Monday, July 13, 2015

SPF8 - LV Dance Collective

SAFEhouse Arts presents
Photo courtesy of
LV Dance Collective
LV Dance Collective
ODC Theater, San Francisco
July 12th, 2015

The final day of SAFEhouse Arts’ SPF8 (Summer Performance Festival) at ODC featured six different contemporary dance programs. And in the middle of the day’s schedule sat LV Dance Collective’s Red Egg. Instead of a single full-length piece or a program with a narrative/structural through-line, Co-Artistic Directors Kao Vey Saephanh and Martha L. Zepeda smartly chose to bring a sampling of the company’s work. Five short contemporary compositions that showcased the group’s skill, breadth and charm.

As the lights went up on Zepeda’s Re-Bir-Tick, the five-dancer company laid down center stage in a snowflake or flower formation. The dancers rolled on the ground and their limbs swam through space; pulse and connection reading through each supple movement. After spending quite a bit of time on the floor developing these initial movement phrases, they stood and the material began to vary, though still steeped in the pulse/connection theme. Zepeda’s choreography is undeniably contemporary, yet with a strong balletic foundation, leading to some lovely moments. A beautifully subtle pas de cheval fed into a fluid series of chaîné turns. And as Re-Bir-Tick concluded, the dancers returned to their opening positions and the lights dimmed.

From the costumes to the undulating movement to the music, Zepeda’s second dance, Hmmm…, had an unmistakable belly dance feel. At the same time, this trio had its fair share of contemporary dance injections, arabesque and extensions mixing with the sinuous arms and upper body. Saephanh and Zepeda both choreographed and danced the third work on the program, Ready Set Crack. A nice departure, this duet featured robotic and mechanical articulation, along with some impressive contact improv-style lifts and balances. Fly Ureta, a solo danced by Raquel Del Fiorentino and again dually choreographed by Saephanh and Zepeda, was absolutely gorgeous. Del Fiorentino is an extraordinary performer, particularly skilled at transitions. Every step just melted into the next movement, without compromising clarity or intentionality.

Closing the afternoon was the program’s title piece, Saephanh’s Red Egg. The program notes explained that in the Mien culture, the presentation of a red egg symbolizes good luck for the year ahead. That shared experience, community and togetherness certainly read throughout the dance. Costumed in reds and whites, each dancer held a red egg carefully in their hands, communicating through their movements its significance and importance. But even with that measured care and attention, Saephanh managed to drive the work forward through outward expression rather than internal focus. At the end of the dance, the performers even ventured out into the audience to give out red eggs in the crowd. So the sharing, the community was definitely there. Having said that, it still felt like something was missing; perhaps something more to the narrative that also needed to be explored.

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