Los Angeles has an award winning addition to its family of choreographers. Born in LA, Daniel Ezralow performed with the Paul Taylor Dance Company and he worked as both dancer and choreographer with MOMIX. He was also one of the founding members of ISO Dance. After a long and illustrious career, Ezralow has returned home to form Ezralow Dance in 2014 and his company had its first performances at the Wallis Annenberg Performing Arts Center this past week end. Daniel Ezralow has made a notable impression on the Los Angeles dance audience with his evening long work, OPEN.
“Thematically, it’s a loose abstract narrative.” Ezralow said of OPEN in an interview with Victoria Looseleaf, and indeed it is. Built in fifteen sections, OPEN makes brilliant use of four moving panels to allow dancers to appear and disappear without the audience seeing them enter or leave. They also help make scenery changes with the inventive use of video projections. These panels move from side to side, forward and back; as well as diagonally. Just when you think that he has exhausted the use of these panels, Ezralow comes up with a surprisingly new way to astound and yes, entertain us. OPEN is a multi-media vehicle for Ezralow to make commentaries on marriage, the workplace, the environment, romance and much more. He makes us laugh, sigh and even feel a touch of sadness.
OPEN is 75 minutes long and there is no intermission. The transitions between sections are smooth and sometimes as prodigious as the stories Ezralow has to tell. Did it all work? No, but even when a section fell short of hitting its mark, it did so with style. One can admire Ezralow’s efforts at trying out new ideas. There were numerous elements, such as the planting of trees onstage, in OPEN that one could write glowing remarks about, but the sections that truly rose to the top for this reviewer because of their humor and/or performances were Hendersons, Kelp Dreams, Black and White and Chroma.
In Hendersons Ezralow makes a humorous but poignant statement on marriage. A seemingly simply, straight forward marriage ceremony turns into a paper, scissor, rock contest; only to develop into a boxing match equipped with boxing ring and referee. The comedic timing is brilliant and the performances by the dancers are outstanding.
Kelp Dreams tells of a man who falls asleep after a long day at work and his dream of finding a beautiful woman wrapped in Kelp. He frees this gorgeous creature from her seaweed cocoon and they proceed in a touching love duet accented by beautiful lifts. The ending is very funny and makes use of Ezralow’s mixture of choreography and the understanding of visual technology. Kelsey Landers is exquisite in Kelp Dreams, as she was throughout the entire evening.
Black and White is in effect, the story of Romeo and Juliet. The Montagues in black and the Capulets in white. The movement and the staging is sparse, but the storyline holds true to the tale of these star-crossed lovers and the ongoing feud between their families.
Chroma makes use of a visual idea that has been around for a while, but Ezralow takes it to another level. He combines morphing changes in people somewhat like that which was used at the end of Michael Jackson’s music video Black or White plus the magic of almost expert timing. Two panels, video and nine talented dancers make this a thoroughly satisfying experience weakened only by the fact that is a bit long. We get it. We figure out how it’s done, but we can still be amazed and entertained.
Ezralow’s genius is in his use of visual technology, inventive choreography and his extraordinary timing. He has chosen dancers whose talents include acrobatics, ballet and modern dance. Those dancers include Kelly Allen, Chelsey Arce, Patrick Cook, Santo Giuliano, Isaac Huerta, Kelsey Landers, Re’Sean pates, Vanessa Treviño and Anthea Young.
Daniel Ezralow and his Associate Artistic Director Arabella Ezralow create their artistic visions with the wonderful talents of Lighting Designer Dan Weingarten; Video Projection Designers Luca Parmigiani and Marc Rosenthal; and the beautiful costumes by American Apparel, Marsha Brady and Constance Hoffman.