Co-presented by Piñata Dance Collective & Temescal Art Center
Temescal Art Center, Oakland
October 25th, 2014
The Temescal Art Center in Oakland was aflame with excitement and occasion for the opening night of the first ever !FLACC!, Festival of Latin American Contemporary Choreographers. This inaugural evening of movement, music and community featured a collection of eight solos and duets, stylistically spanning the contemporary genre. A packed, enthusiastic house plus diverse performance offerings equals a very successful launching of this new festival program.
Dance theater was first up with “Metadonna”, co-choreographed by Compañia de Artes Vivas and Alariete. Blending text, movement, set, props and vocalization, the piece stayed true to the dance theater esthetic with blurred situations and confrontational circumstances. “Transitional Fluid” followed, a work-in-progress choreographed and performed by Diana Lara. Interdisciplinary in nature, “Transitional Fluid” had a narrative framework, multi-media video and textwork. But the most compelling element was Lara’s neo-classical choreographic approach in the opening moments. As train sounds pulsed in the background, expansive movements and physical gestures equally and captivatingly marked the score.
Next up was Zari Le’on’s “In my Mother’s house there is still God!”, my favorite piece of the evening. Costumed like an evil fairytale queen, Le’on began downstage center with her back facing the audience. Strong, punctuated movements led her forward and back: extended arms with a fist, percussive feet, deep lunges, grand pliés in a wide 2nd position. Le’on wove a spell to the milky, electronic score and with the exception of a few turns at the end, we never saw her face. This choice added an unexpected aspect of anonymity to the dance. Act I closed with the second draft of Rogelio Lopez’s “Love in a Box”. This work brought a fascinating structural/compositional element to the !FLACC! line-up. The only illumination utilized in the piece was a flashlight that was passed between the two dancers. Our gaze was being controlled by where that light fell and how it was used; as such, viewership became a much more fluid and changeable experience.
Act II opened with a deconstructed narrative solo choreographed and danced by Natta Haotzima. A large picture frame styled set piece graced the center of the stage space and Haotzima was blindfolded throughout – a conceptual meditation on visibility. Eric Garcia and Kat Cole, co-Artistic Directors of detour dance, presented an excerpt from “Imitations of Intimacy”, danced by Garcia and Liane Burns. A comical contest of wills – who would give in, who would dominate, who would triumph – the excerpt also featured the best technical dancing of the night. Festival organizer Liz Boubion’s “Novia Muerta” took in the entire emotional spectrum. From tortured, gnarled almost Butoh-inspired motions all the way to pure, unadulterated, vibrating elation, “Novia Muerta” was an entertaining narrative roller coaster. The closing piece brought Lopez to the stage in a triptych by Catherine Marie Davalos. This work was all about directions, moving towards and away, sideways and every other way imaginable. A narrative encapsulation of complexity, it was also a perfect way in which to close the dynamic first iteration of !FLACC!.