Hosted by the Irvine Barclay Theatre, the Laguna Dance Festival will celebrate its 15th season with three distinct dance companies Sept. 27–29, 2019. The festival program will include New York based Parsons Dance, Montreal’s RUBBERBAND, and Ballet West which is based in Salt Lake City, Utah. There will also be educational opportunities for dancers as well as free Art Walk performances.

Laguna Dance Festival is an annual event for Orange County showcasing new and established dance companies and artists. Founder and director of the Laguna Dance Festival Jodie Gates also currently serves as vice dean and director of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.

“We’re excited to present these three acclaimed dance companies, hosted at the Irvine Barclay Theatre,” said founder and artistic director Jodie Gates.  As for the change of venue, she said, “We have long enjoyed a warm, mutually beneficial relationship with the Laguna Playhouse. As a result of the Playhouse’s success and expanded programming, fewer dates exist on their booking calendar in the fall months, and we were unable to receive a confirmation in time to announce our festival. The upside is the opportunity to expose more Orange County arts lovers to our performances and mission, and the Irvine Barclay Theatre is an exceptional dance house. We are still all about our hometown, Laguna Beach, and are looking at the 2020 season with new partnerships and exciting collaborations. We have also confirmed performances in unconventional venues such as Neighborhood Congregational Church’s Bridge Hall, where Colombia’s Sankofa Danzafro performed in October to a delighted audience.”

Jerry Mandel, president of the Irvine Barclay Theatre, said, “We are thrilled to be able to host the Laguna Dance Festival for its 15th anniversary performances. Jodie Gates has built something truly special for the community and it is the perfect complement to what we do with our dance series, Dance@theBarclay.”

Parsons Dance is an internationally renowned contemporary company founded in 1985 by David Parsons and Tony Award-winning lighting designer Howell Binkley. Parsons “Caught” was first seen at the Laguna Dance Festival in 2008 and 2013 and will again be performed at the festival on September 27 and 28 at 7:30 p.m., along with a new work titled “Eight Women” choreographed by Trey McIntyre which had its premiere at the Joyce Theatre in New York.

David Parson - photo courtesy of the David Parson Dance Company

David Parson – Photo courtesy of the David Parson Dance Company

Founded by Los Angeles native Victor Quijada in 2002, the Montreal based RUBBERBAND is an exciting fusion of contemporary ballet and hip-hop. The Guardian wrote, “Super-stretched jumps morph into crouching rolls; top-rocking footwork muscles in on high stepping bourrées; and below the movement’s surface, silky classical phrasing is worked into the choppy rhythms of street dance. The result is a unique dynamic that’s both tough and elastic…true to their name, the group’s performers move together as if connected like a rubber band.

Victor Quijada - Photo courtesy of the artist.

Victor Quijada – Photo courtesy of the artist.

Ballet West was established in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1963. It has toured nationally and international featuring works by celebrated contemporary choreographers that include Jiří Kylián, Mark Morris, and Twyla Tharp. Under the guidance of artistic director Adam Sklute, Ballet West also preserves its American classical ballet legacy. For the Laguna Dance Festival Ballet West will present Africa Guzmán’s “Sweet and Bitter,” which received excellent reviews at New York’s Joyce Theater.

Ballet West - Beckanna Sisk in Ballanchine's Rubles - Photo by Luke Isley

Ballet West – Beckanna Sisk –  Ballanchine’s Rubles – Photo by Luke Isley

2019 Laguna Dance Festival Schedule (As of Aug. 28, 2019)

  • Thursday, Sept. 5 at 6:30 and 7 p.m. – Two free performances at First Thursdays Art Walk. Dancers and choreographers from the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance at Laguna Art Museum, 307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach
  • Friday, Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m. – New York-based Parsons Dance Company at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine. Pre-show talk at 6:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Sept. 28 from 10 a.m. to noon – Master class with David Parsons of Parsons Dance, Laguna Beach High School dance studio, 625 Park Avenue, Laguna Beach
  • Saturday, Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m. – Parsons Dance Company, RUBBERBAND, and Ballet West at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine, California. Combined program of excerpts from respective repertoires.
  • Sunday, Sept. 29 at 10 a.m. – Master class with RUBBERBAND founder Victor Quijada onstage at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine
  • Sunday, Sept. 29 at 2 p.m. – RUBBERBAND at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine. Pre-show talk at 1 p.m.

Master class by the company at 10 a.m.

  • October – Master class
  • Sunday, Nov. 3 – Merce Cunningham Centennial Celebration at Laguna Art Museum, 307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach
  • Sunday, Nov. 10 – Lecture demonstration by Black Grace from New Zealand, drawing on Maori and Pacific Islander dance, modern, and hip-hop. Neighborhood Congregational Church, 340 St. Ann’s Drive, Laguna Beach, California

Tickets are $45 with student ID, $65 general; $100 VIP tickets include prime seating and a reception in the Barclay’s Jade Room during intermission.

The festival’s press release also includes the following information.

In addition to the Irvine Barclay Theatre performances, the 2019-20 Laguna Dance Festival includes its signature educational programs, a summer intensive dancer training June 24–28, a master class series, a free summer show at the Festival of Arts, free First Thursdays Art Walk performances, and a Nov. 3 Merce Cunningham centennial celebration in collaboration with Laguna Art Museum. Not to be missed is a dance lecture-demonstration by New Zealand’s outstanding contemporary dance company, Black Grace, on Sunday, Nov. 10.

Information was sourced from the Laguna Dance Festival press release.

For more information about the Laguna Dance Festival, click here.

To visit the Irvine Barclay Theatre website, click here.

Featured image: RUBBERBAND – Vics Mix – Photo by Bill Herbert