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"Trois" by Caryn Glass and Ami Ipapo Photo: Manuel Rotenberg

“Trois” by Caryn Glass and Ami Ipapo
Photo: Manuel Rotenberg

Is it just San Diego, or do dance artists everywhere cook up provocative titles to get folks in the door, and then give them art? Here, we’ve got Malashock Dance’s “RAW” and Diversionary Theatre’s “Hot Guys Dancing,” produced by Michael Mizerany. And Jean Isaacs’ San Diego Dance Theater uses the slogan “sexy smart art.” Mizerany and Isaacs teamed up for last weekend’s saucily-titled “Sweat: Hot Dances for a Hot Night.” Isaacs presented the show in her company’s White Box Theater, and Mizerany directed, selecting pieces by ten artists, four of them premieres.

The discovery of the evening was Randé Dorn, a UCSD graduate who directs Dorn Dance Company in Los Angeles and had two pieces on the program. Dorn is currently studying Clinical Psychology, and her work felt rich psychologically, as if the dancers were involved in complex stories, conveyed via evocative visual imagery and striking, often angular movement. That was especially true of “The Politics of Giants,” in which dark garb and partially masked faces created a sophisticated carnival vibe. The high-legged movements included nearly head-kicking rear extensions  and extreme goose-steps. Dorn also showed an excerpt from “The Colored Room,” which was more subtle but also suggested juicy webs of relationship.

"The Politics of Giants"

“The Politics of Giants”

Dorn’s style made me think of German Expressionism and put my husband in mind of Pina Bausch; and a choreographer sitting next to us had yet a third association. I suspect we were all searching for frames of reference, because Dorn didn’t fit into any pre-existing boxes. What a thrill! She’s presenting “The Colored Room”in its entirely at the White Box on September 20. Mark your calendars.

Justin Viernes and Stephanie Harvey in "Relentlessly Yours" Photo: Manuel Rotenberg

Justin Viernes and Stephanie Harvey in “Relentlessly Yours”
Photo: Manuel Rotenberg

Fraught relationships were explored in two strong duets. Mizerany’s “Relentlessly Yours” showed off the impeccable lines of two of the most exciting young dancers in town, Stephanie Harvey and Justin Viernes. Heather Glabe made “Whitewashed Deathscapes: Vol. 3.” in collaboration with Jeremy Hahn, and the pair danced this combative piece with scary conviction.

Caryn Glass and Ami Ipapo put their company, [the] movement initiative, on the map with the dance drama “Victor Charlie” at this year’s San Diego International Fringe Festival. Their premiere on this program, “Trois,” offered a brief but luscious tangle of three intertwined bodies.

Kerry Constantino’s premiere, “Solo,” is part of her study of German Expressionist icon Mary Wigman and is influenced by Wigman’s famous “Hexentanz.” I took a fresh look at the fragment of “Hexentanz” that survives on film and could see the echoes in Constantino’s piece, without, however, any of Wigman’s riveting tension. Still, I’m happy to see young artists mining dance history.

[php snippet=2] “Sweat” did have its sexy moments—for instance, when tap-dancer Sidney Franklin stripped off his shirt in “Shy Boy,” or one of the buff guys in Melissa Adao’s “Gonna Make You Sweat” flashed nipples. But Franklin also did some righteous tapping in his solo, in which the only music was the percussion of his feet. And Adao’s hip-hop-flavored piece satirized the “hot jock” image as the men called out in unison, “We sweat. We men. We dance.” Plus, the infectiously fun performances she got out of her cast made you want to jump onstage and join the party. Both pieces were premieres.

"Gonna Make You Sweat" Photo: Manuel Rotenberg

“Gonna Make You Sweat”
Photo: Manuel Rotenberg

Between “Hot Men Dancing” and “Sweat,” Mizerany is proving himself a gifted impresario, showcasing both experienced artists and newbies, and providing work of substance along with a little slightly raunchy fun. And he’s clearly got a knack for coming up with winning titles; it looked like a full house on Sunday night.

 

Janice Steinberg

Janice Steinberg

Award-winning dance journalist Janice Steinberg has published more than 400 articles in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Dance Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere. She was a 2004 New York Times-National Endowment for the Arts fellow at the Institute for Dance Criticism and has taught dance criticism at San Diego State University. She is also a novelist, author of The Tin Horse (Random House, 2013). For why she's passionate about dance, see this article on her web site, The Tin Horse

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