The SIZA Dance Company made its debut with YEAR ONE at the Flight Theatre, Hollywood Complex. Artistic Director Lyndsi Zapata was born in Oregon and recently earned her BFA at California Institute of the Arts. Now a resident of Los Angeles, Zapata states that she is currently committed to investigating political and social issues through dance, and that the works presented were inspired by the present turmoil facing this nation since the election of President Trump. The title evokes a double meaning. YEAR ONE is the accumulation of SIZA Dance Company’s first year working together, and this is the end of Trump’s first year in office.
Zapata shows promise as a choreographer. Her work is well constructed and developed. Her movement vocabulary is based in a very solid technique, but she is not constrained by it. Much of her movement is fluid, but it is often accented with restrained anger. YEAR ONE is political. Fortunately, however, it is not filled with over emoting or in-your-face protest. Zapata approaches her resistance abstractly; allowing the audience to experience how she feels through selected gestures and movement symbols. Clinched fists, boxer-like rocking and subtle gatherings hint at protests, while duets suggest struggle and/or support for another’s plight.
Divided into five sections, what weakens Zapata’s statement are the pauses between each piece with recorded musical interludes. One of the music choices, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Gil Scott-Heron, certainly does relate to the issues at hand, but the pauses interrupted what tension and solidarity Zapata was trying to create.
The concert opened with Intro/BANNED presenting four dancers moving through different qualities of individuality and finished with whispered words of protest and censorship. Zapata then came out to introduce herself and thank the audience for attending the company’s premiere performance; while well intended, it fragmented the atmosphere that she had so nicely created.
small victories was a tense and powerful section that conveyed struggle, activism, support, fighting for change and the process of creating and distributing political fliers. Zapata used stationary rocking movements and brief unison phrases that broke into dynamic canons to convey her message of unity. All this was driven forward by an intense score by Steve Reich.
Reruns of The Apprentice invoked anger via recorded sound bites of Kellyanne Conway’s “Alternative facts”, Trump’s “Grab them by the Pussy” and “Very fine people on both sides,” along with Sean Spicer’s comment about Trump’s inauguration having the largest audience in history; to list just a few. She contrasted these with beautiful repetitive phrases that were broken up, slowed down or sped up to depict the desired emotion.
Persist incorporated sounds from “All Access footage” and music by German electronic musician, Apparat. There was also the sound of a ticking clock that bore the feeling of time passing or running out. The cast gathered together to depict protest, marching for change and refusing to give up rights that were so hard fought while guest artist Tyree Marshall gave a very powerful rendition of the provocative poem s.m.i.l.e. by Mylesha Morgan Ramey.
Creating a line with masking tape in Gray, two dancers present a divided country, as well as two races divided by a border of bigotry. Alan Perez and Lyla Palmer represent these divisions via separated solos that come close to presenting a happy solution. Sadly, however, that feeling of union is violently ripped apart.
The talented cast of SIZA Dance Company included Sarah Boyce, MaijaLisa Miltz, Lyla Palmer and Alan Perez. No credit was listed for Lighting or Costume Designers, but the Stage Manager was Amelia Laughlin.
Lyndsi Zapata’s five sections could have easily been two or combined into an evening long work. Her instincts are good. I trust that she will soon find a way to present her reflections on society without interruption.
YEAR ONE continues through Sunday, January 21. For information and tickets, click here.
Feature photo: LA Dance Chronicle
To view the LA Dance Chronicle Performance Calendar, click here.