BWW Review: BODYTRAFFIC A THOROUGHFARE THRU MIXED EMOTIONS at The Wallis Annenberg
Body Traffic is a world-renown contemporary dance company, based in Los Angeles, and is The Wallis's 2019/20 Company-in-Residence. A perfect match-up with the Wallis's imaginative and varied program schedule for the year.
Lillian Barbeito and Tina Finkelman Burkett, the Artistic Directors, founded BODYTRAFFIC in 2007.
They have nurtured this company for twelve years and it shows. The entire company has evolved into something vital, representing many current issues on the minds of everyone these days.
The first piece, choreographed by Fernando Hernando Magadan, entitled (D)ELUSIVE MINDS, with music by Schubert, in cooperation with Nederlands Dans Theatre 2, is the story of a mental patient with Capgras Delusion, which is where someone thinks whom they know has been replaced by an imposter. Based on a true story, it explores reality vs. fiction, health and sanity, and the deceiving characteristics of appearances. The two dancers, Tina Finkelman Berkett and Guzman Rosado, are superb in acting out through dance, the scenario that ensues. It is a heavy piece, filled with emotions, empathy, and intense choreography symbolizing what the characters have been through. Well done, despite the absence of some of the voiced-over dialogue toward the end that helped guide the narrative. They work beautifully together, and their fueled emotions gave an impassioned performance.
Okay; my favorite piece of the evening. "SNAP," Choreographed by Micaela Taylor, a budding choreographer and long-time member of BODYTRAFFIC, is everything you could want in a dance piece honoring the great James Brown's music. The tight choreography, the funkiness, the message imparted, was solidified by Taylor's performance, and pleased the audience to no end. "This is a man's world but it would be nothing...without a woman or girl," was the motivating factor and message of the piece. Excellent staging, posing, clean and tight floorwork, perfectly demonstrated unison, and choreography. The many different sections to the piece were all geared to heightening the piece as it moved along. It was a complete dissection of "Super Bad" and with a killer beat to accompany the isolations, melding together with each other, and getting into the groove.
After intermission, RESOLVE, choreography by Wewolf, music by DJ Tennis, was a duet, created for Joseph Davis and Guzman Rosado, in it's West Coast Premiere, underwritten by Nigel Lythgoe OBE. A fascinating piece, beginning with a resounding, loud tempo. Very physical and demanding, it was sharp and angular, isolated movements and kata-like combinations and working off of each other via movement, but it seemed to dissipate as the piece continued. I enjoyed the relationship between the two, and the unique positions they created. Clad in jeans and Tees, it never really resolved, for me, what the piece was actually about. There was no build to the musical accompaniment, and failed to give a clear message about what the intention was.
The closing piece, A MILLION VOICES, I have reviewed before and enjoyed very much again with it's light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek, full Big-Band sound of Peggy Lee's rendition of "Is That All There Is," played out in a stylized scenario. Choreographed by Matthew Neenan, danced by Tina Berkett, Haley Heckethorn, Rachel Seacrest, Jamal White, Guzman Rosado, Myles Lavallee and Joseph Davis, it gives a biting realism to our world today. The flippant attitude toward anything of value, tossed aside, playfully addressed individually and in pairings. The duet to "Blues in the Night," danced by Jamal White and Rachel Seacrest was visually stunning and a bit melancholy at the same time. Ending on a high note, it topped the evening off.
A fine evening showcasing the artistry, technique and brilliance of creative minds joined together to create meaningful statements through dance.
Photos by Kevin Parry, Don Lee and Jamal White.