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VOICES of LA is a new dance showcase series produced by Deborah Brockus and performed at Brockus Project Dance Studios. It is designed to provide an opportunity for emerging choreographers to present works-in-progress, excerpts or finished works in a low-tech, black box type setting. I previously reviewed the opening night of VOICES of LA which included four of the same works performed on program two. Those were To the Eye of the Storm (excerpt from The Muse) by Sean Greene; Molecular Fuel (excerpt) by Micaela Taylor and Orlando Agawin; Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts by Rosanna Tavarez and Soul by Deborah Brockus. To read about these works, please see my review titled Deborah Brockus Debuts VOICES of LA.

Andrew Pearson – Photo courtesy of the artist.

It is always a pleasure to watch Andrew Pearson dance. His contribution to the evening was titled Work In Progress (Excerpt) performed to an edgy metronome-like score that carved out his choreography like a knife. The work was pensive. It was rich with moving angular shapes and off-center movements. Pearson came close to repeating movements but shifted directions to prevent that from happening, and he managed to surprise by not making the obvious choices. It was an intriguing glimpse at his new piece and I look forward to seeing the finished work.

Aria (Excerpt from Fragments of the Soul) is filled with large lyrical movements that cover the entire performance space. Choreographed by Deborah Brockus to music by Yanni, what we saw was indeed a song for the bodies of Micaela De Pauli, Branze Souza, and Luis Martinez. An aria is generally a solo, and though there were three performers in this section of Brockus’ work, each dancer had extended solos that showcased their talents. The soul of a dancer is to move and to soar. In Aria, Brockus allows her dance artists to do just that. It will be interesting to see how Aria fits into the extended work.

BrockusRED – Dancer: Ray Ejiofor – Photo by Denise Leithner

Together is a love duet for this present high-tech, fast paced generation. Choreographed by Ken Morris, the Artistic Director of Ken Morris Project, Together got better and fuller as it went along. Set to the music of Steve Reich, the duet included tenderness, humor and straight-out power-dancing that drew me in and made me care about this young couple. Within this brief ten-minute duet, Morris has created a wonderful overview of two young adults and a wonderful dance for two fine dancers, David Mitchele and Alondria Lenyea.

Tracy R. Kofford is the Artistic Director of Dance at Santa Barbara City College. For VOICES of LA he presented a beautiful work for eight women titled Intersecting Fugue (Excerpt), choreographed to music by German-born British composer Max Richter. One can see two separate, but related dances pass each other, join forces and then split into a duet that is soon swept up and devoured by a third dance. These dances are all part of a whole, of course, and Kofford has artfully crafted them as variations of a central movement theme. The costumes by Mindy Nelson bothered me, however. They were beautiful dresses of the same color which was nice for unity, but they were not flattering to the dancers and, at times, distracting. The performers, all of whom did an excellent job were Jen-Li Barry, Jillian Cardona, Carisa Carroll, Laura Eldred, Kaycee Jannino, Daisy Mohrman, Emily Nugent and Madison Rothfuss.

Nannette Brodie, Artistic Director of Nannette Brodie Dance Theatre, founded in 1986, has collaborated with Ismael Murillo to choreograph and costume a solo for Murillo titled Torero. A torero is a bullfighter. Murillo was dressed in a beautiful stylized costume that included a black pleated skirt, but the choreography did not me give a clear feel for this man being a bullfighter. There was, however, a kind of machismo attitude to the dance. Set to music by Cuban singer-songwriter Carlos Varela, Torero is a proud solo and Murillo gave a strong performance.

Act of Matter – Photo courtesy of the artist.

Love Letter (Excerpted work-in-progress) was choreographed by Rebecca Lemme, Artistic Director/Choreographer of Acts of Matter. Set to Love Me Tender by Elvis Presley and sung wistfully by Joan Holly Padeo, Love Letter, as it appeared on program, was primarily a solo for the very nice dancer, Montay Romero. The movement is big and athletic, with moments of tenderness and stillness for Romero to briefly join in the vocals. Although the costumes were clever, I did not see their relationship to the dance. The red tutu and polka dot blouse for Padeo abstractly refers to the teenage fashion of 1950s, but why was Romero costumed in a white shirt, black tie and white skirt? Perhaps the full-length work will reveal the answer.

Carisa Carroll – Photo courtesy of the artist

Sticks and Stones, choreographed by Carisa Carroll (Carisa Carroll & Dancers) to music by Murcof felt extremely incomplete. At best, what was presented was a good beginning to a duet for Kaycee Jannino and Maddi Rothfuss. The two women gave excellent performances, but Carroll has not made clear what their relationship is or where these two characters are headed.

Once again, Lighting Designer Evan Nie did a great job of illuminating each dance with its own look, and Deborah Brockus has created a welcoming, friendly and spacious venue for young artists to present their work. We will eagerly await the 2017 VOICES of LA.

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