Boróka Nagy, Artistic Director and choreographer of the Southern California based Re:borN Dance Interactive, is producing the inaugural launching of the REBORN ARTS DANCE FESTIVAL taking place Friday and Saturday, August 12-13, 2022 in Placentia and Santa Ana, California. On Friday, August 12th there will be a concert featuring 5 professional and two pre-professional dance companies at the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYULSD) Performing Arts Center in Placentia, California on August 12, 2022. This will be followed with Master Classes taught by dance artists from the professional companies at the Academy of Dance in Tustin, California on August 13, 2022. Tickets are on sale now.
Because many Orange County-based companies tend to be overlooked by dance festivals elsewhere in Southern California, the first Reborn Arts Dance Festival will include solely OC companies. Nagy said that in the future she will most likely open the festival up to companies outside OC. The professional companies will feature works performed by AkomiDance, Co-founders and Artist Directors Marie Hoffman and Melesio A. Aceves; Emergent Dance Company, Artistic Director Megan Pulfer; FUSE Dance Company, Founder and Artistic Director Joshua D. Estrada-Romero; Jazz Spectrum Dance Company, Artistic Director Janell Burgess; and Re:borN Dance Interactive. The two pre-professional companies include Encore Dance Company of The Academy of Dance and California State University, Fullerton Repertory Company.
There is another dance festival, OC Dance Festival, created and produced by AkomiDance in 2019, that occurs in April or May of each year at the Rose Center Theater in Huntington Beach, and each summer in Laguna Beach. Nagy is certain, however, that there is a need and room for more. “I actually began planning a dance festival in January of 2020,” She said. After everything shut down in March of that year due to COVID, everything was taken off the table.
It was Nagy’s priority to bring dance to cities in Orange County rather than audiences having to travel to Los Angeles. Reborn Arts Dance Festival is located a little more inland that the other two existing festivals providing more opportunity to those who live nearer to Placentia than Huntington Beach or Laguna Beach.
“I reached out to everyone and offered a twenty-minute slot to each of them,” Nagy continued, adding that everyone is not using the full twenty minutes. “It was not an application process. I felt that we were stronger together as dance companies, choreographers, and dancers, and putting on a festival that represented the diversity of Orange County – which sometimes gets chucked underneath the rug by the dance world – was really important to me.” She felt that summer was a good time to start. “Just to get things going,” Nagy explained, “this post COVID era dance world feels like there is a heavy weight on all of our shoulders. I thought that together we are a little stronger to lift it up.”
Nagy believes that in this post-COVID world where everything was shut down and isolated, that there is a definite need, burden, and responsibility for dance companies to make live art important again. “The world went to virtual meetings, interviews and classes went virtual,” she said. “Everything feels like it can be done virtually now. Even weddings”
Bringing audiences back into live performances is very important to Nagy. In the name of her company is the word interactive which depends on live audiences having shared experiences with people sitting next to one another. “What I hope that how my audiences will get drawn in,” Nagy offered, “is wanting to have this communal, shared experience where they’re watching the same pieces. That they can have topics to discuss.” She wants audiences to have discussions about things that are not racially, culturally, or financially energized. “This is emotion based – or even if it is political based – we are watching something that we begin on the same page. We’re so black and white right now, so much polarization, [that] bringing people into the same space with the same standard can create this brand-new thing for them to talk about.”
“In general,” Nagy continued, “the power of dance live is irreplaceable. It builds empathy. It creates this form of emotional expression.” She also feels that dance can provide an emotional release for people, especially because there is so much pent-up emotions right now as a result of the pandemic. “I want to share this experience that I have with dance as a choreographer with the rest of my community in Orange County,” she said.
In addition to running Re:borN Dance Interactive and producing the first Reborn Arts Dance Festival, since 2019 Nagy has gotten married, moved, taken over the Academy of Dance in Tustin, and began a new business, Pilates on Main. “It’s been a very busy season,” she said, “but to be honest, it is all a blessing.”
Nagy describes the theater at the PYULSD Performing Arts Center as beautiful with a very spacious stage (45 ft. X 45 ft.) and excellent seating that holds approximately 700. Located on the campus of El Dorado High School, the Center is a major asset to the Placentia – Yorba Linda school district which serves the cities of Placentia and Yorba Linda, as well as portions of Anaheim, Brea, Fullerton and rapidly developing county territory that reaches the Riverside County line.
The festival’s performance will take place on Friday, August 12, 2022 and with the exception of Jazz Spectrum Dance Company all the companies have a contemporary dance base. Founded in 2016, the Huntington Beach-based AkomiDance will present a 6 minute duet; FUSE Dance Company whose work is highly energetic and physical will present a new 20 minute work choreographed by Joshua D. Estrada-Romero; Emergent Dance Company will be performing an 8 minute work based on women’s rights choreographed by Megan Pulfer; and Jazz Spectrum Dance Company will bring a short duet by the company’s artistic director Janell Burgess.
Nagy is bringing back a 20 minute multi-media work about loss, As We Left the Valley of Weeping. Which Re:borN Dance Interactive premiered in Brea in 2018. It is a work that Nagy choreographed for the proscenium stage that includes projections designed by her filmmaker father, Laszlo Nagy, with footage from Hungary, Romania and Coney Island New York.. She and her father collaborated on the editing of these 8 mm films. Nagy is also showcasing a work titled Alone We Are Bound; Together We Are Free (2021) which she premiered in Palm Springs featuring founding company member Simon Harrison and his wife Francesca Lee.
When asked why she was including two pre-professional dance companies, Nagy responded, “I wanted to create a more communal atmosphere and a platform where younger dancers can look up to older dancers.” The two include CSU, Fullerton Repertory Company run by Joshua D. Estrada-Romero and a group that Nagy heads Encore Dance Company of The Academy of Dance.
Additionally, on Saturday, August 13, 2022, the festival will include 6 Master Dance Classes from the companies presenting work. Each class will run for an hour and a half. For more information on who is teaching and when, please click HERE.
Nagy was born in Budapest, Hungary to an artistic filmmaker father and multi-talented mother, Maria Subert, who was a concert violinist turned journalist, turned philosopher and ultimately a Peace researcher and Communication scholar. Her parents had their own broadcast network in Hungary but relocated to New York City following a change in political leadership. Nagy was 7 at the time. Her family was well off in Hungary and used to travel abroad but lost everything in the move. It was a traumatic experience for her, but Nagy considers herself fortunate in that she was able to continue her rhythmic gymnastics training that she began in Hungry.
Because she spoke no English at the time, movement became a method of emotional outlet. At the age of 7 Nagy was already putting words into movement and feels that that is when she began choreographing. In high school she was given a choice to study gymnastics or dancing, and she chose dancing. Following high school she attended The Ailey School in conjunction with Fordham University, enrolled in the Ailey/Fordham BFA program, and double majored in dance and film studies. She related to me that because she was attending college and freelancing as a dancer, she felt that she was burning out. It was then, at the age of 22, that Nagy applied for and was accepted into the Dance Department’s Master’s Degree program at the University of California, Irvine. It was there that she delved more deeply into her interest in film and multi-media dance.
I asked Nagy why she chose to go into interactive dance performance rather than staying with making dance for camera. “Taking away the ephemeral part of dance, the in the moment, imperfect human part of dance – adding a recording device – was the opposite of what I believed in,” she said. It was during the making of her master’s thesis that Nagy created a work that involved a dance film she created, layered with a live dance performance occurring at the same time. This led her to ask herself, “How can I combine what a director does on film and create that in real life. How can I force the audience members to make their own decisions. To be active audience members instead of fed audience members.” She wants them to participate in the choreographing of their own experience at one of her interactive performances. “If I close the curtain,” she added, “you can’t see unless you move to the other side.”
Nagy stated that her interactive performances are half curated by her and half curated by the audience members choice of where they move to in order to see what is taking place. This, she feels, will teach people more about themselves as a viewer and performers when they are performing such work.
She is very happy to be back in the theater presenting live work and collaborating with her Orange County dance artist colleagues. “As much as I am producing it,” Nagy said at the end of our interview, “it is a festival. It is not meant to be about me, but about everyone involved.”
WHAT: REBORN ARTS DANCE FESTIVAL
WHEN: August 12 & 13, 2022 in Placentia and Santa Ana, California.
August 12, 2022: Performance at PYULSD Performing Arts Center, 1651 N. Valencia Ave., Placentia, CA. featuring 5 professional and two pre-professional Orange County based dance companies.
Cost: $25-30, $20 Student
To purchase tickets, please click HERE.
August 13, 2022: 11 am – 10 pm Festival master classes at Academy of Dance, 2431 N Tustin Ave # Q, Santa Ana, CA.
Cost: $25 per class, or $40 per two classes. $110 for all 6.
To purchase tickets, please click HERE:
For more information about the Reborn Arts Dance Festival or Re:borN Dance Interactive, please visit their website.
Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.
Featured image: Re:borN Dance Company – Boróka Nagy and Jestoni Dagdag in “Amongst the Fragments” – Photo by Skye Schmidt