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Review: LA DANCE FESTIVAL - FRINGE FRIDAY at The Diavolo Space

Review: LA DANCE FESTIVAL - FRINGE FRIDAY at The Diavolo Space

On Friday, April 26 the Diavolo Space became the final home to the 2019 LA Dance Festival. A relaxed setting, with limited seating, and no AC, "LA Dance is hot, it's cookin," joked the Festival Producer, Deborah Brokus. Brokus introduced the Fringe portion of the evening and referred to Southern California as the birthplace for modern dance hinting at Martha Graham and Isabella Duncan. Brokus said LADF is "looking to bring the community together." With raffles, snacks and drinks, and 'Arts in LA' support buttons the evening of dance began.

Mallory Fabian choreographed "Drugs Can't Buy" (a solo excerpt) danced by Kevin Zambrano. Feet stomped in the darkness and Kevin wore a black slip taping the upstage floor with blue painters tape. Some level of the dancer's angst possessed him to walk to different instances on the stage. A finger gesture overhead held attention as he walked in circles center stage in a painful possession. A technically proficient dancer, Kevin's molecular sadness transmuted into a wolverine-like strength and uncontrollable transformation. He pounded his chest against the beautiful extensions in his arms and legs to offset the more raw, guttural movement themes.

SiZa Dance Company performed "Half and Half" choreographed by Lyndsi Zapata. A trio began stage left and walked to center as one vertical line. Lyndsi's choreography had great use of levels, however, as the onlooker, I needed more direction. Sometimes modern dance can feel a disregard to the audience. Some argue this is freedom of choice for the viewer, but where should I look? The duet vs. solo were competing for my attention. A "monkey see" gesture to the eyes was a memorable snapshot to an otherwise, not so memorable piece.

Review: LA DANCE FESTIVAL - FRINGE FRIDAY at The Diavolo Space

"Les Petits Plaisirs De Vie" a piece by Charlotte Katherine & Co was childlike and full of gestures around 'the little pleasures in life.' Dancer, Leslie Duner, stood out as a true performer among the long bodies of the quintet of dancers. With extensions for days, classical gestures, and magical acting, finally something joyful and soulful in the often bogged down, avant garde world of modern dance.

"Inside," a chair solo danced and choreographed by Julianne Mackey with concept by Deborah Brockus was a terrific physicalization of what we conceal literally on the 'inside.' The discomfort, the agitations, and the resistance were embodied in the choreography. Julianna made a strong choice to stay in chair and kept the attention through out.

"Shadow Poem Part II" choreographed by Jordan Saenz and danced by Ariana Daub and Cecilia la County eased in to an attention-grabbing work. If you're looking for creative inspiration watch this piece. Lighting and dance are married and shadows are the conceived merging of the two. Three uses of light in three clearly choreographed sections with this duet, their shadows purposefully danced with them. A knee popping motif mimicked the acoustic of the guitar composition. Manipulating one another's heads range from supple and vulnerable, to aggressive and controlling. Duets in dance have a strong way of reflecting out our need as human beings to connect and attain the significance of one-on-one attention.

Carpool Dance Collective performed " In my Corner" danced by Luciana Johnson and Maija Lisa Miltz, with music by The Arcs, and choreographed by Ava Gordy and Leah Hamel. "In My Corner" felt like a fun springtime love story for an April festival. Maija Lisa wore a floral dress and the two had strong partnering. Luciana's techincal strength at times felt mismatched to Maija Lisa when they danced separate movement phrases. A flirtatious, cat-like motif matched the piano. The work ended as it began book ending the work as Luciana made her final exit, a new female figure appeared downstage spotting Maija Lisa.

"Crossing the Double Yellow" a duet choreographed by Leann Alduenda had a duet seated upstage for a long floor work opening. I appreciate the time it took as to understand the relationship between these two dancers. Many choreographers abandon movement ideas too early in phrasing. Choreographically, it was a little too on the nose with syncopated percussion and arm phrases hitting every single beat in the music. Our brains like repetition in dance but not the monotony of no dynamic shifts. It was clear that dancer, Marie Hoffman was dominant over dancer Anthony Aceves in a destructive tone. The manipulation and push pull partnering felt like a dance with death or danger.

Review: LA DANCE FESTIVAL - FRINGE FRIDAY at The Diavolo Space

"Of Sorts" choreographed by Jay Bartley danced by Chelsea Aasman, Jay Bartley, and Jodie Mashburn. In silence, Chelsea danced a solo center stage as the men book ended her on the chairs staring out into the audience. The work was industrious with Feiyue sneakers, blue jumpsuits, and repetition of banging the floor with their hand and falling and rolling to the floor. The space created held such intentionality in this trio. They sensually circled their sits bones on the chairs and on the floor confronting the audience and each other. The suspension in partnering work and lifts, this trio had a very clear plan and they were all on the same page about it. Facing the audience sliding off the chairs and onto the floor inching their bodies toward the audience, I thought they'd end up in our laps. And like a well-oiled machine, the piece ended with the dancers in chairs, facing one another in an intricate game of musical chairs they continued complex movement into the fade out. Well done.

Review: LA DANCE FESTIVAL - FRINGE FRIDAY at The Diavolo Space

"a|vow" choreographed by Kat Sauma and performed over a narration made for an existential hanger to end the evening of dance. "It all seems limitless," the narration shared. This philosophically engaging work, opened with a duet stage left and trio stage right; two worlds coexisting and then synthesizing. The quintet was both technically proficient and developed performers creating a world as if in "The Sims" video game of life. And just like in life, the dancers make intentional steps forward with a combined sense of happenstance. An air of confusion filled the stage and left the dancers reaching for something. Kat Sauma's powerful dancing took ownership of the stage. In the final solo, she was left alone in the darkness.

With consistently strong dance on the bill, LADF Fringe portion is a little cookie cutter and academic at this stage. As the LA Dance Festival continues to grow and develop, larger ensembles occupying the stages and exhibiting site specific ideas of local dance companies need to be included. Deborah Brokus's dedication seeps through the pores of this Festival's DNA and there is no doubt the Festival will continue to flourish and evolve annually. To get involved please visit:

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