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Put down that red pen. ODC is not a jumbled acronym for obsessive compulsive disorder, although you may feel compelled to draw triangles and spirals during ODC Dance’s lovely and logical “Triangulating Euclid,” one of three dances seen at Mandeville Auditorium, Jan. 22, and the troupe’s overdue San Diego debut.

The work begins with an engaging voice over that describes a rare original edition of “Euclid’s Elements,” and that deftly connects lines of geometry to moving human forms. Of course all dances are rooted in geometry, but this physical and flowing work becomes a multi layered tribute to ancient paper and ink that survives the digital age.

Image from ODC's "Triangulating Euclid."  Photo: 2013 RJ Muna

Image from ODC’s “Triangulating Euclid.” Photo: 2013 RJ Muna

Oberlin Dance Collective was founded in 1971 by Artistic Director Brenda Way. She was on faculty at Oberlin College in Ohio and famously loaded up a yellow school bus and relocated to San Francisco. Known for its imaginative repertory, Dance Downtown, and The Velveteen Rabbit, the company is a Bay Area favorite and tours internationally.

There’s wisdom and a captivating ease in “Triangulating Euclid,” which is not what you’d expect from a committee of choreographers. The three-way collaboration between ODC Artistic Director Brenda Way and company co-artistic director KT Nelson, and independent choreographer Kate Weare is most successful in partnering.

A dancer spins inside a square of light as if summoning the ancients to appear. More dancers in swimwear variations seem to leap from the worn pages. We visualize triangles and there are threesomes. If that weren’t enough, a dancer draws long lines on the stage with a flour like substance for them to slide on.

They scatter and line up in front of a crumpled piece of paper, a projection by Matthew Antaky and another connection to the priceless book. The sound score is scattered too, except for two recordings of Schubert’s “Nacht und Traume” that invites two excellent duets. The entire company is technically confident, but the real viewing pleasure comes from tall and curly-haired Josie Sadan and diminutive hair whipping Natasha Adorlee Johnson.

On Thursday, Johnson sang a pitch perfect and heartfelt “hey nonny” ballad to open Way’s “Breathing Underwater,” as three more women lined up as if preparing for a swim meet.

Way’s costumes suggest youthful nightgowns. A wire along the edge of fabric creates a flower petal curl at the knee. The whimsical cello score by Zoe Keating accompanies slumber party horseplay, splits, and gorgeous balletic footwork. Syncopation, conformity, and silent feet prevail, except for Anne Zivolich-Adams as the odd one who responds with strange manic gestures. Zivolich-Adams joined ODC/Dance in 2003. This was her last performance with the company, and one could sense the emotional significance of the moment.

KT Nelson’s acclaimed “Cut-Out-Guy” explores the fierceness and fragility of men and myriad ways to lift guys overhead. Inspired by her son’s wrestling teams, the most agile men climb over and tuck themselves into any open space.

Throughout the piece, five men of the company reappear as brothers, fathers, lovers, and pals, sometimes seated in imaginary chairs, or swimming horizontally or just flat as in a casket overhead. The sound score by Ben Frost is a scratchy hum that can send viewers into a coma. Piano sounds and tender images of hands gripping muscled bodies are a welcome shift, but then it all grows creepy again with the sound of howling wolves. Matt Antaky’s lighting adds shadows. In the end, the men can only mutter and roll their shoulders. Still, Nelson’s innovative falls and lifts were well received by the exuberant and very large crowd at Mandeville, which is also a testament to the popularity of ODC/Dance.

ODC Program

More dance:

Jan. 27-Feb. 22 “The Grift” at Lafayette Hotel. La Jolla Playhouse (WoW Series). http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/the-grift

Jan. 29. CHOREOlab2015.  ENS 200 at SDSU. Blythe Barton, Geoffrey Gonzalez, Ami Ipapo, Melissa Nunn and Elyssa Dru Rosenberg, local choreographers selected to present their work. http://ljms.org/choreolab/

Jan. 30. La Jolla Music Society presents “Wendy Whelan – Restless Creature.” Balboa Theatre.  http://ljms.org/ai1ec_event/wendy-whelan-restless-creature-2/?instance_id=2230

Feb. 6 – 8. San Diego Ballet’s “Sweet Synergy Suite and More.” Featuring jazz artist Charles McPherson. Lyceum Theatre. http://sandiegoballetdancecompany.org/

Feb. 7-15. Viva Italia, presented by Mojalet Dance. The Vine. Rancho Bernardo. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mojalet-Dance-Collective/111282132303315

Feb. 14. “Entwined on Valentine’s.” San Diego Dance Theater. Library Dances, Otay Ranch. http://www.sandiegodancetheater.org/

Feb. 18. Black Grace from New Zealand, with distinctive dynamism sparked by Pacific Island and Maori heritage. Presented by ArtPower! at Mandeville Auditorium, UC San Diego. $12-$46. www.Artpower.ucsd.edu.

Feb. 18. Nederlands Dans Theater/NDT2. Presented by Bodhi Tree Concerts and ContACT ARTS. Spreckels Theatre. https://plus.google.com/+ContactartsOrg/posts

Feb. 21.      Young Choreographers Showcase, Coronado Performing Arts Center. http://www.sandiegodancetheater.org/

 

Kris Eitland

Kris Eitland

Kris Eitland covers dance and theater for Sandiegostory.com and freelances for other publications, including the Union Tribune and Dance Teacher Magazine. She grew up performing many dance styles and continued intensive modern dance and choreography at the Univ. of Minnesota, Duluth, and San Diego State Univ. She also holds a journalism degree from SDSU. Her career includes stints in commercial and public radio news production. Eitland has won numerous Excellence in Journalism awards for criticism and reporting from the San Diego Press Club. She has served on the Press Club board since 2011 and is a past president. She is a co-founder of Sandiegostory.com. She has a passion for the arts, throwing parties with dancing and singing, and cruising the Pacific in her family's vintage trawler. She trains dogs, skis, and loves seasonal trips to her home state of Minnesota.

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