The Live Arts Fest put on by Jean Isaacs San Diego Dance Theater is truly a shoestring event—on Saturday, Isaacs was working as a stagehand, handling props. So it’s all the more remarkable that the ten-day festival offered a rich palette of work by international artists, including Christine Dakin, longtime principal with the Martha Graham Dance Company, doing Graham’s legendary solo, “Cante Jondo.”
“Schrekstoff” offered much to appreciate: clarity, humor, and strong performances by a five-member ensemble. But Lavina Rich warned the audience beforehand that we might get scared. I wish. The only emotion I felt was humor.
Who’s going to die? In Jean Isaacs’ propulsive, stomping, ominous “Rite of Spring,” one dancer after another appears isolated from the rest … and will he/she be chosen to be sacrificed? Erica Ruse does a tortured, limb-flinging solo, while the others stand and watch. And these folks, denizens of a wonderfully creepy leather bar, doesn’t look friendly.
There’s a global palette of movement, from Middle Eastern Sufi dance to Brazilian capoeira to hip-hop, skillfully blended, so for instance the dancers do Sufi spinning not only standing but also, in dramatic B-boy style, on their hands and heads.
Powerful movers with bodybuilder thighs, Malpaso Dance presented one of the most satisfying dances I’ve ever seen—”Indomitable Waltz” by Aszure Barton.
Tiny youTurn Arts, which puts on just one show a year, can hardly fill the gap left when Sushi went bust in 2011. Still, youTurn producers Erica Buechner and Anne Gehman have made terrifically savvy curatorial choices—like this year’s guest artist, Jesse Zaritt, whose solo, “send off,” felt wickedly ironic … and also holy.