A Decade of Celebrating Los Angeles Dance

Celebrate Dance was a joyous celebration at the Alex Theater as producer Jamie Nichols commemorated 10 years of heralding the rich culture of dance in Los Angeles. It was so wonderful to see dancers, choreographers, and artistic directors out supporting each other, celebrating with one another, “watercoolering” about making dance for the past 10, 20, and 30 years.

The show opened with Out Of, by John Pennington of Pennington Dance Company. Beautiful strips of Asian inspired fabric hung from the ceiling against flowy white costumes as the dancers channeled the deep lunges and flatbacks of Pennington’s Lewitzky upbringing, all the while clearly speaking in his own voice. I was enthralled by the fluidity and quick, directional shifts of the torso that seemed to echo the abstract etchings on the hanging fabric pieces behind them.

I was totally taken in by Push, the second number choreographed by Backhausedance’s Jennifer Backhause. A stunning duet set against a simple backdrop, it was the perfect blend of punch and yield, of strength and vulnerability. As if dancing weightlessly in water, they morphed and transitioned with a reach and longing that never seemed to end. My breath was taken away by the gorgeous, long-limbed Joshua King, who seemed to stretch across the stage with every lift of his arm and extension of his leg.

Marie de la Palme was celebrated with a video tribute and drew a standing ovation for the presentation of her Le Couer Illumine, featuring a dancer on pointe taking in the companionship of symbolic red fabric.

The first half of the program closed on a high note with the quick feet and liquid hips of Viver Brasil in In Motion, choreographed by Rosangela Silvestre! Clad in gorgeous green costumes, these ladies undertook the aerobic feat of the century. It was lively and flirty, strong and feminine. Fusing Capoeira, Samba, and Modern, Viver Brasil lit up the stage to the amazing music of Jose Ricardo Sousa, Luiz Badaro, and Mario Pallais. Not to get political, but I was so happy to see African American faces and body types being celebrated and encouraged on the stage. With ferocity, these ladies showed that neither ethnicity nor body type had any bearing on their ability to wear out the floor as well as the next dancer.

Mike Esperanza’s BARE Dance Company opened the second act with Drift, an elegant piece with a beige palette that popped out from the black scrim. With Beethoven’s music setting a stately tone, 27 dancers posed and coupled on, off, around, and over a white covered platform. There was a wonderful flow to Esperanza’s Drift as dancers moved seamlessly from fun, social unison sections, to duos reminiscent of young love as partygoers sat around and watched.

Monat Dance presented a beautiful pointe piece, Beyond the Edge, featuring five gorgeous ladies, and a gentleman who could turn and turn. Set to Irish Pipe music, Rhetoracle danced their wickedly exciting The Dancing Man, with movement that blended folk and contemporary, with a hip hop sentiment.

The Walk West, choreographed by Joelle Martinec of SoleVita Dance Company, explored the risky venture of love, loss, getting the girl, losing her to the other guy. The piece ended with a delightful men’s section that underscored the urban adage: bros before… well, you know the rest.

Closing the night was the energetic BPM, who opened their A 7 Piece Band with a Twist with a fun half curtain that only revealed tapping feet. The piece then launched into full rock mode, with Marc Gasway funkin’ it up on bass, and Sean Rainey killin’ it on the drums. Vocalist Lindsay Hough was a perfect touch with her rousing voice and vibrant stage presence. Unfortunately, the music overpowered the sound of the taps so I could not hear what was, no doubt, some amazing tapping. But, they put on great show and their energy was the perfect way to close a festive night commemorating 10 years of celebrating Los Angeles dance!

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