Orange County Dance Festival (OCDF) at the Rose Center Theater Complex in Westminster, California, brought together 13 choreographers and companies for the worthy purpose of uniting and connecting artists with each other and audiences.

In this program the companies were enthusiastic yet uneven.  There was a range  from novice and relatively inexperienced dance creators and companies, to seasoned performers and choreographers.   Some with well honed technique and unique theatrical ideas and performances, others with potentially good ideas but in need of more investigation of concept, technical expertise and experience. It ranged from pure dance with no concept (or unrecognizable concepts) to clear, focused and effective and emotional performances.

Some of the more memorable moments in the evening were the outstanding solo piece performed and choreographed by Andrew Tiamzon, Metamorphosis which was extremely athletic and transformational.  His ability to lose himself in the piece was mesmerizing, and his physicality was quite impressive and powerful.

Fuse’s T-Shirt and Tanks, choreographed by Joshua D. Estrada-Romero and performed by Samuel DeAngelo and Matthew Kindig, to Debussy’s Claire De Lune was a beautiful Lyrical Pas de deux which was a tender exploration of relationships with it’s lovely constructed weavings, lifts, extensions and turns.

Evan Rosenblatt and Dancers – Photo courtesy of OCDF.

This was followed by the ever brilliant technical and conceptual work of Bethana and Evan  Rosenblatt and choreographed by Evan Rosenblatt.  It was done in three movements with quite the change of feel and rhythms.  Their voiceless communication was clear and stunning.  The only problem was in the first piece, the darkened stage and black tights for both performers made it impossible to see their quite beautiful technical footwork which was so much clearer in the other, well lit  movements.  The intricate use of each others’ bodies, their technical versatility and the clarity of concept made this a highlight.

Among some of the companies with Fascinating ideas was Sage Souls, with music by Revolved: Grandma’s Hands Choreographed by AJ Dirickson for APA Repertory Ensemble. The fascinating multi media reveals of slides of The Bayou, Church and Funeral home were quite poignant.  The idea and music were moving.  However, at times the attention was split between whether to watch the enchanting multi media or the dancers.  It is a piece that should be developed, making sure the dancers technique and emotional availability are further explored.  However, there’s much potential, and even in it’s work-in-progress state was fascinating to watch.

The Great Beyond by Brockus Red with seven dancers on a film of plastic and lit covering over the stage.  The lights seeming to lead the way to another universe.  All of the technically facile dancers downstage were facing with backs to the audience and singularly took turns moving as if defining their own personal space. They  eventually disappear upstage left, as does the lit covering, as though being sucked into a black hole.  Fascinating, theatrical and appeared to be part of a larger piece.

AkomiDance’s Anything you can Do was a film choreographed by Anthony Aceves done in limited space and performed by Anthony Aceves and Marie Hoffman. It was an interesting pas de deux with a Tango effectively and expertly performed.  The  excellent physicality with a type of Gaga technique was quite fascinating to watch.

Dance Macabre, with music by the same name, choreographed by Bradford Chin was conceptually fun, starting in a graveyard.  However, the evening of partying and “Life” needed more exploration and solid connection to the concept.  More work on the mid section of the piece with the place, time and activity of the living would have helped complete the piece.

SiZa - Photo courtesy of the company.

SiZa – Photo courtesy of OCDF.

SiZa “Keep and Bear” was incomprehensible.  There was a concept, but not fully flushed out.   “Dream a little dream of me” was potentially a strong moment in the piece with the three girls working together and having quite a bit of potential.  Much came out of nowhere without any real subtext…coughing, obviously was there to say something but since we had no subtext, it was not clear what it meant.

Trevyn & Dancers’, Event Horizon choreographed by Trevyn, never really conveyed the “event”.  Was it a funeral, a gathering of woman to one man?  With much “hairography” it was not clear.  There seemed to be no real reasoning behind the  dramatic.  The shaking emotingness came out of nowhere.  It would behoove the choreographer to do more work on context.

Benevolence both the piece and company name was potentially powerful with the two male dancers, Alan Perez, and Alecks Perez seeming to understand each other, so potentially the weaving and lifting was effective.  Jordan Slaffey tended to be strong but often unsteady technically.  The piece was uneven and not totally realized, yet with more examination could have been excellent.

L.A. Film Winner, Where are you Now? Choreographed by Frank Soares and performed by Frank Soares and Courtney Franklin.  A film with many scene changes, put the two dancer/lovers in a multitude of locations…a bit unclear as to why.  However, the scene changes kept the audience on their toes, with complicated Direction and Editing by Steven Diaz and Ashton Frederick.  It’s ending…A Train Door closing appeared to bookend the piece.

Emergent Dance Company – Photo courtesy of OCDF.

And to end the evening was Emergent Dance Company performing 99.5 with choreography by Megan Pulfer.  Definitely, it was a full stage of hard working dancers, however the company paled in the burden of ending this evening of numerous creative endeavors.  Perhaps this was a work-in-progress that needs to be examined more fully for future performances.

Orange County Dance Festival presented a full evening of commendable yet uneven work.  However, it gave companies and choreographers the opportunity to perform, and audiences to taste of many pro along with budding choreographer’s work.  This is always an asset in this overcrowded and competitive Southern California dance scene.  Congratulations to all the companies for putting out some very good and interesting work. It remains clear that what is necessary is the opportunity to continue to explore and work, which means finding ways to expose one’s work and find voice and audience in this creative art form.

For more information on OCDF, click here.

For information on the Rose Center Theater Complex, click here.

Featured image: Photo courtesy of AkomiDance.