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Why does dance matter? Discuss

Eight choreographers offer a sprinkling of wonderful work amid the chatter at Diavolo Dance Space.

August 06, 2007|Victoria Looseleaf | Special to The Times

Deborah Brockus cares about dance. Passionately. She cares so much, in fact, that her production "Why Dance Matters: Why We Dance," seen Saturday and Sunday at Diavolo Dance Space, broached that subject through several discussions in which she and the seven other choreographers posed questions, rattled off depressing statistics and sought -- and received -- audience response.

Thankfully, there was also some wonderful work sprinkled amid the chatter, and though several of the nine pieces flopped, there was always a beautiful body to behold.

Seda Aybay pondered memories in "Sesler," as she and her Kybele Dance Theater -- six dancing wraiths -- physicalized anguish through sweeping arm gestures before crumbling to the floor.

Choreographers Megan and Jeffrey Hornaday (he of "Flashdance" and Madonna tour fame) offered their take on immigration in "Illegal Alien." A clever, poignant tale focusing on a trio of antenna-sporting creatures in pointe shoes, the work featured fine footwork, goofy twittering and creepy-crawly moves before Megan Hornaday bourréed her way into the arms of a human, the winsome Todd Hunter, before dying in his arms.

Sean Greene, a former Lewitzky dancer, now artistic director of the troupe Gallimaufry & Greene, presented excerpts from "A Night at the Movies." While "From Here to Eternity," beautifully danced by Travis Judd Hollister and Samantha Marcella, had heart and heat, with Greene's steps capturing doomed love, "The Red Shoes" missed the balletic boat. Tiffanie Siyavong's wobbling proved no match for Efren Corado's intense partnering.

Dani Dave's "Scratching at the Surface" featured the loose-limbed choreographer at and around a ballet barre in a duet with a teacher and partner (Courtney Trowman), their splits, cartwheels and fierce attitudes on fine display.

Ken Morris scored big-time with "Double Helix," a fast and furious piece set on 11 students of Lula Washington's Professional Development Workshop, ages 15 to 26.

Hard-charging, the work had it all: provocative line formations, unison leaps, thrilling spins and balancing poses -- a perfect marriage to Steve Reich's endlessly churning "Violin Phrase."

Less successful were John Castagnia's contemporary work in progress, "B4/After 21," featuring inane warring factions of his Ballet Collective, and a pair of Brockus pieces, the previously reviewed "Finding Balance on Quaking Land" and "Dance," both performed by her and her Brockus Project Dance Company. The latter would fare better with Brockus' "why I dance" narration in a voice-over. Yet, though she sometimes overreaches, this tireless promoter of L.A. dance deserves plaudits.

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