This year marks the third edition of Dialogues + Sensations presented by Wild Roots Dance co-directors Kindra Windish and Vannia Ibarguen. Saturday, October 28, 2023, at John Pennington’s ARC Pasadena was the ideal venue to present a program of independent dance artists concluding with an improvisational finale performed by the majority of the cast. The impressions, perceptions and emotions evoked by these works were as wide-ranging as the choreographers were different in styles and creative approaches.
Alondra Zitlaly Perez opened the program with her brief but provocative solo titled Running Away. Dressed in pants with a quilt design, a black halter trimmed with pink lace, and blue ribbons streaming from each of the two buns on her head, Perez expressed loneliness and the freedom of moving on after a failed relationship. In her program notes Perez stated that the solo was “a love note to my past lover 333,” but it also appeared to be a message telling herself that moving on was the best decision for her as well.
Perez is a wonderful mover and performer and I look forward to seeing more of her work. Running Away was set to music by Beltaway, Solange Hypnosis, Raveena Valentine, and Orion Sun.
Aftershock, choreographed by Kindra Windish in collaboration with the performers, was a haunting work filled with a multitude of emotions; all seemingly centered around isolation and loneliness. The work was dark in nature but never depressing and one was given only a peek into the lives of six female characters ranging from young to the aging.
Each woman had her own wood chair as a symbol of her existence and although they occasionally interacted, they mainly stayed within their own worlds. These realms felt like they existed inside the women’s heads as they dealt with whatever trauma or event had beset them. There was little joy seen in Aftershock, and as one woman had several chairs piled on top of her by another, fear and pain reigned.
Set to a collage of music arranged by Brooklyn Rider, the beautifully cast performers in Aftershock were Megan Fowler-Hurst, Denise Leitner, Jackie Nii, Tracy Philipsen, Marge Windish, and Christine Zak.
Santiago Rivera was the choreographer of the dramatic but often confusing los Angelito nuestros which also featured Teresa Flores singing “Amor Eterno” and reciting Rivera’s Poem “The Caramel Boy.” Rivera appears to give a very painful birth to a baby, only to later force the child back up inside his body. Because he is male, one can only surmise that the child is a part of himself that he has not or can not acknowledge. This point was not quite clear. Perez is a nice mover and Flores an adequate singer, but they need to take a critical look at their work in los Angelito nuestros.
Handle With Care was a fusion of contemporary dance and gymnastic tumbling choreographed by Stephanie Mizrahi. Two women, Mizrahi and Mizuki Sako, burst onto the stage from inside a large cardboard box and proceed to use shipping bubble wrap as both props and costumes. From where I sat, the objects that needed careful handling were the two women, but they also appeared quite able to protect themselves as expressed by their final action and exit.
The music for Handle With Care was by Golden Memory and Dreamgirl.
One of the highlights of Dialogues + Sensations was Sinnamon Hauser and Marisa Malzone’s Ghosts set to music by Sparky Deathcap, and Jim Perkins and Daigo Hanada. A woman sifted through a memory box, caressing certain objects and photos. Following a brief blackout, two women dressed in white summer dresses gave the impression of being either sisters or past best friends. The performances were beautiful and the choreography compelling. Wonderfully crafted duets involving supportive lifts and floorwork are the highlights to this very pleasing work, but lingering throughout was a sense of loss and longing.
Vannia Ibarguen has always been enjoyable to watch perform and although parts of her solo Path to Home were not her strongest work, she did not disappoint with her dancing. She asked aloud, “What is home? Where is home?” She later asked the audience to give her one or two words that described home to them and it was here that Ibarguen’s amazing timing for humor showed through. Love, security and my body were among the responses given and she concluded her dance by putting those words into a charming improvisation series of movements.
The music for Path to Home was by Vitamin String Quartet, Merv Griffin, and Akira Kosemura.
Three of the wooden chairs returned as props for I am Not choreographed and performed by Dorcas Roman in collaboration with the dancers Melodee Aguilera and Kimberly A. Maidonado. Every choreographer, especially in a composition class, has made a chair dance and in my opinion, I am Not should have been performed as a solo. This is not to take away from the other two dancers, but the majority of the work was performed in unison which only detracted from its meaning.
If indeed this was about “three women in gaslighting relationships find empowerment and a path to healing by uniting as a community to support each other”, then perhaps Roman should think about having them only dance in unison near or at the end.
The music for I am Not was by Mike Lazarev and Nostalgia.
The final work on the program and another highlight of the evening was Megan Fowler-Hurst’s powerful multi-media performance piece Can you see me? A large clown-like figure appears on the back wall of the space. It is a black and white animation of Fowler-Hurst that is, like many clowns, both amusing and terrifying. She suddenly appeared leaning against the stage left wall dressed in red sox, black pants and a white top and is aided to the end by two figures dressed in all black and toting flashlights.
Can you see me? should not be described but seen. There were visual surprises that I feel should not be revealed here including a wonderful gender related action at the end. The work was a strong statement of how we as a society view one another vs how we see ourselves.
Dialogues + Sensations ended with the majority of the cast performing a structured improvisation to Zoe Keating’s “Hello Night” which led into a company bow.
Again, Dialogues + Sensations is an excellent platform for independent artists not yet ready for prime time but some of whom are clearly almost there.
The excellent lighting design was by Anneliese Du Boulay; Sound was by Brent Dodson.
To learn more about Wild Roots Dance, please visit their website.
This article was edited on October 31, 2023.
Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.
Featured image: Dialogues + Sensations – Improvisation at end of concert – Photo by Ginger Sole Photography