Across the hall, Puerto Rican-born Roman, a first-time Praxis participant who specializes in contact improvisation, was rehearsing another 10 dancers. Her Praxis piece, "Subtle Fragmentations," was created out of the workshops as an exploration of physical and emotional boundaries.
Roman encouraged the dancers to use "the momentum from the floor," as various pairs hoisted and swung each other, traversing the room. "Only half of these dancers had previous experience doing contact improvisation," she said later, "but I'm finding many great dancers here. They want to experiment and expand what they do."
Brown's work for the Praxis dancers, like Garrett's, is built from another work. "Fragile" premiered at the Black Choreographers' Showcase at Los Angeles Theatre Center in April. The work requires 20 dancers: 17 are from Praxis, three from his original cast. "We have dancers coming together from different levels, both technical and with different sociological experiences," Brown says. "It's a large undertaking, but the dancers are excited about the process."
Keys says she hopes to make the project a biannual event. "The fact that we've had a number of people performing and connecting with each other, I think that's success. Every year we learn more about how to market, how to structure, how to program. It's an evolving process. We have people from all over Southern California to participate. To me, that's a signal that there's a void that needs to be filled. We have a vision, and we want to make it real--and stable. If we can take Praxis up a notch and raise the resources, we could have a strong reputation as a viable program in L.A."
"HERE IN THE DARK," Praxis Project, California Plaza, 350 S. Grand Ave., downtown L.A. Dates: Friday and Saturday, 8:30 p.m. Phone: (213) 687-2159.
Victoria Looseleaf is a regular contributor to Calendar.