The four-day Los Angeles Dance Festival united the community through the celebration of contemporary dance in Los Angeles. Only in its fourth year, this year’s festival, which took place April 14-17, was well received by a large crowd of dancers and non-dancers alike.
Every night there were many dances consisting of multiple dance companies. To keep the shows at reasonable lengths, each company performed one piece. The brief presentations from the collection of companies produced a stunning contrast, keeping audience members at the edge of their seats in excitement and anticipation. As each dance company in the program is well established, the shows were of a high caliber, showcasing some of the best contemporary dance companies in Los Angeles.
The opening night gave the viewer a taste of the diverse festival. Four different companies performed: Ate9 dANCE cOMPANY, The Union Project Dance Company, BrockusRED and Wax/Wane, featuring Alyssa Allen, a freshman dance major in the Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.
Deborah Brockus, the producer of the LADF, skillfully divided the remaining three shows by styles.
“[Friday] is more of the eclectic, urban, jazz contemporary, a little more theatrical. Saturday night is more of the technical modern-based contemporary, and Sunday is the avant-garde, off-the-walls stuff. So, there’s something for everyone. Pick your choice,” Brockus said after the opening night performance.
There was certainly something for everyone. Of the 30 companies showcased, each offered such a unique voice. Each performance was so impactful, not just for the remarkably talented dancers and choreographers, but also the personal experience. The performances took place at the modest Diavolo Space, where the audience sits level with the stage, only a few feet away from the dancers.
“This is actually how modern dance was created in L.A. back in the 20th century. It was intimate, visceral, close to the artists, and you can feel it and see it, and you’re not in a 4,000 seat theater,” Brockus said. “I think that there’s power to that. There’s power to the human body and experiencing things with other people, and I am a huge fan for live dance. I’ve seen so many videos that aren’t good. Some pieces are worse, some pieces are better, but live is real. I want to eat food; I want to experience life.”
Aside from the performances, the festival offered two full days of classes with more offered next weekend at Brockus Project Studios, led by dancers or artistic directors of the 30 dance companies. These open classes, each consisting of one hour and 15 minutes, gave dancers of all levels the opportunity to immerse themselves in a company’s repertoire and style, and to experience the professionalism the rehearsal process demands.
Many of the professional dancers took classes from other performing companies. Experiencing the melting pot of dancers from all origins who are all connected by the passion to move, was incredibly inspiring and soul-cleansing.
The LADF was a success because it not only celebrated the artists that are dancing and creating, but also to those who didn’t have a dance background. Additionally, it offered great exposure for the Los Angeles dance artists.
Although theater and dance in Los Angeles are overshadowed by the entertainment industry, the LADF helped to grow support for the dance community and invited every person of every demographic to come and experience the human soul and movement.
“If I could make dance go viral in Los Angeles, I’d be so happy. Get out of your couch, close your phone, and come experience live dance. That’s my goal,” Brockus said.
Next weekend the LADF will be holding another day full of classes and auditions for LADF companies.