Founded by Mark Cleary, Short+Sweet had its beginnings in Sydney, Australia as a small festival of 10-minute plays. Since its inception, Short+Sweet has branched out to include Film, Dance, Song, Cabaret, Fast & Fresh (10 minute plays devised and performed by artists aged 21 and under), Theater and “developing new means of performance, new platforms for developing and establishing artists, and evolving to the creative needs around the world”.  Cleary has expanded the festival internationally to include India, New Zealand, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates. The organization hopes to continue create festivals in other cities throughout these countries, and across the United States and United Kingdom.

On Saturday, October 26, 2019 at the Marilyn Monroe Theater located inside the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in West Hollywood, I had the honor to be one of three judges for the inaugural performance of Short+Sweet Dance curated by Los Angeles based Korean dancer/choreographer Juli Kim. The other judges were Korean choreographer Joo, Youn Hee and LA’s dancer/choreographer Bernard Brown. We were asked to rate the dance works in four separate categories: Artistry, Choreography, Execution, and Presentation. Each category received 25% of a possible 100 points. Kudos to everyone who participated.

Beth Megill - Photo courtesy of the artist.

Beth Megill – Photo courtesy of the artist.

The approximately one-hour program included 15 short dances, each no longer than 5 minutes in length. From those fifteen, three works were chosen to participate in the grand finale performance of the Short+Sweet Festival on Monday, November 28th.  The audience was able via their iphones to vote on two of their favorite dances. First, the People’s Choice award went an Indian Classical work titled Malkuns Tarana choreographed by Rina Mehta and performed beautifully by Ayaana Kanan. The Special Mention award, also chosen by the audience, went to the Contemporary piece titled Yma, choreographed and performed by Vannia Ibarguen .The Judges’ Choice award went to choreographer Beth Megill for her extremely humorous Dance Theatre Comedy piece titled In the Bag (excerpts), expertly performed by Kevin Holland, Beth Megill, Brooklynn Reeves-Mallet, and Karrissa Smith.

Other works that appeared on the program that covered several dance genres were: The Road We Travel (Modern); choreography by James Mahkween, performed by Latrice Postell, Ajah Muhammad, Malcolm Dunbar, Jennifer Bulger, Rayvn Granados, and Jazmine Smith; In the Crucible of the Night (Flamenco), choreographed and performed by Sonia Ochoa; Change Begins Within (Modern), choreographed and performed by Tashara Gavin- Moorehead; La Tortuga (Folk Contemporary Narrative), choreographed by Blanca A Soto, performed by Claudia Diaz, Jacky Macias; Härt′brō′kən (Hip-hop/modern), choreographed by Amy Michele Allen, performed by CSU Dominguez Hills Mosaic Dance Company member Rodrigo Bastidas​; Petrichor (Contemporary Ballet), choreographed and performed by Stephanie Cheung and Haihua Chiang; Nunca (Bachata), choreographed by Maha Afra, and performed by Maha And Company Dancers; Ode to Beautiful Lady (Chinese Classical), choreographed by Zhen Han, Liya Zhou, and Chao Li, performed by Ally Fan; Awakening (Contemporary), choreographed by Savanah Reach and Vivian Reach, performed by  Savannah Reach, Vivian Reach, Ember Hopkins, and Anna Morrell; and One for the Books (Hip Hop), choreographed by Markus Jedidiah, and performed by Markus Bookhart, Melody Bookhart, Jonathan Francisco, and Diana Velasquez.

Stephany Cheung and Haihua Chiang in "Petrichor " - Photo courtesy of the artist.

Stephany Cheung and Haihua Chiang in “Petrichor ” – Photo courtesy of the artist.

Because Kim curated Short+Sweet Dance, the two works that she presented were not eligible for awards. Those two lovely works were Joy (North Korean Classical) Choreographed by Juli Kim and Choi Seung Hee, performed by Juli Kim, Crystal Her, Stephanie Cheung, Haihua Chiang; and Promised Land (Korean Classical/Fusion), choreographed by Juli Kim, performed by Juli Kim, Crystal Her.

On Monday, participants in Short+Sweet Festival will receive professional recognition by winning awards such as: Most Outstanding Choreography, Best New Talent, Most Promising Male Dancer, Most Promising Female Dancer, and the People’s Choice Award.

This was a wonderful opportunity for local inspiring talent to gain exposure and I hope that Dance will continue to be included in the annual Short+Sweet Festivals around the world.

Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle, October 28, 2019.

To visit the Short+Sweet website, click here.

Featured image: REACH SISTERS – Photo by Vytas Barauskas