LA Dancers and Choreographers Treat Fiesta Goers

Informal and community-minded events in temporary spaces are always a bit of a game of Russian roulette for dance companies. But, Louise Reichlin’s company Los Angeles Choreographers & Dancers played it like pros at the Culver City Fiesta de Ballona last weekend. Performing works on an outdoor, temporary dance floor under a large tent, the dancers were able to connect with the audience in effective ways that suited the festive nature of the day. Sadly, this reviewer was a little late to the party, having to navigate the off-site parking and shuttle system, but was happy to enjoy the second and third pieces in the presentation.

Reboot! Reboot! is the company’s newest work choreographed by Louise Reichlin. Set to a variety of music styles including songs by The Vikings, Danheim, Heilung (Faust/Jaul), Barde, Gabriel, Metcalfe, and Stinghead, this work is firmly rooted in the modern aesthetic of clean lines, uplifted torsos, bound flow, and strong core-distal connections. 

The work as a whole has multiple parts beginning with an earthy opening that introduces Reichlin’s signature movement which utilizes large springs, extended shapes, and big turns. Wearing colorful unitards at the start, the dancers then donned grey exteriors as the performance shifted to pedestrian walking and mundane expressions before transitioning into a section of angular group shapes. With abrupt cut-offs in the music and changes in movement quality, the many sections were not always clearly linked from one section to the next, moving through worlds of joyous bluegrass and aggressive tangos. However, the concluding metaphor of revealing a true self in its full color and variety was clear as the dancers concluded the piece by removing their grey exteriors. The ending was quiet, reflective, and sweet, beginning with a vibrating reach that drew energy from the earth as each dancer rose up to join into unison. The cycling music started again as the dancers came together culminating with a final unifying circle. Satisfying organization of the dancers in space and time, made this section feel calming and centering after the raucous energy and angular geometry earlier in the work. The final sweeping exit of the dancers while beautiful did not have a clear sense of closure with the music continuing beyond their exit, but, as a whole, the work left the viewers with a sense of honesty and clarity regarding a human need for connection and meaning. 

Tennis Dances, Choreographed by Reichlin in 1979, performed in Culver City. Photo by Beth Megill

Created by Reichlin in 1979, Tennis Dances is a charming and playful work in vignettes ranging from whimsical to dramatic. The white costumes, old-fashioned wooden rackets, yellow balls, and a tennis court net set the stage for a piece that felt remarkably fresh, fun, and lively. The piece was another string of small vignettes with a wide range of intentions and styles. Solos, duets and small groups gave the stage texture and each dancer multiple opportunities to shine. The music varied from electronic music to a another bluegrass hoedown, some sections being very short and others longer.

Like a tennis match, the segments seemed to volley the energy back and forth between dancers and effectively renewed the audience’s interest throughout. The abstract compositional devices and thematic variations gave permission for the work to free-associate between the people, the music, the props and the movement. There was never a need for the piece as a whole to resolve in specific way as the intention felt free and light throughout. A few of the dancers particularly stood out for their sense of enjoyment and relish in the levity and whim of the work evoking a strong connection between this generation of dancers and the movement despite its being an older work. In this way, the dance stands the test of time due to its imagination, playfulness, and ingenuity. It was perfect for this type of an outdoor festival setting. 

Image of 6 dancers dressed in white, four holding wooden tennis rackets and the others holding a tennis court net.
Tennis Dances by Louise Reichlin Photo by Beth Megill

Bringing dancers into community events is something that heightens the festivity of events while offering opportunities for the community to learn about concert dance in a way that is easy and enjoyable. Reichlin’s athletic movement vocabulary is a nice fit for these types of events as it is spatially aware and engaging to the eye with the use of uplifted balletic lines contrasted with spiraling and angular moments that are weighted. The diverse and modern and ballet trained cast of performers included Jill Elaine Collins, Eve Metsäranta, Coree McKee Gonzalez, Eliza S. Tollett, Emily Mcguire, Mckennly Moren, Alfonso Fuentes, Katie Mcculla, and Jamil Morgan. If you have a chance to catch Tennis Dances! It is an absolute treat.

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