San Pedro Arts Festival continues to bring community together in an early fall offering

Re:borN Dance Interactive in a playful and beautifully performed contemporary duet, He Came Running, by Boroka Nagy. (corrected 10-12-22)

Coordinated by Louise Reichlin/Los Angeles Choreographers and Dancers, the San Pedro Festival of the Arts has become a standard for early fall dance in the LA area and is an excellent opportunity for a large and diverse group of dance artist to come together to share their voices and share their art with each other and the community. This year it was held at Peck Park in San Pedro and featured 17 groups, ranging from youth dance studios to professional dance companies in the area. 

What makes the outdoor event particularly special and enjoyable is that it is so inclusive of diverse dance styles showcasing a variety of world dance forms as well as Western concert dance genres. All of the works have a high level of accessibility with family friendly content and entertaining qualities. Each of the groups has its own special flavor and is able to celebrate its unique values and style within this shared format. 

The program included Russian folk dance, Indian dance, Middle Eastern dance, jazzy numbers, theatrical dance narratives, and more abstract contemporary works, performed by a variety of dance groups emerging from an array of educational and professional contexts.

There were student performing groups including the Cabrillo Dance Company, a high school group, which presented an emotive, large ensemble piece choreographed by Issa Hourani. Local studio Degas Dance which is a regular at the festival shared a few short pieces that were true to their crowd pleasing values performed by well-trained and expressive young performers. College dance was exquisitely represented by Santa Barbara City College under the direction of Tracy Kofford which showcased a brilliantly performed male-female duet by two refined dancers reminding us that community colleges are a hub for local skilled dancers as well as traditional college students to enjoy more dance performing opportunities. 

Santa Barbara City College under the direction of Tracy Kofford

We then had the host group Louise Reichlin/ Los Angeles Choreographers and Dancers which offered a smattering of works in their classical modern style which tends to retell familiar narratives in a quirky and highly theatrical style. With storytelling at the forefront, the dancers utilize big leaps, turns, and joyous partnering in colorful unitards and playful costumes to convey Reichlin’s voice rooted in modern dance sensibilities as revisioned for a contemporary context.

Louise Reichlin/ Los Angeles Choreographers and Dancers in Birds

Hazel Clark’s Kairos Dance company is a regular performing group for the festival and they presented a touching female quartet addressing the theme of breastfeeding and motherhood and the frequent shaming experienced by breastfeeding mothers in some communities.  The work was neatly composed and passionately danced honoring the social justice theme with integrity. A second social justice work, presented by Navarasa Dance Theater, the Indian fusion company, made a statement about people of color being regularly dismissed in our communities. Long slow strides and clear direct focus underscored the need for all individuals to take a stand by finding pride and confidence even in a world of inequity and ignorance. This work closed the company’s longer set of Indian fusion and martial arts dance works that was highly athletic and diverse.

There was a female duet by Kaitlyn McKinney featuring two blonde women, one dressed in a black biketard and one in white biketard to impress upon the audience a yin yang relationship between the two. Through spatial relationships, alternating solos and shared unison phrase work, the two formed a shared identity evoking images and themes of  self sabotage and other detrimental behaviors that is overcome through self-acceptance and unifying ourselves to accept all we are.  DAGDAG dance presented a male duet which reflected powerfully on male bodies and male identity. One dancer had his head covered with a flesh colored stocking to mask him for the duration of the dance, which gave his presence an uneasy quality as he interacted with the unmasked dancer. The two powerful dancers grappled with each other in seamless partnering illuminating images of control and surrender hinting at internal and external power struggles before concluding with a call to wake up and step forward into the world fueled by integrity and conviction. 

One of the most breathtaking performances of the afternoon was solo Classical Indian dancer  Jyoti Kala Mandir. Her performance was absolutely captivating as her detailed expression, postural attitudes, timing, and dynamic phrasing was thoroughly compelling. 

Jeevika Bhat – Jyoti Kala Mandir in performance

Overall the show was a lovely success with great weather in the park that had lots of shade and a marley covered stage set up just for this event provided by Alvas. It is a treat to attend a festival event that is family friendly, playful, moving, accessible and inclusive. Reichlin and company  has been able to maintain this festival through the COVID years enabling dance artists to continually share their art form through the toughest of times. I personally hope to see the festival grow again with food and craft vendors as it was before the pandemic, making the event one that people can enjoy with a meal and some local arts shopping as that enhances the cultural and communal value to the event. While these past two years have been greatly appreciated within the dance community, drawing out the community members at large with food trucks and arts and crafts will continue to rebuild and further grow the event so more people are able enjoy it for the full duration of the afternoon with families and friends. 

A complete list of the companies that performed include: Jazz Spectrum, Re:borN Dance Interactive, SINDHOOR & NATYAVEDA – NAVARASA DANCE THEATER, Jeevika Bhat – Jyoti Kala Mandir, Santa Barbara Community College, Dega Dance Studio, Louise Reichlin/ Los Angeles Choreographers and Dancers, Katrina Ji, Kairos Dance Company, Encore Dance, Megill & Company, DAGDAG Dance, Kaitlyn McKinney, Showtime-Katusha, Cabrillo Dance Company, McCulla Movement, Sahala Dancers. 

For more information on the festival as a whole or the individual companies, please visit the San Pedro Festival of the Arts Website.

Sahala Dancers closing the afternoon of dance.

Categories: Uncategorized

2 Comments on “San Pedro Arts Festival continues to bring community together in an early fall offering”

  1. reborndance
    October 12, 2022 at 6:48 pm #

    The first photo is actually of Re:borN Dance Interactive performing my piece, He Came Running. Please correct the caption. Thank you

    • October 13, 2022 at 2:47 am #

      My sincere apologies. It has been corrected! Thank you for emailing.
      I didn’t receive photo information with the images, so I was doing my best to align with the website. Sorry again!

      It was a beautiful duet. Congratulations!

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