In association with the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Jacob Jonas The Company has been involved with a series of outdoor performances which Jonas has titled ACTIVATE LA. During the month of October the company performed at Century Park in Century City and at ROW DTLA. On November 12 and 13, 2021, they will be performing at the Water Garden in Santa Monica.
Located on the edge of the Arts District of Los Angeles, ROW DTLA describes itself as a city within a city, an urban oasis, and indeed it consists of a number of restaurants, boutique retail shops, creative office workspaces, and more. Jacob Jonas The Company performed on the rooftop of Building 1 beginning at 7:30 pm and the work ran for almost 90 minutes without intermission. Luckily, the audience was instructed to dress warmly and blankets were made available for those who need them.
One of the advantages, or disadvantages depending on how one views it, of attending dance performances over a long period of time, is witnessing when ideas get repeated. The seeming endless beginning of Jonas’s JUXTAPOSE with an original score composed by Anibal Sandoval took me back to the 1960s and ‘70s Judson Church era when lying motionless for twenty minutes was truly new and radical. The cast of Juxtapose began by walking out on stage, lying along the perimeter of an approximately 25X25 foot well-sprung stage and we all watched as none of them moved for at least twenty minutes. The only sound came from the night life of Los Angeles and the wind blowing past one’s ears.
Finally, the performers began to slowly roll, letting their arms remain limp and slapping to the floor along the way to one of the stage’s corners. After remaining there in close proximity to each other, they repeated the process twice more, ending once in a heap and then again gathered together just off center stage. Each time they paused, I was reminded of those very large Elephant seals asleep along the coast near San Simeon, California, all piled up on top of one another.
Emma Rosenzweig-Bock was the first to rise to her feet and begin a harsh, high impact solo laced with loud slamming of her feet hitting the floor with movements that highlighted her training in gymnastics. As a dancer, I worried about her body as she had lay barefoot, wearing thin black clothing for over 20 minutes followed by slow rolls and more stillness. Whatever warm-up she had participated in earlier was certainly gone – her muscles now cold. I felt this way each time a dancer rose and began a solo, or far too similar duets with similar high impact movements that sometimes included elements of breakdancing.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines juxtapose as 1. to place (different things) side by side (as to compare them or contrast them or to create an interesting effect) and 2. unexpected combinations of colors, shapes and ideas. In this Jonas succeeded, especially in the last section of his work. In the duets, however, after the third or fourth, they began to look the same and became predictable.
When this section with the solos and duets began from the beginning, this time with Sandoval’s striking electronic score, I again became involved. Jonas altered the timing of the duets just slightly and with music the work appeared different than it did with just the city sounds and the dancers bodies hitting the floor. My awakening, however, was short lived as by then I knew what was coming next.
The final section involved the performers moving in lines, a dancer dropping out of the moving row to perform different but similar solos. I began to involve myself in Jonas’s movement interpretation of the word juxtapose. Dancers moving side by side, slow next to fast, harsh movements adjacent to softer ones. The work, for me, morphed into an intellectual exercise rather than an enjoyable or inspirational dance work. It was also pointed out to me that no one onstage looked happy or involved in expressing any type of emotional quality. I cut my professional teeth performing with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and we were accused of the same thing, so perhaps the stone faces were simply concentration.
Juxtapose was directed and choreographed by Jacob Jonas; Music composed and accompanied live by Anibal Sandoval; Lighting Designer was Will Adashek; and Costumes were by Greg Lauren – styled by Christian Strobe and Jacob Jonas.
The truly incredible cast of movement artists included Hvrmony Adams, Tal Barnston, James Blackston, Chandler Davids, Emma Rosenzweig-Bock, Maxwell Simoes, Layne Willis, and Jill Wilson, with apprentices: Isabella Caso and Chadwick Gaspard.
Jacob Jonas The Company will next perform November 12-13, 2021 at the Water Garden in Santa Monica at 7:30 pm PT. For more information and tickets, click HERE.
To visit the Jacob Jonas The Company website, click HERE.
To read more about ROW DTLA, click HERE.
Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.
Featured image: Jacob Jonas The Company – Emma Rosenzweig-Bock performing in “Juxtapose” choreography by Jacob Jonas – Photo by Jacob Jonas