Labor Day weekend is the unofficial end of summer. But aficionados of modern dance in San Diego know the holiday weekend also marks the culmination of Three's Company's 12-week season of "Lo tec" concerts.
This year's potpourri will finish on a high note. Lula Washington's Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Theater, a nine-member, multiracial dance company, will present "A Historical Review of Black Dance" at 8:30 p.m. Sunday and Monday at Three' Company's Hillcrest studio.
"We're doing the essence of black dance," said artistic director Lula Washington, in an interview from her Los Angeles studio. "Our guest artist, Thelma Robinson, was an original member of Katherine Dunham's dance company (a pioneer of black concert dance), and she created a suite of dances based on those cabaret dances.
"One of the pieces was a dance done by waiters on trains. It's a lot of fun, and it was a great learning experience for us," Washington added enthusiastically.
Dances with names like "Shim-Sham Boogie," "Walkin' the Dog," "Tacky Annie" and the well-known "Cakewalk," abound in this diverse, Dunham-inspired suite.
The program will include other highlights in the evolution of black dance, from its beginnings in African tribal expressions to the contemporary jargon of Alvin Ailey.
"We'll have a Caribbean piece, 'Market Place,' a tribute to Katherine Dunham, and 'Nigerian Prayers' (the curtain-raiser) which goes back to the African roots of black dance. We'll show the whole gamut of black dance," Washington said.
The most modern work scheduled for this weekend's program is "Blues Dialogue," a duet Washington describes as "similar to the Ailey vein." A gospel solo by Kenny Long and an ensemble dance with an African theme (performed in Three's Company's Lo-tec series a couple of years ago) will complete the program.
Music will be by Count Basie, Muggsy Spanier and Jelly Roll Morton.
"We're very pleased to have this opportunity to develop new audiences outside of our own community," Washington said. "There are not enough opportunities to share. We understand it's a low-tech series, and we can't do all the things theatrically, or with lighting. But you can still see the dancing."
Jean Isaacs, the guiding force behind Three's Company's Lo-tec series, dubbed this season a success.
"We've had funding this year, so we were able to buy a (lighting) dimmer board, and the artists got a little bit more money," Isaacs said. "Attendance is going up. And the best part is that the word is starting to spread. We're getting better artists interested in coming here."