This article was updated at 11:50 PM June 16, 2020 – See new list of choreographers below.

Bootleg Theater presents Dancing on the Edge a curated video collage of dance pieces created by LA BlakTinx alumni choreographers. During what began as a project dealing with the Covid crisis, we witnessed the horrific death of George Floyd and the protests that ensued against police brutality, social inequality and the Black Lives Matter movement. We needed to take a pause and postponed to honor our Black choreographers in BlakTinx. We are now presenting 4 online segments that are powerful, soulful and personal expressions of life in a double crisis of Covid and BLM. We are presenting new work and archival pieces that were presented at the Bootleg in the past that dealt with social injustice. Come witness these important pieces as these local choreographers share their personal spaces and feelings via the video platform! Tickets are free.  RSVP at / BlakTinx, Dancing on the Edge

Licia Perez

Licia Perez

The BlakTinx Dance Festival had its debut at the Bootleg Theater in 2013 and has presented an annual show each year since. In 2015, the festival expanded to include Tucson, Arizona and later in 2017, through a collaboration with choreographer Liliana Gomez, BlakTinx expanded to Phoenix, Arizona. This year, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bootleg Theater will present BlakTinx Dance Festival – DANCING ON THE EDGE via You Tube on Saturday, June 20th at 6PM. This will be a curated video collage of dance works created by BlakTinx choreographers living in isolation during the pandemic. The performance will be free.

The BlakTinx Dance Festival was scheduled to be presented at the Bootleg Theater and had also been approached by the Madrid Theatre to perhaps expand the festival into that venue. Like everything else around the world, the pandemic brought all those plans to a halt. Because so few dance performances have taken place online, I spoke with Licia Perea, the festival’s producer and to learn more about the genesis of this performance.

The festival was brought together in just three weeks at the request of the LA Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) MaTCH in order to qualify for funding. Perea expressed the how the technological challenges involved were for her and the choreographers involved to transfer their work from the stage to online.

Put us in a theater and we know what to do.” Perea said. “But this whole platform of streaming, what’s the best way? It’s been very much a learning curve for all of us. With that in mind, this festival superseded all the criteria that usually us for festival in terms of submissions and a curating panel, etc. No, we had three and a half weeks to do this.”

Apoio Support - Choreography by Marina Magalhães - Photo courtesy of REDCAT

Apoio Support – Choreography by Marina Magalhães – Photo courtesy of REDCAT

Perea contacted choreographers and companies that had previously performed on BlakTinx and the response was overwhelming. Because time was so short, she is continuing to accept the videos until the final product has to go up on You Tube. A few choreographers who really wanted to submit videos were simply too busy giving finals online and dealing with handing in their students’ grades on time.

Perea described the range of dance works being presented as “from light, to dark, to funny and heart felt.”  She did say that due to the riots around the country following the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, that, not surprisingly, some of the works presented have swung over to a dark place. “There is some very, very powerful works. We are on the edge!” She said referring to videos submitted in the past few days. One young black choreographer has created a work that expresses her the intense fear that she is experiencing with the riots taking place during an already dangerous time caused by the pandemic.

FUSE Dance Company - Photo by Denise Leitner

FUSE Dance Company – Photo by Denise Leitner

In addition to the very tight timeline, the criteria for submissions included that the choreographers must follow the CDC guidelines relating to COVID-19. They need to shoot the pieces in their homes, and the performers could only include the people that they were living with. For example, choreographers such as Joshua Estrada-Romero (FUSE Dance), Michelle Funderburk and others who created group dances, had to figure out how to do that without bringing their dancers together to rehearse.

It is all shot in homes, on location in alleyways, driveways, etc.” Perea said. There are a few group works on this festival, but understandably, it includes mostly solos.

Updated list of Choreographers:  Anthony Aceves, Bernard Brown, Sofia Carreras, Joshua Estrada-Romero, Regina Ferguson, Kassy Francis, Michelle Funderburk, Primera Generación, Nancy Rivera Gomez, Vannia Ibargüen, Irishia Hubbard, Brigette Dunn-Korpela, Keilah Lomotey, Amber Morales, Rubi Morales, Andrea Ordaz, Yarrow Perea, Alan Perez, Dorcas Román, Eluza Santos, Stacey Strickland, Maura Townsend, Shantel Ureña, Sadie Yarrington & Briseyda Zárate.

The dancers either recorded themselves or had someone they lived with do the camera work but having some knowledge of the complex technology involved with putting anything online, I asked Perea about what technical support she had.

Alan Perez and Jamal Wade - Photo courtesy of the artists

Alan Perez and Jamal Wade – Photo courtesy of the artists

“José Garcia Davis, my husband is a filmmaker,” She said. “and he is the main technical part of this in terms of post-production.” The lighting on several of the videos had to be color corrected and Garcia Davis added dance titles and credits onto the videos.

Another part of the criteria was for each choreographer to submit a short description of their work and where the inspiration for their dance came from in terms of expressing thought, theme, feelings, emotions, etc. Garcia Davis has taken some of the dancers’ thoughts and layered them into the corresponding video. “He is a collaborator on all of these pieces.” Perea said. Garcia Davis was instrumental in creating and putting together the platform for this production.

José Garcia Davis

José Garcia Davis

Perea and her husband have put together three 20 minute segments featuring the work of 20 BlakTinx alumni via YouTube.  “These video performances are soulful, imaginative, and personal expressions of life as a dancer/choreographer living through this pandemic. Come witness these exciting and powerful pieces as they share their personal spaces and feelings!”

I wanted to know why this was taking place for one night only.  Perea explained that because the BlakTinx Dance Festival – Dancing on the Edge is being funded by DCA and was originally scheduled to be presented in a theater, the Bootleg Theater had to present the festival as an event. It will be available on the BlakTinx website in the future, but this special event is only on June 20th from 6 to 8 pm. This also helps the city account for the funding and just how many people attended.

Even though this has been a challenge to get ourselves up-to-date in this medium,” Perea said. “I honestly think that it is a gift as well because we are going to be able to reach far more people than if we had this concert at the Madrid or the Bootleg. Our range would be way bigger. In that respect I am grateful to give these artists a paid gig.”

BlakTinx Dance Festival – Dancing on the Edge is free, but audience members must RSVP at, Dancing on the Edge to receive access. You may do so by clicking HERE.

To learn more about the BlakTinx Dance Festival, click HERE.

To see when other DCA sponsored events are taking place, click HERE.

Written by Jeff Slayton for LADC, June 1, 2020. Revised on June 3, 2020.

Featured image: Sadie Yarrington – Photo courtesy of the artist.