The Home Grown @ Bootleg Series is an opportunity for choreographers and dance companies to collaborate and partner with the Dance Resource Center of Los Angeles and fellow dance makers. The three choreographers and companies featured on this night at the Bootleg Theater were Katerina Tomás/Mojácar Flamenco, Shirine Rehmani/Roots & Wings Dance Project and Nicole Berger/COMPANY RHOME. Their works were widely varied in style, theme and experience, but overall, it was not a strong evening of choreography.
Romance Sonambulo (Sleepwalker’s Ballad), choreographed by Katerina Tomás is an intense work that dramatizes the Sleepwalker’s Ballad through dance, Flamenco guitar, and opera. Sung beautifully by Gregorio Gonzalez/Baritone, David Castillo/Baritone and Maya Rothfuss/Soprano, in Castilian Spanish, the tale is of two separated lovers who long to be reunited. Tomás beautifully combines Flamenco’s physical style and accented footwork with Martha Graham-like modern dance. The movement for dancer Albertossy Espinoza is more developed, complex and stylized then that created for Sonia Ochoa, who for much of the time performs in place atop a wooden platform. Ochoa primarily uses her arms like branches blowing in the wind, accented powerfully with sharp footwork.
Everyone in Romance Sonambulo is excellent and the choreography is strong. Tomás understands theater and she has created a very strong tale of love and loss. The elegant set by Jorge Lopez, Blue Pocket Studio evokes a Spanish café, and having live music onstage is almost always a plus. It was performed with passion by composer/guitarist Stephen Dick. The Sleepwalker’s Ballad was written by Federico García Lorca.
Roots & Wings Dance Project is a southern California company founded in 2016 by artistic director and choreographer Shirine Rehmani. It is difficult to judge a choreographer’s work after viewing only one dance, but Called to Play Small appears to be the work of a less experienced choreographer. Rehmani’s work shows promise and she has chosen very strong dancers. She understands the basics of constructing a dance, but for this work depends heavily on unison work. Rehmani attempts to break it up with moments of intertwining patterns and canon, but parts of the group work would be served better by one or two dancers. The strongest section of Called to Play Small is the duet between Emily Duncan and Olivia Reidy; both very strong performers. Here Rehmani interprets the lyrics of Allan Watts’s Introduction; Nothingness with great clarity and invention. The other dancers in Called to Play Small who also performed very well were Megan Cutler, Katherine Sherpersky, Keira Whitaker and Noelle White.
Nicole Berger lost me halfway through her dance theater piece titled Dancing With Dust. Program notes can be helpful, but what is seen onstage is what truly matters. Beautifully danced by Andrew Flores, Kate Coleman, Jack Moore and Seirra Thacker, the lengthy opening section focuses on balancing work and romantic relationships. Then, out of nowhere, we are treated to a beautiful ballet duet between Stephanie Kim and William Clayton. It is a wonderful duet that is performed with great skill, but it belongs in another dance.
Berger’s work comes back into focus briefly with the entrance of Raymond Ejiofor acting as a catalyst to disrupt and mislead the previously seen characters. Using handfuls of office paper, confetti and a large fan, the dance sadly tumbles into chaos.
Berger is working with very beautiful dancers and has wonderful choreographic and theatrical ideas. Now she needs to put all that talent together cohesively and not depend on the program notes to tell her audience what they are viewing.
Home Grown @ Bootleg continues tonight and tomorrow night, March 3 & 4. For information and tickets.