The BlakTinx Dance Festival Dancing on the Edge continued with dance artists’ responding to the double crises facing our nation, COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement. Presented on YouTube by the Bootleg Theater, curated by Director Licia Perea and funded by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Program Two included works  by choreographers Regina Ferguson, Primera Generación Dance Collective, Irishia Hubbard, Dorcas Román, Amber Morales, Briseyda Zárate, and Michelle Funderburk-Norris.

First up was a fluff piece titled Lucille that was choreographed and performed by Regina Ferguson in homage to the late Little Richard who wrote and sang the title song “Lucille” (1957). Richard was born in 1932 and died on May 9th of this year. Ferguson performed movements reminiscent of the social dance style of the 1950s, underneath a lovely gazebo on her back patio. Though her movement vocabulary was extremely limited, Ferguson danced these moves with great enthusiasm.

Regina Ferguson - Photo courtesy of BlakTinx Dance Festival

Regina Ferguson – Photo courtesy of BlakTinx Dance Festival

Cuatroentena (Quarantine) began with a visual introduction of the members of Primera Generación Dance Collective who choreographed and performed the work.  Filmed in their separate homes and outside, the dancers’ pace, stand, eat and dance to the music of “El Chivero de Tepatoche” by Panotica while we listen to Patricia (Patty) Huerta discuss her personal likes. The music continues, bringing the choreography together while telling separate personal stories of each performer.

The camera work and editing by Rosa Rodriquez-Frazier is very sophisticated, bringing choreography together while the performers remain separated in both location and time. For example, we see Irvin Manuel Gonzalez mixing a drink in his home and outside dancing as he recites an all too familiar tale “On the Deportation of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos”. Cuatroentena is, like the music, fast paced. The message relating to the Latinx community poignant and the video is beautifully made. The members of Primera Generación Dance Collective Irvin Manuel Gonzalez, Rosa Rodriguez-Frazier, Alfonso Cervera, Patricia (Patty) Huerta.

Primera Generación Dance Collective - Photo courtesy of BlakTinx Dance Festival

Primera Generación Dance Collective – Photo courtesy of BlakTinx Dance Festival

Sacred Matters choreographed by Irishia Hubbard for her company The Hubbard Collective was first seen by this reviewer at the Bootleg Theater in the fall of 2016 as part of the 4th Annual BlakTina Dance Festival. I enjoyed Hubbard’s work then and watching it again on video renewed my opinion that she is a choreographer to watch.

The work investigates subjects that strongly affect the Black communities, mass incarceration of men of color, family, religion and police brutality. Hubbard gives us a glimpse into the lives of men imprisoned with a powerfully performed all male section. Dressed in orange prison garb, the men show us the different dynamics, personal relationships and the emotional scars caused by years of often wrongful incarceration. Hubbard’s all female section with women dressed in their Sunday finest, depicts the loss these women feel of their men who have been sent inside or murdered, and how their religion helps keep them strong. There is a mournful scene of a Black youth playing with a gun when the police arrive and he is shot and killed.  One immediately remembers the tragic murder of 12 year old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio in 2014.

The Hubbard Collective - Photo courtesy of BlakTinx Dance Festival

The Hubbard Collective – Photo courtesy of BlakTinx Dance Festival

Hubbard brings her ensemble together at the end for a short but empowering segment that clearly speaks to the Black community’s unified and long lasting struggle for justice. The very talented performers included Akinoyla Adabale, David Lee, Dominik Haws, Irishia Hubbard, Edgar Aguirre, Eric Whitehurst, Julienne Mackey, Nicole Rivor, Noelle White, Ogelle Johnson and Tarra Laperdon. Sacred Matters was choreographed to the beautiful music by composer Wynton Marsalis. Costumes were by Julia Keen, Video taped by Raélle Dorfan, and Video Editing by José Garcia Davis.

Casa was choreographed and performed by Dorcas Román to music by Diego Romero. A white couch with layers of white pillows is the vehicle for Román to express the boredom brought on by this seemingly endless quarantine. Her choreography here is inventive and she was wise to have it not continue too long. This sense of frustration continued with repetitive movement in a small room with guitars hanging on the wall. Román then moves outside and onto a picnic table for a brief scene of freedom, relief and fresh air.

The cameraman for Casa was Nicholas C Roman and Román executed her own editing.

Dorcas Román - Photo courtesy of BlakTinx Dance Festival

Dorcas Román – Photo courtesy of BlakTinx Dance Festival

DERIDE by Amber Morales was a video that grew on me as I watched it. What came across as humor in the beginning became a clear symbol of doors shutting in the faces of Latinx migrating to this country. Performed by Vanessa Cruz, Amber Morales, DERIDE takes a stark look at the fear caused by incarceration, anger and sadness brought upon family separation and the courage it takes for these people to continue fighting for justice.

The camerawork by Cruz and Morales is beautiful in its bleakness and simplicity. Morales’ editing gives this film great strength. The music for DERIDE was by Vicente Fernández.


Amber Morales - Photo courtesy of BlakTinx Dance Festival

Amber Morales – Photo courtesy of BlakTinx Dance Festival

Briseyda Zárate has created a provocative yet hopeful video titled Baile de Cuarentena (Quarantine Dance). A Flamenco dancer (Zárate) finds herself sheltered at home unable to practice her art. She wears a mask that makes it difficult to breathe and rehearsing any Flamenco footwork would disturb her neighbors. Zárate used gestures, stances and the Spanish dance passion from her training but while facing the challenge of isolation, she used her background in Flamenco to create a new form of movement. It is an inspiring lesson for us all.

Zárate performed this work with great style and beauty, She also paid a loving homage to the art of Flamenco as she created a unique way of dancing it. The music for Baile de Cuarentena was from an Album by Solerá & Bulerias.

Briseyda Zárate - Photo by Angela Solange

Briseyda Zárate – Photo by Angela Solange

Program Two concluded with Phrases choreographed by Michelle Funderburk-Norris to music by Novo Amor. It is a work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as performed in separate venues by Chantel Davis, Mychal Vandell Harris, Porsche Norman, and Stephanie Ortiz.

The movement was contemporary, expressive and often introspective. The choreography is not new but due to how the video was edited, Funderburk’s choice of music, and the removal of the masks, I came away with a sense of hope. These four individuals reflected on how COVID has affected their lives, causing them to realize the importance of the old cliché, living life to its fullest.

Michelle Funderburk-Norris - Photo courtesy of BlakTinx Dance Festival

Michelle Funderburk-Norris – Photo courtesy of BlakTinx Dance Festival

Written by Jeff Slayton for LADC, June 24, 2020.

Correction:  There was a mistake in the name of Briseyda Zárate. It was corrected and republished at 5:35 pm 6/24/20.

To visit the BlakTinx Dance Festival, click HERE.

To visit the Bootleg Theater website, click HERE.

To read Slayton’s review of Program One, click HERE.

To view all four of the BlakTinx Dance Festival “Dancing On the Edge” programs, click HERE.

Featured image: BlakTinx Dance Festival “Dancing On the Edge” – Screen capture by LADC