After six months of lockdown and a steep learning curve translating dance to zoom and film, live performance is gradually re-emerging in a mid-pandemic form–masked, socially distanced, drive-by, drive-in. Postponed dance resumes in West Hollywood, a synagogue starting point for a ten-day roadshow celebration, contemporary dance on location, a digital duet from Venice, and more SoCal dance this week.
Join the quest
In early March, choreographer Heidi Duckler and the dancers, performers, musicians, and crew of Heidi Duckler Dance were ready to take audiences under a vintage downtown bridge when the pandemic shut down California. It was exactly the type of site specific event that has burnished Duckler’s reputation since she made her mark in the 1980’s with dancers invading a Montana Avenue laundromat, dancing in, on, and around the washers and dryers, much to the delight and astonishment of folks there to do laundry. In the decades since, Duckler and her troupe have taken audiences on mini-adventures at vintage gas stations, an historical jail, the concrete bed of the LA River, a Chinatown theater, tunnels that once housed LA’s streetcars and more. Along the way, the name evolved from the original Collage Dance Theatre, to variations on Duckler’s name before settling on Heidi Duckler Dance. After that scheduled March performance was cancelled, the troupe was soon at it again, a performance scheduled for the Wallis emerged as video as did a live performance at the Wende museum. Now HDD is back and live with an ambitious series celebrating its 35th anniversary. (Yes, it’s been 35 years since that laundromat invasion.) Under the banner The Quest, HDD launches ten days of performances at ten sites throughout LA with audiences socially distanced as walk-up or drive-up. The site line-up includes familiar HDD locales like the Baldwin Hills Lookout, Wende Museum, MLK Jr. Memorial Hospital, and a mystery surprise finale site. The scheduled opening work, Move Me, promises the troupe’s dancemobile, a 2002 yellow Mustang often seen at school performances. At the Congregation Koi Ami parking lot, 1200 N. La Brea Ave., W. Hollywood; Thur., Oct. 1, at 6, 7, & 7:45 p.m., $35. Complete schedule and tickets at https://heididuckler.org/.
With perhaps the exception of liquidambar and a few other trees, SoCal mostly lacks the changing leaf colors associated with autumn. Butoh dancer Oguri’s latest, entitled Fall Leaves, is a duet with pianist Tigran Hamasyan. The work receives its world premiere in this live-streamed edition of Flower of the Season, now in its 18th year of minimalist performances. Sat., Sept. 26, 11 a.m., free with reservation at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fall-leaves-926-tickets-119829660741?aff=erelpanelorg; Sun., Sept., 27, 11 a.m. free with reservation at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fall-leaves-926-tickets-119829660741?aff=erelpanelorg.
Originally scheduled to run through the month of March, Chris Emile’s AMEND was suspended with the Covid-19 shelter-in-place order. One of the founders of No)One.Art House, Emile’s consideration of race and male identity is even more timely now than in March. After reopening two weeks ago, the site specific event continues for three more performances, again as a live event but with the addition of pandemic safety precautions. The audience for each performance is limited to ten. The audience will view the performance from outside the Schindler House with masks and social distancing required for all audience members. MAK Center’s Schindler House, 833 N. Kings Rd., West Hollywood; Sat., Sept. 26, at 2, 3 & 4 p.m., free with reservation. https://makcenter.org/programming/.
Come Saturday morning
Employing movement, multi-media art, and poetry José Richard Aviles contributes two segments to Grand Park’s virtual Easy Mornings series. In Callejera (Spanish for “woman of the street”), Aviles pays homage to growing up in South Central LA as a self-described “Queer Brown Boi” including references to time spent on LA bus lines. The second scheduled work En Movimiento is intended as a platform for resistance and community. The program is just part of the new Saturday morning series that includes yoga sessions, food demos, art activities, and conversation, all packed into the one hour sessions on Sat., Sept., 26 & Oct. 3, 10 a.m., free. Streaming at https://www.youtube.com/c/GrandParkLosAngeles/videos.
Taking it from the pier
Usually one of SoCal’s September delights is the annual San Pedro Festival of the Arts, an outdoor fest with several stages hosting an array of professional, community and student dance groups. With the pandemic making even al fresco gatherings risky, organizer Louise Reichlin found ways and funding to move the 14-year old festival online with two separate programs last weekend that can be viewed thru Oct. 4. Participants include AkomiDance, San Pedro City Ballet, Alan L Perez, Cathartic Dance, Jose Costas Contempo Ballet, Pranamya Suri, Re:borN Dance Interactive, WestMet Classical Training, Tonia Shimin, Degas Dance Studio, Brittany Woo and UC Irvine students, Barkin/Selissen Project, Emergent Dance Company, MixedeMotion Theatrix, and host company Louise Reichlin & Dancers/La Choreographers & Dancers. thru Sun., Oct. 4, free. Detailed program schedule at https://triartsp.com/. Stream at https://vimeo.com/showcase/sanpedroartsfest.
They dance LA
In the absence of touring companies inside its theaters, the Music Center is giving a little love and attention to LA’s dance companies showcasing filmed performances from six SoCal companies. After the films premiere on instagram (https://www.instagram.com/musiccenterla/?hl=en), the films are available for viewing at musiccenter.org/tmc-offstage/for-the-love-of-la/. This week’s streaming duo (Tues., Sept. 29) are Albertossy Espinoza’s LA Fusion Dance Theater and Pat Taylor’s Jazz Antiqua Dance & Music Ensemble. Espinoza draws on his Ecuadorian heritage in a Flamenco fusion duet filmed on the streets of East LA. Taylor brings jazz trumpeter Brian Swartz’s Smile 4 Me to life with solos filmed in parks, alleys, and other sites spread around LA. Earlier streams from Versa-Style Dance Company sent its street dancers to the beach, folkloric troupe Pacifico Dance Company‘s had nine dancers, each at a different location representing different areas of Mexico, the tap group Syncopated Ladies took an existing routine to the great outdoors, and five members of Malathi Iyengar’s Rangoli Dance Company premiered a new work for a quintet of dancers celebrating a South asian goddess of dawn and hope. All can viewed at https://www.musiccenter.org/tmc-offstage/for-the-love-of-la/.
[ed. note @ 10:04am on 9/25/2020: due to changes received after publication, this item has been updated to reflect change of music for Jazz Antiqua from “Terence Blanchard’s Avgo” to “Brian Swartz’s Smile 4 Me” and removed “pedestrian bridge” from list of locations where solos were performed.]
Looking back, looking foward
In June, Musco Center for the Arts launched a conversation/video series Ever a Dancer with Sean Greene and Liz Maxwell discussing their extensive modern dance careers with moderator Napoleon W Gladney. The series returns, promising three discussions, the first focused on Theatrical Dance and Equity with four professional dancers, choreographers, and educators. Expect photos and some clips as Wilson Mendieta, Rommy Sandhu, Lainie Sakakura, and Tommar Wilson discuss their personal lives, careers, and transitions as people of color in the musical theatre industry. Later this fall, the series takes up representation in ballet (October 22) and the tap dance diaspora (Nov. 19). The series invites advance questions that will be asked of the panelists during the live stream. Send to email@example.com. More conversations are scheduled for the venue’s 2020-2021 season. Info and links at https://muscocenter.org/Online/default.asp. Thur., Sept. 24, 7 p.m., free.
Different takes from India
SoCal has an impressive community of dancers, teachers and companies that have cultivated an audience for the varied styles of dance rooted in different geographical and cultural areas of India. While the Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC)‘s annual dance festival traditionally is focused on New York, its 12th festival takes a more international approach as it joins the rank of online festivals with a Virtual Erasing Borders Dance Festival. The organizers have assembled an impressive sampling of India’s many dance forms with eleven artists from around the world. Here is a chance to explore the many directions dance from India has taken. Details on each performer in the different programs at https://iaac.us/erasing-borders-dance-festival-2020/.Programs online Sun.-Sun., Sept. 20-27, 5:30 p.m. (PDT) at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/erasing-borders-dance-festival-september-20-27-2020-tickets-120172155151.
Two to choose from
In response to poor air quality from the wildfires, the parking lot performances Drive-In Dances have been suspended until Oct. 13, with additional shows added into November. New schedule at and tickets at http://ladanceproject.org/20-21-season.
A digital Ford
Among the subtle and not so subtle changes of new management by the LA Phil, what used to be the Ford Theater is now The Ford and while the theatre itself remains closed, four digital series were announced through the end of the year. A quartet of festivals includes mostly music, but one in November is focused on dance. The Saturday morning family dance classes includes lots of dance and the streaming of past performances reflects how well the theater served as an informal summer dance festival. Up this week, a prior Ford show by Lula Washington Dance Theater on Thurs., Sept. 24. https://www.facebook.com/events/3404612752924811/.All events are free. Complete calendar and information at https://www.theford.com.
A show of force
In what may prove a timely, if unnerving coincidence, military veterans are featured in a streamed film from Diavolo’s Veterans Project exploring what it means to be a true warrior on the front lines. In “This is Me – Letters from the Front Lines,” military vets and first responders explore what it means to be on the front line. Since artistic director Jacques Heim and Diavolo Architecture in Motion launched their Veterans Project in 2016, more than 500 SoCal veterans have participated in the company’s gymnastic approach to movement to restore physical, mental and emotional strengths. Along the way, the project developed stunning performance works, one of which was part of Diavolo’s day-long 25th anniversary celebration at the Soroya which hosted this event as part of the theater’s Fridays at 4 series. Info at https://www.thesoraya.org/.
Silver screen shifting
After discovering their admiration for the others work was mutual, LA Contemporary Dance Company and Vitamin String Quartet’s planned collaboration for a live performance was put on hold by the pandemic shutdown. The effort took a different turn to film, two films so far with the first now streaming. That initial release, The Box, managed to adhere to CDC guidelines while putting two dancers (Jamila Glass and Angel Tyson) and four musicians (Elizabeth Baba, Amanda Lo, Filip Pogády, Caleigh Drane) in the historic Heritage Square Museum. The roughly three-minute film streams on YouTube. Now a second collaboration has been added with Blinding Light with dancers Christian Beasley, Hyosun Choi, Jamila Glass, Nicole Hagen, Tess Hewlett, Malachi Middleton, JM Rodriguez, Ryan Ruiz, and Angel Tyson. An earlier LACDC collaboration, this time with filmmaker Nathan Kim continues to stream. The seven-minute film BLINK, was choreographed by artistic director Genevieve Carson in collaboration with the LACDC dancers. An official selection in the Hollyshorts Film Festival 2019, Cucalorus Festival 2019, and the San Francisco Dance Film Festival 2019, BLINK features dancer Hyosun Choi with Christian Beasley, Kate Coleman, Tess Hewlett, Ryan Ruiz, Drea Sobke, and Tiffany Sweat. The two films and information on other LACDC virtual programming at https://www.lacontemporarydance.org/special-projects.
Locking it up
Paying tribute to Don Campbellock, the creator of the Locking dance style, the street dance troupe Versa-Style Dance Company and its youth organization Versa-Style Next Generation unveil Finding Creativity and Fun in Our Personal Space. The streamed performance gets help from musician Cody “CoFlo” Ferreira’s Playground Samba. YouTube, Facebook. Info at http://versastyledance.org/events/.
Feel like screaming?
Originally developed as a stage piece by choreographer Sophia and the dancers of Iris Company, the creators in 2018 presciently reworked Screaming Shapes! into a film. After a year on the festival circuit including SoCal’s Dance Camera West, the company has released the work online. The performers include Bryanna Brock, Hyosun Choi, Cat Cogliandro, Casey Gonzalez, Kristen Holleyman, Amanda MacLeod, Joan H. Padeo, Shane Raiford, and Jamal Wade. https://www.sophiastoller.com/videos.
LA Dance in Korea, coming home in October
The always-anticipated LA Dance Festival was among local spring dance events postponed or cancelled by the Covid–19 shutdown. Over the summer, the festival streamed virtual performances hosted by Cal State University Los Angeles’ Luckman Theater. A second batch of performances is in the works. Meanwhile, last week’s second stream with the LA Festival’s partnership with a Korean event continues on view with several of the companies originally announced for the LA Festival included in the stream of Seoul International Dance Festival. Watch this space for details of an announced virtual LA Dance Festival coming in October. Meanwhile the Korean fest streams at https://ingdance.kr/22.
The Moms have it
The same week that memorialized the late civil rights leader congressman John Lewis was the week Emmett Till would have been 79 years old had he not been lynched at age 14 because of his skin. In 2010, Kevin Spicer curated The Emmett Till Project at Highways Performance Space. Choreographer Pat Taylor’s contribution A Kindred Woe receives a timely encore. The work focuses on how mothers whose children have been murdered ‘take on the mantle’ in the fight against racism and justice. The JazzAntiqua Dance and Music Ensemble performers include Terrice Banks Tillmon, Keisha Clark-Booth, Rayne Duronslet, Kacy Keys and Shari Washington Rhone. https://vimeo.com/441671503.
Dancers Emara Neymour, Santiago Villarreal, and Matt Luck join choreographer Micaela Taylor in her video Toughskin now streaming. https://www.thetlcollective.com/toughskin.
Adding to its trove of streaming options, Viver Brasil adds a weekly spotlight on past performances. The Afro-Brazilian dance and live music ensemble offer journeys to Salvador, Bahia to explore royal orixá dances, high-flying capoeira, and samba from a Bahian Carnaval. Current and past spotlight events now available at https://www.viverbrasil.com/covid19-update. Viver Brasil also was among the SoCal artists selected for KCET’s Southland Sessions, reworking its popular family show Celebrating Samba for the small screen with company members performing from their homes. But through the power of Afro-Brazilian dance and live music they promise a cultural journey to Salvador, Bahia to explore royal orixá dances, high-flying capoeira, and samba from a Bahian Carnaval. Streaming at https://www.kcet.org/shows/southland-sessions/from-brazil-to-the-world-celebrate-samba-with-viver-brasil.
Is it a question?
Filmed during the initial Covid–19 shutdown, Emily Mast and Yehuda Duenyas’ project HOW ARE WE, collected 15 solos, each 90-seconds including from LA choreographers. The possibilities of a plant, the bed sheets, or the corner of a room are among the starting points. Armed with a tennis racket, Carlon contributed Anesthetized, admitting that he wanted a socially acceptable reason to scream or grunt like Serena Williams or John McEnroe without looking like nut. Other contributors include Shannon Hafez, Jessica Emmanuel, Stacy Dawson Stearns, Jenny Marytai Liu, Constance Hockaday & Faye Driscoll, Barnett Cohen, Hana Van Der Kolk, Darrian O’Reilly, David Arian Freeland Jr., Heyward Bracey, Mireya Lucio, Dorothy Dubrule, Terrence Luke Johnson, and Mast & Duenyas. Info at How Are We. Stream at https://vimeo.com/428583347.
More in the lunchbox
In June, Dohee Lee’s scheduled REDCAT performance was cancelled. The venue hopes one day to reschedule a live performance. In the meanwhile, the Korean artist whose skills span dance, drumming, singing and musical composition joins the line-up of prior dance performances from artists including Austyn Rich, Genna Moroni, Tzong-Han Wu, and Rosanna Gamson/World Wide. Info at https://www.redcat.org/. Instagram Channel at https://www.instagram.com/calartsredcat/channel/.
The Music Center Offstage continues to stream new and encore video clips and performances from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Swing 2020, Cuba’s Malpaso Dance Company, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Jung Im Lee Korean Dance Academy, Kayamanan Ng Lahi Philippine Folk Arts, Infinite Flow, and Spotlight classical and non-classical dance finalists Jacob Jovanni Alvarado, Ashley Lew, Maya Alvarez-Coyne and Bergundi Loyd. https://www.musiccenter.org/tmc-offstage/.
When one was not enough
Instead of its usual annual live performances from Black and Latinx choreographers at the Bootleg Theater, the BlakTinx Dance Festival returned with a viral format in late June. For those who missed that live stream of Dancing on the Edge, the show now continues on-line in four parts with works from Nancy Rivera Gomez, Shantel Ureña, Anthony Aceves, Bernard Brown, Joshua Estrada-Romero, Keilah Lomotey, Michelle Funderburk, Primera Generación, Vannia Ibargüen, Marina Magalhães, Regina Ferguson, Rubi Morales, Amber Morales, Alan Perez, Dorcas Román, Yarrow Perea, Andrea Ordaz, Eluza Santos, Briseyda Zárate, and Sadie Yarrington. With many of the works recently created, the pandemic and the streets were subjects and five pieces from earlier festivals that focused on Black Lives Matter were last minute additions. More info at https://www.blaktinafestival.com/. View all four programs at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLefQljDEC38ALLSpNkct5F4wdJWOpc5bG.
Knock twice & tell them Jacob sent you
Reminiscent of what one did to enter a speakeasy in the 1920s or a Cold War spy meet-up, a select, paying audience was given the address of a Santa Monica airport parking lot with strict instructions on arriving in their cars, remaining in the cars wearing face masks, and turning on their headlights when cued. In perhaps the first ‘drive in’ dance event, Jacob Jonas and his eponymous Jacob Jonas The Company performed Parked with those vehicles encircling the ‘stage,’ their headlights illuminating the socially spaced dancers performing to live music by Anibal Sandoval. The one-night only event was filmed by Ivan Cash and Daniel Addelson. With the five minute final cut covering interviews with the choreographer and dancers, the actual performance footage is brief, but if the cars flashing their headlights at bows was a kind of applause, the experiment garnered a vehicular standing ovation from the audience. Hopefully, the performance itself will have a separate streaming life. Info at http://jacobjonas.com/. Film at https://vimeo.com/431606341.
The scheduled premiere of choreographer Melissa Barak’s first full length contemporary ballet Memoryhouse for her Barak Ballet was cancelled when Santa Monica’s Broad Stage closed with the statewide coronavirus shutdown. On what would have been the closing night, Barak Ballet instead went online with the premiere of Breathe In, a short ballet filmed at the grounds at the Holocaust Museum in what formerly was known as Pan Pacific Park in the Fairfax district. The film features Peter Chursin with Andrew Brader, Lucia Connolly, Jessica Gadzinski, Chasen Greenwood, Stephanie Kim, and with choreography by Barak. Also, there’s an opportunity to sign up for the company’s new YouTube channel. Info and streaming at https://barakballet.org/.
Alone with a chandelier
The site specific performance ensemble Heidi Duckler Dance has been actively exploring the possibilities in combining live and virtual performance. Earlier this summer, Ebb & Flow: Chinatown 2020 allowed audiences to stroll about installations with dance projected into some of the constructs. Other ongoing streamed projects include a five-minute video drawn from the live performance of The Chandelier based on a work by Brazilian author Clarice Lispector about a woman experiencing isolation and trying to connect. Choreographed by Duckler, the performers include Himerria Wortham, Rafael Quintas, Myles Lavallee, Nicole Flores, Maureen Asic, Magdalena Edwards, Jessica Emmanuel, Jaeme Velez, David Guerra, and Paula Rebelo. Video of the https://vimeo.com/414121038.
Wonder who’s watching
Drawing inspiration from the travails of Orpheus and Eurydice as well as from East German author Christa Wolf’s short story about being under surveillance by the Stasi police choreographer Heidi Duckler and her eponymous Heidi Duckler Dance crafted a tale of life behind the iron curtain. Titled What Remains, the work was aptly presented in the garden of a museum dedicated to the cold war and was presented in conjunction with the museum’s exhibit The Medea Insurrection: Radical Women Artists Behind the Iron Curtain. The filmed event takes on new life with an online screening plus a discussion with the museum’s chief curator Joes Segal. http://wendemuseum.org/programs/what-remains-online-screening-and-discussion-heidi-duckler-dance.
Platforms to Submit Video Dance
With cautions about staying safe while filming, organizers Sarah Elgart and Cultural Weekly announced round 4 of Dare to Dance in Public with the theme of Pandemania, meaning a hyper energized state. Info on the judges, prior winners, plus rules and regulations for submission at www.dare2danceinpublicfilmfestival.com. The group’s other film endeavor Six Foot Dances is still accepting one-minute films. Current submissions on https://www.daretodanceinpublic.com/.
Where to Find Online Dance Classes
Clear out a corner & shake a leg!
On-line dance classes continue on zoom, instagram and other on-line platforms, many classes free, low cost or suggesting a donation. One central, constantly updated source on dance classes and in-depth reporting on SoCal dance, LA Dance Chronicle lists on-line dance classes including any cost and contact info. Grab a chair or clear off a corner of the room and use this time to dance. https://w3.ladancechronicle.com/
Featured image: Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre. Photo courtesy of HDDT.
Ann Haskins Blog appears at CulturalWeekly.com