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A Rage on Stage

March 07, 1993|ERIN J. AUBRY

Last spring, choreographer and dancer Lula Washington dropped what she was doing to address the root of the discontent that had swept furiously through Los Angeles.

She stopped in the middle of a project to begin fashioning a dance that speaks to the anger generated in the wake of the state trial in which four police officers were acquitted in the beating of motorist Rodney G. King.

"The frustration and anger that led to the riot made people feel like they were going to explode," said Washington, whose Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Theatre is housed on a studio on Adams Boulevard. "The feeling was there, and I felt I needed to do something."

That something is "Check This Out," an hourlong dance that incorporates slides, photos, speech excerpts, rap and narratives by the dancers. Washington's company has performed the piece outside of the city, including Northern California and New Mexico, but Washington said it's time to bring it home.

"Non-natives of L.A. are able to get in touch with what happened here because the piece is really a documentation of events and situations," she said. "But I've really been focusing on playing it here more."

In addition to housing a professional company and a Youth Dance Ensemble, the Contemporary Dance Theatre offers classes for children and adults in ballet, modern dance, jazz, tap and African dance. Washington said the company's latest offering is about justice.

"There has to be justice for everyone, no matter what color," she said. "The fact is, a lot of injustice still goes on. Things are going to have to change. . . . We can't live together if they don't."

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