofor, Olivia Perez, and Hailey Transue. The three solos are similar in that the choreography investigates very personal or private thoughts brought alive by these three very accomplished performers. The one negative aspect of this section is that the use of the material and tempos of the movement began to feel overly repetitious and monotone.
When Ashes Fall was a romantic duet choreographed by Brockus for Julienne Mackey and Moi Josue Mitchel to beautiful music by Peter Askim. Filled with emotion, wonderful lifts and a floor covered with circles of rose petals, Brockus clearly portrays the couple’s love for each other and the effects of that love ending as one either goes on his own or passes. I remember enjoying this work when I saw it performed live.
Home… is a strange but intriguing film by Taso Papadakis made in collaboration with Brockus and her company members. The film has a sense of tribalism, chaos and danger and Papadakis’ editing adds to the fast paced action. The scenes shift from a wild group of red and white painted people, to inside a motel room and back outside at night with the set aflame. This last section includes a frenzied and beautifully performed solo by Kathryn Sauma between a burning door frame and a burning pile of wood. The music is Ya Ho Wha 13’s “I’m Gonna Take You Home” and the cast includes Cersha Burn, Julienne Mackey, Moises Josue Michel, James Raney, Sauma, and Luke Zender.
The third section of HOME reflects BrockusRED Moving Forward. The Great Beyond was inspired by the life and work of English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author Stephen Hawking who died in 2018. The stage floor is covered with translucent plastic material. Numerous lights representing stars are spaced throughout and the cast dancers become the planets inhabiting the cosmos. Near the end, I began to realize that the dancers and the stars are being sucked into the black hole of a super Nova. It is a slow moving but visually impactful work. The work was conceived and the set designed by Brockus with choreography by performers Julienne Mackey, Rein Short, Leah Hammel, Luciana Johnson, Moi Josue Mitchel, Dominique McDougal, and Will Clayton.
The least compelling work on the program was titled Centering, choreographed by performers Charlotte Katherine, Julienne Mackey, and Hailey Transue. Moving amidst flowing pink fabric, the three women perform alone; Mackey and Transue in all white and Katherine in beige and rose. Katherine’s solo is the strongest choreographically, but overall, the movement feels random and poorly improvised.
Saving the strongest for the last, an excerpt form Brockus’ As Ancient and Young as Spring includes six dancers but features a lengthy duet between two men, Raymond Ejiofor and Will Clayton. The opening group section demonstrates Brockus’ give of combining unison, canons, complex partnering and organized chaos. In this work she portrays relationships as most people perceive them but gently aims her focus on the romantic relationship between two men. One of the visual highlights of As Ancient and Young as Spring is the lighting during the same sex duet. The men’s shadows loom large in the back ground giving the feeling of four men instead of two, but also echoing that same sex love is as old as humankind.
As stated in her review of 2018 for LA Dance Chronicle, Joanne DiVito wrote of As Ancient and Young As Spring: “This is the true value of Brockus’ work, her power of design and color, unique musicality, development of dance as story and metaphor and her fierce generosity of spirit which she gives so willingly to her dancers and her audience truly makes her a treasured force in the dance community.” It is as true now as it was then.
The talented and dynamic performers were Will Clayton, Raymond Ejiofor, Cersha Burns, Liz Bustle, Moi Josue Michel, and Jessica Dunn, and the music was by Peter Askim.
Home continues through March 14, 2021. For more information and to register, click HERE.
To visit the BrockusRED website, click HERE.
Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.
Featured image: Kathryn Sauma in Home a film by Taso Papadakis – BrockusRED – Screenshot by LADC