San Pedro hosted the 10th annual Festival of Arts this past week end at the city’s beautiful Port O’Call Village presenting music, dance, visual arts, crafts and much more. The Port O’Call Village also includes many shops and several very good restaurants. I was there to attend the dance festival directed by Louise Reichlin, Founder and Artistic Director of Louise Reichlin/Los Angeles Choreographers & Dancers.
As I have stated in previous reviews, dance festivals often include work by choreographers and performers of varying levels of abilities. The San Pedro Festival of the Arts was a good example of this. The highlight of the entire concert was the beautiful solo Fortunato, choreographed and performed by Alexandra Shilling, Artistic Director of Alexx makes dances; performing to live music by Cuñao.
Other highlights of the festival were a group from UC Irvine, with choreography by Dante Puleio and the tap dancing of Hiroshi Hamanishi/Tap and Tap Overload. Reichlin’s work A Jewish Child’s Story, Part I The Roses on my Wallpaper ~ A Dream showed promise.
Puleio’s The Persistence of Time had strong performances by eight female dancers dressed in identical striped beige costumes. Inspired by Salvador Dali’s painting A Persistence of Memory Puleio makes well designed choreographic references to a few of Dali’s visual symbols. This piece was an excellent choice to appear first on the program.
Alfred Desio,’s choreography is amazingly rhythmical and intricate. Hamanishi and two other dancers wove Hamanishi’s rhythms in and around each other with extreme ease while expertly executing the ever moving choreography. Gabe and Mindy Copeland, directors of Tap Overload are also strong performers. Gabe Copeland, especially, shows an athleticism in his dancing while maintaining a beautiful clarity of footwork. Their choreography sometimes became cute which for this reviewer minimized its importance.
Reichlin’s A Jewish Child’s Story, Part I was inspired by her childhood dreams, wakening realities and a few of her favorite Biblical characters. The dance will benefit greatly with lighting and other production elements which a fully equipped theater provides. The dancers performed with strong attention to their characters and the costumes by Diana MacNeil and Linda Borough helped greatly to bring life to them.
The remainder of the work seen on this festival only reached the level of amateurism and everyone performed to the best of their ability. One mention goes out to MKM Bollystars choreographer and Artistic Director Shivani Thakkar whose traditional work was wonderful, but mixed with unnecessary elements such as Hip-hop. Other groups on the festival included JRick & the Hot Flashes (community dancers all over the age of 50), Akomi Dance (Jazz), Project21 performing to songs and words by Nina Simone, 3-19 Dance Art/Beatriz Vasquez (very weak choreography and performances), and Ruby Karen Project/OC Aerial (featuring a strongman, contortionists and aerialists).
It is difficult, but this reviewer feels that when considering companies for a festival, it would benefit the audience and the art of dance for the producers to be much more selective.